Persian and Urdu

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The Persian language historically influenced many of the modern languages and dialects of the Middle East, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and South Asia including the standard register Urdu, the national language of Pakistan.[1]


Following the Turko-Persian Ghaznavid conquest of South Asia, the speech based in Delhi's Khariboli dialect and other dialects of South Asia received a large influx of Persian, Chagatai and Arabic vocabulary. The subsequent Turko-Afghan Delhi Sultanate gave way for a further continuation of this. The basis in general for the introduction of the Persian language into the subcontinent was set, from its earliest days, by various Persianized Central Asian Turkic and Afghan dynasties.[2]

This lexically diverse register of language, emerged in the northern subcontinent, was commonly called Zaban-e Urdu-e Mualla ('language of the exalted city') and eventually replaced Persian, the court language, and its name was shortened to just "Urdu". It grew from the interaction of Persian and Turkic-speaking Muslim soldiers and the native Indians.[3] Under Persian influence from the state, the Persian Nastaʿlīq script was adopted, with additional figures added to accommodate the Indo-Aryan phonetic system.

Unlike Persian, which is an Iranian language, Urdu is a variant of an Indo-Aryan language, written in the Perso-Arabic script, and contains literary conventions and specialized vocabulary largely from Persian.[3] Some grammatical elements peculiar to Persian, such as the enclitic ezāfe and the use of pen-names, were readily absorbed into Urdu literature both in the religious and secular spheres.

Modern Persian has three major variants: Western Persian (spoken primarily in Iran, known by its native speakers as "Farsi", the literal Persian word for itself), Dari (spoken as a lingua franca by a large majority of Afghans) and Tajik (spoken by the Tajiks of Tajikistan).[4] These variants are almost entirely mutually intelligible with one another.

[5] Both Hindi and Urdu are almost entirely mutually intelligible with one another,[6] but have somewhat distinct vocabulary and minor terminological differences. Another major difference is their writing systems are entirely different, with Hindi using Devanagari and Urdu using the Nastaʿlīq script.

Hindustani gained distinction in literary and cultural spheres in South Asia because of its role as a lingua franca in the subcontinent as a result of the large number of speakers the language has, both as a first and second language.[7] A prominent cross-over writer was Amir Khusrow, whose Persian and Urdu couplets are to this day read in South Asia. Muhammad Iqbal was also a prominent South Asian writer who wrote in Persian and Urdu.

Urdu scholars in Persian literature[edit]

Prominent Urdu Persian authors include Amir Khusrow, Muhammad Iqbal and Ghalib.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wasey, Akhtarul (16 July 2014). "50th Report of the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in India (July 2012 to June 2013)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  2. ^ Sigfried J. de Laet. History of Humanity: From the seventh to the sixteenth century UNESCO, 1994. ISBN 9231028138 p 734
  3. ^ a b Kachru, Yamuna (2006). Hindi. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 90-272-3812-X.
  4. ^ Hakimi, Abdolazim. "Comparative phonetic study of frequently used words in Iranian Farsi versus Tajik Farsi." Journal of American Science 8.4 (2012): 6-16.
  5. ^ Malik, Muhammad G., Christian Boitet, and Pushpak Bhattacharyya. "Hindi Urdu machine transliteration using finite-state transducers." Proceedings of the 22nd International Conference on Computational Linguistics-Volume 1. Association for Computational Linguistics, 2008.
  6. ^ Bradby, Hannah. "Translating culture and language: a research note on multilingual settings." Sociology of Health & Illness 24.6 (2002): 842-855.
  7. ^ "Jammu and Kashmir Burushaski: Language, Language contact and change" (PDF). Sadaf Munshi, Doctor of Philosophy, University of Texas.

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