Growing up in New Delhi, I had always been fascinated by the remnants of Mughal architecture dotting the city skyline. But it was the Urdu writing (اردو تحریر) carved on those centuries-old walls and minarets that would catch my fancy every time.
Now, it might not be a ‘romance’ language like French, Italian, or Spanish, but many in north India and Pakistan consider Urdu a language of romance. Rekhta (ریختہ), one of its earlier names, is a language of culture – of Adab (ادَب – courteousness) and Tahzeeb (تَہْذِیب – politeness). It is the language of mystical Sufism, divine love, and poetry. It is the language of Sukhan (سخن) – speech, language, and words.
What Are The Features Of Urdu Writing
#1 The Urdu Script
As we noted earlier, it uses the Nastaʻliq script and is typically written from right to left. After the Mughal conquest, Nastaʻliq became the preferred writing style for Urdu. The appearance of letters in cursive depends on their context and positions: Isolated form, initial position (starting from left), medial form (both sides), and final position (joined on the right).
#2 The Urdu Alphabet
There are 39 or 40 Urdu letters without any distinct letter case. Now, the ambiguity regarding the number of alphabets present in this script is quite clear. That’s because it is an ‘abjad’ script that evolved from the Persian script.
This implies that the script only identifies consonants and long vowels. The pronunciation of short vowels is left to the reader’s inference. The first letter of the script is ا (pronounced: Alif), and the last letter is ب (pronounced: Bē).
#3 Sound System
There are 41 consonant sounds and 11 vowel sounds in this language. It is interesting to note that it has borrowed numerous phonemes (smallest unit of speech) from Perso-Arabic and Indo-Aryan languages. It has adopted 14 Indic sounds with aspirated consonants, retroflex consonants, and additional letters in the form of aspirated and unaspirated sounds.
#4 Word Order
The Urdu sentence structure follows the SOV pattern: Subject + Object + Verb. For instance, one can write the translation of “I am eating food” as میں کھانا کھا رہا ہوں (Main khaana kha rahaa hoon). Further, the verbs and adjectives agree with the subject (gender and plurality of nouns).
So, a male would say: میں کھانا کھا رہا ہوں (Main khaana kha rahaa hoon) whereas a female would say میں کھانا کھا رہی ہوں (Main khaana kha rahi hoon).
There’s no denying that this Asian language is unique when it comes to the terminologies it uses. In the case of the Urdu language, most of the terms are known to be greatly influenced by Persian, Turkish, and Arabic words that are not commonly found in other languages (as shown in the tables below). So, the next time you’re trying to connect with someone in Urdu, you might want to brush up on these useful words and phrases beforehand.
|Harmony/ peace/ bliss||سكون||Sukoon|
Fascinating Features Of The Urdu Language
Urdu is the native language of many Indians and Pakistanis, with a vast diaspora settled in the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, and several Gulf countries. Though born in the Delhi of yore, this language enjoys the status of being the official language of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and one of the 22 official languages of the Republic of India. It is also the official state language of several Indian states.
This language was born from the regional Apabhramsha (the literary language of northwestern India’s final phase of the Middle Indo-Aryan languages) in the 12th century. This new language came into existence in the region of present-day Delhi as an amalgamation of the Hindu and Muslim cultures. Urdu was derived from the Turkish word ‘ordu,’ meaning army.
Throughout the centuries, it came to be known by various names – Hindvi, Gujari, Dakkhani, Zaban-e-Hind, Hindi, Zaban-e-Delhi, and so on. In the late 17th and 18th centuries, it was called Hindustani and Zaban-e-Urdu (the language of the army), respectively.
Its Similarities With Hindi
Hindi and Urdu are considered sister languages. One can argue that on many parameters, they are almost identical. For instance, they sound intelligent to each other’s native speakers. At the conversational level, the spoken version of both these languages sounds the same as they both evolved from the same source – Khari Boli – the dialect of the Delhi region during the Delhi Sultanate’s reign.
The primary difference lies in their written forms. While Hindi is written in the Devanagari script from left to right, Urdu uses a modified form of Perso-Arabic script known as Nastaliq (nastaʿlīq – نستعلیق) and is written from right to left.
Moreover, the majority of the Hindi lexicon is borrowed from Sanskrit and Prakrit, while Persian, Arabic, and Turkish heavily influence the latter.
Want To Learn Urdu? Try Ling
Now, wasn’t that a solid start to making a foray into writing the Urdu language? Yes, it might seem quite challenging at the beginning, but which learning curve doesn’t? The most important thing is to make a commitment to your resolve and stay determined to it. For everything else, you can always depend on Ling.
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