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Is Indian Urdu Archaic?

Aug 17, 2007
The question posed is itself wrong, basically because Urdu as a language is an offspring of Hindi and from India. Urdu and Hindi are still considered by many linguists as the same language. Its further development and evolution in India has been through its enrichment with many loanwords from Hindi, Sanskrit and few languages of those regions where it is spoken most.

Urdu we all know evolved in India during the period of Babbar, Akbar and other Muslim rulers, which in contrast to difficult Persian and Arabic Mughal court language, all, including Indians understood and spoke well. Its further simplification has been towards this end - replacing hard and difficult original Persian, Arabic words with simpler and easy to pronounce Hindi/ Sanskrit words. This went on in till 1947, when India was partitioned into two - India (with 23 constitutionally recognized 23 official languages, including Hindi and Urdu) and Pakistan (with English and Urdu as official languages).
Thus, while Urdu in India continued to evolve amongst the Hindi speaking natives, in Pakistan, its evolution went in reverse gear - taking more words from the same Persian, Arabic (to replace which, it had been originally invented), Punjabi, Afghani and other regional languages. Thus, to a Pakistani (or any other Urdu speaker), Urdu from India, despite its post-independence evolution seems to have been at a standstill - not adding any new Persian/Arabic loanwords, as in their own country.

Urdu is a part of our common and popular media and publications in India. Numerous Urdu language films have been produced in our country that the Urdu speaking people in Pakistan have been crazy to watch, reminding them of our common culture, heritage and dreams. As a way to popularise Urdu amongst those who can't read or write it, prose, poetry and some Urdu newspapers are available in India in Latin/ Hindi scripts.

Despite the fact that Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, India boasts of 10 times more Urdu speakers than Pakistan has. India boasts of at least three major universities - Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Islamia and Jawahar Lal Nehru University, if not less, where Urdu as a language is taught and researched by scholars from across the world. It is also taught at school level in special muslim schools - Madrasas.

Internet is replete with references to development of Urdu in both Pakistan and India, the major differences in the language as written/ spoken in two countries and mention of the common heritage, culture and philosophy that we enjoy. It is therefore hard to call Urdu in India archaic and devoid of any development/ evolution after partition.
About the Author
Ostom Ray is a linguist. His website provides information on Indian languages and translation services, Culture, Travel, Outsourcing and more.
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