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The language Urdu (اردو) has evolved based on the linguistics, ethnicity, religion, and national identity of the region it has developed in.

Contents

Urdu and other Indo-Aryan languages

While much of Urdu's nouns and adverbs draws on Arabic and Persian, its grammar, pronouns and verbs stems from its origins among the Prakrit-based Apabhramsa languages of the native peoples of India. Most of the basic vocabulary of Urdu, including grammatical articles, pronouns, and auxiliary verbs, developed in conjunction with Hindi from Prakrit precursors. Although Urdu and Hindi are separated by two completely different writing systems (Perso-Arabic script and Devanagari script, respectively) and formal vocabularies, the two language communities have been continuously connected by commerce and culture.

Persian/Turkish/Arabic influences

Shah Jahan's court in Delhi

The term Urdu came in to existence when Shah Jahan founded a new settlement of Delhi as his new capital, then called Shahjahanabad. Its earlier forms such as Rekhta or Hindawi were much closer to Hindi. The works of the 13th century scholar Amir Khusro are sometimes said to be in Urdu:

Sej vo sūnī dekh ke rovun main din rain,
Piyā piyā main karat hūn pahron, pal bhar sukh nā chain.

Seeing the empty bed I cry night and day
Calling for my beloved all day, not a moment's happiness or rest.

The Persian language was crucial in the formation of a common language of the Central, North and Northwest regions of the South Asia. Following the Mughal conquest of South Asia and the resulting vast Islamic empire, especially in the northern and central regions of the South Asia, a hybrid language of Arabic, Pashto, Turkish, Persian, and local dialects began to form around the 16th and 17th centuries CE, one that would eventually be known as Urdu (from a Turkish word meaning "army", in allusion to the army barracks of visiting troops).

Mughal Emperor Shahjahan built a new walled city Shahjahanabad in Delhi in 1639. The market close to the royal fort (Red Fort) came to be called Urdu Bazar and the language was eventually termed Urdu. It grew from the interaction of (often Persian-speaking) Muslim soldiers and native peoples. Soon, the Persian script and Nasta'liq form of cursive was adopted, with additional figures added to accommodate the South Asian phonetic system, and a new language based on the South Asian grammar with a vocabulary largely divided between Persian (and indirectly some Arabic) and local Prakrit dialects. Elements peculiar to Persian, such as the enclitic ezāfe, and the use of the takhallus, were readily absorbed into Urdu literature both religious and secular. This language was developed by Kashmiri Pandits and now a days widely spoken in South Asia.

The poet Wali Deccani (1667–1707) visited Delhi in 1700[1]. He is termed "Bava Adam" (founding father) of Urdu poetry by Maulana Muhammad Husain Azad wrote in the monumental Aab-e-Hayat (Water of Life)[2]. His visit is considered to be of great significance for Urdu Gazals. His simple and melodious poems in Urdu, stunned the Persian loving nobles of Delhi and made them aware of the beauty and capability of "Rekhta" or "Hindawi" (the old name for Urdu) as a medium of poetic expression. His visit thus stimulated the development of Urdu Gazal in imperial city of old Delhi.

Urdu soon gained distinction as the preferred language in courts of South Asia and eventually replaced Persian among the nobles. To this day retains an important place in literary and cultural spheres. Many distinctly Persian forms of literature, such as ghazals and nazms, came to both influence and be affected by South Asian culture, producing a distinct melding of Middle Eastern and South Asian heritages. A famous cross-over writer was Amir Khusro, whose Persian and Urdu couplets are to this day read in the subcontinent. Persian has sometimes been termed an adopted classical language of the South Asia alongside Sanskrit due to its role in South Asian tradition.

Urdu and English

Beginning with the establishment of the first British East India Company outposts, and continuing throughout the period of British rule, English loanwords began making their way into Urdu. English-language education, a requirement for the administrative classes that managed India and its population for the British ruling elite, greatly accelerated this development. Soon, English became identified with Western culture and modernity, and many of the Urdu words borrowed from English - doctor /ˈɖɔkʈɻ/, taxi /ˈʈɑksi/, meter /ˈmiʈɻ/ - reflect this association.

The influence of English has continued in the post-independence period, as both India and Pakistan have continued to use English as a regionally neutral language of business and administration, and people of South Asian descent stay in contact with their friends and extended families in the South Asia.

Conclusion

Urdu soon gained distinction as the preferred language in the Persian courts of Hindustan which brought Islam to this region, and to this day retains an important place in literary and cultural spheres. Many distinctly Persian forms of literature, such as ghazals and nazms, came to both influence and be affected by South Asian culture, producing a distinct melding of Middle Eastern and South Asian heritages. A famous crossover writer was Amir Khusro, whose Persian and Urdu couplets are to this day read in India and Pakistan. Persian has sometimes been termed an adopted classical language of South Asia alongside Sanskrit, due to its role in South Asian tradition.

See also

References

  1. ^ Pain and Grace: A Study of Two Mystical Writers of Eighteenth-century Muslim India, By Annemarie Schimmel, BRILL, 1976
  2. ^ Excerpts from Aab-e Hayat http://minds.wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/12031

External links

Here is a brief summary of the history of Urdu by the BBC.

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