Pakistan’s national language. The most beautiful and sweetest language of all time, and part of the most beautiful culture. Unfortunately, its charm has been dimmed by our “high society’s” obsession for the English language. Learning about our roots is crucial to keeping our feet grounded in a society. My own fascination with the language made me seek out information about its origin. I have always received comments like “Urdu sounds so sweet and delicate”, making me wonder – ‘how come? Why is that? Where did it come from?’.
A popular myth about Urdu language is that it is a “lashkari /Camp language”, mainly because it’s a mixture of different languages such as Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Hindi. It is believed that it originated from the camps of the Mughal army. This theory was widely accepted and promoted by various writers without realizing the fact that Urdu language existed long before Mughal era (which began in 1526). Poets like Ameer Khusrau had been composing poetry in Urdu long before – Khusrau himself died in 1325. Essentially, the Urdu language existed long before the Shah Jahan era.
According to Max Muller, a renowned linguist, it is totally wrong and misleading to believe that by combining two or more languages, a third language can be formed, although a language can be strengthened by obtaining the dialect. Still the question remains; what is the origin of the Urdu language?
There are many theories to answer this question. The most reasonable one of those theories is the one that says that it was developed from some dialects spoken in and around Delhi during the 11th and 12th centuries AD. These dialects were developed from Apbhransh (a number of languages that were developed from Prakrit languages) and their roots go back to Sanskrit. But it still requires more research to answer the question ‘ from which specific Apbhransh did Urdu originate’? One thing is clear though: Urdu is not a camp language.
The Urdu language has been developed over time and it came out better against the test of time. It makes me feel scared every time I see Pakistanis prioritizing English over Urdu… because Urdu deserves all the respect considering the amount of time took for it to develop. It can’t just diminish like that!
I think I speak for everyone when I say that feelings hit different when expressed in Urdu.
Here is a Shair (Urdu for a poem) in Urdu from my Baba ji’s (father’s) diary:
Aankh jo kuch dekhti hai lab pe aa sakta nahi
Mahhw e hairat hon k duniya kya se kya ho jaye gi
Translation: What I can see, I can’t bring it to my lips
Lost in wonder that world will become what out of what
By Ammara Irshad