The history of evolution of mankind is incomplete without mentioning the impeccable role, languages played for nurturing cultures, philosophies, customs, rituals and the ideas to pass on to next generations.
Language is difficult to define as different scholars in last centuries tried to opt it in scientific way so that it could justify the need of logic in civilized world. In 1921’s Language: An introduction to the study of speech, Edward Sapri defined it as purely human and non instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols.
World is rich with splendid and numerous languages from Asian to African peninsula; each languages has a soulful history blended in locals customs and emotions of regional people.
Although, there is not a credible study that could tell exact number of languages being spoken but, Ethnologue by Summer Institute of Linguistic estimated in 2009 that 6909 languages are being spoken in the world.
Historically, the Treaty of Westphalia did not only draw borders but some languages were also been given more importance according to the global dominance of their countries.
The British Raj in sub continent apart from administrative and government system; also brought the English language and English officers left no stone unturned to infringe the minds of locals that knowhow of English language in must to be respectable.
The 1867’s Urdu-Hindi controversy showed the signs of birth of language politics in Sub continent.
Before partition, in united Punjab, Punjabi was the sole language of natives Punjabis. Punjabi language has its roots in 7th century Prakrit dialect of Sanskrit and in 10th century poetic works; Punjabi was widely used as a language to express the emotions and ideas. Pashto language’s had been developed with full rich vocabulary in 16th Century and in the history of Central Asian Republics, afghan regimes and Pak tribal areas, the use of this language can be seen.
In Sub continent, under a controlled agenda; British gradually made English compulsory for administrative and judicial system and to settle in that system, the elite including the sons of maharajas and established families were sent to England to get the desire skills for being an Englishman.
Along with that, through Indian civil services, British infused greed in locals to learn and write English so that they could also hold stick and suppress their own people.
It is famously said that only our bodies acquired independence not our minds- most of the people think that 1954 protests in University of Dhaka were the trigger of language controversy. Actually, in the consensus of 1951– it was seen that only 2.1 % of citizens speak the Urdu language, which was declared the national language after the birth of country — 55.4 % were the Bengali speakers while 28.1 % were the Punjabis. A language with whom, 97.9 % citizens of a country were unaware, had been declared “national language”. So! In 1951, the language insecurity gained more importance through census result.
In a recently published Punjabi book, “Quqnas” in which prominent scholarly work is translated in Punjabi, an essay is specially included, which describes how Urdu was brought as a conspiracy in Punjab. Urdu was never the language of Punjab or Sindh, it had never been spoken in Baluchistan or KPK before the birth of Pakistan.
After 69 years, the situation has come to this far that whoever speaks Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi and can’t communicate in English/Urdu is considered to be a “Piandu” or illiterate while in psychologically — number of researches have proven that illiteracy has nothing to do with language. A person does not need English or Urdu to be an education asset of society, if this would be taken as a criterion; the Germans, Arabs & Japanese are the most unwise and illiterate persons ever on the planet.
We have made English compulsory for passing credible exam while the private sectors solely favors the English spoken candidates in the selection system.
Some years back, we turned the schooling system to English medium but in thousands of Government schools; English teachers are not provided and children are considered as super brainy aliens that would touch the books and will automatically learn through supernatural powers.
Our Students need English to understand what’s going on in class, in house, the mother tongue is Punjabi or Saraiki while in communication with fellows and teachers; they are supposed to speak in Urdu. This burden does not justify the capacity, a child has. This multi language ability, which we intend to see in our children, makes them miserable.
In our universities, most of the fresh graduates could not communicate well in English and in written English, the absence of critical thinking can clearly be seen when you ask them to write on a certain issue.
A student spends 16 years in classes and in every class, English is used as a mean to educate them verbally and books are English too. But, in interviews, the English communication skill exposes their inability to understand this second language badly.
British Author Samuel Johnson once said I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are pedigrees of nation. In all the countries that were British colonies especially in African and Asian content, the education, judicial and administrative system still tighten in the English language dilemma and 40 % of the global population does not have the education in the language, they know.
Inequality in education creates more inequality – that’s why, we need to give basic education is our regional language. While, after 5th standard, English can be introduced as a foreign language and should be taught by instructors that could understand the Child psychology and avoid making them English readers and writers forcefully.
As a nation, we need to understand that there is no shame in learning and knowing in our own language (s) as far as the objective is learning. Liberal education is must & syllabus should be rich in substance, but has to be taught in mother-tongue for early years.
What would we do after 3 decades – learn Chinese so that we could become prosperous as China.
English can’t become primary language at the expense of languages that were here centuries ago and helped to develop the history, culture and emotions.
Picture Credit: The Nation