I spent several months in Lucknow, India, studying Urdu.
I knew that it would be a daunting task. But I had a leg up — it wasn’t going to be completely new. Several years ago, I’d studied Hindi, which the native tongue of about 25 percent of Indians. The country’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, appears to favor Hindi, which has alarmed speakers of India’s many other languages.
To the untrained ear, Hindi and Urdu sound similar. They share a lot of the same vocabulary. But they use different scripts. And they have different connotations.