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  • Urdu (اردو) is a member of the Hindustani group of languages which is a subgroup of the Indo Aryan group of languages. It probably developed in the Delhi area from where it spread to other parts of South Asia.

  • The major difference between Urdu and Hindi is that Urdu is written in the Nasta'liq font of the modified Arabic script while Hindi is written in the Devanagari script.

  • In Pakistan Urdu is spoken as a mother tongue by a majority of urban dwellers in cities such as Karachi and Hyderabad in the southern province of Sindh. Despite the fact that it is the national language Of Pakistan only 8% of the Pakistanis speak Urdu as their first language with about 48% speaking Punjabi as a mother tongue. It is, however, the language of prestige and is compulsory in the Pakistani school system. In India, Urdu is spoken as mother tongue by many inhabitants of the northern and central states. While, in India, Muslims tend to identify more with Urdu, substantial numbers of Hindus and Sikhs in traditional strongholds of Urdu, such as Lucknow and Hyderabad, also speak this language as a mother tongue. A large number of people use Urdu as their mother tongue in cities with large South Asian diasporas throughout the world particularly New York City, London, Dubai, Jeddah and Kuwait City.

  • Urdu nouns fall into two grammatical genders : masculine and feminine. However there is much disagreement over the gender of some words, particularly those that have been borrowed from English.

  • Urdu has many words of South Asian and Middle Eastern origin. Most of them were borrowed from languages such as Hindi, Arabic and Persian. There is also a number of Turkish, Sanskrit, Portuguese and English words. It is assumed that many Arabic terms have found their way into Urdu via Persian.

  • Urdu is written in a derivative of the Persian alphabet which is itself a derivative of the Arabic alphabet. It is read from right to left. Urdu is similar in appearance and letters to Arabic, Persian, and Pashto. Urdu differs in appearance from Arabic in that it uses the more complex and sinuous nastaliq script whereas Arabic tends to the more modern naskh. Nastaliq is notoriously difficult to typeset, so Urdu newspapers are made from hand-written masters. Although the styles are different, people who can read Urdu can read Arabic, as Arabic uses the same alphabet but with fewer letters. There are efforts underway to develop more practical Urdu support on computers.

 

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