International Mother Language Day: ‘Punjabis reluctant to accept Punjabi as mother tongue’

* Punjabi scholar says Punjabi literature comparable to literature of any other language
By Ali Usman
LAHORE: A large number of Punjabis are reluctant to accept Punjabi as their mother tongue, as they fear they will be considered illiterate if they speak the language, Punjabi intellectuals and scholars said on Friday.

They said the International Mother Language Day, which is being celebrated today, should remind Punjabis of their origins and ancestry. They said locals should take pride in their mother tongue instead of feeling shy of communicating in the language. They said the upcoming census could register Urdu as the mother language of Punjab, as most men had started using Urdu instead of Punjabi, which they feared could lead to invalid data collection.

Punjabi scholars: Talking to Daily Times, noted Punjabi writer and scholar Jameel Paul said the classic Punjabi literature was rich in language and was comparable to literature of other languages. He said the Punjabis of the Indian Punjab looked towards Pakistan for the modern diction of Punjabi, adding that it was our duty to provide the language with new words. He said if Punjabi was taught in primary schools, and if the parents started teaching their children Punjabi instead of Urdu, the language’s future could be bright.

Dr Nasir Rana, a noted Punjabi teacher, said the Punjabis should make their young generation realise the richness of the language. He said Sindhi primary schools gave the students the option to opt for either Sindhi or Urdu. He pointed out that no such option was offered in Punjabi primary schools.

Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture celebrated the day by organising an event titled ‘Maan Boli Dehar’ (Mother Language Day). International Mother Language Day is observed every year by member states of UNESCO, in a bid to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. Daily Times, 21-Feb-09

2 Comments

  1. Tariq Mahmud

    Janab Ishtiaq saab Salama lekum, twaday ais dard bharay article de jawab ch mein ik khat di naqal bhaij rya wan jaira kitray naen chapia balke mein 6,7 hor v khat ais topic tay likhay lekun kise akhbar nein naen chapay , .Tusi menu dusso mein apni maan boli non bachan wastay ki kar sakna wan . Jo khidmat dusso gay mein baja lawan ga lekan ais anmol saqafati virsay non naen maran dyan ga.Twada apna Tariq Mahmud

    To: editor@dawn.com
    Subject: DEATH OF A LANGUAGE
    Date: Sat, 7 Mar 2009 19:40:06 +0000

    Kuldip Nayar Sialkot born renowned Indian journalist recently citing a research report disclosed that Punjabi is a dying language and is bound to meet its destiny in the next 50 years. All kudos to Zind dilan e Punjab in general and Zinda dilan e Lahore specially, whose concerted and deliberate efforts have brought D DAY of Punjabi much earlier than predicted.Tragedy of language of Waaris Shah and Bullay Shah started in late sixties when so called elite class of Lahore and other urban communities started speaking Urdu(which being language of integrity has an undenyable importance in the federation)with the infants at the cost of their mother tongue.There might be some reasons behind this shift but no argument what so ever justifies extinction of a mother tongue which is revered as a sacred heritage universally among the nations. Consequently a complete generation of below forties is now totally oblivious o their mother tongue and almost 80% inhabitants of urban communities specially Lahore(and not a negligible percentage belonging to rural areas of Punjab) have discarded Punjabi at all levels.What a pity that nations take pride in speaking their mother tongue but Punjabis feel ashamed of talking in Punjabi considering it a language of illiterate and uncivilized people.It is high time that authorities at helm of affairs, intellegentia of Punjab and Punjabi loving people come forward to save Punjabi from total elimination from at least our part of globe.If tragic death of Punjabi occurs only Punjabis and none the others will be responsible for this catastrophe. Munir Niazi,s provebially popular verses ‘Kuj unj v rahwan okhian san Kuj dil wich ghum da touq v c. Kuj sher de lok v zalim san Kuj menu maran da shouq v c.’ righteously suits the current situation; that Punjab has symbolically suicidal tendencies and will be (to some extent) responsible for this tragedy while ‘others are also very hostile too. i In my opinion three steps must be taken initially to prevent Punjabi from total extinction 1.People of Punjab should continue communicating in Urdu or English at national level without any prjudice but at the same time should start speaking Punjabi with the people whose mother tongue is Punjabi specially with children. 2 Punjabi and other provincial languages should be given the status of national languages. 3.Learning of Punjabi as a compulsery subject should be started from primary classes. Languages die and their natural death can not be avoided but surely there are remedies to check the suicidal death of a languge. TARIQ MAHMUD 131/F Askari Apartments, Gulberg 3 Lahore.

  2. jojo mahar

    A few months ago, parliamentarians from Sindh forwarded a bill calling for giving the satus of national language to Punjabi, Sindhi, Pushto and Balochi, to a parliamentary committee. Amazingly, the members from Punjab, alongwith Urdu members, came out to be the most vocal opponents of the bill. So, the bill was rejected and couldn’t even be prensented in the parliament for voting

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