Urdu Information

Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language identified with Muslims. It is the national language, lingua franca, and one of the two official languages of Pakistan , and one of 22 scheduled languages of India, as an official language of five Indian states. Based on the Khariboli dialect of Delhi, Urdu developed under Persian, Arabic, and Turkic influence over the course of almost 900 years. It began to take shape in what is now Uttar Pradesh during the Delhi Sultanate , and continued to develop under the Mughal Empire . Modern Urdu is mutually intelligible with the younger register of Hindustani, which is often simply called "Hindi".

The original language of the Mughals was Chagatai, a Turkic language, but after their arrival in South Asia, they came to adopt Persian. Gradually, the need to communicate with local inhabitants led to a composition of Sanskrit-derived languages, written in the Perso-Arabic script and with literary conventions and specialised vocabulary being retained from Persian, Arabic and Turkic; the new standard was eventually given its own name of Urdu. Urdu is often contrasted with Hindi. The main differences between the two are that Standard Urdu is conventionally written in Nastaliq calligraphy style of the Perso-Arabic script and relies heavily on Persian and Arabic as a source for technical and literary language, whereas Standard Hindi is conventionally written in Devanāgarī and draws on Sanskrit. However, both have large numbers of Persian, Arabic, and Sanskrit words, and most linguists consider them to be two standardized forms of the same language, and consider the differences to be sociolinguistic, though a few classify them separately. Mutual intelligibility decreases in literary and specialized contexts which rely on educated vocabulary. Because 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 completely distinct languages, despite the fact that they generally cannot tell the colloquial languages apart.

Urdu arose in the contact situation which developed from the invasions of the Indian subcontinent by Persian and Turkic dynasties from the 11th century onwards, first as Sultan Mahmud of the Ghaznavid empire conquered Punjab in the early 11th century, then when the Ghurids invaded northern India in the 12th century, and most decisively with the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate.

Wikipedia, Urdu, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urdu (as of Apr 7, 2011)

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