Urdu's last stand

Bob Eaton pete_dembrowski at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 12 07:43:08 UTC 2007


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  In societies like South Asia where many languages abound, it would be interesting to construct, for each region, a pyramid of languages arranged in order of worldly status, with the highest status one being at the apex of the pyramid. 

  Evidently in Pakistan, English has been at the top with Urdu just below it. The base of the pyramid would be the mother tongues/ dialects such as Seraiki, Multani etc with literary mother tongues/ languages such as Punjabi, Sindhi etc occupying intermediate levels. 

  The current trend toward English seems to want to flatten the pyramid somewhat. Is this solely attributable to globalization? What is likely to be the ultimate effect of this flattening trend? 

In 500 years, the whole earth will be speaking English. What else is possible?

And I find it ironic that the original author seemed to want to blame "the generals who rule Pakistan" of "selling every last item of the family silver to London and Washington." If my experience in South Asia has shown me anything, it is that this is what "the people" want (as the original author acknowledges elsewhere). "The general" just clever enough to have understood this. 

For goodness sake, even those who are involved in language development are sending their children to English medium schools (c.f. Winter 1993:311 as quoted in Saxena & Borin 2006:3):

  "What is to be observed in both cases [of the Hualapai language revivalist and schoolteacher, who spoke English with her children at home, and the Bantawa couple who worked actively to promote Bantawa in various ways, but communicated with each other and their children in Nepali and English] is a conflict between wanting to do something for the language and wanting to improve the chances of the children to succeed in the macrosociety of which they're apart... does one have a right to blame the parents?"

Don't get angry! Speak your mother-tongue to your children!

Bob
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