Is it Urdu or Hindi? Posted by on Oct 29, 2021 in Hindi Language, Vocabulary

Why the controversy?

If you look at the news from India today, it seems like everyone is up in arms about the use of vocabulary. As a nation and culture, why this sudden war over words? If you take a deep dive into the languages of India, especially Hindi and Urdu, you can see that they are truly siblings. Each language has its own beauty. Each language has the same origins in Sanskrit.

Politics and Media

Politics driven media ignites this war. What a privilege India has to have so many colorful languages that one can lean on to communicate with its diverse population!

Diwali and Ads

Recently there was an ad that had to be taken down due to the uproar it caused on social media! All because of one tweet from a politician.

Sister Vocabulary

Invaders from Central Aisa, Afghanistan and Turkey brought their colorful languages into India transforming Hindi.  Hindi absorbed Persian words used mostly for administrative purposes. These words were: ‘vasir’ meaning minister मंत्री, ‘musahib’ meaning courtier दरबारी, ‘faujdari’ criminal आपराधिक case, ‘faisla’ judgement प्रलय, and ‘gavahi’ witness साक्षी. These are used to such an extent that they are no longer recognized as loan words ऋण शब्द.

Persian also gave India words for food, ‘korma’ कोरमा and ‘kabab’ कबाब, cosmetics अंगराग,  ‘sabun’ (soap) and ‘hina’ (henna). For the home, ‘kursi’ (chair), ‘mez’ (table), ‘divar’ (wall).

People use Urdu words so much in India that they are commonly mistaken गलत for Hindi words. So many of today’s controversies विवाद and splitting hairs in India can be avoided. If only people would understand समझना the history of Urdu. Its origins are in Sanskrit just like Hindi.

Common Urdu

People use the word Zindagi जिंदगी more often than Jeevan, which is the actual Hindi word for life. In fact if you type ‘life’ into the Google Translator you will see the word zindagi come up first.

Similarly, you can see the search results in Google come up with the word दिल, rather than हृदय. Also, we hear the word Dil दिल in Bollywood songs rather than Hriday. This maybe due to the fact that it is slightly more difficult to pronounce the latter word.

The Rishta संबंध theme is common in Indian culture. Many stories and movies focus on the use of this word more than Sambandh संबंध.

Right from childhood, I hear the word Kitaab किताब more than the word Pustak पुस्तक even though I learned Hindi and not Urdu.

When we hear poetry even in Hindi we hear the word Khwab more than Sapne सपना which is the Sanskrit origin word for dreams.

Tanha means loneliness and is used more than अकेलापन Akelapan, which may have a different connotation.

Ishq sounds more mature than प्यार Pyaar which may sound young. Both are used equally in the culture.

Arzoo is the word for wish इच्छा in Urdu while Iccha is the word for wish in Hindi. We hear Arzoo more often depending on region.

Many Indians are unaware of the Hindi word Lahu or rakth रक्त which means blood. They hear the word Khoon more often.


Tags: ,
Keep learning Hindi with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Nicole Herbert Dean

Language, Region and Culture Consultant to the Department of Defense and United States Military.

Leave a comment: