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WHY does Urdu leave most of the vowels out?

How come, despite representing pretty much the same spoken language, Hindi writes all the vowels and Urdu leaves most out?

I've seen people say the Urdu script is unable to properly represent the language and Devanagari or Latin would be better, BUT the Arabic-based script that Urdu is written in is capable of showing every vowel, but for some reason those marks are just not used?

Or they're used so rarely that most Urdu vowels are buried in the special characters section of the keyboard, where one normally finds things as obtuse as capital Eszett (a German letter) on the English keyboard...

But the Hindi keyboard is about half vowels...

...and this is the keyboard that makes special characters easy, on a physical keyboard it's just "computer says no" if you want to write an Urdu word unambiguously with all the vowels? Maybe they all use English Keyboards? Is Hindi more likely to be typed? And even if used rarely, why make an Urdu keyboard with most vowels inaccessible?

January 10, 2020



One reason I think Urdu lacks diacrtical marks because it is intended to be a very visual script (a la poets and calligraphists) as opposed to Quaranic high Arabic which contains everything you need to properly memorize and recite for vowel marks. For Urdu, you're supposed to intuit the vowel sounds from prior knowledge. A bit difficult for someone new to the language. Being able to properly incorporate diacritical marks for easy access on an Urdu keyboard is thus probably not a huge consideration for most speakers.

Devnagari used to write Hindi (and other south asian languages) uses Sanskrit vowel marks that are approximate (differences occur) but more explicit. The language was originally for recitation so it's written in a linear format with all vowel marks visible as opposed to the sloping style of Urdu.

Hope that helps.


Because a writing system is as much of a system in and of itself as a language is? So when you use a certain writing system, the rules of that writing system are used. It doesn't matter what language is being written.

Devanagari is an abugida. I don't know if abugida's are generally very precise, but Devanagari is. Arabic script (like Hebrew) is an abjad; it uses mainly the consonants and has less focus on the vowels. And speakers of those languages don't need the full information.

It is only for new leaners, that it is a bit more difficult, because they are learning the words at the same time as learning to read and write them.

If English were written in, say Devanagari or Arabic script (or Hebrew), than it would follow the customs of that system, I suppose, depending on whether an alphabet, an abjad or an abugida was used. And if there were different populations that all speak English but use different writing systems, you would see the same differences; leaving out vowels in the abjad and being as precise as possible in an abugida.


It does not really matter if you can read it(but you will have to be fluent in the script), which I can not, try just reading it with harakat in a newspaper then guess the harakat later. or just deal with it.

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