Urdu – The Origin and History of the Language

The time period Urdu derives from a Turkish word ordu that means camp or army. The Urdu language developed between the Muslim soldiers of the Mughals armies who belonged to varied ethnicities like Turks, Arabs, Persians, Pathans, Balochis, Rajputs, Jats and Afghans. These soldiers lived in shut contact with one another and communicated in several dialects, which slowly and gradually developed into current day Urdu. It’s for this reason that Urdu can be referred to as Lashkari Zaban or language of the army.

During its development Urdu language also assumed numerous names like the time period Urdu-e-Maullah meaning the exalted military which was given by Emperor Shah Jahan and the term Rekhta which means scattered (with Persian words) which was coined by the scholars for Urdu poetry.

History and Evolution of Urdu Language

Evolution and development of any language depends on the evolution and development of a society the place that language is spoken. Varied invasions and conquests on a spot have an effect on the development of its language. Urdu isn’t any exception as it additionally underwent various phases of development.

Urdu belongs to the Indo-Aryan family of languages. Urdu by origin is considered to be a descendent of Saur Senic Prakrit. The time period Prakrriti means root or basis. It is a later version of Sanskrit. As Prakrit language started to develop, it was influenced by Western Hindi dialects of Khari Boli, Brij Bhasa and Haryanvi.

With the approaching of Insha’s Darya-e-Latafat*, a need was felt to differentiate Urdu with other languages especially Hindi. It turned a Hindi-Urdu controversy and in consequence Khari Boli and Devanagari became the identity of Indians while Urdu and Persian of Muslims. In this context, Persian and Arabic words replaced with Sanskrit served the aim of differentiating Hindi from Urdu.

Urdu emerged as a distinct language after 1193 AD – the time of the Muslims conquest. When the Muslims conquered this part of the continent, they made Persian the official and cultural language of India. As a result of the amalgamation of native dialects and the language of the invaders – which was either Persian, Arabic and Turkish, a new language evolved which later became Urdu. In the course of the Mughals reign, Urdu was spoken in palaces and court and till the top of the Mughal rule; Urdu was the official language of most of Mughal states. This was the time when Urdu had develop into Persianized and enriched with Persian words, phrases and even script and grammar. With the approaching of the British, new English words also became part of the Urdu language. Many English words have been accepted of their real form while others have been accepted after some modifications.

At the moment, Urdu vocabulary comprises approximately 70% of Persian words and the rest are a mixture of Arabic and Turkish words. Nevertheless, there are additionally traces of the French, Portuguese and Dutch language in Urdu. However these influences are little.

Urdu was taken to different parts of the country by soldiers, saints and sufis and by the widespread people. On account of the political, social and cultural contacts amongst the individuals of different speech and dialects, a combined form of language formed called ‘Rekhta’ (Urdu and Persian in mixed form). Quickly people started to make use of the new language in their speech and in literature which resulted in the enrichment of Urdu language and literature.

Urdu Literature

The origin of Urdu literature dates back to the thirteenth century in India throughout the Mughal rule. Probably the most eminent earliest poets who made usage of Urdu in his poetry is Amir Khusro who might be called the father of Urdu language. In literature, Urdu was normally used alongside side Persian. Mughal kings were the nice patrons of art and literature and it was under their rule that Urdu language reached its zenith. There was a tradition of ‘Sheri Mehfils’ (poetic gatherings) in the kings’ courts. Abul Fazal Faizi and Abdul Rahim Khankhana have been the well-known Urdu poets of Mughal court. Likewise, Mirza Ghalib, Allama Iqbal, Hakim Momin, Ibrahim Zauq, Mir Taqi Mir, Sauda, Ibn-e-Insha and Faiz Ahmed Faiz have contributed to the evolution of Urdu language by way of their literary works.

It is certainly true that Hindi and Urdu are descendents of the identical language i.e. Prakrit, however where the Hindi took affect from Sanskrit and adopted Devanagri script of writing, Urdu absorbed words from Persian, Turkish and Arabic languages and adopted Persian-Arabic script and Nastaliq calligraphic style of writing and emerged as a separate language. However beside frequent ancestry, the 2 languages are as totally different as can be. There are marked grammatical, phonological and lexical variations in both languages.

Urdu was also used as a device by the Muslims for freedom struggle and for creating awareness among Muslim communities in South Asia to unite under the banner of Independence from British Raj. For this, providers of Maulana Hali, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Allama Iqbal aren’table, who by means of their poetry and prose provoked the mandatory spark in the lives of the Muslims. Urdu was chosen to grow to be the nationwide language of Pakistan at the time of Independence from British. Urdu is now the nationwide language of Pakistan, spoken and understood totally by majority of the population.

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