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The history of Urdu
Names and writing system
Urdu/Hindi today by Viv Edwards
Following partition in 1947, Urdu became the official language of Pakistan but there are also large numbers of speakers in India. Well over a 100 million people use it either as a first or second language. Hindi is one of the official languages of India. It is the first language of an estimated 400 million people, and is spoken as a second language by a further 90 million people.
The Urdu community in the UK is very much larger than the Hindi community. Most of those who identify themselves as Urdu speakers use a variety of Panjabi as the language of the home, and speak Urdu as a second language for religious and cultural reasons. The overwhelming majority comes from the west Panjab and the Mirpur district of Azad Kashmir, but smaller groups of Gujarati Muslims from both India and East Africa also use Urdu for religious purposes.
The main areas of settlement for Urdu speakers are the northern textile towns, the West Midlands and London. In a survey of London school children conducted in 2000, Hindi/Urdu formed the fifth largest language community in the capital with the highest density of speakers in Ealing. Although Hindi and Urdu were merged for the purpose of this survey, almost ten times more children reported that they spoke Urdu than Hindi.
Most people in the UK who speak Hindi as a first language are professionals - doctors, teachers, engineers - who have no close networks of relatives and tend to be dispersed all over the country.
Two weekly Hindi magazines serve the Hindi speech community; Urdu speakers have one daily, two weekly and one monthly Urdu publications. Several local radio stations including the BBC Asian Network, Sunrise Radio in West London, Asian Sound Radio in Manchester, Me FM in Aberdeen, Radio XL in the West Midlands and Sunrise Radio-Yorkshire broadcast some programmes in Hindi/Urdu. Several satellite TV stations also broadcast in Hindi/Urdu, including Prime TV, the channel for viewers who understand Urdu and Panjabi in Europe.