Urdu اردو is an Indo-European language
which originated in India, most likely in the vicinity of Delhi from where it
spread to the rest of the subcontinent. Urdu along with Hindi forming the
Hindustani language is the second most popular 'first' language and second most
popular 'first or second' language in the world. Urdu by itself is the twentieth
most popular 'first' language in the world. It developed from the interaction
between local Indian Sanskrit-derived Prakrits and the Persian languages. This
process took place mostly in military camps, and word Urdu means "army" or
"horde" in Turkish.
It soon became the language of the Mughals, distinguished linguistically from
local languages by its large and extensive Persian-Arabic vocabulary
superimposed on a native Hindi base of grammar, usages and vocabulary. The
result was what has been considered by some to be one of the world's most
beautiful languages, the "Kohinoor" ("Mountain of Light," a famed native, large
and brilliant diamond) of India. It is widely spoken today in both India and
Pakistan and all countries having a sizeable South Asian Diaspora.
There are different views on the origins of Urdu, differing in both time and
geographic location. Urdu may have originated anywhere in India: the Deccan, in
Punjab, in Sindh or in the neighborhood of Delhi. These hypothesis are backed by
Urdu literature having been found in these areas as far back as the period of
the Delhi Sultanate. Keeping in mind the linguistic character of the areas
around Delhi, it is said that Urdu originated in or around Delhi over a period
of a few centuries.
A continuous progression is seen in linguistic development from Sanskrit to the
modern languages of Northern India, though there is a strong link between the
Prakritic language 'Hindvi' of the middle ages and Urdu of today. The works of
Amir Khusrau are intelligible to the speakers of Urdu and Hindi, even though
they were written in the 14th century. It is hypothesized that Urdu developed
when a regular and slow stream of Persian and Arabic words were infused into the
language Hindvi. Urdu has been known by a host of names during this seven
century long interval: Hindvi, Hindi (not to be confused with modern Hindi),
Rekhta, Shahjahani, Deccani and Urdu-e-Mualla. There is some debate as to
whether all of them represent the same language, but the majority of experts
agree that these are names of the language known today as Urdu.
Although the language originated near Delhi, it was in the Deccan that it first
gained acceptance. The rulers of the Deccan were supportive of local languages,
opposing the Persian influence in northern India. In the Deccan, the court
became the centre for the development of Urdu, and the initial poetry and
literature in Urdu comes from there. The idea of using Urdu rather than Persian
as the media of poetry and literature eventually spread to the northern parts of
the Indian subcontinent.
After the mainstream acceptance of Urdu as a poetic language in North India, a
large number of poets began writing in it. Great poets such as Mir, Sauda,
Ghalib, Zauq and Haali made the language acceptable as a literary medium. The
increasing quantity of poetry and literature caused the language to become more
uniform and less volatile than it had been in the past.
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