Historical Linguistics, Family of Languages and Urdu

  • Prof. Dr. Rauf Parekh


It is a common misconception that Urdu is a 'camp language' or a language "made up" by the soldiers at Mughal army camps who spoke different languages. The article dispels this misconception with stress on the fact that the formation of a language takes centuries or even millenniums. The concept that a language evolves from a proto-language is discussed in this article with reference to internal reconstruction and comparative methods used in historical linguistics. It also discusses the concept of the family of languages and phylum. While stressing the fact that historical linguistics is a diachronic study of language and the students must know of synchronic study of language before embarking upon studying Urdu's origin in the light of the comparative method, it is suggested in the article that the teaching of Urdu linguistics and the history of Urdu in our universities must be followed by the teaching of descriptive linguistics and no student should be exposed to the history of the Urdu language unless they are well aware of the basic concepts of descriptive linguistics.