The Differences Between Indian And Pakistani Urdu
The Urdu language is a member of the Indo-Aryan group of languages. That group is within the Indo-European language family. The Urdu language is the first language for almost 70 million people, while over 100 million people have it as their second language. The majority of the speakers of the Urdu language live in India and Pakistan, speaking Hindi Urdu and Pakistani Urdu.
It is an official language in Pakistan and is also a constitutionally “scheduled” language by law in India. There are significant enclaves of Urdu speakers in the United Kingdom, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. One thing to note is that India call it Hindi in India, while Pakistan calls it Pakistani Urdu. Both Hindi and Urdu are mutually intelligible.
The History of the Urdu Language
The Urdu language came to life in the 12th century CE. It originates from the regional Apabhramsa of north-western India, where it had a role serving as a linguistic modus vivendi. The role of Urdu was further cemented due to the Muslim conquest. The very first poet of the language was Amir Khosrow who created riddles, folk songs and dohas or couplets in the newly formed speech. Urdu at the time was known as Hindvi.
The newly formed speech was also known by various names, such as:
- Urdu, which literally means ‘the language of the camp’
Major Pakistani Urdu writers continued to refer to the language as Hindvi or Hindi till the start of the 19th century. However, there is evidence to the fact that it was known as Hindustani in the late 17th century. The term ‘Hindustani’ today refers to the simplified speech form that has become the largest lingua franca in the Indian subcontinent.
The Differences between Pakistani Urdu and Hindi Urdu
The first difference to note is that both Pakistani Urdu and Indian Urdu are written using varying writing systems. Indian Urdu utilises Devanagari, while Pakistani Urdu utilises Nasta’liq. Devanagari is a Sanskrit-based system, while Nasta’liq is an adapted version of the Arabic script. Where the Pakistani language script is written from right to left, like Arabic, Hindi Urdu script is written from left to right.
Generally, linguists claim that the Devanagari script is much better equipped at writing Hindustani languages. The reason for this is that Hindustani can be traced back to Sanskrit, the language the Devanagari was first developed for.
There is a letter for every Hindi sound in the Devanagari script. It even has letters for most sounds in Urdu. Nevertheless, there are some exceptions, with the Devanagari script adapting to add new letters like z and j with a dot underneath it. The z is utilised when foreign loan words are used.
On the other hand, Nasta’liq isn’t the best choice to write any Hindustani language. A major reason for this is the vowels. Arabic, the source of the Nasta’liq script, has 3 vowels all in short and long variants, while Pakistani Urdu has 13. When you add the fact that vowels are generally omitted when writing Pakistani Urdu.
Devanagari is a phonetic script, and that means everything written in Indian Urdu is pronounced just the way it looks. With Devanagari, you need to memorise the pronunciation and know the writing system. However, once you do that, you can pronounce just about everything in Indian Urdu. When Urdu translation services are offered with this script, it is much easier to ensure that accuracy is followed. This is because there isn’t a steep learning curve associated with this script.
Vocabulary differences in Urdu translation services
In everyday speech, you are unlikely to notice a difference between both languages. For the most basic of conversations, daily discussions in Hindi and Urdu are completely the same. It is only when you begin delving deeper that you see vocabulary differences, particularly when it comes to more formal, political or scientific terms.
A reason for this can be traced to the Hindustani language history. Persian and Arabic influences were brought into the Hindustani language via the Mughal Empire and Delhi Sultanate. What this means is that foreign loan words came from invaders, and they required vocabulary that was strictly formal and political.
Urdu Translation Services: Are both Languages the Same?
Quite a number of people believe that both languages are the same. The bone of contention, however, is to what extent does Pakistani Urdu seems similar to Indian Urdu. The fact is, there are various differences between both languages. Some would point to the fact that both languages use different writing scripts or alphabets. However, linguists do not see alphabets or scripts as part of a language. Rather the Nasta’liq is simply used to express Urdu on paper.
Another thing to note is that while both languages have an everyday vocabulary in common, there are still some stark differences between them. As highlighted above, there are major differences in the formal registers. Pakistani Urdu, as its name states, has been developed in Pakistan and while everyday speakers can understand Hindi, there are more than a few differences to make both languages stand out.
Renaissance Translations’ Urdu Translation Services
If you have a document to translate to Urdu, get in touch with our project managers today. They will help you check the language variant of your document. If you choose to work with us, we can guarantee that you have chosen the right translation agency.