Hindi/Urdu at UVa

At UVa, we offer both Urdu and Hindi classes from the beginner to the advanced levels. Bearing in mind the twinned history of the language, the introductory level class teaches Urdu and Hindi together.  The Urdu script is then introduced in the second semester.

For advanced students and native speakers of the language(s), we also offer literature classes in the original language, as well as in translation.  We tailor our advanced courses to suit the needs of the students in the class.

How do the languages differ?

Urdu is a relatively young modern language of the Indian subcontinent, especially when compared to classical languages such as Sanskrit and Tamil.  Despite being a young language, Hindi-Urdu is currently the first language of nearly one fifth of the world’s population.  Urdu developed from the infusion of Persian lexis into the local speech of the northern region of India.  It is a soft musical language that lends itself to poetry, especially of the ghazal variety.  In the beginning the language was known as Hindvi, Hindi even Hindui.  The British colonizers preferred to call the language Hindustani.  In the 19th century, colonial politics of divide and rule, coupled with an earnestness to formalize the different linguistic registers, forced a splitting of the language into Hindi and Urdu.  The grammar remained the same, but the preferred script for Hindi became Devanagari, while Urdu (formerly Hindi) continued to be written in the Perso-Arabic script, notably Nastaliq.  Eventually Urdu and Hindi developed distinct literary histories, which were reinforced by the partition of India in 1947.