Influence of Turkish on Urdu

November 29, 2011


THIS is apropos of Dr Syed Muhammed Anwer’s article, ‘Urdu and the borrowed words’ (Nov 13), wherein the writer has mostly focused on the influence of Turkish on Urdu. He has concluded that Urdu has borrowed only 24 words from the Turkish language.

Keeping in view the works of great scholars on the subject, the figure is incorrect.There is no denying the fact that Urdu has borrowed words from other languages whole-heartedly, including Arabic and Persian. But the lexical legacy of Urdu shows that it has borrowed words from Turkish in a large number. Most of the Sultans and the nobility in the Sultanate period were Turks from Central Asia and they promoted Turkish literature. Mughal emperor Babur wrote ‘Babur Nama’ in Turkish and his sons Kamran and Humayun composed poetry in Urdu.

I would like to present some additional Turkish words (other than the 24) in Urdu as mentioned by Prof Dr Erkan Turkmen of Turkey in his article ‘Turkish elements in Urdu’. Some of the words are aapa (sister), autaq (tent or room), bahadur (brave), taup (gun or cannon), taushak (cotton mattress), chadar (sheet, cover), chaaq (strong, healthy), chapqalish (turmoil), chiq (curtain made of reeds), khatoon (lady), dada (grandfather), suraagh (clue, sign), qaabu (control), quarma (fried meat)… and the list continues.

Syed Muzammiluddin has also mentioned other Turkish words in Urdu in his article (March 16, 2006).

The Turkish Language Association has also recorded a fact that Persian has borrowed 225 words from Turkish. Besides, Dr Muhammad Sabir, ex-Chairman of the Islamic History Department, University of Karachi, compiled a Turkish-Urdu Dictionary of 20,000 words in 1968.

So it would be wrong to say that Urdu is not heavily influenced by Turkish.