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Differences between Hindi and Urdu

Urdu and Hindi are two variants of the same language. Although they are relatively the same language, they have two distinct writing systems.

Both Urdu and Hindi have the same language origins. They came from the Indo-European and Indo-Aryan language families. Both languages are derived from Sanskrit. Because of this they have the same Indic base and have similar phonology and grammar. They also share the same region (South Asia) where they are predominately spoken.

The main difference between the two languages is their association. Hindi is a language used and spoken by Hindi people, the native and leading population of India. On the other hand, Urdu is associated with Pakistan and Muslims.

Hindi is mostly spoken in India and serves as its national language. The same goes for Urdu in Pakistan where it is a national language. In addition, Urdu is also spoken in India as a state official language. Both languages are spoken by its population in countries outside of India and Pakistan.

Both Hindi and Urdu contain influences of Persian, Arabic, and Turkic. However, the percentage differs in each language. Urdu has a lot of foreign influences and loanwords while Hindi has a lower application of the same foreign vocabularies. The two languages share many common words and lexicons from native, Arabic, Persian, and the English language.

In Hindi and Urdu, there are only two forms for gender (male and female). In terms of grammar, the verbs fall after the subject. Also, verbs agree with objects not the subjects. At the colloquial level, speakers of both Urdu and Hindi can understand each other. However, the political vocabulary and highbrow level of both languages are completely different.

The Urdu writing system is called Nastaliq. It involves some Persian and Arabic script. Nastaliq is written from right to left. On the other hand, Hindi uses the Devanagari script. Its written form is the opposite of Nastaliq, from left to right.

The British occupation aggravated the rift between Hindi and Urdu and in extension the Hindi and Muslims. This led to the division of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Attempts were made to reconcile both the languages and countries but failed. The combination of both Urdu and Hindi led to the creation of Hindustani– a Sanskrit-based language with 30-40 per cent Persian and Arabic influences.

Hindi and Urdu are considered to be the national language of their respective countries, but it is often not the native language of its people. Both Hindi and Urdu are taught in school due to their status as official languages. In India, both Hindi and Urdu have an agency that regulates the language; meanwhile, Urdu is the only language being regulated in Pakistan.

Summary: 1. Urdu and Hindi are almost the same language with different writing systems and different associations. Both languages have the same origins with similar grammar and phonology. They also share many common words and foreign influences (Arabic, Persian, and Turkic). 2. Urdu is mainly associated with Pakistan and Muslims while Hindi is associated with India and Hindi. 3. Urdu’s writing system is called Nastaliq. It has a lot of Arabic, Persian, and Turkic influences. It is written in Arabic script, and its direction is from right to left. On the other hand, Hindi’s writing system is Devanagari. It is written from left to right and in Sanskrit script. It also has a lower volume of foreign influences. 4. Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, but it is also spoken in India. Meanwhile, Hindi is the national language of India. 5. At the colloquial level, Hindi and Urdu are used spontaneously and sound almost the same, but the language’s political vocabularies are different.

June 12, 2019



Another note: a lot of Urdu speakers in north India will still use the Devanagari script due to its wider prevalence in the society at large. Its only in cities/regions with a significant Muslim population, or a majority Muslim population, that you will actually see the Urdu script being used regularly.


Actually, both Hindi and Urdu developed from a common dialect called 'khar̤ībolī' (IPA:kʰəɽiːboːliː, Devanagari:खड़ीबोली, Urdu:کھڑیبولی) which descended from 'apabhraṃśa' (IPA:əpəbʰɾə̃ʂə, Devanagari:अपभ्रंश, Urdu:اَپَبھْرَںشَ). Apabhraṃśa means 'out of path'. It evolved from Middle-Indo-Aryan language group called 'prākṛtaṃ', which is commonly known as Prakrit ("un-refined' or "natural"). When foreign rulers from the Turkic region invaded Indian region, khar̤ībolī was highly influenced by Turkish language along with the introduction of Islam in India. This is evident from the name 'Urdu' itself. Urdu (IPA:uɾd̪uː) comes from Persian (zabān-i-)urdū ‘(language of the) camp’ (because it developed as a lingua franca after the Muslim invasions between the occupying armies and the local people of the region around Delhi), urdū being from Turkic ordu


Simplified: They are two politicized names for the same language. "Urdu" has the expectation that one will use Arabic script, etc., but writing system really isn't language. "Hindi" connotes, for some, a rather artificially Sanskritized register of this singular language.


The information you gave is true. Though the languages sound similar, there are a lot of differences. Most go far back to its history. Thanks for sharing the information.


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