Urdu – Origin, and Development of Pakistan’s National Language

Story Highlights
  • Origin of the name
  • Development and Relatives of Urdu
  • Literary Invasion

Urdu, sometimes known as “Shayar’s tongue,” is a widely spoken Central Asian language. It is incredible that Urdu, a not very ancient language, has become one of the most widely spoken and popular languages of literature. It became why Muslims felt the need to demand their land, which speaks volumes about the weight of this language. 

Let’s learn more about the language encapsulating the pain in Ghalib’s poetry and conveying inspiration in Iqbal’s poems.

Origin of the name 

We may learn about the possible origins of other languages by examining the history of this one. The Turkic term “ordu” (army) or “orda,” from which the English “small army” is derived, is the etymological ancestor of the modern-day Urdu language. Urdu has a small number of borrowed Turkic words. However, it is not genetically linked to the Turkic languages and only has borrowed words from them.

Development and Relatives of Urdu

In the 13th and 14th centuries, Turkish, Arabic, and Persian vocabulary were blended into the indigenous dialects of Delhi, termed Dehalvi, which eventually gave rise to Urdu. Urdu’s nearest relative is the language, Hindi. Except for a few terms, native speakers of Urdu and Hindi can communicate well with one another in everyday situations. 

Seventy-five percent of Urdu nouns and ninety-nine percent of Urdu verbs are derived from Sanskrit and Prakrit. About 25% of Urdu’s vocabulary comes from Persian and the rest from Arabic, both influential when Persian-speaking sultans dominated the Indian subcontinent. 

Pashto, Kashmiri, and Panjabi are all written using the same alphabet as Urdu; however, Panjabi uses a script called Gurumukhi.

Literary Invasion

Several factors, including Sufi and royal use, as well as the languages, are spoken on the Deccan Plateau to the south, affected the literary language as the Delhi Sultanate developed. Urdu poetry has a long history, with its origins in the 15th century and its pinnacle in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Shayri, or Urdu poetry, began unexpectedly in the Deccan with Quli Qutub Shah in 1565-1611. He is the pioneer in the quantity of published poetry in Urdu. Such intellectuals carried on his illustrious legacy as Wali Deccani and Siraj Aurangabadi. The Deccan, Delhi, and Lucknow schools are India’s three most prominent Urdu shayri academies. They were all in lockstep with one another. From the 18th century, we have Mir Taqi Mir, Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, and others.

Religious prose in Urdu dates back centuries, but secular literature in the language saw a golden age in the nineteenth century and beyond. Quaid’s rigidity to sustain Urdu as a native language had given the language a home and a life. Many millions of Indians, as well as Pakistanis, speak modern Urdu as their native tongue. 

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