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Urdu - The Origin And History Of The Language

Urdu - The Origin And History Of The Language

The term Urdu derives from a Turkish word ordu meaning camp or army. The Urdu language developed between the Muslim soldiers of the Mughals armies who belonged to numerous ethnicities like Turks, Arabs, Persians, Pathans, Balochis, Rajputs, Jats and Afghans. These soldiers lived in close contact with one another and communicated in different dialects, which slowly and gradually advanced into present day Urdu. It is for this reason that Urdu can also be referred to as Lashkari Zaban or language of the army.

During its development Urdu language additionally assumed various names like the time period 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 depends on the evolution and development of a society where that language is spoken. Numerous invasions and conquests on a spot affect the development of its language. Urdu is no exception as it also underwent various phases 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 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 differentiate Urdu with other languages particularly Hindi. It turned 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 replaced with Sanskrit served the purpose of differentiating Hindi from Urdu.

Urdu emerged as a distinct 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 local dialects and the language of the invaders - which was either Persian, Arabic and Turkish, a new language evolved which later turned Urdu. Through 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 became part of the Urdu language. Many English words have been accepted of their real form while others had been accepted after some modifications.

Currently, Urdu vocabulary accommodates approximately 70% of Persian words and the rest are a combination of Arabic and Turkish words. Nonetheless, there are also traces of the French, Portuguese and Dutch language in Urdu. However these influences are little.

Urdu was taken to other parts of the country by soldiers, saints and sufis and by the frequent people. Because of the political, social and cultural contacts amongst the folks of various speech and dialects, a combined form of language formed called 'Rekhta' (Urdu and Persian in blended form). Quickly individuals started to make use of the new language of 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 thirteenth century in India in the course of the Mughal rule. Probably the most eminent earliest poets who made usage of Urdu in his poetry is Amir Khusro who may be called the daddy of Urdu language. In literature, Urdu was usually used alongside side Persian. Mughal kings have been the great patrons of artwork 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 were the famous 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 through their literary works.

It is indeed true that Hindi and Urdu are descendents of the identical language i.e. Prakrit, but the place the Hindi took influence 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. But beside frequent ancestry, the two languages are as different as can be. There are marked grammatical, phonological and lexical differences in each languages.

Urdu was additionally used as a instrument by the Muslims for freedom struggle and for making 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 way of their poetry and prose provoked the necessary spark in the lives of the Muslims. Urdu was chosen to turn into the nationwide language of Pakistan on the time of Independence from British. Urdu is now the nationwide language of Pakistan, spoken and understood totally by mainity of the population.

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