The Urdū Perso-Arabic alphabet, with names in the Devanāgarī and Roman Urdū alphabets

Roman Urdu is the name used for the Urdu language written with the Roman script.

According to the Urdu scholar Habib R. Sulemani: "Roman Urdu is strongly opposed by the traditional Arabic script lovers. Despite this opposition it is still used by most on the internet and computers due to limitations of most technologies as they do not have the Urdu script. Although, this script is under development and thus the net users are using the Roman script in their own ways. Popular websites like Jang Group have devised their own schemes for Roman Urdu. This is of great advantage for those who are not able to read the Arabic script. MSN, Yahoo and some desi-chat-rooms are working as laboratories for the evolving new script and language (Roman Urdu)."[1]

Roman Urdu is often used by multinational corporations like Unilever or Pepsi to save money and resources on printing and advertising while marketing their products in both India and Pakistan. The method of writing is would correct understand with the new chart.

Although the idea of romanising Urdu had been suggested several times, it was General Ayub Khan who most seriously suggested adopting the Latin alphabet for Urdu and all Pakistani languages during his rule of the country.[2][3][4] The suggestion was inspired to an extent by Atatürk's adoption of the Latin alphabet for Turkish in Turkey.

In India, where the Devanagari script is used, Roman Urdu was widely used in the Indian Army, as well as in Christian mission schools, especially for translations of the Bible.[5]

Sample textsEdit

Zabu'r 23 Dáúd ká MazmúrEdit

Roman UrduEdit

1Khudáwand merá chaupán hai; mujhe kamí na hogí.
2Wuh mujhe harí harí charágáhoṉ meṉ bithátá hai: Wuh mijhe ráhat ke chashmoṉ ke pás le játá hai.
3Wuh merí ján ko bahál kartá hai: Wuh mujhe apne nám kí khátir sadáqat kí ráhon par le chaltá hai.
4Balki khwáh maut ke sáye kí wádí meṉ se merá guzar ho, Maiṉ kisí balá se nahíṉ darúṉgá; kyúnkṉki tú mere sáth hai: Tere 'asá aur terí láthí se mujhe tasallí hai.
5Tú mere dushmanoṉ ke rúbarú mere áge dastarkhwán bichhátá hai: Tú ne mere sir par tel malá hai, merá piyála labrez hotá hai.
6Yaqínan bhalái aur rahmat 'umr bhar mere sáth sáth raheṉgí: Aur maiṉ hamesha Khudáwand ke ghar meṉ sukúnat karúṉgá.[6]

(Kita'b I Muqaddas: Zabu'r 23 az Dáúd)

Nastaʿlīq (Perso-Arabic) ScriptEdit

خداوند میرا چوپان ہے؛ مجھے کمی نہ ہوگی
وہ مجھے ہری ہری چراگاہوں میں بٹھاتا ہے: وہ مجھے راحت کے چشموں کے پاس لے جاتا ہے۔
وہ میری جان بحال کرتا ہے: وہ مجھے اپنے نام کی خاطر صداقت کی راہوں پر لے چلتا ہے۔
بلکہ خواہ موت کے سایے کی وادی میں سے میرا گزر ہو، میں کسی بلا سے نہیں ڈروں گا؛
کیونکہ تو میرے ساتھ ہے: تیرے عصا اور تیری لاٹھی سے مجھے تسلی ہے۔
تو میرے دشمنوں کے روبرو میرے آگے دسترخوان بچھاتا ہے: تو نے میرے سر پر تیل ملا ہے، میرا پیالہ لبریز ہوتا ہے۔
یقیناً بھلائ اور رحمت عمر بھر میرے ساتھ ساتھ رہیں گی: اور میں ہمیشہ خداوند کے گھر میں سکونت کروں گا۔

(کتاب مقدس کے زبور ۲۳ از داؤد)

Devanāgarī scriptEdit

ख़ुदावन्द मेरा चौपान है; मुझे कमी ना होगी।
वह मुझे हरी हरी चिरागाहों में बिठाता है: वह मुझे राहत के चश्मों के पास ले जाता है।
वह मेरी जान बहाल करता है: वह मुझे अपने नाम सदाक़त की राहों पर की चलाता है।
बलके ख़्वाह मौत के साये की वादी में से मेरा गुज़र हो, मैं किसी बला से नहीं ड़रूंगा; क्योंकि तू मेरे साथ है: तेरे अला और तेरी लाठी से मुझे तसल्ली है।
तू मेरे दुश्मनों के रूबरू मेरे आगे दस्तरख़्वान बिछाता है: तू ने मेरे सर पर तेल मला है, मेरा पियाला लब्रेज़ होता है।
यक़ीनन भलाई और रेहमत उमर भर मेरे साथ साथ रहेंगी: और मैं हमेशा ख़ुदावन्द के घर में सकूनत करूंगा।

(किताब-ए मुक़द्दस के ज़ुबूर २३ अज़ दाऊद)


Roman Urdu Bibles are used by many Christians from the South Asian subcontinent

Urdu was the dominant native language among Christians of Karachi, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan in the 20th century and is still used today by some people in these states. Pakistani and Indian Christians often used the Roman script for writing Urdu. The Bible Society of India publishes Roman Urdu Bibles, which enjoyed sale late into the 1960s (though they are still published today). Church songbooks are also common in Roman Urdu. However, its usage in Christian contexts is declining in India with the wider use of Hindi and English in the states. Bollywood, India's major film industry, uses a version of Roman script as the main script for its film titles. This is because Bollywood films have an appeal for viewers across South Asia and even in the Middle East.[7] The Devanāgarī script is used mostly by Hindi speakers while the Perso-Arabic script is used primarily by Urdu speakers. The language used in Bollywood films is often called Hindi, but most dialogues are actually written in Hindustani—they can be understood by Urdu and Hindi speakers alike. Because the film industry wants to reach the largest possible audience, just using the Devanāgarī or Perso-Arabic script would be unfavorable for the Bollywood industry as few individuals are literate in both scripts. For this reason, the neutral Roman script is used for Bollywood film titles, though some films include the Hindi and Urdu scripts as well.[8]

The similar circumstances are also applied with Pakistan's Lollywood filming industry, where, along with the Urdu name or title of the movie, a Roman Urdu title is always provided for viewers.

Roman Urdu used on Internet is non standard and has very irregular spellings. Users who use Roman Urdu on Internet try to imitate English orthography. In most cases they are unaware of the fact that English spellings are not often phonetic.

There are several Romanization standards for writing Urdu among them the most prominent are Uddin and Begum Urdu-Hindustani Romanization, ALA-LC romanization and ArabTeX.

There are two main problems with Roman Urdu schemes which exists. Either they are not reversible to Urdu script or they don't allow pronouncing the Urdu words properly. Another shortcoming is that a lot of Roman Urdu schemes confuse the Urdu letter 'Choti He' which has the sound of voiceless glottal fricative with 'Do Chasham He' which is used as a digraph for aspirated consonants in Urdu script. The digraphs "Sh" for letter Shin and "Zh" for letter Zhe also cause problems as they could be interpreted as the letter Sin and 'Choti He' or letter Ze and 'Choti He' respectively. Most Roman Urdu schemes also do not take much consideration of Urdu orthography and the spelling system.


In Pakistan Roman Urdu is promoted by the Liberal, Secular and Westernized sections of the society as an alternate to the Perso-Arabic Script which Urdu uses. In contrast, the adoption of Roman Urdu has stiff opposition from the Conservative classes which see Perso-Arabic Script as the heritage of Indo-Islamic Civilization which Pakistan inherited from the Mughal and other past Islamic empires.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The News International, September 8, 2003, [1]
  2. ^ Paving new paths to romanise Urdu script, Mushir Anwar, Dawn (newspaper), Nov 27, 2008
  3. ^ The Urdu-English Controversy in Pakistan, Tariq Rahman, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Feb., 1997), pp. 177-207
  4. ^ The Language Movement: An Outline Archived 2012-11-19 at the Wayback Machine, Rafiqul Islam
  5. ^ Fārūqī, Shamsurraḥmān (2001). Early Urdu Literary Culture and History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195652017.
  6. ^ World Bible Translation Center (pdf file)
  7. ^ Krishnamurthy, Rajeshwari (28 June 2013). "Kabul Diary: Discovering the Indian connection". Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. Retrieved 13 March 2018. Most Afghans in Kabul understand and/or speak Hindi, thanks to the popularity of Indian cinema in the country.
  8. ^ Dwyer, Rachel (27 September 2006). Filming the Gods: Religion and Indian Cinema. Routledge. p. 103. ISBN 9781134380701.


  • Dua, Hans R. (1994b). Urdu. In Asher (Ed.) (pp. 4863–4864).
  • Insha, Ibn e. (2002) Urdu Ki Aakhri Kitab. New Delhi: Kitab Wala. ISBN 81-85738-57-2.
  • B.S.I. Kita'b I Muqaddas. Bangalore: The Bible Society of India, 1994. ISBN 81-221-3230-8.

External linksEdit