Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and the official language of Indian national administration.
It is spoken in India, Pakistan, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia; 61 million people speak it as their mother tongue, and 104 million people speak it overall.
Urdu is an Indo-Iranian Indo-European language, a member of the Indo-Aryan group. It developed in South Asia under the influence of Persian, Turkish and Arabic, in the period from 1200 to 1800. The Turkish word urdu means encampment, and referred to the language spoken by the mogul troops camped at the gates of Delhi. Furthermore, due to frequent commercial contacts over the years 1500 to 1700, it has also been influenced by Portuguese, and even French and Dutch.
Its grammatical structure is similar to that of Hindi. The main difference is one of script: Hindi uses the devanagari alphabet, while Urdu uses the Perso-Arabic script.
Lexically, in contrast with Hindi, of which 80% is composed of Sanskrit words, Urdu uses terms of Arabic and Persian origin, especially in the areas of religion, terminologies and literature.
Urdu is considered to be one of the most beautiful languages, with its extraordinary elegance and musicality. It is also widely spoken in north India, where it was once the official language; but its status declined after Partition, when it was abolished from schools in favour of Hindi. Urdu literature is particularly rich in poetry, although since the mid-nineteenth century there has been a strong development of theatrical, historical and narrative texts, and it has been used extensively in journalism since the twentieth century.
Urdu is promoted as a national language by the Urdu Development Society, founded in 1903, which publishes Urdu dictionaries and also contributes to its development in information technology.
In what direction is Urdu written?
Urdu is written from right to left, like Arabic.