The mother languages, which are organic treasures for other languages are highly ignored due to centralization, instrumentalization and monolingualism of the world
A child’s mother language is its intelligence that describes its way of thinking, reasoning, understanding and doing all the tasks.
By Shoukat Lohar
The mother languages day is celebrated throughout the world on 21st February every year. The is day is commemorated by the world’s renowned organizations, agencies and corporations including United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other International agencies and groups that mastermind various valuable events to highlight the historical significance of mother languages. In this context the conferences, seminars, symposiums, rallies and gatherings are held to highlight the mother tongue as the greatest medium of language description.
Unfavorably and lamentably, the mother languages which are organic treasures for other languages are highly ignored due to centralization, instrumentalization and monolingualism of the world.
The world is like a vase full of colorful flowers and diversified cultural heritage. So is with the languages of the world. According to Rehman (2018), there are more than nine hundred languages currently spoken in the world but due to globalization macdonalization, and instrumentalization the of world, one-third of the world’s languages are endangered. According to Crystal (2003) only 4 percent languages are spoken by 96 percent of the total population of the world that declines the position of the world’s other mother languages or indigenous languages that are virulently killed every other day. In addition to this, language death occurs when the language policies of states do not privilege their mother tongues and indigenous languages. They do not allow their mother languages and indigenous languages to be used as a means of communication, as a means of education, as a means of trade and commerce, and as a means of identity. As a result, the people shift their languages towards dominant languages. The foremost example is the increasing status of English Language as a global lingua franca. In the name of fashion or enchantment of English language, we snatch the linguistic rights of a child who is helpless and powerless and can’t resist. Due to the overwhelmed consumerism and commoditization of the world, we are under the boats of Neoliberalism and Americanization. The enforced divergent towards English has left the languages of the world at the mercy one language. According to Graddol (1997), the world would be semi monolingualism because large numbers of people will learn English as a foreign language in coming time, and they will need teachers, dictionaries and grammar books. Due to the reason world’s cultures, heritage, and languages are in danger. Some are extinct and some are in queue for being beheaded. It’s very heartening and saddening news for the language scholars to ponder over this plight and plan policies and remedies against this atrocity to the world’s mother languages. We need to revitalize the dying languages. It’s only power, politics and ideology which have created differences among us. Let we not envoy over the multilingual Pakistan. The nature has diversity and there is a beauty in diversity. The policy makers and governments need to fund to uplift the status of indigenous languages of the world.
Historical Background of Pakistan’s Languages
Pakistan is a diverse and multilingual country. The linguistic profile of Pakistan is very rich with regard to languages. There are more than 76 languages that are spoken across the country. Urdu is labelled as a national language, English as an official language and Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashto, Balochi, Saraiki as the regional indigenous languages, Dhatki, Marvari, Rangri, Shanna, Hazarvi, and numerous other languages as minority groups of languages. All the above-mentioned languages are mother languages of the citizens of Pakistan. According to Ethnologue (2016), there are 73 languages spoken in Pakistan. The statistical data of the major regional languages spoken by people of Pakistan is as follows:
Punjabi 44.15 percent; Pashto 15.42 percent; Sindhi 14.10 percent; Saraiki 10.53 percent; Urdu 7.57 percent; Balochi 4.66 percent.
However, according to the constitution of Pakistan, the provincial languages are the official languages of the region / provinces but they are being declined and devalued can be viewed below. When Pakistan came into being as an independent state, the founder of the nation had a choice to declare the majority’s language which was Bengali, as a state language but he declared that Urdu would be a national language which was spoken by seven percent of the overall population of the state.
This announcement of Urdu to be a national language, laid the foundation of hatred among Bengalis. They started the strong protest for their language demanding status of the national language. During their agitation, four students were killed when police opened fired. The protests continued and finally it was in 1956 when the both Bengali and Urdu were declared as national languages. Onwards both Urdu and Bengali language remained the national languages of Pakistan. Afterwards, in 1971 the East Pakistan became Bangladesh as the ethnic discrimination infused power in the movement of split. As a result, Urdu enjoyed status of being a national language and other regional languages like Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, and Balochi were ignored in Pakistan.
Rehman (1995) stated that in 1973, when the present constitution was made, it was declared that Urdu would be the official language of the state and replace English within fifteen years. However, more than forty years have been passed yet English still enjoys the official status in Pakistan.
What is a mother tongue?
United Nation’s recognition came into effect in 1990 to recognize International Mother Languages’ Day throughout the world on 21st February.
As the word itself says, it is the language, the mother speaks to the child, to pacify or play with a child. That is the first language the child hears or speaks. In linguistics, we use the term “mother tongue” or “first language” or “L1” to refer to the language that we learn before we have learnt any other language fully. An easy test to check a Child’s mother tongue, that he/she is speaking, is at the age of 3–5. UNESCO declared in 1953 that the most suitable language for teaching basic concepts to children is the mother tongue yet 2 billion people do not have access to education in a language they understand. It means that their languages are being dishonored, ignored, and declined. This is done due to political and economic interest of the state. A child’s mother language is its intelligence that describes its way of thinking, reasoning, understanding and doing all the tasks. It shows its history, ethnicity, culture and identity that makes it unique with the rest of the world. If you talk to someone in a language that he or she understands, that goes to the person’s head but if you talk to someone in his or her language, that goes to his/her heart. It is the world’s mother languages day.
United Nations and other organizations organize festivals and functions throughout the world but lamentably it is said that no private schools or institutions use to organize any program to mark the recognition of this day. As most of the private schools have hatred to the indigenous languages, they can’t tolerate the recognition of the mother languages. If the schools can celebrate Color Day, Pineapple Day, Spider Man Day, Fruits Day, Tiger Day, Ice Cream Day, Meat Day, Food Day and numerous other unproductive days, they should also celebrate Mother Language Day to promote diversity in their schools and institutions. They need to arrange speeches on different languages in order to see the beauty of that language. Unfortunately, we have ourselves devalued our mother languages by not taking fruitful actions. We should use our L1 in our homes, schools, societies to preserve our mother tongues.
Raising Voice for Sindhi Language
Sindhi language has a rich heritage and cultural background but it’s still in the wait of being recognized as a national language of Pakistan. Sindhi language has its own script, scores of publications, TV channels and more than five crore Sindhi speaking people. However, due to the mushroom growth of private schools and academies, Sindhi language has been highly marginalized and ignored. Owing to the worsened state of education system, parents are forced to get their children educated through private schooling. It is a bitter fact that in private schools, Sindhi language is banned that highlights the genocide of a living language. It’s a live example of linguicism. This practice must be stopped. Sindhi speaking vocal class must rationalize this burning issue. The Sindhi speaking parents must enforce the private owned academies and schools especially high-stake and renowned schools to start teaching Sindhi language as a major and compulsory subject like that of English in order to finish this linguicism. However, at national level, there shouldn’t be any mystification of linguistic issue. Apart from the national and official languages, some immediate actions must be taken to uplift the status of other languages. Sindhi language must be revived through forcing the private sector to give this language a space and value as it’s the most valuable language of the world.
About the Author
Shoukat Lohar is Assistant Professor in English at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology Jamshoro Sindh