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 close contact with each other and communicated in different dialects, which slowly and gradually advanced into current day Urdu. It is for this reason that Urdu can also be referred to as Lashkari Zaban or language of the army.

Throughout its development Urdu language additionally assumed various names like the time period Urdu-e-Maullah meaning the exalted army which was given by Emperor Shah Jahan and the time period 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 is dependent on the evolution and development of a society where that language is spoken. Varied invasions and conquests on a place affect the development of its language. Urdu is not any exception as it additionally underwent varied levels 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 term Prakrriti means root or basis. It’s a later model of Sanskrit. As Prakrit language began to develop, it was influenced by Western Hindi dialects of Khari Boli, Brij Bhasa and Haryanvi.

With the coming of Insha’s Darya-e-Latafat*, a necessity was felt to distinguish Urdu with different languages particularly Hindi. It grew to become 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 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. Because of the amalgamation of native dialects and the language of the invaders – which was either Persian, Arabic and Turkish, a new language developed which later turned Urdu. During 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 turn out to be Persianized and enriched with Persian words, phrases and even script and grammar. With the coming of the British, new English words also grew to become part of the Urdu language. Many English words have been accepted in their real form while others had been accepted after some modifications.

At the moment, Urdu vocabulary accommodates approximately 70% of Persian words and the remainder are a mixture of Arabic and Turkish words. Nonetheless, there are additionally traces of the French, Portuguese and Dutch language in Urdu. But these influences are little.

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

Urdu Literature

The origin of Urdu literature dates back to the 13th century in India in the course of the Mughal rule. One of the most eminent earliest poets who made utilization of Urdu in his poetry is Amir Khusro who could be called the father 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 was once a tradition of ‘Sheri Mehfils’ (poetic gatherings) within 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 their literary works.

It’s certainly true that Hindi and Urdu are descendents of the same language i.e. Prakrit, however the place 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 fashion of writing and emerged as a separate language. However beside widespread ancestry, the 2 languages are as completely 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, companies of Maulana Hali, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Allama Iqbal aren’table, who by their poetry and prose provoked the mandatory spark within the lives of the Muslims. Urdu was chosen to turn out to be the national language of Pakistan on the time of Independence from British. Urdu is now the nationwide language of Pakistan, spoken and understood completely by majority of the population.

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