There are about 230 million Urdu speakers around the world. But really, who are they? What countries speak Urdu? Let's find out!
Historically, Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language with a very gentle, polite, and soothing tone. Ridiculing someone, being sarcastic, or verbally insulting someone in Urdu is downright impossible as the language is very respectful.
It was also first called as "Urdu" language by a poet called Ghulam Hamadani Mushafi in the late 18th century. The word Urdu is derived from the Turkish word Ordu meaning camp.
Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, and it shares the position of the official language with English. Urdu was adopted as the common language or the lingua franca between several languages and local dialects surrounding the area at that time.
You may wonder - Urdu as the national language makes sense, but why English? In 1947, when Pakistan became its own country, separating from India, English became a de facto language. Maybe this happened because of the number of English words spoken and used in Pakistan.
De facto means it is in effect though not formally recognized. In the constitution in 1973, English was mentioned as the co-official language spoken in Pakistan.
The Urdu language is from an Indo-European family of languages, and it is actually from Indo Iranian branch and is connected to the Vedic Sanskrit language.
Long ago, Urdu was called Zaban e Urdu which means the language of the camp. This was also around the same time it gained the name "Urdu" or Ordu. Generally, it was the Hindustani language or the language of Hindus. Urdu was a mutually intelligible language spoken in the Mughal period and Delhi sultanate. The language began to change once the Muslim population grew as Islamic influence grew in Hindustan.
As Urdu developed, the literary part of it was created among the elite. Perhaps this is why it's such a sophisticated language! Many Urdu vocabulary is from Indo-Aryan from the Indian dialect, Khariboli. The writing system was created and called Nastiliq with beautiful Persian calligraphy.
For some time, Perso Arabic script was also used by Muslim and Hindu elites in the court and government offices for official documents. Eventually, the difference in how Hindus and Muslims write became a root reason for separation in the later years.
Since Urdu is spoken by such a large population of people worldwide, you may wonder what countries speak Urdu? The Indian subcontinent is home to many official languages and minority languages. Native Urdu speakers are mainly in Pakistan as the literary language and some in India as a second language.
Hindi and Urdu languages are closely related with the same etymological roots. Both countries have the Urdu language down as their official language.
India has a sizeable Muslim population. Delhi and Northern India have several states speaking Urdu, such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, Jammu, and Kashmir. Some people also exist in South India but do not speak Urdu. Their neighbor, Nepal, has Urdu as their registered regional dialect.
Standard Urdu is also spoken in Urdu communities such as the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The Muslim community in South Africa still speaks Urdu, and some immigrants living in Bangladesh talk to Urdu.
Not all counties that speak Urdu use the Urdu alphabet and Urdu script. Written Urdu has Persian and Arabic letters, and the hand is called Nastaliq. Many who talk to Urdu may enjoy Urdu poetry and Urdu newspapers. But may use other languages for their writing.
As the language of Pakistan is Urdu, this Perso Arabic script is their writing system. Other countries may have Urdu as a minority language, and it is written in India. The languages Pashto, Kashmiri, and Punjabi are also written using the same script.
Hindu Punjabis would use the Gurumukhi script. The other script used by Muslim Punjabis is the Shahmukhi script, and the name itself means "word of Shahs." Punjabi Muslims would use the Shahmukhi script for writing, similar to Urdu, which is the superset of the written Urdu language.
Punjabi Muslims can read the Urdu script and the Shahmukhi script fluently as they are from the same Perso Arabic script.
Many languages are spoken in Pakistan. History tells us that Central Asia is filled with languages spoken with such diversity. From Russian to versions of Persian. In present-day Asia, the national identity of each country comes from its spoken language. Commonly spoken languages are the official state language. Though standard Hindi and Urdu are spoken in India, Urdu and not Hindi is the primary language of Pakistan.
You can focus on learning a single language to grasp the different languages better. Depending on your mother tongue, you can try Urdu. If you know it, Hindi words are much the same as Urdu and can speed up your learning.
Ling is a gamified language learning app with free lessons available on the go for speaking, writing, listening, and reading Urdu. Learning a new language can be very challenging. Having Ling as your partner and support can significantly improve your learning experience. It has pronunciations, examples, translations, and vocabulary that will greatly boost your ability to grasp the language.
With the understanding that not all learners are the same, the lessons are very compact with a big impact! They are designed to help you learn at least one new thing daily! Choose Ling in your journey to learn Urdu and watch yourself speak like a pro in no time!