Basics of Urdu Language

Posted on 28. Mar, 2015 by in Uncategorized

What is significant about the Urdu alphabet?

The Urdu alphabet has 39 basic letters and 13 extra characters, 52 all together. It is written from right to left and is closely related to the Arabic and Persian alphabets, but also contains some sounds from Sanskrit.

Pronunciation

Certain sounds in Urdu have no equivalent in English or in other languages written in the Roman alphabet. For this reason it is often difficult to express the true pronunciation of Urdu words using Roman letters.

Examples of letters that are not found in the English alphabet are:
ق – a sharp sound at the back of the throat, similar to ‘k’
خ – the pronunciation of ‘ch’ in Scottish ‘loch’.
ژ – much like the sound made by ‘s’ in ‘pleasure’

Vowels

Urdu has three short vowel sounds and seven long vowel sounds.

In writing, short vowels are represented by special symbols above or below the word. These symbols are known as ‘diacritics’. However, these diacritics are often left off written Urdu, so you can’t always tell how a word should be pronounced, unless it’s in context. There are similarities in English, with a word like ‘wind’ – ‘The wind blows’ and ‘Wind up the clock’.

The short vowels sound like:
The ‘a’ in the English word ‘about’
The ‘i’ in ‘bin’
The ‘u’ in ‘put’

Long vowels are written using the letters ا [alif], و [wao], ی[choti ye], ے [bari ye] combined with diacritics. Once again, the diacritics are often left out so you have to work out the pronunciation of the word based on its context.

The seven long vowels in Urdu sound similar to these English sounds:

The ‘a’ in ‘father’
The ‘ee’ in ‘seed’
The ‘oo’ in ‘boot’
The ‘o’ in ‘order’
The ‘au’ in ‘Australia’
The ‘e’ in ‘help’
The ‘a’ in ‘apple’

Getting used to reading words without diacritics can be a bit tricky at first, so most books for people learning Urdu or for children tend to include them. But most other forms of written Urdu, such as street signs and general publications don’t bother with diacritics.

The other thing to bear in mind is that two of the letters which represent vowels can also represent consonants.
و [wao] can also represent a ‘v’ sound or a ‘w’ sound
ی [choti ye] can also represent a ‘y’ sound

 A single dot makes a big difference

Dots play an important part in the Urdu alphabet. The placement of a dot can change one letter into a different letter. For example:

حـ [hey], becomes
خـ [khey], with a dot above it, and
جـ [jeem], with a dot below it.

The letter ب [bay], has its basic shape in common with three other letters, with only some dots to differentiate them:

ت [tey]
ث [say]
پ [pay]

One of the challenges for learners is to memorise the differences between these very similar-looking letters.

Email and website conventions

When saying web or email addresses, the words hyphen, slash,dot and at are all pronounced as in English.

 

Reference: BBC.UK

Flora and Fauna of Pakistan

Posted on 25. Mar, 2015 by in Uncategorized

The diversity of landscapes and climates in Pakistan allows a wide variety of trees and plants to flourish. The forests range from coniferous alpine and subalpine trees such as spruce, pine and deodar cedar in the extreme northern mountains, through deciduous trees in most of the country, to palms such as coconut and date in southern Punjab, southern Balochistan and all of Sindh. The western hills are home to juniper, tamarisk, coarse grasses and scrub plants. Mangrove forests form much of the coastal wetlands along the coast in the south.

The fauna of Pakistan reflects its varied climates too. Around 668 bird species are found here. Crows, sparrows, mynas, hawks, falcons, and eagles commonly occur. Palas, Kohistan, has a significant population of Western Tragopan. Many birds sighted in Pakistan are migratory, coming from Europe, Central Asia and India.

The southern plains are home to mongooses, civets, hares, the Asiatic jackal, the Indian pangolin, the jungle cat and the desert cat. There are mugger crocodiles in the Indus, and wild boar, deer, porcupines and small rodents are common in the surrounding areas. The sandy scrublands of central Pakistan are home to Asiatic jackals, striped hyenas, wildcats and leopards. The lack of vegetative cover, the severe climate and the impact of grazing on the deserts have left wild animals in a precarious position. The chinkara is the only animal that can still be found in significant numbers in Cholistan. A small number of Nilgai are found along the Pakistan-India border and in some parts of Cholistan. A wide variety of animals live in the mountainous north, including the Marco Polo sheep, the urial (a subspecies of wild sheep), Markhor and Ibex goats, the Asian black bear and the Himalayan brown bear. Among the rare animals found in the area are the snow leopard, the Asiatic cheetah and the blind Indus river dolphin, of which there are believed to be about 1,100 remaining, protected at the Indus River Dolphin Reserve in Sindh. In total, 174 mammals, 177 reptiles, 22 amphibians, 198 freshwater fish species and 5,000 species of invertebrates (including insects) have been recorded in Pakistan.

The flora and fauna of Pakistan suffer from a number of problems. Pakistan has the second-highest rate of deforestation in the world. This, along with hunting and pollution, is causing adverse effects on the ecosystem. The government has established a large number of protected areas, wildlife sanctuaries, and game reserves to deal with these issues.

 

Reference: Wikipedia

Urdu (اردو)-National Language of Pakistan

Posted on 23. Mar, 2015 by in Uncategorized

Urdu (اردو) the national language of Pakistan (پاکستان), was created around the 1600’s in Central Asia.  The word ‘Urdu’ comes from the Turkish word ‘ordu’ meaning ‘camp’ or ‘army’.  It was used as a unifying communication tool between the Muslim soldiers during their conquest of Ancient India (including countries east until Myanmar) and Eastern Persia.  These soldiers were of Persian, Arab, or Turkish descent.  The majority of the soldiers, however, were of Persian origin.  This directly affected the language to be used between them.  The language of the government and that which dominated earlier on was Farsi (فارسی), but eventually changed to Urdu to accommodate the other races.  Despite the fact, Urdu vocabulary contains approximately 70% Farsi and the rest being a mix of Arabic and Turkish.  The grammar takes some elements from Farsi and Arabic but also has elements that are unique and different from all three of its mother tongues.  In current times, however, many Urdu speakers have adopted many English and Hindi terms following the effects of globalization.

Upon the conquest of the lands past the Indus, the Muslim armies gathered and prepared for their battles.  The strength of the communication between them could be the determinant of their fate.  Thus was laid the foundations of the Urdu language.  It began with Muhammad bin Qasim (محمد بن قاسم), the Arab who entered what is now Pakistan proclaiming the message of the One God and his final messenger in the 700’s.  For the next thousand years many Arab, Persian, and Turkish armies conquered the region; some for worldly gains and others who sought benefit in the life to come.  A language that constituted all languages that came into power came to be known as ‘Urdu’, meaning camp (کیمپ), referring to history of the language how it came to existence through the army camps of Persian, Arab and Turkish forces.