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The Urdū alphabet, with names in the Devanāgarī and Latin alphabets.

Urdu is a language written in the Perso-Arabic Script, and has many letters common with Arabic and Persian. It is written from right to left. However, Urdu is often written in the Latin alphabet in text messaging and e-mails.

Urdu is widely spoken in Pakistan and India, though it also has large number of speakers in the Middle East, United Kingdom, and North America.

Urdu, also known as Lashkari, or the Lashkari language (لشکری ‍زبان) is the national language of Pakistan and a recognized regional language in India. It is an Indo-Aryan language, meaning it descends from Proto-Indo-Aryan, a language spoken northeast of the Caspian Sea in the third millennia BC.

It is spoken as a lingua franca by most people in Pakistan. It is also spoken in some parts of India like the states of Delhi, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. With some exceptions words are similar to spoken Hindi. When written, it is written completely different from Hindi. That is why speakers of Hindi and Urdu can have a conversation with one another, but may not be able to read or write one of these two scripts.

Native speakers[edit | edit source]

There are estimated to be about 60 and 70 million native speakers of Urdu. There were 52 million in India per the 2001 census, some 6% of the population approximately 10 million in Pakistan or 7.57% per the 1998 census and an additional 100 million people. who can speak it as a secondary language. It is also closely related to the language Hindi, and speakers of the everyday forms of the languages can usually understand each other.

History[edit | edit source]

Urdu is believed to have evolved from contact between the local Indo-Aryan (prakrith, a localized form of Sanskrit) speaking population and the people of the Persian/Arabic speaking nations who invaded and ruled the Indian sub-continent for almost 1000 years since the attacks of Ghaznavi in early 10th Century. Urdu evolved in the Indian sub-continent from various local dialects such as Prakrit and Brij Bhasha with outside influences from the Arabic, Persian, and Turkish languages.

Urdu language authors or poets[edit | edit source]

Urdu is rich in both prose and poetry. Some famous poets who wrote in Urdu are Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Mirza Ghalib, Mir Taqi Mir, and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Allama Muhammad Iqbal is recognized as the national poet of Pakistan.

National poet of Pakistan, Muhammad Iqbal

Basic words[edit | edit source]

Urdu word or phrase Latin version English translation
آداب Aadab Greetings!
شکریہ Shukriya Thank you.
برائے مہربانی baraey meherbani Please
معاف کیجئے maaf keejiye Sorry
شب بخیر shab Bakhair Good Night
آپ کیسے ہیں؟ aap kaise hain? How are you?
میں بخیر ہوں main bakhair hoon I am fine.
آپ کا نام کیا ہے؟ aapka naam kyaa hai? What is your name?
میرا نام صائمہ ہے meraa naam Saima hai My name is Saima.
وقت کیا ہوا ہے؟ Waqt kya hua hai? What time is it?

A poem in Urdu[edit | edit source]

In Urdu

میں اکیلا ہی چلا تھا جانب منزل مگر .

لوگ ساتھ آتے گئے اور کارواں بنتا گیا

Urdu Version (English Text)

main akela hi chala tha jaanib-e-manzil magar

log saath aate gaye aur kaaravaan bantaa gayaa


I had started all alone towards the destination but

People kept joining and it became a caravan.

(According to the Indian Urdu newspaper Pindar,

the couplet is by Majruh Sultan Puri.)