Urdu

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Urdu
اُردُو
Urdu example.svg
Pronunciation [ˈʊrd̪u] (About this sound listen)
Region South Asia, Middle East
Ethnicity Hindustani people, Deccani Muslims and Muhajirs
Native speakers
65 million in India (2007)[1]
Second language: 94 million in Pakistan (1999).[2]
Official status
Official language in

 Pakistan(National & Official)
 India(Official as per the 8th schedule of the constitution & in the following states/union territories) Official:

Secondary Official:

Recognised minority
language in
 United Arab Emirates[6]


(as a recognized national language)

 Guyana[7]
(as Guyanese Hindustani)
 Mauritius[8](as ancestral language)
 Suriname[7] (as Sarnami Hindoestani)
 Trinidad and Tobago[7]
(as Trinidadian Hindustani)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 ur
ISO 639-2 urd
ISO 639-3 urd
Glottolog urdu1245[9]
Linguasphere 59-AAF-q
Urdu official-language areas.png
  Areas where Urdu is either official or co-official
  Areas where Urdu is neither official nor co-official
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Urdu (/ˈʊərd/;[10] Urdu: اُردُوALA-LC: Urdū [ˈʊrd̪uː] (About this sound listen), or Modern Standard Urdu) is a Persianised and standardised register language of the Hindustani language.[11][12] It is the official national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. In India, it is one of the 22 official languages recognized in the Constitution of India, having official status in the five states of Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand, as well as Delhi.

Apart from specialized vocabulary, Urdu is mutually intelligible with Standard Hindi, another recognized register of Hindustani. The Urdu variant of Hindustani received recognition and patronage under British rule when the British replaced the local official languages with English and Hindustani written in Nastaʿlīq script, as the official language in North and Northwestern India.[13][14][15] Religious, social, and political factors pushed for a distinction between Urdu and Hindi in India, leading to the Hindi–Urdu controversy.[16]

Origin

Urdu, like Hindi, is a form of Hindustani.[17] It evolved from the medieval (6th to 13th century) Apabhraṃśa register of the preceding Shauraseni language, a Middle Indo-Aryan language that is also the ancestor of other modern Indo-Aryan languages, including the Punjabi dialects. Urdu developed under the influence of the Persian and Arabic languages, both of which have contributed a significant amount of vocabulary to formal speech.[18][19][20][21][22][23] Around 99% of Urdu verbs have their roots in Sanskrit and Prakrit.[24]

Although the word Urdu is derived from the Turkic word ordu (army) or orda, from which English horde is also derived,[25] Turkic borrowings in Urdu are minimal[26] and Urdu is also not genetically related to the Turkic languages. Urdu words originating from Chagatai and Arabic were borrowed through Persian and hence are Persianized versions of the original words. For instance, the Arabic ta' marbutaة ) changes to heه ) or teت ).[27] [note 1] Nevertheless, contrary to popular belief, Urdu did not borrow from the Turkish language, but from Chagatai, a Turkic language from Central Asia. Urdu and Turkish borrowed from Arabic and Persian, hence the similarity in pronunciation of many Urdu and Turkish words.[28]

Arabic influence in the region began with the late first-millennium Muslim conquests of the Indian subcontinent. The Persian language was introduced into the subcontinent a few centuries later by various Persianized Central Asian Turkic and Afghan dynasties including that of Mahmud of Ghazni.[29][30] The Turko-Afghan Delhi Sultanate established Persian as its official language, a policy continued by the Mughal Empire, which extended over most of northern South Asia from the 16th to 18th centuries and cemented Persian influence on the developing Hindustani.[citation needed]

With the advent of the British Raj, Persian was no longer the language of administration but Hindustani, still written in the Persian script, continued to be used by both Hindus and Muslims.[citation needed] The name Urdu was first used by the poet Ghulam Hamadani Mushafi around 1780.[31][32](p18) From the 13th century until the end of the 18th century Urdu was commonly known as Hindi.[32](p1) The language was also known by various other names such as Hindavi and Dehlavi.[32](pp21–22) The communal nature of the language lasted until it replaced Persian as the official language in 1837 and was made co-official, along with English. Urdu was promoted in British India by British policies to counter the previous emphasis on Persian.[33] This triggered a Brahman backlash in northwestern India, which argued that the language should be written in the native Devanagari script. Thus a new literary register, called "Hindi", replaced traditional Hindustani as the official language of Bihar in 1881, establishing a sectarian divide of "Urdu" for Muslims and "Hindi" for Hindus, a divide that was formalized with the division of India and Pakistan after independence (though there are Hindu poets who continue to write in Urdu to this day, with post-independence examples including Gopi Chand Narang and Gulzar).

There have been attempts to "purify" Urdu and Hindi, by purging Urdu of Sanskrit loanwords, and Hindi of Persian loan words, and new vocabulary draws primarily from Persian and Arabic for Urdu and from Sanskrit for Hindi. English has exerted a heavy influence on both as a co-official language.[34]

Speakers and geographic distribution

The phrase Zabān-i Urdū-yi Muʿallā ("The language of the exalted camp") written in Nastaʿlīq script.

There are over 100 million native speakers of Urdu in India (more than 80% of it) and Pakistan together: there were 52 million and 80.5 million Urdu speakers in India some 5% and 6.5% of the total population of India as per the 2001 and 2011 censuses respectively;[35] approximately 10 million in Pakistan or 7.57% as per the 1998 census and 16 million in 2006 estimates;[36] and several hundred thousand in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, United States, and Bangladesh (where it is called "Bihari").[37] However, a knowledge of Urdu allows one to speak with far more people than that, because Hindustani, of which Urdu is one variety, is the third most commonly spoken language in the world, after Mandarin and English .[38] Because of the difficulty in distinguishing between Urdu and Hindi speakers in India and Pakistan, as well as estimating the number of people for whom Urdu is a second language, the estimated number of speakers is uncertain and controversial.[citation needed]

Owing to interaction with other languages, Urdu has become localized wherever it is spoken, including in Pakistan. Urdu in Pakistan has undergone changes and has incorporated and borrowed many words from regional languages like Pashto, Punjabi, Sindhi and Balti, thus allowing speakers of the language in Pakistan to distinguish themselves more easily and giving the language a decidedly Pakistani flavour. Similarly, the Urdu spoken in India can also be distinguished into many dialects like Dakhni (Deccan) of South India, and Khariboli of the Punjab region. Because of Urdu's similarity to Hindi, speakers of the two languages can easily understand one another if both sides refrain from using specialized vocabulary. The syntax (grammar), morphology, and the core vocabulary are essentially identical. Thus linguists usually count them as one single language and contend that they are considered as two different languages for socio-political reasons.[39]

In Pakistan, Urdu is mostly learned as a second or a third language as nearly 93% of Pakistan's population has a native language other than Urdu. Despite this, Urdu was chosen as a token of unity and as a lingua franca so as not to give any native Pakistani language preference over the other. Urdu is therefore spoken and understood by the vast majority in some form or another, including a majority of urban dwellers in such cities as Karachi, Lahore, Okara District, Sialkot, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Jhang, Sargodha and Skardu. It is written, spoken and used in all provinces/territories of Pakistan although the people from differing provinces may have different indigenous languages, as from the fact that it is the "base language" of the country. For this reason, it is also taught as a compulsory subject up to higher secondary school in both English and Urdu medium school systems. This has produced millions of Urdu speakers from people whose native language is one of the State languages of Pakistan such as Standard Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi, Potwari, Hindko, Pahari, Saraiki, Balti, and Brahui who can read and write only Urdu. It is absorbing many words from the regional languages of Pakistan. This variation of Urdu is sometimes referred to as Pakistani Urdu.[citation needed]

Although most of the population is conversant in Urdu, it is the first language of only an estimated 7% of the population who are mainly Muslim immigrants (known as Muhajir in Pakistan) from different parts of South Asia. The regional languages are also being influenced by Urdu vocabulary. There are millions of Pakistanis whose native language is not Urdu, but because they have studied in Urdu medium schools, they can read and write Urdu along with their native language. Most of the nearly five million Afghan refugees of different ethnic origins (such as Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazarvi, and Turkmen) who stayed in Pakistan for over twenty-five years have also become fluent in Urdu. With such a large number of people(s) speaking Urdu, the language has acquired a peculiar Pakistani flavour further distinguishing it from the Urdu spoken by native speakers and diversifying the language even further.

Many newspapers are published in Urdu in Pakistan, including the Daily Jang, Nawa-i-Waqt, Millat, among many others (see List of newspapers in Pakistan#Urdu language Newspapers).

In India, Urdu is spoken in places where there are large Muslim minorities or cities that were bases for Muslim Empires in the past. These include parts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra (Marathwada), Karnataka and cities such as Lucknow, Delhi, Bareilly, Meerut, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Roorkee, Deoband, Moradabad, Azamgarh, Bijnor, Najibabad, Rampur, Aligarh, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Agra, Kanpur, Badaun, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mysore, Patna, Gulbarga, Parbhani, Nanded, Malegaon, Bidar, Ajmer, and Ahmedabad.[40] Some Indian schools teach Urdu as a first language and have their own syllabi and exams. Indian madrasahs also teach Arabic as well as Urdu. India has more than 3,000 Urdu publications, including 405 daily Urdu newspapers. Newspapers such as Neshat News Urdu, Sahara Urdu, Daily Salar, Hindustan Express, Daily Pasban, Siasat Daily, The Munsif Daily and Inqilab are published and distributed in Bangalore, Malegaon, Mysore, Hyderabad, and Mumbai (see List of newspapers in India).

Outside South Asia, it is spoken by large numbers of migrant South Asian workers in the major urban centres of the Persian Gulf countries. Urdu is also spoken by large numbers of immigrants and their children in the major urban centres of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Germany, Norway, and Australia. Along with Arabic, Urdu is among the immigrant languages with the most speakers in Catalonia, leading to fears of linguistic ghettos.[41]

Cultural identity and Islam

Colonial India

Religious and social atmospheres in early nineteenth century India played significant roles in the development of the Urdu register. In addition to Islam, India was characterized by a number of tribal religions which each represented different spiritual outlooks and maintained different languages. These tribal religions were later categorized by British colonialists as Hinduism. Under British rule, the dispersed tribes associated with Hinduism pushed for unification by means of a common language. Hindi became the distinct register spoken by those who sought to construct a Hindu identity in the face of colonial rule.[16] As Hindi separated from Hindustani to create a distinct spiritual identity, Urdu, which was originally spoken by both Hindu and Muslim elites, was employed to create a definitive Islamic identity for the Muslim population in India.[42]

As Urdu and Hindi became means of religious and social construction for Muslims and Hindus respectively, each register developed its own script. According to Islamic tradition, Arabic, the language spoken by the prophet Muhammad and uttered in creation of the Qur'an, holds spiritual significance and power.[43] Because Urdu was intentioned as means of unification for Muslims in Northern India and later Pakistan, it adopted an Arabic script.[44][16]

'Pakistan'-Islamic Summit Minar-Lahore- By @ibneazhar- Sep 2016 (24).jpg

Pakistan

Urdu continued its role in developing a Muslim identity as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was established with the intent to construct a homeland for Islamic believers. Several languages and dialects spoken throughout the regions of Pakistan produced an imminent need for a uniting language. Because Urdu was the symbol of Islamic identity in Northern India, it was selected as the national language for Pakistan. While Urdu and Islam together played important roles in developing the national identity of Pakistan, disputes in the 1950s challenged the necessity for Urdu as a national symbol and its practicality as the lingua franca. The significance of Urdu as a national symbol was downplayed by these disputes when English and Bengali were also accepted as official languages. In addition to the disagreements over the value of Urdu as a national language in Pakistan, recent Muslims in Asia question the necessity for the Urdu script to be distinctly different from the Hindi script. While early nineteenth century Muslims saw the Arabic script as part of their identity, certain modern Muslims choose to use a modified Hindi script in writing Urdu. Although Urdu was a distinct identity marker for Muslims in colonialist ruled India and a national symbol for Pakistan, its necessity has been put into question by modern Muslims in both India and Pakistan.

Official status

A trilingual signboard in Arabic, English and Urdu in the UAE
A multilingual New Delhi railway station board

Urdu is the national and one of the two official languages of Pakistan, along with English, and is spoken and understood throughout the country, whereas the state-by-state languages (languages spoken throughout various regions) are the provincial languages. Only 7.57% of Pakistanis have Urdu as their first language,[45] but Urdu is mostly understood and spoken all over Pakistan as a second or third language. It is used in education, literature, office and court business.[46] It holds in itself a repository of the cultural and social heritage of the country.[47] Although English is used in most elite circles, and Punjabi has a plurality of native speakers, Urdu is the lingua franca and national language of Pakistan. In practice English is used instead of Urdu in the higher echelons of government.[48]

Urdu is also one of the officially recognized languages in India and the official language of Jammu and Kashmir, one of the two official languages of Telangana and also has the status of "additional official language" in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and the national capital, New Delhi.[49]

In Jammu and Kashmir, section 145 of the Kashmir Constitution provides: "The official language of the State shall be Urdu but the English language shall unless the Legislature by law otherwise provides, continue to be used for all the official purposes of the State for which it was being used immediately before the commencement of the Constitution."[50]

Dialects

Urdu has a few recognised dialects, including Dakhni, Rekhta, and Modern Vernacular Urdu (based on the Khariboli dialect of the Delhi region). Dakhni (also known as Dakani, Deccani, Desia, Mirgan) is spoken in Deccan region of southern India. It is distinct by its mixture of vocabulary from Marathi and Konkani, as well as some vocabulary from Arabic, Persian and Chagatai that are not found in the standard dialect of Urdu. Dakhini is widely spoken in all parts of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Urdu is read and written as in other parts of India. A number of daily newspapers and several monthly magazines in Urdu are published in these states. In terms of pronunciation, the easiest way to recognize native speakers is by their pronunciation of the letter "qāf" (ق) as "k̲h̲e" (خ).

Code switching

Many bilingual or multi-lingual Urdu speakers, being familiar with both Urdu and English, display code-switching (referred to as "Urdish") in certain localities and between certain social groups.

On 14 August 2015, the Government of Pakistan launched the Ilm Pakistan movement, with a uniform curriculum in Urdish. Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister of Pakistan, said, "Now the government is working on a new curriculum to provide a new medium to the students which will be the combination of both Urdu and English and will name it Urdish."[51][52][53]

Comparison with Modern Standard Hindi

Urdu and Hindi on a road sign in India

Standard Urdu is often contrasted with Standard Hindi.[54] Apart from religious associations, the differences are largely restricted to the standard forms: Standard Urdu is conventionally written in the Nastaliq style of the Persian alphabet and relies heavily on Persian and Arabic as a source for technical and literary vocabulary,[55] whereas Standard Hindi is conventionally written in Devanāgarī and draws on Sanskrit.[56] However, both have large numbers of Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit words, and most linguists consider them to be two standardised forms of the same language,[57][58] and consider the differences to be sociolinguistic,[59] though a few classify them separately.[60] Old Urdu dictionaries also contain most of the Sanskrit words now present in Hindi.[61][62] Mutual intelligibility decreases in literary and specialized contexts that rely on educated vocabulary. Further, it is quite easy in a longer conversation to distinguish differences in vocabulary and pronunciation of some Urdu phonemes. As a result of religious nationalism since the partition of British India and continued communal tensions, native speakers of both Hindi and Urdu frequently assert them to be distinct languages, despite the numerous similarities between the two in a colloquial setting.

The barrier created between Hindi and Urdu is eroding: Hindi speakers are comfortable with using Persian-Arabic borrowed words[63] and Urdu speakers are also comfortable with using Sanskrit terminology.[64][65]

Phonology

Consonants

Urdu consonant phonemes[66][67]
Bilabial Dental/
Alveolar
Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal plain m n ŋ
voiced aspirated (mʱ) (nʱ)
Plosive/
Affricate
voiceless p ʈ k q (ʔ)
voiceless aspirated t̪ʰ ʈʰ tʃʰ
voiced b ɖ ɡ ɢ
voiced aspirated d̪ʱ ɖʱ dʒʱ ɡʱ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ x (h)
voiced v z ʒ ɣ ɦ
Flap plain ɾ ɽ
voiced aspirated (ɾʱ) ɽʱ
Approximant plain ʋ l j
voiced aspirated (lʱ)
Notes
  • Marginal and non-universal phonemes are in parentheses.
  • /ɣ/ is post-velar.[68]

Vowels

The oral vowel phonemes of Urdu according to Ohala (1999:102)
Urdu vowels[66][67]
Front Central Back
short long short long short long
Close oral ɪ ʊ
nasal ɪ̃ ĩː ʊ̃ ũː
Close-mid oral (e) ə (o)
nasal ẽː ə̃ õː
Open-mid oral (ɛ) ɛː (ɔ) ɔː
nasal ɛ̃ː ɔ̃ː
Open oral æː ɑː
nasal ɑ̃ː
Diphthongs oral ɪeː   ɪɑː   iːoː   iːɑː
ʊiː   ʊeː   ʊoː   ʊɑː
eːoː   əiː   əuː   əeː
oiː   oeː   oːɪ   oːiː   oːeː   oːɑː
ɑːɪ   ɑːiː   ɑːʊ   ɑːuː   ɑːeː   ɑːoː
nasal ɪũː   iːũː   ɪːɑ̃ː
ʊĩː   ʊõː   ʊɑ̃ː   əĩː
oːĩː   oːũː   oːẽː
ɑːĩː   ɑːũː   ɑːẽː   ɑːõː
Triphthongs oral oəiː   oəuː   oːiːeː   ɑːiːeː
nasal ʊɑːẽː   ʊɑːõ
Note
  • Marginal and non-universal vowels are in parentheses.

Vocabulary

Etymological origin of basic Urdu words
Arabic 29.9%[69]
Sanskrit 25.2%[70]
Persian 21.7%[69]
English 7.8%[71]
Prakrit 6.1%[70]

Urdu's vocabulary has borrowings from various languages. A corpus-based quantitative survey of the etymological origins of basic Urdu vocabulary is shown in the adjacent table. Many of the words of Arabic origin have been adopted through Persian and have different pronunciations and nuances of meaning and usage than they do in Arabic. There are also a smaller number of borrowings from Chagatai, and Portuguese.

Levels of formality

Urdu in its less formalised register has been referred to as a rek̤h̤tah (ریختہ‎, [reːxt̪aː]), meaning "rough mixture". The more formal register of Urdu is sometimes referred to as zabān-i Urdū-yi muʿallá (زبانِ اُردُوئے معلّٰى[zəbaːn eː ʊrd̪u eː moəllaː]), the "Language of the Exalted Camp", referring to the Imperial army.[72]

The etymology of the word used in the Urdu language for the most part decides how polite or refined one's speech is. For example, Urdu speakers would distinguish between پانیpānī and آبāb, both meaning "water"; the former is used colloquially and has older Indic origins, whereas the latter is used formally and poetically, being of Persian origin.

If a word is of Persian or Arabic origin, the level of speech is considered to be more formal and grand. Similarly, if Persian or Arabic grammar constructs, such as the izafat, are used in Urdu, the level of speech is also considered more formal and grand. If a word is inherited from Sanskrit, the level of speech is considered more colloquial and personal.[73] This distinction is similar to the division in English between words of Latin, French and Old English origins.[citation needed]

Writing system

The Urdu Nastaʿliq alphabet, with names in the Devanāgarī and Latin alphabets

Urdu is written right-to left in an extension of the Persian alphabet, which is itself an extension of the Arabic alphabet. Urdu is associated with the Nastaʿlīq style of Persian calligraphy, whereas Arabic is generally written in the Naskh or Ruq'ah styles. Nasta’liq is notoriously difficult to typeset, so Urdu newspapers were hand-written by masters of calligraphy, known as kātib or khush-nawīs, until the late 1980s.[citation needed] One handwritten Urdu newspaper, The Musalman, is still published daily in Chennai.[74]

Urdu has also historically been written in the Kaithi script. A highly Persianized and technical form of Urdu was the lingua franca of the law courts of the British administration in Bengal, Bihar, and the North-West Provinces & Oudh. Until the late 19th century, all proceedings and court transactions in this register of Urdu were written officially in the Persian script. In 1880, Sir Ashley Eden, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal abolished the use of the Persian alphabet in the law courts of Bengal and Bihar and ordered the exclusive use of Kaithi, a popular script used for both Urdu and Hindi.[75] Kaithi's association with Urdu and Hindi was ultimately eliminated by the political contest between these languages and their scripts, in which the Persian script was definitively linked to Urdu.

More recently in India, Urdu speakers have adopted Devanagari for publishing Urdu periodicals and have innovated new strategies to mark Urdu in Devanagari as distinct from Hindi in Devanagari. Such publishers have introduced new orthographic features into Devanagari for the purpose of representing the Perso-Arabic etymology of Urdu words. One example is the use of अ (Devanagari a) with vowel signs to mimic contexts of ع‎ (‘ain), in violation of Hindi orthographic rules. For Urdu publishers, the use of Devanagari gives them a greater audience, whereas the orthographic changes help them preserve a distinct identity of Urdu.[76]

Literature

Urdu has become a literary language only in recent centuries, as Persian was formerly the idiom of choice for the Muslim courts of North India. However, despite its relatively late development, Urdu literature boasts of some world-recognised artists and a considerable corpus.

Prose

Urdu afsana is a kind of Urdu prose in which many experiments have been done by short story writers from Munshi Prem Chand to Naeem Baig.

Religious

Urdu holds the largest collection of works on Islamic literature and Sharia.[citation needed] These include translations and interpretation of the Qur'an as well as commentary on Hadith, Fiqh, history, and Sufism. A great number of classical texts from Arabic and Persian have also been translated into Urdu. Relatively inexpensive publishing, combined with the use of Urdu as a lingua franca among Muslims of South Asia, has meant that Islam-related works in Urdu far outnumber such works in any other South Asian language. Popular Islamic books are also written in Urdu.

It is interesting to note that a treatise on Astrology was penned in Urdu by Pandit Roop Chand Joshi in the eighteenth century. The book, known as Lal Kitab, is widely popular in North India among astrologers.

Literary

Secular prose includes all categories of widely known fiction and non-fiction work, separable into genres. The dāstān, or tale, a traditional story that may have many characters and complex plotting. This has now fallen into disuse.

The afsāna or short story is probably the best-known genre of Urdu fiction. The best-known afsāna writers, or afsāna nigār, in Urdu are Munshi Premchand, Saadat Hasan Manto, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Krishan Chander, Qurratulain Hyder (Qurat-ul-Ain Haider), Ismat Chughtai, Ghulam Abbas, and Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi. Towards the end of last century Paigham Afaqui's novel Makaan appeared with a reviving force for Urdu novel resulting into writing of novels getting a boost in Urdu literature and a number of writers like Ghazanfer, Abdus Samad, Sarwat Khan and Musharraf Alam Zauqi have taken the move forward. Munshi Premchand, became known as a pioneer in the afsāna, though some contend that his were not technically the first as Sir Ross Masood had already written many short stories in Urdu. Novels form a genre of their own, in the tradition of the English novel. Other genres include saférnāma (travel story), mazmoon (essay), sarguzisht (account/narrative), inshaeya (satirical essay), murasela (editorial), and khud navvisht (autobiography).

Poetry

Mir Taqi Mir (1723–1810) (Urdu: میر تقی میر‎) was the leading Urdu poet of the 18th century in the courts of Mughal Empire and Nawabs of Awadh
An illustrated manuscript of one of Amir Khusrau's (1253–1325 CE) Persian poems
Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the national poet of Pakistan

Urdu has been one of the premier languages of poetry in South Asia for two centuries, and has developed a rich tradition in a variety of poetic genres. The Ghazal in Urdu represents the most popular form of subjective music and poetry, whereas the Nazm exemplifies the objective kind, often reserved for narrative, descriptive, didactic or satirical purposes. Under the broad head of the Nazm we may also include the classical forms of poems known by specific names such as Masnavi (a long narrative poem in rhyming couplets on any theme: romantic, religious, or didactic), Marsia (an elegy traditionally meant to commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of Muhammad, and his comrades of the Karbala fame), or Qasida (a panegyric written in praise of a king or a nobleman), for all these poems have a single presiding subject, logically developed and concluded. However, these poetic species have an old world aura about their subject and style, and are different from the modern Nazm, supposed to have come into vogue in the later part of the nineteenth century. Probably the most widely recited, and memorised genre of contemporary Urdu poetry is nāt—panegyric poetry written in praise of Muhammad. Nāt can be of any formal category, but is most commonly in the ghazal form. The language used in Urdu nāt ranges from the intensely colloquial to a highly persified formal language. The great early 20th century scholar Ala Hazrat, Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi, who wrote many of the most well known nāts in Urdu (the collection of his poetic work is Hadaiq-e-Baqhshish), epitomised this range in a ghazal of nine stanzas (bayt) in which every stanza contains half a line each of Arabic, Persian, formal Urdu, and colloquial Hindi.

Another important genre of Urdu prose are the poems commemorating the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali at the Battle of Karbala, called noha (نوحہ) and marsia. Anees and Dabeer are famous in this regard.

Terminology

As̱ẖʿār (اشعار, verse, couplets): It consists of two hemistiches (lines) called Miṣraʿ (مصرع); first hemistich (line) is called مصرعِ اولٰی (Miṣraʿ-i ūlá) and the second is called (مصرعِ ثانی) (Miṣraʿ-i s̱ānī). Each verse embodies a single thought or subject (singular) شِعر shiʿr.

In the Urdu poetic tradition, most poets use a pen name called the takhalluṣ. This can be either a part of a poet's given name or something else adopted as an identity. The traditional convention in identifying Urdu poets is to mention the takhalluṣ at the end of the name. Thus Ghalib, whose official name and title was Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan, is referred to formally as Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, or in common parlance as just Mirza Ghalib. Because the takhalluṣ can be a part of their actual name, some poets end up having that part of their name repeated, such as Faiz Ahmad Faiz.

The word takhalluṣ is derived from Arabic, meaning "ending". This is because in the ghazal form, the poet would usually incorporate his or her pen name into the final couplet (maqt̤aʿ) of each poem as a type of "signature".

Urdu poetry example

This is Ghalib's famous couplet in which he compares himself to his great predecessor, the master poet Mir:[77]

         
ریختے کے تمہیں استاد نہیں ہو غالبؔ
         
؎
کہتے ہیں اگلے زمانے میں کوئی میرؔ بھی تھا
Transliteration
Reḵẖtah ke tumhī ustād nahīṉ ho G̱ẖālib
Kahte haiṉ Agle zamāne meṉ ko'ī Mīr bhī thā
Translation
You are not the only master of Rekhta,[note 2] Ghalib
(They) say that in the past there also was someone (named) Mir.

Sample text

The following is a sample text in Urdu, of the Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (by the United Nations):

Urdu text

دفعہ ۱: تمام انسان آزاد اور حقوق و عزت کے اعتبار سے برابر پیدا ہوئے ہیں۔ انہیں ضمیر اور عقل ودیعت ہوئی ہے۔ اس لئے انہیں ایک دوسرے کے ساتھ بھائی چارے کا سلوک کرنا چاہئے۔

Transliteration (ALA-LC)

Dafʿah 1: Tamām insān āzād aur ḥuqūq o ʿizzat ke iʿtibār se barābar paidā hūʾe haiṉ. Unheṉ ẓamīr aur ʿaql wadīʿat hūʾī hai. Is liʾe unheṉ ek dūsre ke sāth bhāʾī cāre kā sulūk karnā cāhiʾe.

IPA transcription

d̪əfɑː eːk: t̪əmɑːm ɪnsɑːn ɑːzɑːd̪ ɔːr hʊquːq oː ɪzzət̪ keː et̪ɪbɑːr seː bərɑːbər pɛːd̪ɑː ɦuːeː ɦɛ̃ː. ʊnɦẽː zəmiːr ɔːr əql ʋəd̪iːət̪ huːiː hɛː. ɪs lieː ʊnɦẽː eːk d̪uːsreː keː sɑːt̪ʰ bʱaːiː t͡ʃɑːreː kɑː sʊluːk kərnɑː t͡ʃɑːɦieː.

Gloss (word-for-word)

Article 1: All humans free[,] and rights and dignity *('s) consideration from equal born are. Them to conscience and intellect endowed is. This for, they one another *('s) with brotherhood *('s) treatment do should.

Translation (grammatical)

Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience. Therefore, they should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Note: *('s) represents a possessive case that, when written, is preceded by the possessor and followed by the possessed, unlike the English "of".

See also

Notes

  1. ^ An example can be seen in the word "need" in Urdu. Urdu uses the Persian version ضرورت rather than the original Arabic ضرورة. See: John T. Platts "A dictionary of Urdu, classical Hindi, and English" (1884) Page 749. Urdu also use Persian pronunciation – for instance rather than pronouncing ض as "ḍ" an emphatic consonant, the original sound in Arabic, Urdu uses the Persian pronunciation "z". See: John T. Platts "A dictionary of Urdu, classical Hindi, and English" (1884) Page 748
  2. ^ Rekhta was the name for the Urdu language in Ghalib's days.

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Further reading

  • Henry Blochmann (1877). English and Urdu dictionary, romanized (8 ed.). CALCUTTA: Printed at the Baptist mission press for the Calcutta school-book society. p. 215. Retrieved 6 July 2011. the University of Michigan
  • John Dowson (1908). A grammar of the Urdū or Hindūstānī language (3 ed.). LONDON: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., ltd. p. 264. Retrieved 6 July 2011. the University of Michigan
  • John Dowson (1872). A grammar of the Urdū or Hindūstānī language. LONDON: Trübner & Co. p. 264. Retrieved 6 July 2011. Oxford University
  • John Thompson Platts (1874). A grammar of the Hindūstānī or Urdū language. Volume 6423 of Harvard College Library preservation microfilm program. LONDON: W.H. Allen. p. 399. Retrieved 6 July 2011. Oxford University
  • John Thompson Platts (1892). A grammar of the Hindūstānī or Urdū language. LONDON: W.H. Allen. p. 399. Retrieved 6 July 2011. the New York Public Library
  • John Thompson Platts (1884). A dictionary of Urdū, classical Hindī, and English (reprint ed.). LONDON: H. Milford. p. 1259. Retrieved 6 July 2011. Oxford University
  • Ahmad, Rizwan. 2006. "Voices people write: Examining Urdu in Devanagari"
  • Alam, Muzaffar. 1998. "The Pursuit of Persian: Language in Mughal Politics." In Modern Asian Studies, vol. 32, no. 2. (May, 1998), pp. 317–349.
  • Asher, R. E. (Ed.). 1994. The Encyclopedia of language and linguistics. Oxford: Pergamon Press. ISBN 0-08-035943-4.
  • Azad, Muhammad Husain. 2001 [1907]. Aab-e hayat (Lahore: Naval Kishor Gais Printing Works) 1907 [in Urdu]; (Delhi: Oxford University Press) 2001. [In English translation]
  • Azim, Anwar. 1975. Urdu a victim of cultural genocide. In Z. Imam (Ed.), Muslims in India (p. 259).
  • Bhatia, Tej K. 1996. Colloquial Hindi: The Complete Course for Beginners. London, UK & New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-11087-4 (Book), 0415110882 (Cassettes), 0415110890 (Book & Cassette Course)
  • Bhatia, Tej K. and Koul Ashok. 2000. "Colloquial Urdu: The Complete Course for Beginners." London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-13540-0 (Book); ISBN 0-415-13541-9 (cassette); ISBN 0-415-13542-7 (book and casseettes course)
  • Chatterji, Suniti K. 1960. Indo-Aryan and Hindi (rev. 2nd ed.). Calcutta: Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay.
  • Dua, Hans R. 1992. "Hindi-Urdu as a pluricentric language". In M. G. Clyne (Ed.), Pluricentric languages: Differing norms in different nations. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-012855-1.
  • Dua, Hans R. 1994a. Hindustani. In Asher, 1994; pp. 1554.
  • Dua, Hans R. 1994b. Urdu. In Asher, 1994; pp. 4863–4864.
  • Durrani, Attash, Dr. 2008. Pakistani Urdu.Islamabad: National Language Authority, Pakistan.
  • Gumperz, J.J. (1982). "Discourse Strategies". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Hassan, Nazir and Omkar N. Koul 1980. Urdu Phonetic Reader. Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages.
  • Syed Maqsud Jamil (16 June 2006). "The Literary Heritage of Urdu". Daily Star. 
  • Kelkar, A. R. 1968. Studies in Hindi-Urdu: Introduction and word phonology. Poona: Deccan College.
  • Khan, M. H. 1969. Urdu. In T. A. Sebeok (Ed.), Current trends in linguistics (Vol. 5). The Hague: Mouton.
  • King, Christopher R. 1994. One Language, Two Scripts: The Hindi Movement in Nineteenth Century North India. Bombay: Oxford University Press.
  • Koul, Ashok K. 2008. Urdu Script and Vocabulary. Delhi: Indian Institute of Language Studies.
  • Koul, Omkar N. 1994. Hindi Phonetic Reader. Delhi: Indian Institute of Language Studies.
  • Koul, Omkar N. 2008. Modern Hindi Grammar. Springfield: Dunwoody Press.
  • Narang, G. C. and D. A. Becker. 1971. Aspiration and nasalization in the generative phonology of Hindi-Urdu. Language, 47, 646–767.
  • Ohala, M. 1972. Topics in Hindi-Urdu phonology. (PhD dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles).
  • "A Desertful of Roses", a site about Ghalib's Urdu ghazals by Dr. Frances W. Pritchett, Professor of Modern Indic Languages at Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.
  • Phukan, S. 2000. The Rustic Beloved: Ecology of Hindi in a Persianate World, The Annual of Urdu Studies, vol 15, issue 5, pp. 1–30
  • The Comparative study of Urdu and Khowar. Badshah Munir Bukhari National Language Authority Pakistan 2003.
  • Rai, Amrit. 1984. A house divided: The origin and development of Hindi-Hindustani. Delhi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-561643-X.
  • Snell, Rupert Teach yourself Hindi: A complete guide for beginners. Lincolnwood, IL: NTC
  • Pimsleur, Dr. Paul, "Free Urdu Audio Lesson"
  • The poisonous potency of script: Hindi and Urdu, ROBERT D. KING

External links

  • Directory of Urdu websites.
  • Urdu's origin: it's not a ‘camp language’ Dawn News
  • Urdu Scholarship-Maldonado Garcia
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