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Case's avatar

What are the real differences between the Urdu and Hindi languages?

Asked by Case (23points) October 3rd, 2007
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3 Answers

carlosp's avatar

The two languages are very similar—they share similar sentence and grammatical structure. Linguists generally consider them two versions of the same language, but there are key differences. Among them:

* Urdu (the national language of Pakistan) is written right to left (like Arabic); Hindi (one of India’s official languages) is left-to-right (like English).
* The two languages have some distinct differences in vocabulary, even though they do trade words between them. Urdu vocabulary is more influenced by Persian; Hindi is more influenced by Sanskrit.
* Their written script is different. Here’s what Hindi looks likeमुखपृष्ठ (again more like Sanskrit) and here’s what Urdu looks like (more like Arabic and Persian).

garydale's avatar

I like how @carlosp put it: “two versions of the same language”

I have been studying Hindi recently (past few months). I also in the past have studied Arabic and Farsi to certain extents. Because of the prior study I have seen loads of loan words in Hindi from these two languages (also English as well and Sanskrit goes without saying…). Needless to say, I haven’t tried to crack the Urdu nut yet. I understand that the two languages are as close as Serbian and Croatian – basically the same language with different scripts and some specialized vocabulary. By all counts if you speak one you also speak the other to a great degree. There is no huge jump.

I do know that there are in Hindi even competing words between the “Hindi” way and the Arabic and Persian loan words. For instance, in Hindi you have two common words for “book”: “kitab” (from Arabic) and “pustak”, which is of Indic origin. These words are generally interchangeable I find this all then time when learning the language. Most of the Indians I have mentioned this to don’t even care about the distinction.

Also, I do know as well that when Hindi is written (in Devanagari script) many phonemic endings are joined to nouns and the same word. In Urdu these same phonemes generally are written as separate words. Again, no great hurdle.

Are you looking to learn either Hindi or Urdu?

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