Standard Urdu
Urdu example.svg
Urdu in Nastaʿlīq script
Pronunciation[ˈuːrdu] (About this soundlisten)
Native toPakistan and India
RegionSouth Asia
EthnicityNo specific ethnicity[1][2]
Native speakers
Native speakers: 68.62 million (2019)
L2 speakers: 101.58 million (2019)[3]
Early forms
Official status
Official language in

Recognised minority
language in
 South Africa (protected language)[9]
Regulated byNational Language Promotion Department (Pakistan)
National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (India)
Language codes
ISO 639-1ur
ISO 639-2urd
ISO 639-3urd
Urdu official-language areas.png
  Areas in India and Pakistan where Urdu is either official or co-official
  Areas where Urdu is neither official nor co-official
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Urdu (/ˈʊərd/;[11] Urdu: /ˈʊərd/;[11] Urdu: اُردُو‎, ALA-LC: Urdū, [ˈuːrdu] (About this soundlisten)) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in South Asia.[12][13] It is the official national language and lingua franca of Pakistan.[14] In India, Urdu is an Eighth Schedule language whose status, function, and cultural heritage is recognized by the Constitution of India;[15][16] it has some form of official status in several Indian states.[note 1][14]

Urdu has been described as a Persianised standard register of the Hindustani language.[17][18] Urdu and Hindi share a common Indo-Aryan vocabulary base and very similar phonology and syntax, making them mutually intelligible in colloquial speech.[19][20] Formal Urdu draws literary and technical vocabulary and some simple grammatical structures from Persian,[21] whereas formal Hindi draws these from Sanskrit.[21]

Urdu became a literary language in the 18th-century and two similar standard forms came into existence in Delhi and Lucknow; since 1947 a third standard has arisen in Karachi.[22][23] Dakhani, an older form used in the south, is now considered obsolete.[23]

Urdu was chosen as the language of East India Company rule across northern India in 1837 when the Company chose it to replace Persian, the court language of the Indo-Islamic empires.[24] Religious, social, and political factors arose during the colonial period that advocated for a distinction between Urdu and Hindi, leading to the Hindi–Urdu controversy.[25]

According to Nationalencyklopedin's 2010 estimates, Urdu is the 21st most spoken first language in the world, with approximately 66 million who speak it as their native language.[26] According to Ethnologue's 2018 estimates, Urdu, is the 11th most widely spoken language in the world,[27] with 170 million total speakers, including those who speak it as a second language.[28]