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29 October 2014
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Urdu today
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The history of Urdu/Hindi

Urdu/Hindi belong to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family of languages.

'Urdu' comes from the Persian zaban-e-urdu-e-mu'alla (language of the imperial court), a gloss which gives important clues to its history. Originally it was one of the languages spoken in the Hindi region of India. During the sixteenth century, however, large areas of India fell under the rule of Muslims whose language and culture were predominantly Persian. While the structure of Urdu remained essentially Indian, the vocabulary was greatly influenced by Persian. Urdu spread all over India through administrative structures, army encampments and bazaars.

The linguistic status of Urdu/Hindi has been the subject of fierce debate. Some argue that they be treated as the same language; others that they should be treated separately on the grounds of differences in vocabulary and word order.

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