Learn more about Urdu by visiting these websites:

STARTALK Project Supports Education in Less Commonly Taught Languages
STARTALK is part of a presidential initiative to enhance the nation’s capacity to develop proficiency in critical languages.
Visit the STARTALK Web site to learn more.


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Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language that serves as the primary, secondary, or tertiary language of communication for millions of individuals in Pakistan, India, and sizable migrant communities in the Persian Gulf, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Syntactically Urdu and Hindi are identical, with Urdu incorporating a heavier loan vocabulary from Persian, Arabic, and Turkic and retaining the original spelling of words and sounds from these languages. Speakers of both languages are able to communicate with each other at an informal level without much difficulty.

Urdu has developed a preeminent position in South Asia as a language of literary genius as well as a major medium of communication in the daily lives of people. It is an official language of Pakistan, where it is a link language and probably the most widely understood language across all regions, which also have their own languages (Pashto, Balochi, Sindhi, and Punjabi). It is also one of the national languages of India. Urdu is widely understood by Afghans in Pakistan and Afghanistan, who acquire the language through media, business, and family connections in Pakistan. Urdu serves as a lingua franca for many in South Asia, especially for Muslims.

Search for Urdu language programs in the Heritage language program database.

The Alliance for the Advancement of Heritage Languages has developed the Heritage Voices Collection, an online series of documents designed to allow heritage language speakers and programs to share their unique voices with visitors to our Web site.

Our newest Heritage Voices offerings spotlight Urdu:

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Meet the Language Representative

Dr. Surendra Gambhir serves as the Alliance Language Representative for South Asian Languages. Learn more about Dr. Gambhir.

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