Percent with the Urdu language as mother tongue in Pakistan (2017)

Percent with the Urdu language as mother tongue in Pakistan (2017). Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan

3210 x 2010

‘How come Urdu is the national language of Pakistan if so few people speak it natively? Is it because of the influence of the Mughal empire?

Pakistan is an ethnically heterogeneous and multilingual country. There are a lot of languages with a million+ speakers and gets even more complex with the inclusion of regional dialects. We needed a single language that could be used by all communities to talk with eachother and that was Urdu. It didn’t give an unfair advantage to any other group and didn’t make others feel like they were being cheated.

For example, a Punjabi and Baluch are speaking. They can’t expect the other to know their native language so they’d speak in Urdu. That’s why our founders chose it.

Mughals didn’t really use Urdu when they were in power so it isn’t related to them. It certainly was regarded as the language of the educated by the time of partition though.

Additional info:

The British picked Urdu as the official language since locals were more comfortable with using it (than Persian) and Urdu was a standardized language (quite rare among South Asian languages at the time).

The eventual Hindi split led to Urdu becoming a symbolic language for Muslims, which obviously meant Pakistani leaders were more prone to use it.

And lastly, Urdu is extremely easy to learn for any Indo-Aryan language native speaker. It’s the easiest Indo-Aryan language out there, and its heavy use of Persian also makes it the ideal language for Iranic language speakers to learn.

I wouldn’t know how you could classify anything as ‘easiest’

Easiest since it’s essentially a manufactured language, and you’re right, convenience also plays a huge factor.

But if we dig deeper into the origins of Urdu, it’s clear that this is a language that was always meant to be a bridge, rather than someone’s native tongue. The extreme and often forceful Persianization of North India led to Urdu becoming sort of a compromise language.

The urban legend (just clarifying since this isn’t a factual retelling of history) is that Urdu was formed in military barracks. Soldiers from all different parts of India and the Persian sort of developed the Urdu language to easily communicate with each other. It had elements, structures, and vocabulary of Indo-Aryan and Iranic languages.

It’s hard to explain why Urdu is easy, but it boils down to the fact that it’s a language that’s meant to be similar to others around it. If you, as an English speaker, pick up French. Your first dive into the language would be the words that are similar to those in English. From there, you’ll form cues, context, and more to start learning the whole language.

If you speak an Indo-Aryan or an Iranic language, you’ll immediately pick up these cues in almost every sentence of Urdu.’