Language Overview: Hindi-Urdu

September 9th, 2012

Hindi-Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language and the main working language of North India and Pakistan.

Language Overview Hindi Urdu

History of Hindi-Urdu

Early forms of Hindi-Urdu arose in North India during the 7th–13th centuries AD and were referred to as Hindavi. The Mughal Empire took over Indian rule in 1526 and spoke predominantly Persian. Towards the end of their rule in 1757, the empire had become fragmented and a Khariboli dialect from Delhi known as Hindustani had emerged as the primary language of the northern Indian area.

With British colonization of India from the late 18th through to the late 19th centuries AD, they developed Hindi-Urdu, called Hindustani, as the administrative language of British India.

Hindi-Urdu Today

Today there are two formal standardized dialects of Hindi-Urdu. Modern Standard Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and an officially recognized language in India.

Standard Hindi is the official language of India. It is based on the Khariboli dialect and differs from Urdu due to less Persian influence and because the written form uses the Indian Devanagari script.

Spoken Urdu and Hindi are considered a single language but they differ vastly in literary form and formal vocabulary. Literary Urdu draws heavily on Persian and Arabic while literary Hindi draws heavily on Sanskrit and Prakrit. The grammar and most pronouns, verbs, etc. of both Urdu and Hindi are the same and derived from Prakrit.

Learning Hindi-Urdu

The written forms of Hindi and Urdu vary. Hindi uses the Devanagari script, while Urdu uses a modified and extended Persian script. Hindi-Urdu can be a complicated language for Westerners to learn due to having to learn new scripts as well as the new language. Hindi-Urdu sentence structure can feel awkward for those learning it as a second language.

Translating from Hindi-Urdu to English can be a complicated task. To illustrate this, below is an example of a passage taken from the Universal Declaration of Human rights in formal Hindi and Formal Urdu with accompanying translations.

Formal Hindi: अनुच्छेद 1—सभी मनुष्यों को गौरव और अधिकारों के विषय में जन्मजात स्वतन्त्रता प्राप्त है। उन्हें बुद्धि और अन्तरात्मा की देन प्राप्त है और परस्पर उन्हें भाईचारे के भाव से बर्ताव करना चाहिये।

Word for Word: Human-beings to dignity and rights' matter in from-birth freedom acquired is. Them to reason and conscience's endowment acquired is and always them to brotherhood's spirit with behaviour to do should.

Grammatically Correct: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Formal Urdu: دفعہ 1: تمام انسان آزاد اور حقوق و عزت کے اعتبار سے برابر پیدا ہوۓ ہیں۔ انہیں ضمیر اور عقل ودیعت ہوئی ہیں۔ اسلۓ انہیں ایک دوسرے کے ساتھ بھائی چارے کا سلوک کرنا چاہیۓ۔

Word for Word: All humans free[,] and rights and dignity's consideration from equal born are. To them conscience and intellect endowed is. Therefore, they one another's with brotherhood's treatment do must.

Grammatically Correct: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience. Therefore, they should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

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