Despite the invention of the Urdu typewriter in 1911, Urdu newspapers continued to publish prints of handwritten scripts by calligraphers known as katibs or khush-navees until the late 1980s. The Pakistaninational newspaperDaily Jang was the first Urdu newspaper to use Nastaʿlīq computer-based composition. There are efforts under way to develop more sophisticated and user-friendly Urdu support on computers and the internet. Nowadays, nearly all Urdu newspapers, magazines, journals, and periodicals are composed on computers with Urdu software programs.
Apart from being more or less Persianate, Urdu and Hindi are mutually intelligible though there are difference in pronunciations.
Countries where Urdu language has been spoken
Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, Burma, Canada, France, Fiji, Germany, Guyana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Malawi, Mauritius, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Tajikistan, the UAE,USA, the UK, Uganda, Uzbekistan, and Zambia.
The Nastaʿlīq calligraphic writing style began as a Persian mixture of scripts Naskh and Ta'liq. After the Mughal conquest, Nasta'liq became the preferred writing style for Urdu. It is the dominant style in Pakistan, and many Urdu writers elsewhere in the world use it. Nastaʿlīq is more cursive and flowing than its Naskh counterpart.
Urdu script is an Abjad script which is derived from the Perso-Arabic Script of Iran. Urdu alphabets were standardized in 2004 by National Language Authority which is responsible for standardizing Urdu in Pakistan. According to National Language Authority Urdu has 57 alphabets of which 39 are basic alphabets while 17 are digraphs to represent Aspirated consonant made by attaching basic consonant alphabets with a variant of He called Do Chasham He.Tāʼ marbūṭah is also sometimes considered a letter though it is rarely used except for in certain loan words from Arabic . Urdu like in its parents Arabic and Persian alphabets use Alif , Waw , Ye and He for vowels . Another letter of Urdu which is used as a vowel to represent /ɛː, eː/ sounds in its final position is Beri Ye . Beri Ye is an archaic variant Ye found in old Persian manuscripts though it is no longer used in modern Persian alphabets. In its middle position Beri Ye is written like the standard PersianYe and is differentiated only by diacritics from other sounds of Ye in full vocalized form of Urdu. In Urdu a variant of letter Nun called Nun Ghunnah is used to represent Nasalized vowels in final position. In middle Nun Ghunnah is written just like the standard letter of Nun with a diacritic called Maghnoona differentiating it from the standard sound of Nun in full vocalized form of Urdu. The letter of Nun Gunnah is an archaic variant of Nun which is no longer used in modern Arabic alphabets.
Urdu language have 10 vowels and 10 nasalized vowels. In Urdu every vowel has four forms depending on its position initial, middle, final and isolated. In Urdu like in its parent Arabic alphabet vowels are represented using a combination of digraphs and diacritics. In urdu Alif, Waw, Ye and He and their variants are used to represent vowels.
Urdu doesn't have standalone vowel letters. Vowels are either represented by diacritics upon the preceding consonant (often omitted unless ambiguity can arise), or by consonants y and w, (with or without diacritics) used as long vowels. The letter alif acts as a place holder for vowels beginning a syllable and as a long vowel ā within and at the end of a syllable. Urdu does not have short vowel at the end of the word except for in loan words from Arabic . This is a list of Urdu vowels:
Alif is the first letter of the Urdu alphabet, and it is used exclusively as a vowel. At the beginning of a word, alif can be used to represent any of the short vowels: ابab, اسمism, اردوUrdū. For long ā at the beginning of words alif-mad is used: آپāp, but a plain alif in the middle and at the and: بھاگناbhāgnā.
Ye is divided into two variants: choṭī ye ("little ye") and baṛī ye ("big ye").
Choṭī ye (ی) is written in all forms exactly as in Persian. It is used for the long vowel "ī" and the consonant "y".
Baṛī ye (ے) is used to render the vowels "e" and "ai" (/eː/ and /ɛː/ respectively). Baṛī ye is distinguishable in writing from choṭī ye only when it comes at the end of a word/ligature. Additionally, Baṛī ye is never used to begin a word/ligature, unlike choṭī ye.
Chotti He in its final position when preceded by short vowel becomes silent and its preceding vowel is pronounced as a long vowel . When Chotti He is preceded by /ə/ then it is pronounced as /aː/ , When Chotti He is preceded by /ɪ/ then it is pronounced as /eː/ and when Chotti He is preceded by /uː/ then it is pronounced as /oː/. In final position in order to differentiate between sound of h with that of silent vowel often two Chotti He are written instead of one.
Nasalized vowels are represented by Nun Ghunnah written after their non nasalized versions . like for example ہَے when nasalized would become ہَیں . In middle form Nun Gunnah is written just like Nun and is differentiated by a diacritic called Maghnoona.
Urdu uses the same subset of diacritics used in Arabic based on Persian conventions. Urdu also uses Persian names of the diacritics instead of Arabic names. Urdu also have some specialized diacritics which are not found Arabic or Persian alphabets though these diacritics are not commonly used. Commonly used diacritics are Zabar (Arabic Fatḥah) , Zer (Arabic Kasrah) , Pesh (Arabic Ḍammah) which are used to clarify the pronunciation of vowels. Jazam (Arabic Sukun) is used to indicate a Consonant Cluster and Shad (Arabic Tashdid) which is used to indicate a Gemination. Other diacritics include Khari Zabar (Arabic Dagger alif) , Do Zabar (Arabic Fathatan) which are found in some common Arabic loan words. Other Arabic diacritics are also sometimes used though very rarely in loan words from Arabic. Zer-e-Izafat and Hamza-e-Izafat are described in next section.
Other then common diacritics Urdu also have special diacritics which are often found only in dictionaries for the clarification of pronunciation some of whom are irregular. These diacritics include Kasrah-e-Majhool , Fathah-e-Majhool , Dammah-e-Majhool , Maghnoona , Ulta Jazam , Alif-e-Wavi and some other very rare diacritics. Among these only Maghnoona is used commonly in dictionaries and has a unicode representation at u0658. Other diacritics are only rarely written in printed form only in some advance dictionaries.
Iẓāfat is a syntactical construction of two nouns, where the first component is a determined noun, and the second is a determiner. This construction was borrowed from Persian. A short vowel "i" is used to connect these two words. It may be written as zer (ــِ) at the end of the first word, but usually is not written at all. If the first word ends in choṭī he (ه) or ye (ی) then hamzā (ء) is used above the last letter (ۂ or ئ). If the first word ends in a long vowel then baṛī ye (ے) with hamzā on top (ئے) is written.
There are several Romanization standards for writing Urdu. Though they are not very popular because most of them fall short to represent the Urdu language properly. Instead of standard Romanizaion schemes people on Internet , Mobile Phones and Media often uses a non standard form of Romanization which tries to mimic English Orthography .The problem with this kind of Romanization is that it can only be read by native speakers and even for them with great difficulty. Among standardized Romanization schemes the most accurate is ALA-LC romanization which is also supported by National Language Authority . Other Romanization schemes are often rejected because either they are unable to represent sounds in Urdu Language properly or they often do not take regard of Urdu orthography and favor pronunciation over orthography.