Samreen Aamir Bari
LANGUAGE is the foremost present of society to an individual. We sense, communicate, express, convey, dream, and regulate our diurnal does with the aid of words that are comprehensible, and meaningful to us. Language is back bone of culture. The skeleton of culture is incomplete and cannot survive without support of language. The death of a language is the death of a civilization, the end of a culture, the moral end of a nation hence continuous struggle for the revival, propagation and transfer of languages from one generation to other generation is indisputably imperative. According to UNESCO ‘Languages are threatened by external forces such as military, economic religious, cultural or educational subjugation, or by internal forces such as community’s negative attitude towards its own language’.
Globalization can be considered as the fundamental head honcho that is minimizing the importance of the local languages. We can say that the increase in globalization means the loss of spoken languages. People find it easier to carry out business and correspond with those outside their own culture if they speak more broadly used languages. People do not find it beneficial or useful to educate their children in languages spoken by limited number of people. Obviously because of this reason the local languages are dying out.
Around 6000-7000 spoken languages can be found and it is a bitter truth that 50% of these languages are diminishing or are dying out. Losing a language and its cultural framework is like burning a reference book of a particular society’s history, its folk tales, its religious parameters, its literature, the mindset of its scholars and common people. According to Keebe (2003) loss of language is the permanent irrevocable loss of a certain vision of the world. This is the harsh reality of capitalist society and the core need of economic development to have a single and acceptable language. The banking system, highly expensive and upgraded software, multinational companies and the globalized communication network all require a universal or a globalized language. Joseph Nye’s idea of ‘soft power’ can certainly elucidate the answer of language imperialism and consequently we can claim globalization for damaging or diminishing or threatening the local languages of the developing and under developed nations.
It is an honor for our nation that Pakistan is culturally rich and diversified country our local traditions have their own beauty and power to fascinate and mesmerize .The sweet languages of the heterogeneous groups have their own charismatic attraction but due to the fever of modernization and Americanization or we can say because of Globalization these languages are slowly and gradually dying. Ours is a multilingual country with six major and fifty nine other small or local languages this is our drawback that this culturally and multi lingual country’s official language is the one that we adopted from our “Masters”. Due to the influence of Capitalism the English is already being considered as the de facto lingua franca or global language. An estimated 85% of international organizations use English only. We cannot deny the importance of English but not at the cost of other languages. Just take the example of Pakistan people who are sitting and enjoying the powerful positions, high government officials , actors, higher army officials , business tycoons and their families usually consider it shameful to speak local languages in their routine communications English has become a symbol or a brand of upper class families it is a symbol of sophistication and power. Although passed in 1973 the constitution of Pakistan under Article 251 specifies that the government under all circumstances must make Urdu the national language within 15 years and it was also emphasized that President and Prime minister should deliver speeches in Urdu, even on foreign trips.
This is high time for us and govt to take necessary steps to encourage and motivate people to develop and communicate in their own native languages without any hesitation and with great pride and it is also necessary to promote the local languages on national basis and on national televisions. We should educate our children in the languages in which they can easily express and communicate.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Karachi.