The Urdu language is an Indo-European language, stemming from the Khariboli branch of language. Specifically, the Urdu language directly descends from the Hindustani language, though it is based originally on the Khariboli dialect of Delhi. Here, over 900 years, there were influences on the Urdu language from the Persian, Arabic and Turkic languages, spoken widely throughout the area.
In the state of Uttar Pradesh, in India, the Urdu language developed first under the Delhi Sultanate and then under the Mughal Empire. The Mughal Empire rule lasted from 1526 to 1858 and saw many languages come together for trade and travel. It was during this time that the Urdu language picked up many of its influences; due to the high level of Persian and Arabic being spoken in trade, it was necessary to learn certain words.
However, the language evolved to not only incorporate these languages, but grew in importance as part of the Islamic religion. The Urdu language today is relatively mutually intelligible with the Hindi language, as they share the same language path from Indo-European. These languages are often considered to be separate forms of the same language, as the main difference is in the alphabet and scripts that are used, and not the language itself.
And yet though their linguistic patterns and vocabularies are highly mutually intelligible, religious nationalism between Muslims and Hindus requires that a difference is stressed strongly. These days, the languages are considered to be socio-politically separate.
The Urdu language is the national language and one of two official languages of the country of Pakistan. The other official language is English. It is also one of 22 of the official languages that exist in India. While it is spoken by minority groups in many of the states as a religious language, the Urdu language is more widely spoken in the five Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir, where it is an official language.
It is also a language that is heavily associated with the Muslim religion, and there are around 65 million speakers of Urdu worldwide. 52 million of these speakers reside in India, with another 12 million in Pakistan. In minority communities throughout the world, there are also a significant number of Urdu speakers, in countries such as the UK, the US, Saudi Arabia, and Bangladesh. Within the country of India, there are over 3000 Urdu language publications, including over 400 daily newspapers.
The Urdu language uses a Persian-Arabic script, though it is written in a particular format. This format is the Nastaliq calligraphy style, which was developed in the 14th century in the country of Iran. It was originally used for the Persian alphabet, though it has since been used for Arabic, and certain South Asian languages. It is still written in many countries as an art form.
These days, the Urdu language has many different dialects not only in Pakistan, but in India also. In recent years, the Pashto, Punjabi and Sindhi languages have been very strong influences on the Urdu languages. Rather than resisting change, the Urdu (and primarily Muslim) speakers of Pakistan welcome change as it enables them to distinguish the language clearly, not only from other Urdu dialects, but from the Hindi language that is it so similar to.
Why Learn The Urdu Language?
Poetry in the Urdu language is internationally famous, and has been prized not only within the society of Urdu speakers, but by many others. Widely recited and containing many forms, Urdu poetry has developed a rich and varied library of poems, and learning the Urdu language can open the doors to learning many beautiful pieces of literature.
Also, if you are a Muslim person or have an interest in the Islamic religion, then the Urdu language is so important to learn. There are many religious texts in Urdu, with the Urdu language holding the largest collection of Islamic literature besides Arabic. It is important to understand your personal history, and the Urdu language can help you to do so.
Aside from the religious aspects of the language, one must consider the amount of speakers. If you can speak Urdu, then you will also be able to understand the Hindi language. These two languages combined make up the fourth most spoken language in the world, after Mandarin, English and Spanish, so you are enabling yourself to speak to many people around the world if you learn the Urdu language.