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Urdu (اردو) is a register of Hindi-Urdu, identified with Muslims in South Asia. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an official language of five states. Based on the Khariboli dialect of Delhi, Urdu developed under the influence of Persian, Arabic, and Turkic over the course of almost 900 years.

It began to take shape in what is now Uttar Pradesh, India during the Delhi Sultanate (1206–1527), and continued to develop under the Mughal Empire (1526–1858). Urdu is mutually intelligible with Standard Hindi spoken in India. Both languages share the same Indic base and are so similar in phonology and grammar that they appear to be one language. The combined population of Hindi and Urdu speakers is the fourth largest in the world.

Urdu is often contrasted with Hindi. Apart from religious associations, the differences are largely restricted to the standard forms: Standard Urdu is conventionally written in the Nastaliq style of the Persian alphabet and relies heavily on Persian and Arabic as a source for technical and literary vocabulary, whereas Standard Hindi is conventionally written in Devanāgarī and draws on Sanskrit.

However, both have large numbers of Persian, Arabic, and Sanskrit words, and most linguists consider them to be two standardized forms of the same language, and consider the differences to be sociolinguistic, though a few classify them separately.

Mutual intelligibility decreases in literary and specialized contexts which rely on educated vocabulary. Due to religious nationalism since the partition of British India and continued communal tensions, native speakers of both Hindi and Urdu frequently assert them to be completely distinct languages, despite the numerous similarities between the two in a colloquial setting. However, it is quite easy to distinguish differences in vocabulary.

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