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Urdu in Perso-Arabic script
(Nastaʿlīq style)
Pronunciation Hindustani: [ˈʊrd̪u]
Native to Pakistan, India, Bangladesh ("Bihari"), Nepal[1]
Native speakers

66 million  (2007)[2]
Total (only Urdu): 104 million (2010)[3]

Total (including Hindi): 490 million (2010)[4]
Language family
Writing system Arabic (Urdu alphabet [Nastaʿlīq)
Urdu Braille
Official status
Official language in  Pakistan
 India (states of Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi)
Regulated by National Language Authority (Pakistan);
National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language[6] (India)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 ur
ISO 639-2 urd
ISO 639-3 urd
Linguasphere 59-AAF-q (with Hindi,
including 58 varieties: 59-AAF-qaa to 59-AAF-qil)
Urdu official-language areas.png
     Areas where Urdu is official or coofficial      (Other) areas where Hindi is official

Urdu is a name of one of the languages which is spoken in South Asia. It is the national language of Pakistan.It is spoken in Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir and is an official language of the country. It is also an official language of India. It is spoken all over India and particularly in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh.


As Mongol hordes swept across Central Asia in the Middle Ages, a new word developed in several languages. The Mongol military camp was known in Turkish as ordo, is a Turkic word meaning Lashkar (Army), in English as horde and in Tatar as Urdu. The descendants of the Mongols, the Mughals, settled in the subcontinent where they became one of the world's most renowned patrons of beautiful art and architecture. Their royal encampments retained the Tatar word, Urdu, which became the word for the language spoken in the military camp. Since this language had been used by the Army in Mughal Era it had been given the name Urdu. So wherever the Mughal Army moved it has adopted the different words from languages of different regions of the Indian subcontinent. Mainly, words used in Urdu are from Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit. However the origin of this language itself pre-dates the Mughals.

Levels of formality

Urdu in its less register has been called a rekhta (ریختہ, [reːxt̪aː]), meaning "rough mixture". The more formal register of Urdu is sometimes called zabān-e-Urdu-e-mo'alla (زبان اردو معلہ [zəbaːn eː ʊrd̪uː eː moəllaː]), the "Language of Camp and Court."

The etymology of the word used in the Urdu language for the most part decides how nice or well done your speech is. For example, Urdu speakers would between پانی pānī and آب āb, both meaning "water" for example, or between آدمی ādmi and مرد mard, meaning "man." The first in each set is used and has older Hindustani origins, while the last in the set is used formally and .

If a word is of Persian or Arabic origin, the level of speech is thought to be more formal and nice. , if Persian or Arabic grammar constructs, such as the izafat, are used in Urdu, the level of speech is also thought more formal and nice. If a word is from Sanskrit, the level of speech is thought more and personal.[7]


Urdu is supposed to be a nice and well done language; many of words are used in it to show respect and . This emphasis on politeness, which comes from the vocabulary, is known as adab and to sometimes as takalluf in Urdu. These words are mostly used when addressing elders, or people with whom one is not met yet.


  1. "Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Seventeenth edition, Urdu". Ethnologue. Retrieved March 05, 2013.
  2. Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
  3. Katsiavriades, Qureshi, Kryss, Talaat. "The 30 Most Spoken Languages of the World". Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  4. "A Guide to Urdu". BBC. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hindustani (2005). Keith Brown. ed. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2 ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-044299-4.
  6. "National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language". Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  7. "About Urdu". Afroz Taj (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 2008-02-26.