Language of the Day: the Indo-Iranian family


Hindi, Bengali, Persian, and Urdu are some of the most demanded languages here at Wordwide FX. The reason is simple: India and Pakistan are emerging markets (BEM), together with Brasil, Egypt, Poland, and others. Also, India is, with 1.241.492.000 inhabitants, the second most populated country in the world. To that we have to at least sum 177.276.594 inhabitants in Pakistan (2010 data) and over 77 million of Iran.

These languages belong to what some linguists call the Indo-Iranian family, a branch of Indo-European, divided into Iranian and Indic. The Iranian sub-branch includes about 2 dozen different languages, including modern Persian (also called Farsi or Parsi and spoken in Iran), Pashto (the official language of Afghanistan), and Kurdish (spoken in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria). Other Iranian languages are found in Pakistan, the former USSR, and China.

The Indic sub-branch includes around 35 different languages. Most of the languages spoken in  Northern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh belong to this branch of Indo-European. Hindi-Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, and Gujarati are the most widespread. Hindi and Urdu are two dialects of the same language, but they use totally different writing systems and are also associated to different cultures: Urdu is spoken primarily in Pakistan by Muslims and Hindi is the spoken mainly in India by Hindus.

Less well known as an Indic language is Romany or Gypsy. It is believed that the Gypsies were an entertainment caste in India who were invited to perform in the Middle East sometime in the Middle Ages. They never returned to India but they traveled instead to Turkey and, eventually, Europe. Romany contains many borrowed words, particularly from Greek, which was spoken in Turkey at the time of their stay.

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