The term Urdu derives from a Turkish word ordu which 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 close contact with each other and communicated in numerous dialects, which slowly and gradually developed into current day Urdu. It is for this reason that Urdu can also be referred to as Lashkari Zaban or language of the army.
During its development Urdu language also assumed numerous names like the term Urdu-e-Maullah that means the exalted military which was given by Emperor Shah Jahan and the term Rekhta meaning 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 is dependent on the evolution and development of a society the place that language is spoken. Numerous invasions and conquests on a place have an effect on the development of its language. Urdu is no exception as it also underwent various stages of development.
Urdu belongs to the Indo-Aryan household of languages. Urdu by origin is considered to be a descendent of Saur Senic Prakrit. The time period Prakrriti means root or basis. It’s a later model 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 distinguish Urdu with other languages particularly Hindi. It became a Hindi-Urdu controversy and in consequence Khari Boli and Devanagari grew to become the identity of Indians while Urdu and Persian of Muslims. In this context, Persian and Arabic words changed with Sanskrit served the aim of differentiating Hindi from Urdu.
Urdu emerged as a definite 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. On account of the amalgamation of local dialects and the language of the invaders – which was either Persian, Arabic and Turkish, a new language evolved which later grew to become Urdu. Throughout the Mughals reign, Urdu was spoken in palaces and court and till the tip of the Mughal rule; Urdu was the official language of most of Mughal states. This was the time when Urdu had turn into Persianized and enriched with Persian words, phrases and even script and grammar. With the approaching of the British, new English words additionally turned part of the Urdu language. Many English words had been accepted in their real form while others had been accepted after some modifications.
At the moment, Urdu vocabulary incorporates approximately 70% of Persian words and the remainder are a mix of Arabic and Turkish words. However, there are also 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. Because of the political, social and cultural contacts amongst the people of various speech and dialects, a mixed form of language formed called ‘Rekhta’ (Urdu and Persian in blended form). Quickly folks started to use the new language of their speech and in literature which resulted within the enrichment of Urdu language and literature.
The origin of Urdu literature dates back to the thirteenth century in India throughout the Mughal rule. One of the vital eminent earliest poets who made utilization of Urdu in his poetry is Amir Khusro who could be called the daddy of Urdu language. In literature, Urdu was normally used along side Persian. Mughal kings had been the great patrons of art and literature and it was under their rule that Urdu language reached its zenith. There used to be a tradition of ‘Sheri Mehfils’ (poetic gatherings) within the kings’ courts. Abul Fazal Faizi and Abdul Rahim Khankhana have been the famous 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 via their literary works.
It is indeed true that Hindi and Urdu are descendents of the identical language i.e. Prakrit, however where the Hindi took influence 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 model of writing and emerged as a separate language. But beside common ancestry, the two languages are as different as can be. There are marked grammatical, phonological and lexical variations in both languages.
Urdu was also used as a software by the Muslims for freedom struggle and for making awareness amongst Muslim communities in South Asia to unite under the banner of Independence from British Raj. For this, services of Maulana Hali, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Allama Iqbal aren’table, who through their poetry and prose provoked the mandatory spark in the lives of the Muslims. Urdu was chosen to turn out to be the nationwide language of Pakistan on the time of Independence from British. Urdu is now the nationwide language of Pakistan, spoken and understood completely by mainity of the population.
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