Hindi, Urdu, Hindustani

As we all know, a while back Hindi was voted up as the next language to be added at LingQ; but unfortunately there were some technical problems with the script, so it had to be dropped.

Now I have discovered that Urdu is virtually identical to Hindi - the two even share a single grammar page at Wikipedia! In the past they were often regarded as a single language, “Hindustani”. Urdu basically only differs from Hindi in that it has a few Arabic loan-words, and it is written in Persian-Arabic script. (It’s a bit like the situation with Serbian, Croatian and Serbocroat…)

Since we already have one language at LingQ in the Arabic script, it must be possible to support the Urdu script as well, right? So I’m just wondering why Urdu wasn’t added in place of Hindi at the time of the Hindi-vote?

Just combine the two languages together as Urdu-Hindi (or Hindustani) and the problem of not being able to support this particular language would be (at least partly) solved…wouldn’t it?

I brought this up in an earlier thread and the solution was to just add Urdu to the language poll - not transfer the Hindi votes to Urdu. Not enough people are aware of how similar they are, so unfortunately until people are aware, Urdu will continue to languish at the bottom of the polls.

Ah, okay, I didn’t realize that this had been brought up before. :wink:

In order to be 100% fair, I think Steve should have added some of the the Hindi votes to Urdu.

(Not that I personally have any active plans to learn either/both of them…)

I’ve been very curious about this subject for quite a while. Every time I ask a native speaker of either language about it, I get a slightly different response. I’d say the overall response has been: 75% say it’s the same language, 25% say it’s not. I wonder if it’s a bit like asking someone if Swedish and Norwegian are the same language…

I reckon a more exact analogy would be the language situation in the former Yugoslavia. Up to about 15 years ago, people could buy textbooks (such as those in the ‘Teach Yourself’ or ‘Colloquial’ series) for a language called ‘Serbocroat’. It was treated as one single Yugoslavian tongue. They just had footnotes to point out that there were some slight regional differences, and it was noted that in Serbia it was sometimes written in the Russian as well as the Latin script. (You can still find plenty of second hand copies of these older textbooks around.)

Nowadays, however, one will find new editions of TY and Colloquial books for something called ‘Serbian’, and for something else called ‘Croatian’.

The distinction between the two is 99% political, IMO.

Perhaps they could be considered dialects of the same language?

I recently heard a quote (on the Finnish radio program that I’ve been listening to lately), which was “A language is a dialect with an army” :slight_smile:

I would say that despite the similarities the two languages are different enough to consider them separate on LingQ. So I would agree with the previous decision made when Hindi was voted as the next language. On a side note, while I’m in no rush to start I do have some interest in learning an Indo-Aryan language. One of my friends is Sri Lankan and I think it would be nice to be able to communicate a bit using Sinhala. :slight_smile: So hopefully the technical issues with Indic scripts don’t prove to be too difficult and they can be added down the road.


"Nowadays, however, one will find new editions of TY and Colloquial books for something called ‘Serbian’, and for something else called ‘Croatian’.

The distinction between the two is 99% political, IMO."

Maybe even 100%. It’s a bit like saying that American English and British English, or Brazilian and European Portuguese are two different languages. I learnt a bit of Serbo-Croatian with an ASSIMIL course written in 1975, with the title “Le Serbo-Croate sans peine”. Half of the lessons were written in Latin script and half in Cyrillic, but the language used was the Serbian variety apart from a few lessons showing some particular forms of Croatian and Montenegrin. I wonder if Serbo-Croatian has got only 70 votes in the Facebook poll because of a political boycott… :slight_smile:

@Peter: I learnt that sentence during one of my French courses at university, but I can’t recall the author’s name now. Anyway, it’s quite true.

@csgreen0038 I know this borders on semantics and I don’t disagree with you, but as far as the Indic scripts proving to be too difficult, it seems that the Indic scripts currently are too difficult for LingQ. Any change would have to come from this site’s programmers and not from the script. It isn’t as if this type of thing has never been solved before. For now I suggest trying LWT (Learning with Texts) because it currently isn’t too difficult for their software/programmers (I’ve verified with devanagri at least).

@mikebond Yeah, what people tell you may or may not represent the reality of the situation. From what I know and what others have told me, the question of Hindi/Urdu is difficult. On a day to day basis they are quite similar. Urdu tends to prefer Persian loanwords (that are still understood by Hindi speakers) and Hindi prefers Sanskrit loanwords (that are understood by Urdu speakers).

When things start to get significantly different is at the advanced/academic level. A lecture in Urdu is very difficult to understand if you come from a primarily Hindi-based prespective. Likewise with a Hindi lecture. Also, Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism have their own vocabulary/jargon that isn’t always understandable to outsiders. Furthermore, since many of the Urdu words come from Persian/Arabic, the grammar has its differences as well.

@Peter/Mikebond It was popularized by a Yiddish speaker named Weinreich, I believe, but he didn’t coin the saying himself. “A shprakh iz a dialekt mit an armey un flot.” A language is a dialect with an army and navy. I think kcb nailed it on the head as to where the argument for different languages comes from, but the colloquial speeches of Hindi and Urdu are almost indistinguishable from what I understand.

@kcb - Thanks. I’ve actually heard of that program before but I haven’t tried it out. I’m not sure how much you did to verify that devanagri works with that program but with a quick import I can tell that LingQ appears to work with Sinhala. I really don’t know any of the details as far as why LingQ decided to not include Hindi for the time being but I imagine there was a good reason for it. After all, they don’t really have much reason to limit the amount of languages users can use the system with if they actually work.

Anyway, I’m not ready to start tackling another language quite yet. Down the road it is something I would like to do but right now I’m going to continue improving my Japanese.

I’ve noticed that when there is a political element within a dialect group, which leads to the naming of 2 or more languages, many people pretend that there are no differences and that it’s purely political. Quite the overcorrection, I believe.

Nothing is identical in languages. The reality is of differences in varying degrees.

@Imyirtseshem - Agreed. Also, in this particular situation (Hindi/Urdu) the two languages use different writing systems. For the purpose of LingQ, I would say that makes them plenty different.

@cgreen0038 Well, I did the equivalent of lingqing a full chapter from a book and checked for the problems that happen here and can say that none of those problems exist in the LWT program. If you think Sinhala works here you may want to check thoroughly because a superficial look at Hindi might fool you into thinking that it works when in fact every word that begins with the same character is treated as the same word after lingqs are created.

I voted for Hindi, but would not study Urdu due to the script. Perhaps it is easy enough to learn, I don’t know, but my main reason for wanting to learn Hindi is to talk with neighbors and coworkers, and don’t want to put forth the effort to learn the script, to be honest.

Kcb, that’s the exact same problem I have with Yiddish here. Not always the first letter, but this same splitting occurs.

NO NO NO!!! See the difference! Hindi and Urdu are the national languages of India and Pakistan respectively. As I am an Indian, I know the cultural and political differences between the two countries. We can add Urdu as a new language but please don’t link it with Hindi.

नहीं, नहीं! अंतर देखें! हिंदी और उर्दू में क्रमश: भारत और पाकिस्तान के राष्ट्रीय भाषाएँ हैं. जैसा कि मैं भारतीय हूं, मैं दोनों देशों के बीच सांस्कृतिक और राजनीतिक मतभेदों पता है. हम एक नई भाषा के रूप में उर्दू जोड़ सकते हैं, लेकिन यह हिन्दी के साथ कृपया लिंक नहीं है कर सकते हैं.