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30 July 2014
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Urdu today
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.

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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.

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Your Comments
What is your experience of Urdu?

Iqbal Syed from warrenpoint
People of the Himalayan continent (a better alternative term than the sub-continent) should be thinking more in terms of internationalising their common language instead of being divided on the basis of parochial emotion and rigid vocabulary. It is not generally known that both Devnagri and Nasta'leeqi scripts have a common roots in the near east. I would also like to call Hindi/Urdu as Himalayan language with multiple options for vocabulary as long as its sonic modulation and musical cadence are not compromised.

Ankur from Canada
The languages of Hindi ("Indian") and Urdu ("camp") as defined by the governments of the two Indian countries named Pakistan and India are the same language in one way, and are different in another way. Linguistically, they are the same language- the "khadi boli" (standing tongue) of Uttar Pradesh (Northern Province). They have the same grammar and origin. But in a practical sense, they are different. What's defined by the Pakistani govt as Urdu = Persianized khadi boli, and what's defined by the Indian govt as Hindi = Sanskritized khadi boli. That's how it is.

Bilal Shah
i've noticed ppl debating on urdu and hindihere Urdu was a language developed by the Moguls and the other muslim sultans of the sub-continent & it remained the official language for centuries until 1867 after the fall of muslims in India the Hindus there introduced their own new language hindi which was a mixture of urdu with its text changed to dewanagri and the arabic,persian & Turkish terms replaced by their ancient religious language sanskrit for political reasons. Well so much for the political background of these two languages i just proud to know that Urdu is not just spoken & understood in the whole of Sub-continent but also in middle east and Africa as a native language and even in the southamerican country of Guiyana.

Mannika Arora
First of all I would like to say that Hindi is not Urdu. Generally, it is confused by Urdu. Hindi is the languauge of INDIA. In Hindi India is called 'Bharat or' 'Hindustan' and Hindi therefore is termed as 'Hindustani' Hindi is the language which is originated from Sanskrit and uses Devnagiri Script. We use it converse with family and friends in India as well here in the UK Speak to everyone in Hindi who can understand it. And ofcourse it is written language too. Lots of literature is available world wide. As a speaker I feel great and sometimes proud as its a beautiful words which cannot be translated into any of the common languages across the globe. You can actually express yourself better with choice of lot of words. Hindi is often termed as language of songs, language of intelligent. Hindi is widely spoken in most of India and also used here in UK. Also in USA, Africa and other countries.

Rakhi Singh
I am a native speaker of Hindi. I speak my language at home, with my friends, family and relatives. I feel I am the representative of my nation, India when I speak in Hindi. I really feel proud about it. It is one of the Ancient language of the world and Hindi is amongst the most widely spoken languages in the world, due to the large population of India. According to some estimates, about 500 million people in India and abroad are native speakers of Hindi and the total number of people who understand the language may be as high as 800 million. Hindi evolved from Sanskrit, by way of the Middle Indo-Aryan Prakrit languages and Apabhramsha of the Middle Ages. Standard Hindi derives much of its formal and technical vocabulary from Sanskrit. Standard or shuddha ("pure"). It is sometimes demoralizing to see that despite of being the National Lanuage of India and good number of people living in the Uk, Hindi is not very popular in Media, Education System and other walks of life.

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