A. Guide to pronunciation

The chart below explains the specialized system we’ve used for writing Urdu words in the . We’ve prioritized making the pronunciation clear and unambiguous, while also minimizing the number of different letters. Some sounds that are distinguished in Hindi script but not in Urdu script, like ष and ण, are absent. See Appendix B for the complete Urdu alphabet, together with formal .


Roman Hindi Sound Roman Hindi Sound Roman Hindi Sound Roman Hindi Sound Roman Hindi Sound
a up d, as in anā ‘egg’ ī seat o over th aspirated dental t, as in thālī ‘platter’
ā tall ḍh aspirated retroflex d, as in ḍhā’ī ‘two and a half’ j jet p spill retroflex t, as in
ai hat (sometimes also pronounced like ě or a‘i) e say jh aspirated j, as in jhūṭh ph aspirated p, as in pill or phal ṭh aspirated retroflex t, as in ṭhīk
au aur ě (written as either अ or ए) meh k scan q क़ voiceless uvular stop, as in qalam u look
b big f फ़ first kh aspirated k, as in can or khānā r rolled r, as in roṭī ū hoot
bh b, as in bhā’ī ‘brother’ g gift ḳh ख़ voiceless velar fricative, as in ḳharāb ‘bad’ or German Buch ड़ retroflex flap, as in baā v/w weevil (v and w are interchangeable)
ch change gh aspirated g, as in ghī l love ṛh ढ़ aspirated retroflex flap, as in ṛhā y yes
chh aspirated ch, as in chhěh ‘six’ ġh ग़ voiced velar fricative, as in ġh ‘garden’; similar to French rouge m mill s see z ज़ zebra
d d, as in dil ‘heart’ h hat n nail sh she zh garage
dh aspirated dental d, as in ādhā ‘half’ i sit ñ ◌ँ nasal vowel, as in donoñ ‘both’ or French maison t dental t, as in tīn ‘three’ (N/A) separates sounds, as in ka’ī ‘several’ or is’hāq ‘Isaac’


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