Urdu - The Origin And History Of The Language

The time period Urdu derives from a Turkish word ordu that means camp or army. The Urdu language developed between the Muslim soldiers of the Mughals armies who belonged to various ethnicities like Turks, Arabs, Persians, Pathans, Balochis, Rajputs, Jats and Afghans. These soldiers lived in shut contact with one another and communicated in several dialects, which slowly and gradually developed into present day Urdu. It's for this reason that Urdu can be referred to as Lashkari Zaban or language of the army.

During its development Urdu language additionally assumed varied names like the term Urdu-e-Maullah that 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 relies 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 isn't any exception as it also underwent various levels 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 model 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 need was felt to differentiate Urdu with other languages particularly Hindi. It turned a Hindi-Urdu controversy and consequently Khari Boli and Devanagari grew to become 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 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. Because of the amalgamation of local dialects and the language of the invaders - which was either Persian, Arabic and Turkish, a new language developed which later grew to become Urdu. Throughout the Mughals reign, Urdu was spoken in palaces and court and till the top of the Mughal rule; Urdu was the official language of most of Mughal states. This was the time when Urdu had turn into Persianized and enriched with Persian words, phrases and even script and grammar. With the coming of the British, new English words also became part of the Urdu language. Many English words were accepted of their real form while others had been accepted after some modifications.

At present, Urdu vocabulary contains approximately 70% of Persian words and the rest are a mixture 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 individuals of different speech and dialects, a mixed form of language formed called 'Rekhta' (Urdu and Persian in mixed form). Soon individuals started to use 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 thirteenth century in India throughout the Mughal rule. One of the eminent earliest poets who made usage of Urdu in his poetry is Amir Khusro who could be called the father of Urdu language. In literature, Urdu was often used alongside side Persian. Mughal kings were the nice patrons of art and literature and it was under their rule that Urdu language reached its zenith. There was a tradition of 'Sheri Mehfils' (poetic gatherings) in the kings' courts. Abul Fazal Faizi and Abdul Rahim Khankhana had 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's indeed true that Hindi and Urdu are descendents of the identical language i.e. Prakrit, however 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 model 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 variations in each languages.

Urdu was additionally used as a device by the Muslims for freedom struggle and for creating awareness amongst 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 their poetry and prose provoked the required spark in the lives of the Muslims. Urdu was chosen to turn into the national language of Pakistan on the time of Independence from British. Urdu is now the national language of Pakistan, spoken and understood totally by majority of the population.

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