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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 each other and communicated in different dialects, which slowly and gradually evolved into present day Urdu. It's for this reason that Urdu can be referred to as Lashkari Zaban or language of the army.

Throughout its development Urdu language also assumed varied names like the time period Urdu-e-Maullah that means the exalted military which was given by Emperor Shah Jahan and the time period Rekhta which means 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. Varied invasions and conquests on a place affect the development of its language. Urdu isn't any exception as it additionally underwent numerous stages of development.

Urdu belongs to the Indo-Aryan family of languages. Urdu by origin is considered to be a descendent of Saur Senic Prakrit. The time period Prakrriti means root or basis. It's 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 coming of Insha's Darya-e-Latafat*, a necessity was felt to differentiate Urdu with different languages especially Hindi. It became a Hindi-Urdu controversy and as a result Khari Boli and Devanagari became the identity of Indians while Urdu and Persian of Muslims. In this context, Persian and Arabic words replaced with Sanskrit served the aim 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. As a result of the amalgamation of native dialects and the language of the invaders - which was either Persian, Arabic and Turkish, a new language evolved which later grew to become Urdu. During 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 develop into Persianized and enriched with Persian words, phrases and even script and grammar. With the approaching of the British, new English words additionally grew to become part of the Urdu language. Many English words were accepted of their real form while others have been accepted after some modifications.

Presently, Urdu vocabulary incorporates approximately 70% of Persian words and the remainder are a mix of Arabic and Turkish words. However, there are also traces of the French, Portuguese and Dutch language in Urdu. But these influences are little.

Urdu was taken to different parts of the country by soldiers, saints and sufis and by the widespread people. On account of the political, social and cultural contacts amongst the people of various speech and dialects, a combined form of language formed called 'Rekhta' (Urdu and Persian in blended form). Soon folks started to use the new language in their speech and in literature which resulted within the enrichment of Urdu language and literature.

Urdu Literature

The origin of Urdu literature dates back to the 13th century in India throughout the Mughal rule. One of the eminent earliest poets who made utilization of Urdu in his poetry is Amir Khusro who will be called the father of Urdu language. In literature, Urdu was normally used along side Persian. Mughal kings were the great patrons of artwork and literature and it was under their rule that Urdu language reached its zenith. There was a tradition of 'Sheri Mehfils' (poetic gatherings) within the kings' courts. Abul Fazal Faizi and Abdul Rahim Khankhana have been 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 by way of their literary works.

It is certainly 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 totally different as can be. There are marked grammatical, phonological and lexical differences in both languages.

Urdu was additionally used as a software by the Muslims for freedom struggle and for creating awareness among Muslim communities in South Asia to unite under the banner of Independence from British Raj. For this, services of Maulana Hali, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Allama Iqbal are notable, who by means of their poetry and prose provoked the necessary spark within the lives of the Muslims. Urdu was chosen to develop into the nationwide language of Pakistan at the time of Independence from British. Urdu is now the nationwide language of Pakistan, spoken and understood totally by majority of the population.

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