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Urdu (Nastaliq: اردو; //; ALA-LC: Urdū) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in South Asia. It is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan, where it is also an official language alongside English. In India, Urdu is an Eighth Schedule language whose status and cultural heritage is recognised by the Constitution of India; and the Deoband school played a key role in establishing Urdu as the language of Indian Muslims, and it also has an official status in several Indian states. In Nepal, Urdu is a registered regional dialect and in South Africa it is a protected language in the constitution. It is also spoken as a minority language in Afghanistan and Bangladesh, with no official status.
|Region||Pakistan (widely used as lingua franca)|
India (as a minority in the Hindustani Belt & Deccan)
Afghanistan (as a minority across the country)
Nepal (as a minority in the Terai)
Bangladesh (as a minority in Old Dhaka)
|Speakers||Native: 70 million (2011–2018)|
L2: 160 million
Total: 230 million
|Indo-Pakistani Sign Language|
Official language in
South Africa (protected language)
|Regulated by||National Language Promotion Department (Pakistan)|
National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (India)
|This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.|
Urdu has been described as a Persianised register of the Hindustani language; Urdu and Hindi share a common Sanskrit- and Prakrit-derived vocabulary base, phonology, syntax, and grammar, making them mutually intelligible during colloquial communication. While formal Urdu draws literary, political, and technical vocabulary from Persian, formal Hindi draws these aspects from Sanskrit; consequently, the two languages' mutual intelligibility effectively decreases as the factor of formality increases.
In 1837, Urdu became an official language of the British East India Company, replacing Persian across northern India during Company rule; Persian had until this point served as the court language of various Indo-Islamic empires. Religious, social, and political factors arose during the European colonial period that advocated a distinction between Urdu and Hindi, leading to the Hindi–Urdu controversy.
Urdu became a literary language in the 18th century and two similar standard forms came into existence in Delhi and Lucknow. Since the partition of India in 1947, a third standard has arisen in the Pakistani city of Karachi. Deccani, an older form used in southern India, became a court language of the Deccan sultanates by the 16th century.
According to 2022 estimates by Ethnologue, Urdu is the 10th-most widely spoken language in the world, with 230 million total speakers, including those who speak it as a second language.[additional citation(s) needed]
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