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Urdu - The Origin And History Of The Language

Urdu - The Origin And History Of The Language

The time period 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 several dialects, which slowly and gradually advanced into present day Urdu. It's for this reason that Urdu can also be referred to as Lashkari Zaban or language of the army.

Throughout its development Urdu language also assumed numerous names like the term Urdu-e-Maullah which means the exalted army 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. Varied invasions and conquests on a place have an effect on the development of its language. Urdu is not any exception as it additionally underwent numerous 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 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 distinguish Urdu with different languages especially Hindi. It grew to become a Hindi-Urdu controversy and in consequence Khari Boli and Devanagari turned 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 native dialects and the language of the invaders - which was either Persian, Arabic and Turkish, a new language developed which later became Urdu. In the course of the Mughals reign, Urdu was spoken in palaces and court and till the end of the Mughal rule; Urdu was the official language of most of Mughal states. This was the time when Urdu had become Persianized and enriched with Persian words, phrases and even script and grammar. With the coming of the British, new English words additionally grew to become part of the Urdu language. Many English words were accepted in their real form while others have been accepted after some modifications.

At the moment, Urdu vocabulary contains approximately 70% of Persian words and the remainder are a combination 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 common people. As a result of the political, social and cultural contacts amongst the folks of different speech and dialects, a mixed form of language formed called 'Rekhta' (Urdu and Persian in combined form). Soon individuals 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 13th century in India through the Mughal rule. One of the crucial 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 have 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) 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 via 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 type of writing and emerged as a separate language. However beside frequent ancestry, the two 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 battle and for making 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 are usually notable, who by way of their poetry and prose provoked the required spark in the lives of the Muslims. Urdu was chosen to turn out to be the nationwide language of Pakistan at the time of Independence from British. Urdu is now the national language of Pakistan, spoken and understood completely by majority of the population.

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