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Urdu, a member of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European family of languages, is one of the major languages of the South Asian subcontinent. With upwards of fifty million native speakers worldwide, it is among the most important literary and cultural languages of Asia. Urdu is the official language of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and is one of the officially recognized national languages of India, where it has concentrations of speakers in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. Urdu, along with its sister language Hindi, is used as a lingua franca in emigrant South Asian communities throughout the world. Urdu is the possessor of a rich literary tradition, written in both the modern standard language and in earlier dialects. The renowned poets Quli Qutub Shah (1581-1611), Vali Muhammad Vali (1667-c.1725), Mir Taqi Mir (c.1723-1810), Assadullah Khan "Ghalib" (1797-1869) wrote in literary varieties of Urdu. Important Urdu literary figures in more recent times include Muhammad Iqbal (c.1877-1938), the national poet of Pakistan, and Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911-1984).

The Department of Asian Languages and Literature offers three years of basic instruction in the language, providing a solid foundation in the written and spoken styles of the language.

In its official style, Urdu is written in a modified form of Perso-Arabic script. A sister language to Urdu, written in the Devanagari script and drawing upon the rich cultural and linguistic resources of Sanskrit and Prakrit, is Hindi, for which instruction is also offered in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature.

Watch the Urdu Course Trailer.

Please see the UW Course Catalog for course descriptions and Courses for class offerings per quarter.

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