Introduction to the Urdu language

For useful Urdu links visit http://www.lang.ox.ac.uk/links/urdu.html

Urdu Language Classes at Oxford

Learning Elementary Urdu

Those who wish to learn Urdu can join the elementary Hindi course and learn the grammar and the basic vocabulary through the Devanagari script. In Trinity term introductory classes to the Urdu script are offered.

Urdu literary texts

Readings of a variety of Urdu literary texts are organised for students enrolled into the M. Phil in Modern South Asian Studies. Those who wish to continue their Urdu studies after going through an elementary course in Oxford or elsewhere can also attend provided the course is not full. Admission for students from outside the Faculty is subject to availability and to the approval of the course tutor.

These classes are held once or twice a week and constitute in translating into English and interpreting the selected texts. Along with a close reading and translation of the texts their socio-cultural context is also presented and sessions normally include an Urdu discussion of some earlier passage. Students will normally be given a basic vocabulary and should prepare their texts with the help of dictionaries in advance. They will sometimes have to present short Urdu essays about various topics related to the texts. The course normally presents a 5-10 hour weekly workload.

The texts read vary each term but they include short stories or other prose passages from the classics of twentieth-century Urdu prose (Premchand, Manto, Intazar Hussain etc.). Normally more accessible texts are read in Michaelmas term and more specialised classes are held later. The course also includes readings from early modern and modern poetry.

Dictionaries: Students are advised to provide a copy of John T. Platts’s A Dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi and English (Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi). This dictionary can also be accessed online at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/platts/index.html .

For Perso-Arabic loanwords they can also consult Steingass’s Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/steingass/ and some only Arabic dictionary, such as the Effel Arabic Dictionary http://www.welokee.nl/welokee/arabic/query_index.php .