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About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...



An example of typical calligraphic
Urdu book art (Nizam-e-nau “A New
World Order” by Hadrat Mirza
Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, 1942)
shows why it is difficult to produce
this script style by means of
typesetting and computer fonts.

Language information: In its narrowest definition, Urdu is one of two Standard Hindustani (“Khariboli”) varieties, the other one being Standard Hindi. In its most extensive definition, the name “Urdu” covers all non-standard Hindustani varieties. Another, somewhat simplified, definition is that Urdu represents Hindustani varieties used predominantly by Muslims. Of the currently about 337 million speakers of Hindustani, over 60 million speak Urdu (used predominantly by Muslims), with about eleven million are Pakistani and close to 50 million are Indian. Sizeable communities of Urdu speakers are also found in Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Guyana, Italy, Japan, Malawi, Mauritius, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Zambia. Especially in Pakistan, Urdu is used by numerous non-native speakers as well, such as Brahui, Balochi, Gujarati, Hazarvi, Hindko, Kashmiri, Pashto, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tajik, Turkmen, Siraiki and Uzbek.
     Hindustani came under the influence of Persian when under the Muslim-led rule of the Delhi Sultanate (1206–1526), the Mughal Empire (1526–1857) and their successor states this language enjoyed official dominance within much of the area that covered most of today’s Pakistan and India. Further influences came directly from Turkic varieties, Pashto and Arabic. Most of these influences are shared by Urdu and Hindi, as well as by neighboring Indo-Aryan language. However, due to continuing connections with the Muslim world, they are more prevalent in the varieties of Muslim-dominated communities, namely those commonly referred to as Urdu.
     Urdu is one of the official languages of both Pakistan and India.*
     There are four officially recognized Urdu dialects: Dakhini, Pinjari, Rekhta, and Modern Vernacular Urdu (based on the Khariboli dialect of the Delhi region). There is also a group of South Indian Urdu. These varieties show strong Hindi influences as well as influences from various non-Indo-Aryan, mostly Dravidian, languages of the region.
ALL languages and dialects are beautiful, precious gifts. So cherish yours and others! Share them with the world!     Being parts of the same Hindustani language, Urdu and Hindi varieties are for the most part mutually intelligible, and a type of Hindustani cross variety tends to be used in reaching speakers of all of them, such as in India’s enormous and growing motion picture industry (“Bollywood”). Such cross varieties tend to use fewer Perso-Arabic loanwords than in Urdu and fewer Sanskrit loanwords than in Hindi, more Perso-Arabic loanwords than in Hindi and more Sanskrit loanwords than in Urdu.
     The major distinctive features are in the area of writing. While Hindi uses the ancient Indic Devanāgarī script, Urdu mostly uses a moderated Perso-Arabic script, preferably in the graceful “hanging” Nasta‘līq style of the Persian school of calligraphy, whose complexity until the recent advent of computer-assisted typesetting required newspapers and even books to be handwritten by calligraphers. (For the Urdu translation presented here we used a computer font version of the Urdu Nasta‘līq style.)

Most languages of the Indian subcontinent have a dental and
a retroflex consonant series where European languages have
only one. Most Germanic and Slavonic languages have only
an alveolar series for t, d, n, r and l, most Romance and
Celtic languages only a dental one.

               Like closely related languages, Urdu has two noteworthy phonological features: aspiration of both voiceless and voiced plosives and, probably owing to an ancient Munda or Dravidian substrate, a retroflex series of consonants. Furthermore, it has two contrastive series of consonants where European languages have only one. It has a dental series (in which the tip of the tongue touches the front teeth) and a retroflex series (in which the tip of the tongue is bend back or upward to touch an area behind the alveolar ridge). They lack a corresponding alveolar series, which is the default in Germanic languages. In rendering loanwords and names from English and other Germanic languages, speakers of Urdu and related languages thus must choose dental or retroflex substitution. Interestingly, they tend to choose the retroflex series since it sounds more closely related to them. This is why retroflexion is a striking characteristic of South Asian “accents” in English.
* Pakistan’s official languages: Urdu and English; India’s official languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Maithili, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu. (Underlined names are those of Indo-Aryan and thus Indo-European languages.)

Genealogy: Indo-European > Indo-Iranian > Indo-Aryan > Central > Hindustani

Historical Lowlands language contacts: English

    Click to open the translation: [Click] Click here for different versions. >

Author: Reinhard F. Hahn

© 2011, Lowlands-L · ISSN 189-5582 · LCSN 96-4226 · All international rights reserved.
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