Online therapy: Learning Urdu

January 29, 2023

It is not a substitute for learning the finer points but following an Instagram page called Words in Urdu can add context to your vocabulary and understanding of the language.

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“I’ve been knockin’ on the door that holds the throne/I’ve been lookin’ for the map that leads me home/I’ve been stumblin’ on good hearts turned to stone/The road of good intentions has gone dry as bone.” – ‘We Take Care Of Our Own’ by Bruce Springsteen

For any number of reasons, the beautiful language of Urdu, perhaps, has been elusive to you. The learning technologies have now made it possible to reverse that truth.

The purpose for learning anything, including a language, can be different for each of us. But, for a majority, the language spoken at home is one you are most fluent in. It also has to do with your social background. It is also true that beyond the English language, you might be able to understand and speak a regional language like Sindhi (irrespective of your social class) because it is spoken at home. You could even know a foreign language depending on your interest and schooling.

No matter what language you are most comfortable with, it is worth noting that you and I are missing out on a great deal by not being able to read, understand and speak in the Urdu language – if that’s the case.

“Oh I am young but I have a past/Travelled far to find the start/Yes I am scared and I’ve been burnt/But life is short.” – ‘Life is Short’ by Butterfly Boucher

The ability to grasp the finer points of the Urdu language can come from appointing a tutor who can teach you the intricacies of the language as well as paying attention to your class.

But let’s say you want to understand the dialect but cannot appoint a tutor, turning to the Internet can help.

To that end, going to an Instagram page called Words in Urdu might be a good idea. Every post is made on different Urdu words with the translation also in the same post. For example, the word daldal is described as marshland, munavvar as radiant, maazi as past. You can find the words, written in Urdu, English with a concise translation. They are also spoken, giving a linguistic context. Apart from word-based posts, exploring the page will also lead you to an explosion of art and colour with various artistic designs as well as verses by different writers.

Think of it this way: a solid mixture of aesthetical wordplay that might inspire you to dig deeper and read the poems and stories to see how far you’ve progressed in your journey. You could write it down in a journal and that might give you the chance to read Urdu literature and not its cousin, the English translation. Think about the works of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Mirza Ghalib, Saadat Hasan Manto and other iconic Pakistani writers who wrote in Urdu and you might develop a yearning to learn Urdu. Dismissing education is not the goal but in a time when going to schools regularly may or may not be an option, this Instagram page should help.

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