If you're like many people today, you may have considered learning a foreign language. Some languages are very similar to English and are therefore easier to learn. But even the more difficult languages can easily be mastered by beginning with the basics, which would be the alphabet of these languages. The Urdu alphabet, and therefore the Urdu language, is no exception.
Urdu is a language used primarily in Pakistan, where it is the national language. People in Afghanistan, India, Thailand, and even the UK also speak Urdu. The Urdu alphabet, like most other Middle Eastern alphabets, isn't really that similar to English, but it can still easily be mastered.
The first thing you'll need to know about the Urdu alphabet is that it is written and read from right to left, instead of left to right like English and many other languages. Whereas English has only 26 letters, there are 39 basic characters and 13 extra characters called retroflex consonants in the Urdu alphabet. Many of the Urdu characters are derived from the Persian and Arabic languages, but the retroflex consonants are specific to the Urdu alphabet alone.
The Urdu alphabet uses characters that are very similar to other Middle Eastern languages. Some of the characters are extremely similar, unlike the English alphabet. It is a good idea to locate a printable Urdu alphabet to keep handy for reference while trying to learn the Urdu language.
Even if you don't have difficulty seeing small print, it would be wise to enlarge the characters a bit to make the slight differences easier to distinguish. Like English, Urdu has vowels and consonants. However, the same symbol is often used to denote either a vowel or a consonant. In such a case, your clue as to which the character is serving as is the context.
Pronunciation of the Urdu alphabet is often the biggest challenge for anyone is isn't a native speaker of another Middle Eastern language. There are charts online that give phonetic representation of each character, and some of the characters have extra marking denoting their proper pronunciation. The short vowels in the Urdu alphabet are a good example of this extra marking.
Learning the Urdu alphabet can help you communicate with over 490 million people worldwide. It will also give you a head start on learning other Middle Eastern languages such as Persian or Arabic. With a little time and studying, it's not as difficult as it may seem at first glance.