Standard Urdu
Urdu example.svg
Urdu in Nastaʿlīq script
Pronunciation[ˈʊrduː] (About this soundlisten)
Native toIndia and Pakistan
RegionSouth Asia
EthnicityUrdu-speaking people (Muslims of the Urdu Belt, the Deccani people and the Muhajir people)[1]
Native speakers
68.62 million[2] (2021)
Total: 230 million (2021)[3]
Early forms
Official status
Official language in


Recognised minority
language in
 South Africa (protected language)[9]
Regulated byNational Language Promotion Department (Pakistan)
National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (India)
Language codes
ISO 639-1ur
ISO 639-2urd
ISO 639-3urd
Urdu official-language areas.png
  Areas in India and Pakistan where Urdu is either official or co-official
  Areas where Urdu is neither official nor co-official
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Urdu (/ˈʊərd/;[10] Urdu: اُردُو‎, ALA-LC: Urdū) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in South Asia.[11][12] It is the official national language and lingua franca of Pakistan.[13] In India, Urdu is an Eighth Schedule language whose status, function, and cultural heritage is recognized by the Constitution of India;[14][15] it has some form of official status in several Indian states.[note 1][13] In Nepal, Urdu is a registered regional dialect.[16] Urdu has been described as a Persianised standard register of the Hindustani language.[17][18] Urdu and Hindi share a common Indo-Aryan vocabulary base and very similar phonology and syntax, making them mutually intelligible in colloquial speech.[19][20]

Urdu became a literary language in the 18th-century and two similar standard forms came into existence in Delhi and Lucknow; since 1947 a third standard has arisen in Karachi.[21][22] Deccani, an older form used in the south, became a court language of the Deccan Sultanates in the 16th century.[23][22]

Urdu was chosen as the language of East India Company rule across northern India in 1837 when the Company chose it to replace Persian, the court language of the Indo-Islamic empires.[24] Religious, social, and political factors arose during the colonial period that advocated for a distinction between Urdu and Hindi, leading to the Hindi–Urdu controversy.[25]

According to Nationalencyklopedin's 2010 estimates, Urdu is the 21st most spoken first language in the world, with approximately 66 million who speak it as their native language.[26] According to Ethnologue's 2018 estimates, Urdu, is the 11th most widely spoken language in the world,[27] with 170 million total speakers, including those who speak it as a second language.[28]

  1. ^ Carl Skutsch (7 November 2013). Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities. Taylor & Francis. pp. 2234–. ISBN 978-1-135-19395-9.
  2. ^ Urdu at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  3. ^ "What are the top 200 most spoken languages?". Ethnologue. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  4. ^ Hindustani (2005). Keith Brown (ed.). Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2 ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-044299-4.
  5. ^ Gaurav Takkar. "Short Term Programmes". punarbhava.in. Archived from the original on 15 November 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Indo-Pakistani Sign Language", Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics
  7. ^ "Urdu is Telangana's second official language". The Indian Express. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Urdu is second official language in Telangana as state passes Bill". The News Minute. 17 November 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 - Chapter 1: Founding Provisions". www.gov.za. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Urdu"Archived 19 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
  11. ^ The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (5 December 2019), Urdu language, Encyclopaedia Britannica, retrieved 17 October 2020, member of the Indo-Aryan group within the Indo-European family of languages. Urdu is spoken as a first language by nearly 70 million people and as a second language by more than 100 million people, predominantly in Pakistan and India. It is the official state language of Pakistan and is also officially recognized, or “scheduled,” in the constitution of India.
  12. ^ Urdu (n), Oxford English Dictionary, June 2020, retrieved 11 September 2020, An Indo-Aryan language of northern South Asia (now esp. Pakistan), closely related to Hindi but written in a modified form of the Arabic script and having many loanwords from Persian and Arabic.
  13. ^ a b c Muzaffar, Sharmin; Behera, Pitambar (2014). "Error analysis of the Urdu verb markers: a comparative study on Google and Bing machine translation platforms". Aligarh Journal of Linguistics. 4 (1–2): 1. Modern Standard Urdu, a register of the Hindustani language, is the national language, lingua-franca and is one of the two official languages along with English in Pakistan and is spoken in all over the world. It is also one of the 22 scheduled languages and officially recognized languages in the Constitution of India and has been conferred status of the official language in many Indian states of Bihar, Telangana, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and New Delhi. Urdu is one of the members of the new or modern Indo-Aryan language group within the Indo-European family of languages.
  14. ^ Gazzola, Michele; Wickström, Bengt-Arne (2016). The Economics of Language Policy. MIT Press. pp. 469–. ISBN 978-0-262-03470-8. Quote: "The Eighth Schedule recognizes India’s national languages as including the major regional languages as well as others, such as Sanskrit and Urdu, which contribute to India’s cultural heritage. ... The original list of fourteen languages in the Eighth Schedule at the time of the adoption of the Constitution in 1949 has now grown to twenty-two."
  15. ^ Groff, Cynthia (2017). The Ecology of Language in Multilingual India: Voices of Women and Educators in the Himalayan Foothills. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 58–. ISBN 978-1-137-51961-0. Quote: "As Mahapatra says: “It is generally believed that the significance for the Eighth Schedule lies in providing a list of languages from which Hindi is directed to draw the appropriate forms, style and expressions for its enrichment” ... Being recognized in the Constitution, however, has had significant relevance for a language's status and functions.
  16. ^ "National Languages Policy Recommendation Commission" (PDF). MOE Nepal. 1994. p. Appendix one. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  17. ^ Gibson, Mary (13 May 2011). Indian Angles: English Verse in Colonial India from Jones to Tagore. Ohio University Press. ISBN 978-0821443583. Bayly's description of Hindustani (roughly Hindi/Urdu) is helpful here; he uses the term Urdu to represent "the more refined and Persianised form of the common north Indian language Hindustani" (Empire and Information, 193); Bayly more or less follows the late eighteenth-century scholar Sirajuddin Ali Arzu, who proposed a typology of language that ran from "pure Sanskrit, through popular and regional variations of Hindustani to Urdu, which incorporated many loan words from Persian and Arabic. His emphasis on the unity of languages reflected the view of the Sanskrit grammarians and also affirmed the linguistic unity of the north Indian ecumene. What emerged was a kind of register of language types which were appropriate to different conditions. ...But the abiding impression is of linguistic plurality running through the whole society and an easier adaptation to circumstances in both spoken and written speech" (193). The more Persianized the language, the more likely it was to be written in Arabic script; the more Sanskritized the language; the more likely it was to be written in Devanagari.
  18. ^ Basu, Manisha (2017). The Rhetoric of Hindutva. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107149878. Urdu, like Hindi, was a standardized register of the Hindustani language deriving from the Dehlavi dialect and emerged in the eighteenth century under the rule of the late Mughals.
  19. ^ Gube, Jan; Gao, Fang (2019). Education, Ethnicity and Equity in the Multilingual Asian Context. Springer Publishing. ISBN 978-981-13-3125-1. The national language of India and Pakistan 'Standard Urdu' is mutually intelligible with 'Standard Hindi' because both languages share the same Indic base and are all but indistinguishable in phonology.
  20. ^ Clyne, Michael (24 May 2012). Pluricentric Languages: Differing Norms in Different Nations. Walter de Gruyter. p. 385. ISBN 978-3-11-088814-0. With the consolidation of the different linguistic bases of Khari Boli there were three distinct varieties of Hindi-Urdu: the High Hindi with predominant Sanskrit vocabulary, the High-Urdu with predominant Perso-Arabic vocabulary and casual or colloquial Hindustani which was commonly spoken among both the Hindus and Muslims in the provinces of north India. The last phase of the emergence of Hindi and Urdu as pluricentric national varieties extends from the late 1920s till the partition of India in 1947.
  21. ^ Schmidt, Ruth Laila (8 December 2005). Urdu: An Essential Grammar. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-71319-6. Historically, Urdu developed from the sub-regional language of the Delhi area, which became a literary language in the eighteenth century. Two quite similar standard forms of the language developed in Delhi, and in Lucknow in modern Uttar Pradesh. Since 1947, a third form, Karachi standard Urdu, has evolved.
  22. ^ a b Mahapatra, B. P. (1989). Constitutional languages. Presses Université Laval. p. 553. ISBN 978-2-7637-7186-1. Modern Urdu is a fairly homogenous language. An older southern form, Deccani Urdu, is now obsolete. Two varieties however, must be mentioned viz. the Urdu of Delhi, and the Urdu of Lucknow. Both are almost identical, differing only in some minor points. Both of these varieties are considered 'Standard Urdu' with some minor divergences.
  23. ^ Dwyer, Rachel (27 September 2006). Filming the Gods: Religion and Indian Cinema. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-38070-1.
  24. ^ Metcalf, Barbara D. (2014). Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900. Princeton University Press. pp. 207–. ISBN 978-1-4008-5610-7. The basis of that shift was the decision made by the government in 1837 to replace Persian as court language by the various vernaculars of the country. Urdu was identified as the regional vernacular in Bihar, Oudh, the North-Western Provinces, and Punjab, and hence was made the language of government across upper India.
  25. ^ Ahmad, Rizwan (1 July 2008). "Scripting a new identity: The battle for Devanagari in nineteenth century India". Journal of Pragmatics. 40 (7): 1163–1183. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2007.06.005.
  26. ^ Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin. Asterisks mark the 2010 estimates Archived 11 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine for the top dozen languages.
  27. ^ "Urdu 11th most spoken language in world: Study". Deccan Chronicle. 20 January 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  28. ^ "What are the top 200 most spoken languages?". Ethnologue. 3 October 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2019.

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