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THE URDU SCRIPT
Urdu. A language as diverse and inclusive as a language can be. Expressive, like none other. Its charm finds accord with those with a taste for deep, emotive expression generation after another across geographical borders.
To quote Mahatma Gandhi himself:
“I am proud of the fact that Urdu is a language born in India and it belongs to India”
In India, Urdu is one of the 22 official languages recognized in the Constitution of India.
Urdu and Hindi languages are sisters in true sense of the word as they share 70% of the same words. Additions from Persian and Arabic languages add linguistic sheen to the Urdu language making up for the other 30% of it. In fact, 99% of Urdu verbs have their roots in Sanskrit/Prakrit.
The Urdu script is an extension of the Persian alphabet, which itself is an extension of the Arabic alphabet. It is written in the beautiful, flowing Nasta’liq style of Persian calligraphy.
Having said that, let’s move on to looking at some objective characteristics of this script.
Urdu is written right-to-left unlike Hindi or English which are written left-to-right. Here are some examples of this:
Above: The letter ‘be’ being written right-to-left
Urdu script is cursive. Letters in the Urdu alphabet, except for a few, join with the letters following them in a word. They do so by changing their shape slightly to connect with the following letter. Detailed, visual break-downs have been provided throughout the site to help you understand these rules.
The Urdu script utilizes a “basic shape” for a group of letters which are differentiated by "dots/nuqta" and "symbols". The number and placement of these nuqta above or below the basic shape of the letter determines the sound it carries.
Initial: At the beginning of a word. Like the letter ‘b’ in the word “bat”.
Medial: In the middle or somewhere between the first and last letters of a word. Like the letter ‘b’ in the word “about”.
Final: At the end of a word. Like the letter ‘b’ in the word “tub”.
Independant/Isolated: When the letter is not connected from either side.
Certain letters in the Urdu alphabet have sounds that do not exist in Hindi or English. Pronunciation and usage of these letters, and the words they appear in, have been explained in detail in the related units.
You may also refer to the IPA table (International Phonetic Alphabet) provided on this site for pronunciation clues.