Urdu vs Hindi
Difference between Urdu and Hindi is not easy to understand if you are not familiar with the two languages. We all know that Hindi is the national language of India being spoken by a large majority of people in the indo Gangetic belt (read Northern part). Urdu is another popular language spoken by Muslim populace in the country as well as other regions of South Asia, especially Pakistan. Urdu is a scheduled language among 22 that have been scheduled in India and is official language in 5 states of the country. There are many similarities in both the languages; so much so that some language experts decline to accept them as separate, distinct languages. However, there are glaring differences, obviously in the form of Persian and Arabic influences that justify categorization of Hindi and Urdu into two different languages with same origins. This article attempts to elucidate differences between Hindi and Urdu for those who are not native and remain confused by these two languages.
What is Hindi? What is Urdu?
Urdu is a Central Indo Aryan language that came into existence with various influences, mainly those of Mughals, Turks, Arabic, Persian as well as the local Hindi language. It was the establishment of Delhi Sultanate in the 16th century and later the Mughal Empire that Urdu began to be recognized as a court language. However, if one listens to Urdu, it is almost identical to Hindi in phonetics and grammar. This is because of shared history having the same Indic base. In fact, in places where there are both Hindi and Urdu speakers in India like Lucknow or even Delhi, it is hard to tell the differences as both have intermingled and given way to an entirely different spoken language better known as Hindustani, or Hindi-Urdu. If we add up speakers of Urdu, Hindi and Hindustani, we get a number that is fourth highest in terms of languages in the world.
When Mughals came to India, they spoke in Chagatai, which is a Turkish language. They adopted Persian as their court language, but to communicate effectively with local inhabitants, they had to incorporate Sanskrit based words in their language that could be understood by the native people. Though the base was Hindi, technical and literary words from Arabic, Persian, and Turkish languages were retained in this new language that slowly and gradually evolved and took the place of Hindi in Mughal dominated areas.
What is the difference between Urdu and Hindi?
• Talking of differences, Urdu uses a Perso-Arabic script, while Hindi uses Devanagari script.
• Hindi is written from left to right, whereas Urdu is written right to left.
• However, as far as spoken languages are concerned, it is hard to differentiate between modern Hindi and Urdu as both contain a lot of words from each other’s vocabulary.
• Though, because of communal tensions and an attempt to assert their supremacy, speakers of Urdu and Hindi claim these languages to be totally different, but it is a fact that the two languages have a shared history and influences that have made them intermingle to give rise to an altogether different language called as Hindustani.
- A word cloud graphic image containing basic Hindi conversational words and phrases by Day Translations Team (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Small correction. Hindi is the official language and not the national language of India.