The Endangered Language
There is a need for Pakistan to wake up to the threat of globalization and attempt to preserve the Urdu language before it becomes extinct.
As the national language of Pakistan as well as the official language of five Indian states, Urdu has come a long way. According to “A Brief History of Urdu” available on BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/ languages/ other/ guide/ urdu/ history.shtml), Urdu has developed over a span of no less than nine hundred years under Persian, Turkish and Arabic influence. Those interested in history will discover that the development of Urdu over the ages makes for a very enlightening study. However, for the past couple of decades, Urdu as a language has been on the decline. There are several reasons for this.
Most of the mass media to which the young and the old alike are ex- posed today, does not portray the language in its pure form. The medley that comes across contains vocabulary of English and Hindi mixed with Urdu. This happens mainly because of a lack of knowledge of Urdu in general and its vocabulary in particular – when individuals cannot think of a suitable word in Urdu to express themselves they switch to English and/or Hindi.
On the other hand, there is a wide exposure to media content in English and Hindi, which is again, making the audience more aware of these two languages. Combine that with the aforementioned fact of the same audience being less exposed to ‘pure’ Urdu without any contamination and you have the current result: very few individuals speaking ONE language at a time, without introducing words of another.
The mindset of the majority in Pakistan is that ‘Urdu-medium’ is the lowest, derogatory social standard. Hence, an education or conversation in ‘Urdu-only’ is looked down upon. This is the attitude of the majority, especially the new generation, who would rather speak broken English than fluent Urdu. One only needs to contrast this with the fact that the subject of Urdu has quite a lot of credits in foreign universities to realize its true worth.
In a majority of educational institutions, English is the official language. Urdu is restricted to one class per day, or at most three times a week. Some schools do ensure that poems of Iqbal are recited in the morning assembly and that elocution and declamation contests are held in Urdu as well. However, certain schools actually impose punishment and fines if they hear students conversing among themselves in Urdu. In such a scenario, one cannot really blame the new generation for imbibing a disparaging attitude towards Urdu.
For most aspiring writers, the attractive language is English – and not just because they are proficient in it. It is generally believed that English journalism and the publishing industry pays more lucratively than the one in Urdu. Of course it does, but then, this has negatively affected the aspirations of those who could have produced wonders in Urdu.
However, one should not feel that all is lost on the Urdu front. There have been some positive developments with the advancement of technology. Following are some of them:
Plays based on novels
In recent years, production houses have started to telecast drama se-