Urdu and Desis

The national language of Pakistan is Urdu which comes from a Turkish word meaning army. The alphabet and script of written Urdu is similar to Arabic, yet most Pakistanis do not understand Arabic. Although its script is totally different from Hindi, spoken Urdu is very similar to Hindi.

Roman Urdu is the name given to Urdu written in English. This is commonly used when texting or on Facebook as Urdu scripts are not readily available on computers and on the internet.

This is what Urdu and Roman Urdu looks like with its translation given below:

Urdu: میرا نام زینب ہے

Roman Urdu: Mera naam Zainab hai

Translation: My name is Zainab

One thing that I’ve noticed is that when conversing in Urdu people like to bring up their predecessors and relatives in the conversation:

“Ye tumhare baap ka ghar hai jo is tarha bethe ho?”

Is this your father’s house that you’re sitting here this way?

“Woh tumhara mame ka puttar lagta hai jo is sai baat kar rahi thi?”

Is he your uncle’s son that you were talking to him?

Although the above sentences were meant to be insulting, we have a lot of respect for relatives. We don’t just say aunt or uncle; there is a separate word for mother’s sister, another one for father’s sister, mother’s brother’s wife etc.  This just shows how much importance we give to these relations.

Pakistanis like to converse in English especially when they’re living abroad. Even when they’re speaking in their native language Urdu, half their words will be in English. For example one would say:

“Mai kal mall gait hi, uff itni excellent sale thi, I got really good stuff there!”

(“I went to the mall yesterday, there was such an excellent sale, I got really good stuff there!”)

And read with a desi (Pakistani) accent it would be:

I went to the mall yesterrrday, suchhh an axcellent sale, I got reaaalllly good stuff there!!!!

Having said all that, I must also add that an average Pakistani is much better at conversing in English than many others who are also not native English speakers.

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14 thoughts on “Urdu and Desis

  1. I have many friends who have fluency in both, speaking and writing Urdu but are alien to Arabic, the reason that they gave was that this connects them to their identity. Just like people in Bangladesh prefer Bengali over Urdu. 🙂

    • Arabic is a different language even though the script is the same. It’s like French and English have the same script but knowing one doesn’t mean you know the other.

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