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What is Urdu?

Urdu is an important South Asian language spoken by nearly 250 million people in India, Pakistan and other neighbouring countries. Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, and one of the official languages of India. Urdu communities thrive in many countries around the world.

The word Urdu has a Turkish origin which means ‘camp’. It emerged in northern India about one thousand years ago out of a mixture of Hindi and other local languages with the Persian language spoken by armies and merchants from Persia. It also included many words from Arabic and Turkish languages. Urdu borrows words from many language which enhances its appeal as poetic language. Urdu has a rich poetic tradition. Urdu poetry expresses human feelings, passion of love and the beauty of nature in a very melodious and elegant manner. Urdu has its own script which is similar to Persian.

The first known Urdu poets came from Deccan (Hyderabad area) in South India. With many Urdu speakers migrating to other parts of the world, Urdu is no longer confined to the Indian subcontinent. There are Urdu societies and academic programs in many major cities around the world, and Urdu poetry recitals (Mushaeras) are particularly popular and delightful events.

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