Cracking Urdu: A Guide for Those Who Know Hindi

By Anjum Altaf

I am an Urdu speaker from Pakistan who wrote an account (From Urdu to Hindi, Farsi and Beyond) of an immensely rewarding experience of learning the Devanagari script very quickly. As a result, I have been asked to guide those wishing to cross the divide from the other side. Nothing could be more gratifying and I have decided to devote a separate post to the effort in order to have enough room to indulge myself.

For those who know Hindi, the news is all good. You already know Urdu so there is really nothing to learn. Hindi and Urdu share the same Khari Boli grammar and therefore are the same language from a linguistic perspective. The branches of this common trunk have been pruned and grafted such that we think we are looking at two different species of trees. But that is an illusion; beneath the bramble of new and unfamiliar words the roots are the same.

Hindi speakers really don’t have to learn Urdu because most anything of general value from the Urdu corpus would be available in India in Devanagari. A language does not change if written in a different script; Urdu Romanized or written in Devanagari is still Urdu. In this sense those across the border are more fortunate because the relationship is not symmetric. Almost nothing from the vast resource base of Hindi is available in Pakistan in Urdu script (which, by the way, is not as trivial a difference as it may seem). My own resolve to learn Devanagari stemmed from an interest in classical music – all the new and exciting work is in Hindi (and other Indian languages) and thus inaccessible to a Pakistani unfamiliar with its script.

The bottom line of the above is that there is no functional need for a Hindi speaker to learn the Urdu script. The only motivation can be an intellectual thrill, the mental challenge of deciphering a code, of going to the source and discovering what that might entail. And this provides the clue to how a Hindi speaker should go about the task. He/she should not consider it as learning a new language but as breaking a cypher – Urdu is Hindi written in code.

The adult Hindi speaker should not approach learning Urdu as a child would, starting from the primer, accumulating a vocabulary and then learning to write the words. Rather, the code-breaker’s approach would employ a phonetic strategy associating each distinct sound with the shape of a symbol. For example, when we verbalize the word ‘mother’ we know that its initial sound is represented by the symbol M in English and म in Devanagari. We now have to associate the same sound with the symbol م in Urdu. Of course we know that there is an upper case M and a lower case m and also that a lower case r doesn’t quite look the same when we write English in cursive longhand. Nor does म look like the half-म in Devanagari and the half-र can get stuck all over the place. But these are matters of detail that are unimportant at the outset.

The first step therefore is to put up the Urdu alphabet on a surface that you look at many times during the day (it is now also available as a phone app). Mark the equivalent Devanagari symbol below each Urdu symbol, and match the sound-symbol pairs. (This chart is not ideal but should work. Unlike Devanagari, Urdu letters have names and the chart gives the names of the Urdu letters in Devanagari. The initial sound of the name is close enough to the sound represented by the letter. I will replace the chart when I come across a more useful one or will make one myself. If you know someone familiar with Urdu you can get off to a fast start by asking him/her to verbalize the sounds of the Urdu letters so you can match them with their Devanagari equivalents.) For those with photographic memories the task of remembering the matched pairs is trivial. For the rest, it would take less than a month devoting a mere ten minutes a day to one sound-symbol pair, alternately thinking of the sound and writing down the symbol associated with it and thinking of the symbol and verbalizing the sound that it represents.

With the phonetic approach, that is just about the time it should take to break the code. You should be able to write your name in upper case Urdu. For example, if your name is Ashok, you can break it into its constituent sounds – A, SH, O, K – and recall the Urdu symbols that represent the same sounds. If you have done your job right you will come up with ک , و ,ش ,ا. Writing these symbols from right to left, which is the way Urdu is written, will give you your name in upper case Urdu –  ا ش و ک.

The first and most critical milestone is to get to the point where you can write any Hindi word in the equivalent upper case Urdu. As you can appreciate, this is a purely mechanical exercise – one could train a monkey to listen to a sound and pick the associated symbol out of a tray of symbols representing all sounds.

(You will make initial mistakes because unlike Devanagari there isn’t a one-to-one correspondence between sounds and symbols in Urdu which is over-determined in this regard. For example, the sound of S in Urdu could be represented by the symbols س, ث, or ص. However, you will be reading and pronouncing the word right; all it means is that you will make a mistake in writing which is a second order problem. Just as familiarity has made us comfortable with odd English spellings, the same will happen with Urdu.)

The next step is to crack the transition from upper case to lower case Urdu and to master its shorthand which is what stumps most adult learners. Fortunately this task has been made relatively simple by modern technology. Use a phonetic keyboard with Urdu letters (which you would know by this point) and type the upper case letters on it (you can use this keyboard to start with). Then watch the screen to see how they connect together and you will begin to get a hang of the logic of the shorthand.  An ideal supplement would be a book of Ghalib that has the ghazals in Urdu, Devanagari and Roman scripts. Read a word in Devanagari, recall the upper case Urdu letters that represent its sounds and note how they are combined in Urdu. You will, at one go, enjoy Urdu poetry, enrich your vocabulary, and pick up the mechanics of the Urdu shorthand. (I would recommend Professor Frances Pritchett’s wonderful Ghalib website but for the fact that style used for the Urdu script is not the best for beginners. However, her general site for Hindi-Urdu resources would yield much of value to the interested reader.)

There is a complexity in Urdu writing that it would help to keep in mind. Unlike in Hindi, each Urdu word is not clearly separated from the next by the device of the bar or clothesline on top. One Urdu word in its written form can have two or more separate components. For the uninitiated this can create ambiguity about whether an element belongs to the preceding or the following word. I recall an incident where I had lent a book of Urdu poetry to a friend. A particular line started with the two words ‘Funkaar Khud’ (meaning artist and self, respectively). The Devanagari symbols representing the constituent sounds would be फ़ न क आ र and ख द and the two words would be distinctly identified. If you remember the equivalent symbols for Urdu, you would write these two words from right to left as follows:

ف ن ک ا ر   خ و د

Now when you type these into the phonetic keyboard, you will see that they would combine as follows:  فنکار خود

Note that both words are made up of two disconnected parts and there is no clothesline to clearly separate one word from the other especially if the writing is in longhand. The standalone ر in the middle could be mistakenly considered part of either word by one unfamiliar with the language. Thus it was that I got a long-distance call enquiring about the meaning of the word ‘Rkhud’ – my friend was decoding the text as ‘funkaa rkhud’; ‘fun ka’ can make sense in some contexts (speaking ‘of art’ for example) but ‘rkhud’ is meaningless. Such exciting errors will yield memorable anecdotes to be recalled with nostalgia; familiarity will take care of them.

There are a few tricks that help negotiate these difficulties. First, there are a number of Urdu letters that can be considered terminal, i.e., they don’t connect to subsequent letters – و , ر and ا are among them. You will get to know them over time and that will be a big help in writing. Second, there is guide I find useful. Imagine a three line copy of the kind used to teach children to write. Use the middle line as the reference and always start writing from it. Keep connecting the subsequent letter to the one preceding it as long as you are on the middle line. If the shape of the letter takes you to the top or bottom line, that is a sign that you have arrived at a terminal letter. Look at فنکار خود again and see if this suggestion helps.

The essential message of this guide is that the task of learning Urdu has to be conceptualized by a Hindi speaking adult very differently from the norm. It is not akin to learning a language; it is more deciphering a code for which the phonetic strategy of matching a sound and a symbol is the most effective. In this frame it should be more like solving a puzzle and therefore the source of adventure, fun and pleasure. Working through the puzzle might also yield some learning which would serve as a bonus.

I should state here that I am not a linguist nor do I know related theories of linguistics. I stumbled upon this approach in my investigations into music thinking about its alphabet (sa, re, ga ma, pa, dha, ni). It occurred to me that while in a spoken language one associates letters of the alphabet with distinct sounds at the same pitch, in music one could associate every letter of the alphabet with the same sound but at a different frequency. In playing around with the idea, I figured I could apply it to learn Hindi and was pleasantly surprised that it worked. This guide is an attempt to generalize from that experience. I would be very much interested in finding out if it proved useful to others or of particular adaptations that proved more effective.

Apologies for the fonts of the Urdu and Devanagari letters in the text. WordPress did not allow me to increase the font size to make them more distinct and legible.

Play around with Google Translator from Hindi to Urdu. As you enter a word in Roman script, it would change into Devanagari and the Urdu equivalent would be displayed. From Hindi to Urdu the translator simply transliterates the shared words which is very helpful for our purposes.

Syed Mohsin Naquvi successfully taught Urdu using the phonetic method at Rutgers University last year. He has generously volunteered to guide readers to work with the multi-language facility of Windows 7, an Urdu script font, and a phonetic keyboard both available from the Center for Research in Urdu Language Processing (CRULP) website. He can be contacted at

As a result of the response to this post we have started an innovative Language Exchange learning initiative. Do take a look and contribute your suggestions.


  • Manish Kumar
    Posted at 17:38h, 20 June Reply

    Nice approach to learn Urdu ! Thx for enlightening us.

  • builder
    Posted at 08:39h, 22 June Reply

    a similar, memorable parsing error: kitaabcha -> kutta bachcha

    and one that always threw me off: ‘janaral (general) store’ -> jazal store

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 18:12h, 23 June

      Builder: کتابچہ is a good example of the traps for the unwary in Urdu. Kitaabcha is from the root word kitaab and refers to a small book or a magazine. In writing it gets broken in two since the Alif at the end of the Kitaa does not connect to the succeeding letter be. Hence it is quite possible to read it as two separate words kitaa and bacha. Since Urdu doesn’t bother to put the diacritical marks where they are required, it is not possible to say whether the first word is kitaa, kataa, kutaa ot Kuttaa. Similarly, it is not possible to tell whether the second word is bicha, bucha, bacha or bachcha. This should not scare anyone. Urdu relies on the context to solve most of such possible errors. If the text is about books and magazines their is little chance of a puppy popping into the narrative. After a while, these just become occasions for good laughs.

  • kk
    Posted at 16:39h, 22 June Reply

    Loved both your articles.
    Very well written and extremely learner friendly.
    I have been trying to learn Farsi for a while now, watching their movies has helped me as much as hanging out with Iranians, is a good beginner’s site, so is but as rightly point out Urdu/Hindi is easier than jumping to Farsi, though in Iran I did manage to grasp the gist of what was being said quite effortlessly.
    Shukriya! Kavita

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 18:34h, 23 June

      kk: Thanks. I think hanging out with Iranians is probably the fastest way of learning Farsi. To simulate the experience this blog is initiating a new experiment called the Language Exchange. I hope you will take a look and provide some feedback:

      My own experience with was not as positive for reasons described on the Persian Page in the Language Exchange. I have mentioned a resource that suited me more. Would like your feedback after you have looked at it.

  • kothevala
    Posted at 14:49h, 10 August Reply

    I had never learned to read Urdu but at one time I started a course in Arabic. After a few weeks I realized I could also read Urdu: I just had to learn the additional letters. A further advantage was that those different signs representing the same sound in Urdu weren’t a problem simply because they did represent different sounds in Arabic. So for those who can only read Hindi I suggest you take a beginner’s course in Arabic and then try reading Urdu. The “Naskhi” script used on the Internet or on typewriters is much easier to read than the “Nastaliq” used in hand-writing and lino-cut printing. So start with texts on the Internet and then go on to books printed in the traditional manner.

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 15:04h, 11 August

      kothevala: The end requirement is a very simple one. All that is needed is to associate about 20 plus sounds with their corresponding visual representations in Urdu. Since Arabic, Farsi and Urdu share a common alphabet, it shouldn’t matter which path one chooses for this pattern recognition exercise. Personally, I would go directly to Urdu. Because Urdu and Hindi share the same working vocabulary and grammar, there is nothing more to be done. The last step is to learn the Urdu shorthand method of cursive writing. That is less than a week’s effort. For the motivated individual who knows Hindi, getting going in Urdu is less than a month of self-directed work.

  • Vinod
    Posted at 04:57h, 15 August Reply

    I know how to read Arabic.

  • Vinod
    Posted at 06:14h, 15 August Reply

    I almost learned how to read Bengali too. The Bengali alphabet has letters that vaguely match the hindi letters.

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 18:53h, 17 August

      Vinod: I looked at the Bengali alphabet. There is indeed a resemblance to Hindi letters but I had this feeling that whereas I could learn the latter very quickly, it would take me a lot longer to make the same progress with Bengali. It looks like the kind of script one has to grow up with. I have no clear idea what it is but the similarity of shapes seems intimidating. Go further east and look at the Thai script and you might sense my feeling.

    • Vinod
      Posted at 01:38h, 18 August

      I think the influence of the Brahmi alphabet is more pronounced on Bengali and Thai than that of the Devanagiri. Hence the same-but-not-the-same feeling.

  • Rajat
    Posted at 03:37h, 18 February Reply

    Some years back I learned how to read gujrati. It will be easier if you know devnagri as it is almost same with a few differences.
    Regarding Bengali, Now I can understand some bengali because of my bengali friends. I cannot read it much. I will love to learn reading bengali because of the richness of literature in bengali. After I came to US, I became friends with some Nepalis and was surprised that Nepali is very close sounding to bengali plus it is written in devnagri.

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 17:21h, 18 February

      Rajat: All these languages shade into each other. I wish we had devoted some time early in our life to take advantage of their similarities. I know Devnagri so I will take a look at Gujrati.

  • pavanmehta
    Posted at 16:12h, 27 February Reply

    Anjum can you give me tips on how to learn to read hindi. I know Urdu and Sindhi.

  • Ankur Sharma
    Posted at 19:47h, 21 October Reply

    The other issue, apart from script, is that of vocabulary. Good Devanagari editions of urdu poetry often have glossaries in them that explain urdu words which are less common in Hindi. There are some good Urdu Hindi dictionaries as well that help in that regard. I have often thought, idly of course, of memorising one such dictionary entirely.
    Urdu poetry is so beautiful that the effort would be worthwhile.
    You have better suggestions in this regard?

  • amardeepsinghpuri
    Posted at 03:23h, 12 January Reply

    I m a found of nusrat Punjabi songs but there are some words which meaning is not understandable for me I don’t know to read Urdu but I know Punjabi Hindi and English if u can help me in this matter than i shall be thankful to you. By Amardeepsinghpuri

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 06:40h, 12 January

      amardeep: Post the lyrics and someone on the blog should be able to help you.

  • Rohan Sharma
    Posted at 21:33h, 20 January Reply

    hi , i am a native hindi speaker and can read urdu as well but i am unable to read it very fast,so can you help me regarding this issue of mine.I am quite fluent with urdu vocabulary and can read tough persian /arabic words easily but my only problem is that i have to concentrate very hard while assembling urdu letters.For eg i can read an urdu newspaper if i have time but if i try to read dynamic headlines on a tv channel then i struggle a bit.

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 07:07h, 26 January

      Rohan: The only way forward is familiarity and practice. I would recommend Ukindia’s Urdu page where the logic of Urdu letters is explained: Also, this volume from CM Naim’s celebrated course at the University of Chicago might be of help: Let us know if these prove helpful.

    • Rohan Sharma
      Posted at 09:43h, 26 January

      Hi,Anjum CM Naim’s book is exceptional , however I have been trying from my own side to improve reading speed and made a habit to read 2 pages daily.As a result reading speed has improved dramatically and i am able to read and understand simultaneously ,previously i could only read and understanding part for reserved for second reading.
      Its tragic that i was not taught urdu in school alongside hindi and sanskrit due to which i have to try so hard reading the language which i literally speak everyday,anyways time isn’t going to rewind back and its always hard when you try to learn a script on your own without a teacher.I cant imagine someone writing shudh hindi without having formal education, same goes with urdu too.
      I have decided to learn persian next month but this time i’ll make sure i’ll get myself enrolled in some institute rather than trying on my own with a book because it saves lot of time and energy as i saw with urdu that even after trying hard from last 10 months my proficiency is just intermediate level and i think i’ll need atleast 1 year to reach a decent level where i’ll be able to read kalaam of ghalib and meer fluently without cheating.

  • Yar Khan
    Posted at 17:23h, 26 April Reply

    Hi Anjum
    I like your reason for learning Hindi script because you want to learn classical music…I learnt Urdu script beacuse I want to learn more of old bollywood music and ghazals. Your idea of cracking the code is exactly what I had thought about Urdu when I learnt reading Urdu 🙂 Keep up the good work

  • NNZ
    Posted at 07:09h, 05 June Reply

    Hi Can anybody let me know the best site to learn arabic (read, write, learn and able to pronounce).Thanks

  • Taran
    Posted at 09:42h, 17 September Reply

    hi, what is the difference between Upper Case and Lower Case urdu??

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 12:16h, 05 October

      Taran: Urdu is not like English in having upper and lower case alphabets that can be used separately to write words. The Urdu alphabet (as depicted in primers) is not used in writing. Shortened forms of the letters are combined in the script. In some sense, the better analogy for Urdu writing would be shorthand. One can use the alphabet to spell out words (as they are in teaching) but not in writing texts.

  • Akash
    Posted at 11:07h, 04 October Reply

    Hello, great article!

    Any advice on getting down the nastaleeq? I can read arabic pretty easily but it’s just that I’m having difficulty reading urdu, as it’s stylized and looks different. It takes a long time for me to parse out urdu even though I can read arabic pretty easily. Any advice?

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 11:56h, 05 October

      Akash: I agree nastaleeq can pose problems but mostly the handwritten samples where the quirkiness of individuals creeps in. That is much like deciphering the prescriptions written in English by physicians. Do you have equal difficulty with textbooks? And most Urdu text on the Web is not in nastaleeq. Let me know how you do with the text in this link:

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 08:44h, 08 October

      Akash: I received this email. You might want to touch base with the author.

      “I am working on Nastaleeq and am interested in knowing if there is possibly in English/Urdu a book dealing with the style which states how each character changes shape according to its environment (preceding/following). Thus noon in initial position has two shapes, a half cut bowl or a slant depending upon the character that follows.

      “Any help or pointer in this direction would be most helpful. Doc” (

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 17:48h, 08 October

      Akash: Here are some interesting and useful links for you:

      Here is a book for Urdu script exercises:

      Let’s Study Urdu: An Introduction to the Script (Yale Language) [Paperback] Ali S. Asani (Author), Syed Akbar Hyder (Author)
      Product Details: Series: Yale Language; Paperback: 104 pages; Publisher: Yale University Press (July 28, 2007): Language: English

      Spoken Urdu, Vol. 1 by Muhammad Abd-Al-Rahman Barker and H. J. Hamdani. This book has several chapters in Volume 1 on how each letter group connects or does not connect to the other with very specific notes on slight variations depending on the group.

  • a shish kumar
    Posted at 14:41h, 10 December Reply

    i know hindi nd english well. i want to learn ‘speaking’ in urdu..canu suggest a spurce..on normal browsing i found mostly urdu for those who know obly enflish..13 min audio taught me ‘suniye mauhtarma kya aap urdu boltin hain’ :p

  • Manoj
    Posted at 19:16h, 27 January Reply

    Dear Anjum Altaf, Luckily I could hit this page of yours wherein have made your sincere efforts to guide the persons intrested to learn Urdu and in time I could understand that I need to approach it differently rather than taking it up as a completly new language. You have certainly inspired me and boosted my interest. Now I will go ahead as per your suggestions and could probably move faster. Thanks and best regards.

  • M.Rangraj Iyengar
    Posted at 07:21h, 01 April Reply

    I am in search of a dictionary, wherein URDU words are written in Devnagari script and provide meanings in HINDI and English. My issue is that I don’t know to read URDU but am very much interested in the language as it is well mixed with HINDI. I love languages in particular Hindi, can read Bengali, Punjabi, Telugu, assamese, Gujarati . I do have comparatively a little interference in other Indian languages e.g. Kannada, Tamil, Marathi.. Can you please suggest some…

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 09:15h, 01 April

      M. Rangraj Iyengar: Try Platt’s dictionary. Let us know if it serves your need:

    • Santosh Janakiraman
      Posted at 14:04h, 17 April

      Dear Mr. Iyengar- I suggest you go for a transliteration dictionary. The Urdu words are given in Romanised font with their English meanings. There are a couple of Android Apps providing these services.

    • exerji
      Posted at 15:27h, 20 August

      Mr.Iyengar, like you, I was also very keen to learn Urdu and landed up buying this from Amazon. I am still looking for a Devanagari way to learn Urdu words, but till I find one, this Dictionary will help me find words via phonetic listing in Roman characters.

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 17:18h, 20 August

      exerji: Have you tried Platt’s dictionary?

      I am not quite sure what you mean by “a Devnagari way to learn Urdu words”?

  • sujeet shokeen
    Posted at 14:58h, 02 July Reply

    I am interested to have this guide,,,as it sound good learning urdu through hindi script,,

  • exerji
    Posted at 15:28h, 20 August Reply

    Dear Anjum Altaf.

    Wow, how I wish most discussions between Pakistani and Indian people would happen in such civility and genuine interest in learning from each other. Great effort. Thank you.

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 17:27h, 20 August

      Dear exerji: It has taken us quite a while to overcome the initial doubts. I feel we have reached the point where people feel comfortable with disagreeing knowing that the discourse would be civil and based on logic. We try to critique ideas and not criticize people. We also are comfortable with the knowledge that we might be wrong. If that were not the case, there would be no learning.

      Thanks for the appreciative words. They make the hard work worthwhile.

  • Harman
    Posted at 14:55h, 26 August Reply

    I have already lrnd urdu through the intrnet … it looks easy… but when you we really start listening urdu in its formal form it is WAY different from hindi… I struggle to understand it…….

  • JDT
    Posted at 22:19h, 01 December Reply

    This is awesome! I tried a few years ago to learn urdu scripts (for the reasons you mention, an intellectual thrill) but I found it very hard to read the script for words I didn´t know (but hearing the same words, it was easy to figure out the context).
    Your breaking the code approach seems promising though, I will try it, and report back and maybe this time I will have more success!

  • Manoj Arya
    Posted at 15:03h, 20 March Reply

    Thanx a ton for this great article. It helped a lot in my determining to learn new urdu words. I write poems ( as an amateur ) in devnagri script but use many urdu words which are either a part of modern day hindi or what i have learnt from Bollywood songs. I would definitely love to get some advice from you on how can i improve my urdu vocabulary without learning to write Urdu script.
    Thanx again.
    Manoj Arya

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 05:45h, 29 March

      Vikram: I can’t help being skeptical of this conclusion. My hypothesis would be that all poetry helps in this manner. It would be a real contribution if someone does a comparative study and verifies that the impact of Urdu poetry is actually significantly greater than poetry in other languages. I would be surprised if such a premise is validated.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 16:26h, 30 March

      I agree with what you are saying, but I dont think it invalidates the research.

      The thesis of the study quoted in the article is that reading in the Urdu script that activates certain regions in the brain. Like you, I doubt that reading poetry in a certain language, on average, would have a greater impact than reading it other languages.

      Here is an abstract for the actual article, which was published in Neuroscience Letters, so I assume that it did undergo fairly rigorous peer review. The actual article also mentions that two factors help Urdu in this regard:
      1) Complex nature of script
      2) The fact that it is written from right to left

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 17:41h, 31 March

      Vikram: Thanks for linking the abstract which resolves a number of issues. It also highlights how unreliable newspaper reports can be. The research has nothing to with poetry. It is about script as evidenced by the title – “Effect of orthography over neural regions in bilinguals.” The test population is bilinguals and the research finds that Urdu script accesses different areas of the brain because of its “complexity.”

      This might be true but without having access to the full article, I cannot be sure that the design fully controls for the context. The study was done in India where one would expect the bilinguals to be more comfortable with Hindi than with Urdu. If the study had been done in Pakistan, the opposite would have been the case and the results might have arrived at the opposite conclusion.

      I can read both scripts but while reading Urdu I hardly sense my brain working – it is like being hardwired. However, when reading Hindi I am quite conscious of software being at play with a lot of input-output memory transfers from different parts of the brain. It is so obvious as to be palpable. So, it is quite possible that the result is merely reflecting the element of greater familiarity in bilinguals – the first language seems to require less effort.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 18:28h, 11 April

      Dr. Altaf, the newspaper article indeed grossly misrepresents the research and misinforms its audience.

      Regarding the experimental setup, the paper mentions that the subjects of the study were skilled Urdu-Hindi bilinguals.

      “Eighteen right-handed fluent male bilinguals (mean age = 28.3 years, SD = 3.2) participated in the study. All of the bilingual participants received their language exposure when they were below the age of five years and each learned to read both languages at home. The bilingual participants lived and had studied in India at the time of testing, considered themselves equally fluent in Hindi and Urdu, and had only nominal exposure to other languages. A bilingual language background questionnaire (developed in-house) was used
      to quantify language use in and outside of the home (Table 1). All participants had normal vision acuity with no history of neurological disease. Informed consent was obtained from each participant following the protocol approved by the Institutional Human Ethics Committee of the Institute.”

      I have a pdf of the paper, which I can send to you in case you are interested.

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 12:27h, 14 April

      Vikram: This appears to be a rigorously conducted study with the proper controls. I would appreciate if you could email the pdf to the address of the blog. Thanks.

  • ashwani
    Posted at 14:16h, 02 April Reply

    Dear sir,
    Please provide me the solution of the below given image in hindi or English.

    कृपा कर मुझे इस निचे दिए गए लिंक की इमेज का हिंदी में अनुवाद कर देंगे तो आपकी अति कृपा होगी ।

    Thanks & regards

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 04:03h, 03 April

      ashwani: The image offers a prayer that can relieve problems with urination and kidney stones. The Urdu text gives the background for the prayer. The prayer itself is in Arabic. If someone reading this knows Arabic, he/she might be inclined to assist further.

  • sushrut
    Posted at 19:27h, 26 May Reply

    i think in ancient time urdu which was used by scholers and poets in total Indian subcontinent found out to be too complex for a common people,hence devnagri become universal becouse of its as speak as write nature.I tried urdu, but man its really difficult to read and write, though today’s hindi is less hindi and more urdu,thanks to bollywood.

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 11:18h, 28 May

      sushrut: Urdu is a very recent language. It did not exist in ancient times. The Devanagri (or Nagari) script predates the Perso-Arabic script of Urdu by many centuries.

  • laconflicted
    Posted at 11:26h, 22 June Reply

    Reblogged this on laconflicted.

  • Amol vasudev
    Posted at 20:55h, 09 September Reply

    Hi Sir,I love to learn urdu language but sir I have not much time at daily.Yeah I know Punjabi very well n hindi n English also.Some peoples are telling from punjabi it’s easy to learn some told you can get stuff for learn urdu from hindi dewanagri.I can’t get success to get exact any book in which easily I can learn urdu from hindi or punjabi.Its my wish to learn n write urdu.I am punjabi so,I am feeling be a particular punjabi I am missing this thing in my life.So,tell me any way by which whenever I get time I can learn n it should be easy n if from Punjabi to learn option then it’s too good.thanks

  • subash meher
    Posted at 04:29h, 11 October Reply

    hello sir i want to learn urdu but i dont know about urdu because i ‘m from east of plese say me to how to start for learn.

  • Mr S A Murdeshwar
    Posted at 11:11h, 14 October Reply

    I sing gazals I find difficult to know meaning urdu wordsor sentences. Pl let me know how u can help me. Urs-S A Murdeshwar

  • Mr S A Murdeshwar
    Posted at 06:20h, 17 October Reply

    I would be greatful for meaning of follwing urdu sentence in english++–+Haye mehman kahaan ye ghamejana hoga

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 16:11h, 17 October

      SA Murdeshwar: By itself this sentence does not have a coherent meaning. Perhaps it does in combination with the rest of the text.

      The meanings of the individual words are as follows:

      haa.e हाए (alas)
      mehmaan मेहमान (guest)
      kahaa.n कहाँ (where)
      ye ये (this)
      gam-e-jaanaa.n ग़म-ए-जानाँ (grief of the beloved)
      hogaa होगा (will be)

      Put these together and you get something like this: Alas, guest, where will this grief of the beloved be!

      Which is not too meaningful an expression.

    • Vikram
      Posted at 16:16h, 17 October

      Perhaps it means that “this grief of the beloved will not be a guest”, and endure.

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 18:08h, 17 October

      Vikram: That is a very plausible interpretation.

  • Jasroop Singh Walia
    Posted at 21:10h, 19 October Reply

    Hey. Thanks for the informative article. I know Punjabi, Hindi and English, but have been very keen to learn how to read and write Urdu. I made decent improvement in 3 months, and can read slowly, and write in shorthand with spelling errors as usual. Not accustomed to hearing Urdu words with the correct pronunciation, I’m having trouble pronouncing a few letters, like ‘qaf’, ‘khe’ and ‘ghain’. Could you guide me a bit here please, as to how to distinguish between the similar sounds, and pronounce these difficult ones. Thanks.

  • G D.Walimbe
    Posted at 01:40h, 16 November Reply

    I would be keen to have Hindi Script of few Gazals sung by Mehdi hasan saab,Jaswinder Singh How and where can I have it? Kindly guide me .Here is my email address

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 01:54h, 16 November

      Visit Locate the ghazal you are interested in. The text is available in Roman, Urdu and Hindi scripts. If you are unable to locate the ghazals, let me know the first lines of each or the link to the Youtube recordings and I will locate them for you.

  • Kaushal Singh
    Posted at 19:01h, 20 November Reply

    I knew Hindi and I want to learn urdu. Please anyone help me to learn urdu language.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 01:26h, 21 November

      Kaushal: The most important step if you want to read and/or write is to become familiar with the Urdu alphabet. Start here and see if it helps:

  • Sridhar
    Posted at 03:59h, 25 May Reply

    I have always wanted to learn Urdu. I am a Tamilian who grew up in Delhi and am proficient in both Tamil and Hindi. I got interested in Urdu after I watched Mirza Ghalib serial on Doordarshan many years ago.
    I recently found a youtube site where someone is teaching Urdu script using Devanagari script:
    Boy, o boy did i find Urdu tough! You bet i did.
    I still have fond hopes of learning the script someday but for now I am watching Urdu talk shows, news on Pakistan TV online!

  • Sushil Agarwal
    Posted at 18:42h, 23 October Reply

    can some body suggest a way to know the meaning of urdu words in hindi to enjoy gajal, shero shayri, i understand hindi well and some words of urdu but i can not read/write urdu script and not finding how to get correct meaning of sweet urdu words

    • Anjum Altaf
      Posted at 06:02h, 24 October

      Sushil: The best recourse for you would be to access the website

      You will find almost all the popular ghazals there searchable by author. The text is available in Urdu, Hindi and Roman. And all the unfamiliar words are hyperlinked to provide their meanings.

      Let me know if this meets your needs.

  • all encyclopedia
    Posted at 09:14h, 04 July Reply

    Superb kind of work by the author as on this particular topic people needs more precise information and special attention to it.Thanks a lot.

  • Priyanka
    Posted at 01:12h, 10 December Reply

    Hi Anjum, Thank you for this excllent blog post. I’ve recently started studying the Urdu script and was delighted to come across this! My interest in Urdu began when I realised how much better Manto sounded in the original. I read him English but I felt the translation was a bit “flat”. I listened to Toba Tek Singh in Urdu (on YouTube) and was transported to another world. I could have read him in Hindi of course but I read Hindi very slowly and well I love learning languages 🙂

    I just wanted to share that the National Council for Promotion for Urdu Language run by the Government of India offers a free online course in Urdu – I’m currently working my way through it and I’d recommend to anyone interested in the language. Also: Jamia Milia Islamia University in Delhi offers a correspondence course in Urdu – it is free for those resident in India and there is a nominal charge for those outside India.

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