Hindi-Urdu (हिंदी उर्दू, Template:Nastaliq) is an Indo-Aryan language and the lingua franca of North India and Pakistan.[1][2] It is also known as Hindustani (हिन्दुस्तानी, Template:Nastaliq, Template:IAST, Template:IPA-hns, literally: "of Hindustan"),[3] and historically, as Hindavi or Rekhta. It derives primarily from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi, and incorporates a large amount of vocabulary from Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit and Turkic.[4][5] It is a pluricentric language, with two official forms, Standard Hindi and Standard Urdu,[6] which are standardized registers of it. The colloquial languages are all but indistinguishable, and even the official standards are nearly identical in grammar, though they differ in literary conventions and in academic and technical vocabulary, with Urdu retaining stronger Persian, Central Asian and Arabic influences, and Hindi relying more heavily on Sanskrit.[7][8] Before the Partition of British India, the terms Hindustani, Urdu, and Hindi were synonymous; all covered what would be called Urdu and Hindi today.[9] The term Hindustani is still used for the colloquial language and lingua franca of India and Pakistan, for example for the language of Bollywood films, as well as for several quite different varieties of Hindi spoken outside of the Subcontinent, such as Fijian Hindustani and the Caribbean Hindustani of Suriname and Trinidad.


Main article: History of Hindustani

Early forms of present day Hindi-Urdu (Hindustani) emerged from the Middle Indo-Aryan apabhramsha vernaculars of North India in the 7th–13th centuries CE.[10] Amir Khusro, who lived in the 13th century CE during the Delhi Sultanate period in North India, used these forms (which was the lingua franca of the period) in his writings and referred to the language as Hindavi.[10] The Delhi Sultanate, which comprised several Turkic and Afghan dynasties that ruled from Delhi, was succeeded by the Mughal Empire in 1526.

File:Zaban urdu mualla.png

Although the Mughals were of Timurid (Gurkānī) Turko-Mongol descent,[11] they were Persianized, and Persian had gradually become the state language of the Mughal empire after Babur.[12][13][14][15]

Towards the end of the Mughal period, with the fragmentation of the empire and the elite system, a variant of Khariboli, one of the successors of apabhramsha vernaculars at Delhi, and nearby cities, came to gradually replace Persian as the lingua franca among the educated elite upper class particularly in northern India, though Persian still retained much of its pre-eminence. The term Hindustani (literally "of Hindustan") was the name given to that variant of Khariboli.

For socio-political reasons, though essentially the variant of Khariboli with Persian vocabulary, the emerging prestige dialect became also known as Urdu (properly zabān-e Urdu-e mo'alla "language of the court" or zabān-e Urdu Template:Rtl-lang, ज़बान-ए उर्दू, "language of the camp" in Persian, derived from Turkic Ordū "camp", cognate with English horde; due to its origin as the common speech of the Mughal army). The more highly Persianized version later established as a language of the court was called Rekhta, or "mixed".

As an emerging common dialect, Hindi-Urdu absorbed large numbers of Persian, Arabic, and Turkic words, and as Mughal conquests grew it spread as a lingua franca across much of northern India. Written in the Perso-Arabic Script, it remained the primary lingua franca of northern India for the next four centuries (although it varied significantly in vocabulary depending on the local language) and achieved the status of a literary language, alongside Persian, in Muslim courts. Its development was centered on the poets of the Mughal courts of north Indian cities such as Delhi, Lucknow, Lahore, and Agra.

John Fletcher Hurst in his book published in 1891 mentioned that the Hindustani or Camp language or Language of the Camps of Moughal courts at Delhi was not regarded by philogists as distinct language but only as a dialect of Hindi with admixture of Persian. He continued: "But it has all the magnitude and importance of separate language. It is linguistic result of Mohammedan invasions of eleventh & twelfth centuries and is spoken (except in rural Bengal ) by many Hindus in North India and by Musalman population in all parts of India". Next to English it was the official language of British Government of India, was commonly written in Arabic or Persian characters, and was spoken by approximately 100,000,000 people.[16]

When the British colonized India from the late 18th through to the late 19th century, they used the words 'Hindustani' and 'Urdu' interchangeably. They developed it as the language of administration of British India,[17] further preparing it to be the official language of modern India and Pakistan. However, with independence, use of the word 'Hindustani' declined, being largely replaced by 'Hindi' and 'Urdu', or 'Hindi-Urdu' when either of those was too specific. More recently, the word 'Hindustani' has been used for the colloquial language of Bollywood films, which are popular in both India and Pakistan and which cannot be unambiguously identified as either Hindi or Urdu.

Modern Standard UrduEdit

Main article: Standard Urdu

Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and an officially recognized regional language of India. It is also an official language in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, National Capital Territory of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which have significant Muslim populations.

Modern Standard HindiEdit

File:Rigveda MS2097.jpg
Main article: Standard Hindi

Standard Hindi, the official language of India, is based on the Khariboli dialect of the Delhi region and differs from Urdu in that it is usually written in the indigenous Devanagari script of India and exhibits less Persian influence than Urdu. Many scholars today employ a Sanskritized form of Hindi developed primarily in Varanasi, the Hindu holy city, which is based on the Eastern Hindi dialect of that region and thus a separate language from official Standard Hindi.Template:Citation needed It has a literature of 500 years, with prose, poetry, religion & philosophy, under the Bahmani Kings and later on Khutab Shahi Adil Shahi etc. It is a living language, still prevalent all over the Deccan Plateau. Note that the term "Hindustani" has generally fallen out of common usage in modern India, except to refer to a style of Indian classical music prevalent in northern India. The term used to refer to the language is "Hindi", regardless of the mix of Persian or Sanskrit words used by the speaker. One could conceive of a wide spectrum of dialects, with the highly Persianized Urdu at one end of the spectrum and a heavily Sanskrit-based dialect, spoken in the region around Varanasi, at the other end of the spectrum. In common usage in India, the term "Hindi" includes all these dialects except those at the Urdu end of the spectrum. Thus, the different meanings of the word "Hindi" include, among others:

  1. standardized Hindi as taught in schools throughout India,
  2. formal or official Hindi advocated by Purushottam Das Tandon and as instituted by the post-independence Indian government, heavily influenced by Sanskrit,
  3. the vernacular dialects of Hindustani/Hindi-Urdu as spoken throughout India,
  4. the neutralized form of the language used in popular television and films, or
  5. the more formal neutralized form of the language used in broadcast and print news reports.

Bazaar HindustaniEdit

Main article: Hindi dialects

In a specific sense, "Hindustani" may be used to refer to the dialects and varieties used in common speech, in contrast with the standardized Hindi and Urdu. This meaning is reflected in the use of the term "bazaar Hindustani", in other words, the "language of the street or the marketplace", as opposed to the perceived refinement of formal Hindi, Urdu, or even Sanskrit. Thus, the Webster's New World Dictionary defines the term Hindustani as the principal dialect of Hindi/Urdu, used as a trade language throughout north India and Pakistan.

Hindi and UrduEdit

Main article: Hindi–Urdu controversy

While, at the spoken level, Urdu and Hindi are considered registers of a single language, they differ vastly in literary and formal vocabulary; where literary Urdu draws heavily on Persian and Arabic, literary Hindi draws heavily on Sanskrit and to a lesser extent Prakrit. The grammar and base vocabulary (most pronouns, verbs, adpositions, etc.) of both Urdu and Hindi, however, are the same and derive from a Prakritic base, and both have a heavy Persian influence.

The associated registers of Urdu and Hindi are known as "Hindi-Urdu". It is perhaps the lingua franca of the west and north of the Indian subcontinent, though it is understood fairly well in other regions also, especially in the urban areas. A common vernacular sharing characteristics with Urdu, Sanskritized Hindi, and regional Hindi, Hindi-Urdu is more commonly used as a vernacular than highly Arabicized/Persianized Urdu or highly Sanskritized Hindi.

This can be seen in the popular culture of Bollywood or, more generally, the vernacular of Pakistanis and Indians which generally employs a lexicon common to both "Urdu" and "Hindi" speakers. Minor subtleties in region will also affect the 'brand' of Hindi-Urdu, sometimes pushing the Hindi-Urdu closer to Urdu or to Hindi. One might reasonably assume that the language spoken in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh (known for its beautiful usage of Urdu) and Varanasi (a holy city for Hindus and thus using highly Sanskritized Hindi) is somewhat different.

Hindi-Urdu, if both Hindi and Urdu are counted, is the third or second most widely spoken language in the world after Mandarin and possibly English.[18]

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The identity, and therefore the names, of Hindustani have long been tied up with the identities and aspirations of the people of India and Pakistan. The name "Hindustani" itself is linked in the minds of many people with the British colonial administration, and may not be preferred for that reason.

Amir Khusro ca. 1300 CE referred to this language of his writings as Dahlavi ('of Delhi') or Hindavi (हिन्दवी, ہندوی 'of Hindustan'). During this period, the language was used by Sufis in promulgating their message across the Indian subcontinent.[19] After the advent of the Mughals in India, Hindustani acquired more Persian loanwords. Rekhta ('mixture') and Hindi (of 'Hindustan')[20] became popular names for the same language until the 18th century.[21] The name Urdu appeared around 1780.[21] During the British Raj, the term Hindustani was used by British officials, from the country's former name Hindustan.[21] In 1796, John Borthwick Gilchrist published a "A Grammar of the Hindoostanee Language".[21][22] Upon partition, India and Pakistan established national standards which they called Hindi and Urdu, respectively, and attempted to make distinct, with the result that "Hindustani" commonly came to be seen as a mixture of Hindi and Urdu. More recently, Hindu nationalists have used the term Hindvi, derived from older Hindavi, as the name for the unified language.



Official statusEdit

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Urdu, the original standardized register of Hindustani, is the national language of Pakistan, where it shares official language status with English. Although English is used in most elite circles, and Punjabi and Pashto has a plurality of native speakers, Urdu is the lingua franca and is expected to prevail. Urdu is also one of the official languages of India, and in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh, Urdu has official language status. While the government school system in most other states emphasises Modern Standard Hindi, at universities in cities such as Lucknow, Aligarh and Hyderabad, Urdu is spoken and learned and is regarded as a language of prestige.

Hindi, the other standardized register of Hindustani, is declared by the Constitution of India as the "official language (rājabhāshā) of the Union" (Art. 343(1)) (In this context, 'Union' means the Federal Government and not the entire country - India has 23 official languages). At the same time, however, the definitive text of Federal laws is officially the English text and proceedings in the higher appellate courts must be conducted in English. At the state level, Hindi is an official language in 9 of the 28 Indian states and three Union Territories (namely Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana and UTs are Delhi, Chandigarh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands). In the remaining states Hindi is not an official language. In the state of Tamil Nadu studying Hindi is not compulsory in the state curriculum. However an option to take the same as second or third language does exist. In many other states, studying Hindi is usually compulsory in the school curriculum as a third language (the first two languages being the state's official language and English), though the intensiveness of Hindi in the curriculum varies.[23]

Hindustani was the official language of India at the time of the British Raj, ending with the partition of India in 1947; the term was a synonym for Urdu.[17][24][25]

Hindi-Urdu outside South AsiaEdit

Besides being the lingua franca of South Asia of India and Pakistan, Hindi-Urdu is spoken among people of the South Asian diaspora and their descendants in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

Hindi-Urdu was also spoken widely in Burma during British rule as the main language of the administration. Many older Burmese, particularly the Anglo-Indians and Anglo-Burmese of the country, still speak the language although it has had no official status in the country since military rule.

"Hindustani" as a term for other Hindi languagesEdit

Outside of the subcontinent, the name Hindustani is frequently used in the sense of "Indian", and may be applied to any of several other Hindi languages.

Fijian Hindustani (also called Fiji Hindi), for example, descends not from Hindustani proper, but from one of the eastern Hindi languages called Awadhi. It has a strong Bhojpuri influence that differentiates it from the Awadhi spoken on the Indian subcontinent, though not to the extent of hindering mutual understanding. It is spoken by nearly the entire Indo-Fijian community, 38.1% of Fiji's population, regardless of ancestry.

Similarly, Caribbean Hindustani is actually Bhojpuri as spoken in Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Belize. Sarnami Hindustani is the third most spoken language in Suriname after Dutch and Sranan Tongo. This is due to the emigration of East Indians (known locally as Hindoestanen in Suriname) from the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in North India. Ethnic Indians form 37% of the population in Suriname. Ethnic Indians also make up around 45% of Guyana's population, the largest ethnic group there, but unlike in Suriname they have mostly switched from Bhojpuri to English. In South Africa, Kenya and other parts of Africa, older descendants of 18th century sugar cane workers also speak a variety of Bhojpuri as their second language.Template:Citation needed


Main article: Hindi–Urdu phonology


Main article: Hindi–Urdu grammar

Writing systemEdit

Main article: Hindi-Urdu orthography

Contemporarily, Hindi-Urdu is primarily written in the Devanagari script or the Perso-Arabic script. However, the Kaithi script was the historical popular script for the language. Hindi, one standardized register of Hindi-Urdu, utilizes the Devanagari script while Urdu, the other standardized register of Hindi-Urdu utilizes the Perso-Arabic script, with Nasta`liq being the preferred calligraphic style for Urdu.

Devanagari script used to write Hindi:

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Perso-Arabic script used to write Urdu:

Letter Name of letter Transcription IPA
Template:Lang alif - -
Template:Lang be b Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang pe p Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang te t Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang Template:Unicode Template:Unicode Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang se s Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang jīm j Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang che ch Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang Template:Unicode h /Template:IPAlink ~ Template:IPAlink/
Template:Lang khe kh Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang dāl d Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang Template:Unicode Template:Unicode Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang zāl dh Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang re r /Template:IPAlink ~ Template:IPAlink/
Template:Lang Template:Unicode Template:Unicode Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang ze z Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang zhe zh Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang sīn s Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang shīn sh Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang su'ād Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang zu'ād Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang to'e t Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang zo'e Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang ‘ain ' -
Template:Lang ghain gh Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang fe f Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang qāf q Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang kāf k Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang gāf g Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang lām l Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang mīm m Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang nūn n Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang vā'o v, o, or ū Template:IPAslink, Template:IPAslink, Template:IPAslink or Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang Template:Unicode h /Template:IPAlink ~ Template:IPAlink/
Template:Lang do chashmī he h Template:IPAslink or Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang hamza ' Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang ye y, i Template:IPAslink or Template:IPAslink
Template:Lang bari ye ai or e Template:IPAslink, or Template:IPAslink

Because of Anglicization and international use of the Latin script, Hindi-Urdu is also sometimes written in the Latin script. This adaptation is called Roman Urdu. As the Bollywood film industry is a great supporter of Latin script, Roman Urdu is gaining popularity especially among younger Internet users.Template:Citation needed

Template:See also

Sample textEdit

Following is a sample text, Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the two official registers of Hindi-Urdu, Hindi and Urdu. As this is a formal legal text, differences in formal vocabulary are maximized.

Formal HindiEdit

Template:Lang 1—Template:Lang

Nastaliq transcription: Template:Nastaliq

Transcription (IPA):


Gloss (word-to-word):

Article 1—All human-beings to dignity and rights' matter in from-birth freedom acquired is. Them to reason and conscience's endowment acquired is and always them to brotherhood's spirit with behaviour to do should.

Translation (grammatical):

Article 1—All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Formal UrduEdit


Devanagari transcription:

Template:Lang 1: Template:Lang

Transliteration (ALA-LC):


Transcription (IPA):


Gloss (word-to-word):

Article 1: All humans free[,] and rights and dignity's consideration from equal born are. To them conscience and intellect endowed is. Therefore, they one another's with brotherhood's treatment do must.

Translation (grammatical):

Article 1—All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience. Therefore, they should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Hindi-Urdu and BollywoodEdit

The predominant Indian film industry Bollywood, located in Mumbai, Maharashtra uses dialects of Hindi-Urdu, Awadhi, Rajasthani, Bhojpuri, Punjabi and Bambaiya Hindi, along with liberal use of English for the dialogue and soundtrack lyrics.

Movie titles are often screened in three scripts: Latin, Devanagari and Perso-Arabic. The use of Urdu or Hindi in films depends on the film's context: historical films set in the Delhi Sultanate or Mughal Empire are almost entirely in Urdu, while films based on Hindu mythology make heavy use of Hindi with Sanskrit vocabulary.

Urdu films and LollywoodEdit

The Pakistani film industry, centred historically in Lahore, has seen a rise in Punjabi movies lately. Urdu languages have seen a surge throughout Pakistan specifically Karachi, with new age films, and to a lesser extent in Islamabad and Lahore.

See alsoEdit

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  1. Template:Citation
  2. Template:Citation
  3. Template:Cite web
  4. Template:Citation
  5. Template:Citation
  6. Template:Citation
  7. Hindi by Yamuna Kachru
  8. Students' Britannica: India: Select essays by Dale Hoiberg, Indu Ramchandani page 175
  9. Template:OED
  10. 10.0 10.1 Template:Citation
  11. Template:Citation
  12. B.F. Manz, "Tīmūr Lang", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Online Edition, 2006
  13. Encyclopædia Britannica, "Timurid Dynasty", Online Academic Edition, 2007. (Quotation:...Turkic dynasty descended from the conqueror Timur (Tamerlane), renowned for its brilliant revival of artistic and intellectual life in Iran and Central Asia....Trading and artistic communities were brought into the capital city of Herat, where a library was founded, and the capital became the centre of a renewed and artistically brilliant Persian culture...)
  14. Template:Cite encyclopedia
  15. Encyclopædia Britannica article: Consolidation & expansion of the Indo-Timurids, Online Edition, 2007.
  16. [1] Indika: the country and the people of India and Ceylon By John Fletcher Hurst (1891) Page 344.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Writing Systems by Florian Coulmas, page 232
  18. The World's Most Widely Spoken Languages
  19. Template:Cite web
  20. Template:Citation in Pollock (2003)
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Template:Citation in Pollock (2003).
  22. Template:Citation
  23. Government of India: National Policy on Education.
  24. Template:Cite journal
  25. Indian critiques of Gandhi by Harold G. Coward page 218


  • Asher, R. E. (1994). Hindi. In Asher (Ed.) (pp. 1547–1549).
  • Asher, R. E. (Ed.). (1994). The Encyclopedia of language and linguistics. Oxford: Pergamon Press. ISBN 0-08-035943-4.
  • Bailey, Thomas G. (1950). Teach yourself Hindustani. London: English Universities Press.
  • Chatterji, Suniti K. (1960). Indo-Aryan and Hindi (rev. 2nd ed.). Calcutta: Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay.
  • Dua, Hans R. (1992). Hindi-Urdu as a pluricentric language. In M. G. Clyne (Ed.), Pluricentric languages: Differing norms in different nations. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-012855-1.
  • Dua, Hans R. (1994a). Hindustani. In Asher (Ed.) (pp. 1554).
  • Dua, Hans R. (1994b). Urdu. In Asher (Ed.) (pp. 4863–4864).
  • Rai, Amrit. (1984). A house divided: The origin and development of Hindi-Hindustani. Delhi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-561643-X.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Template:Hindi topics Template:Urdu topics Template:Hindi-Urdu speaking areas of India Template:Indo-Iranian languages Template:Languages of South Asia

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