Urdu is when spoken almost exactly the same language as Hindi, with only some differences in vocabulary and accent; recent history has however driven them apart as each one was equated with particular religious and political views. In written form, हिन्दी and اردو are both beautiful but mutually unintelligible, using the Devanagari and the (slightly adapted) Arabic alphabets, respectively. As exotic as they might look and sound, the languages are actually classified under the Indo-European family tree, so their structures can appear familiar. However, a language in which ‘haha’ is an affirmative answer, ‘or’ means ‘and’ and ‘tomorrow’ is the same word as ‘yesterday’ will surely make for a learning journey that is puzzling like the Indian head wobble: even when you know what it means, it still every time causes a second of utter confusion before understanding hits.
A Door Into Urdu
This is a complete course developed by the US Department of Education to learn Urdu, and it also exists in a Hindi version. Perfect if you (like me) want to learn both side by side! I study grammar through Urdu (as I already knew the Arabic alphabet) and note new vocabulary in the two writing systems, learning Hindi along the way.
Aamozish: learn the Urdu script
A great project from the Rekhta foundation: a full online course to learn the Urdu script. Here is an overview of the alphabet, including the corresponding letters in Hindi.
Rekhta Foundation Pinterest
This Pinterest page features a beautiful collection of Urdu words and poetry.
Transparent Language has educational blogs in a range of languages, the best thing being the word of the day option: sign up for a daily new addition to your vocabulary right in your inbox.
Ourdou de poche
For those who speak French: this book offers a really nice and succinct grammar overview and conversation guide. You can download it for free after signing up (or drop me a message and I can share it with you).
Urdu in three minutes
These YouTube playlists offer the basic sentences you will need to get by. Nice to start with, but it offers no grammar.
The difference between Urdu and Hindi
Confused about the relation between the two languages? I found this a nice informative clip (as are most of this guy’s other videos!).