November 24, 2008

Hindi vs. Urdu

I'm from India, and one of the most interesting things I have come across are the similarities and differences between Hindi and Urdu. So with that being said, I'm going to put on my scholarly hat and talk about these "brother tongues."

Although "Modern Standard Hindi" is the official language of India and Urdu is a "scheduled" language in India based on vocabulary choice and cultural orientation, they are part of a single subdialect with minimal grammatical differences. Thus, when discussing the various aspects of the two languages, we will speak in terms of a single grammatical style.

Modern Standard Hindi, also known as High Hindi, Nagari Hindi or Literary Hindi is one of the 22 official languages of India, and is used, along with English, for administration of the central government. Standard Hindi is a "sanskritised" form derived from the khariboli dialect. By contrast, the spoken Hindi dialects form an extensive dialect continuum of the Indic language family, bounded on the northwest and west by Punjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati and Marathi; on the southeast by Oriya; on the east by Bengali; and on the north by Nepali.

Urdu is a standardized form of Hindustani that is termed as the standard dialect, Khariboli. The word Urdu is believed to be derived from the Turkish, word 'Ordu', which means army encampment. It was initially called Zaban-e-Ordu or language of the army and later just Urdu. It obtained its name from Urdu Bazar, i.e. encampment market, the market near Red Fort in the walled city of Delhi. Urdu, though of South Asian origin, came to be heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic. Urdu has been the medium of the literature, history and journalism of South Asian Muslims during the last 200 years. Most of the work was complemented by ancestors of native Urdu speakers in South Asia.

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