Overview of the Urdu Language
The Urdu language is one of the major languages of Pakistan and India. In Pakistan, Urdu is the national language as well as being one of the official languages (along with English). In India, it is one of the 22 Scheduled Languages recognized by the Indian Constitution, as well as being on the list of official languages in several Indian states. Many people in both countries also speak Urdu as a second language, in addition to the millions of native speakers.
Urdu is a member of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. Its most archaic form, called Vedic Sanskrit, is attested in the Rigveda, a collection of religious hymns, usually dated back to the 7th - 10th century BC. The Indo-Aryan languages of today are most often called New Indo-Aryan languages, and they include Hindi, Punjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati, Bengali, Nepali, and many others. Hindi displays the closest relationship with Urdu. The grammar and the basic vocabulary of the two languages are very similar, the principal differences being in the script and in the sources of borrowed words.
Urdu Letters and the Urdu Alphabet
Urdu is written in a flowing script that runs from right to left, the opposite of English. Most Urdu letters connect to the letters preceding and following them, just as in English cursive writing. Therefore, letters often change shape depending on their placement within a word. Urdu is usually written using only consonants and long vowels, although there are small marks which can be used above or below letters to indicate short vowels.
Urdu sounds do not correspond exactly to any English sounds, so the best way to master Urdu pronunciation is to listen to and imitate native Urdu speakers. People who are learning Urdu should pay particular attention to the difference between aspirated and unaspirated consonants. It is important to pronounce both consonant and vowel sounds clearly, because Urdu makes some sound distinctions that are not made in English.
One of the main differences between Urdu and Hindi is that Urdu has borrowed a good deal of loanwords from the Persian and Arabic languages, which Hindi tends to draw vocabulary from Sanskrit and other languages. Urdu has also borrowed words from English and from the other languages spoken alongside it in Pakistan.
Urdu grammar differs from English grammar in various ways. For example, Urdu has grammatical gender: all Urdu nouns are masculine or feminine. Some Urdu adjectives change according to the gender of the noun they modify, while others do not. There are no definite articles in the Urdu language. Like English, Urdu has transitive verbs (which require a direct object) and intransitive verbs (which do not take objects), but the difference plays a much more significant role in Urdu. It's also interesting to note that Urdu uses postpositions (which come after nouns), rather than prepositions (which come before nouns).
Many people who have studied languages stop using them, and as a result they forget what they've learned. That's why Urdu software programs that help you practice regularly can be a great way to learn. Now that you can use and enjoy Urdu independently with the language programs from Transparent Language, you will remember the language that you learn. We wish you all the best as you study Urdu!