The Origin of the Urdu Language

Topics: Urdu, Hindustani language, Hindi Pages: 8 (1939 words) Published: November 30, 2011
The Origin of the Urdu Language:

The national language of the Pakistani people or our ‘qaumi zuban’ is interestingly, one that most of us learn as a second language. Unlike our first language, it is learnt primarily as a written phenomenon. In primary schools, the child encounters its alphabet ‘alif bey pey’. Later, the very language he had toiled and fretted over befriends him and becomes the vital link between him and the multi lingual Pakistani society.

The name ‘Urdu’ is derived from Turkish ‘Ordu’ meaning ‘army’ or ‘horde. In 1645, Shah Jehan built the Delhi fort. The language spoken in the locality came to be termed Urdu. It had been known in the past by a host of other names; Hindvi, Hindi, Rekhta, Shah Jahani ,Deccani and Urdu-e-Mualla.

’Urdu is a member of the Hindustani group of languages which is a subgroup of the Indo Aryan group of languages. These languages genetically come under the Indo European family. Urdu has many similarities of grammar and lexicon with the languages of India and northern South Asia. The Punjabi language, written in the Shahmukhi script is very similar. However, spoken Punjabi has a different phonology and is not easily understood by Urdu speakers. The closest language to Urdu is Hindi. Theories of Urdu’s Origin:

‘Urdu’ is synonymous to Pakistan, yet it is a mistake to think that it was created with it. Languages are not made in a day. They are a result of a complex process of linguistic evolution. In fact the word result is misleading. A language is never completely made. Not as long as there are people continuously breathing life into it as they communicate and interact. .

Scholars have different views about the origin of Urdu. The names of the scholars are as follows:

1: Mohammed Hussain Azad (1830-1910):

2:Dr. Masud Husain Khan.

3:Mahmud Sherani.

4:M.K.A. Beg.

Mohammed Hussain Azad:

In his book ‘Aab-e-Hayat’ traced the basis of Urdu to a dialect of western Hindi called Braj Bhasha. This language is spoken by people in the nebulously defined region of Braj Bhoomi. Today this area lies towards the eastern extremities of Rajesthan and the southern extremities of Haryana. Agra, the capital in Sikander Lodhi’s reign and the Mughal Empire belonged to the Brij Bhasha region, and this might have influenced the Urdu language.

This theory has been repudiated by scholars like Mirza Khalil Ahmed Beg and Inder Jit Lall. I.J Lall, in his book, ‘Urdu: A Language of Composite Culture?’ said ‘Urdu is different from Brij Bhasha….Urdu originated from a sister dialect of Brij Bhasha known as Khari Boli….’

M.K. Beg also felt that the linguistically , Urdu and Brij Bhasha differed considerably.

However, the effect of Brij on Urdu dates back to the sixteenth century; i.e. from the reign of Sikander Lodhi to Jahangir.

Dr Masud Hussain Khan:

In his book ‘Maqqadam-e- Tarikh-e- Zaban-e- Urdu’ traced the basis of Urdu to Hariyanvi. This language was spoken in the Haryana region in and around Delhi. Later, during the Persian invasion of India, Urdu was created by the grafting of Persian on Hariyani .

Although M.H. Khan supported his theory by a comparative analysis of both languages, yet his theory is considered to be far fetched.

Mahmud Sherani (1880-1946):

Traced the origin of Urdu to the Punjab. He compared the grammar, structure and morphology of Urdu with Punjabi. When the armies of Mahmud Ghazni invaded India in 1018 AD, they marched into the Punjab. This event marks the commencement of Muslim rule. According to Sherani, the mingling of the Punjabi and Persian- speakers resulted in the grafting of Farsi on Punjabi.

This theory is backed by Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterji in ‘Indo-Aryan and Hindi’. T. Grahame also is of the view that :

‘Urdu was born in 1027, its birth place was Lahore, its parent, Old Punjabi ,Old Khari was its step parent: it had no direct relationship with Brij. The...
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