US

The battleground of languages

US
By Savaira Rehman
Fri, 09, 21

The soldiers will continue to hegemonise the land for many more years that would follow, hence promising unrest and mayhem to last....

The battleground of languages

COVER STORY

Two soldiers — English and Urdu — have long been displaying an unsolicited show of their might in the country since the British bid their long-anticipated farewell to the sub-continent. Subsequently, the battleground and its inhabitants have long been suffering at the hands of this farce. The soldiers, however, have been blaming each other ever since to pave their way through. Refusing to even consider ceasefire, the soldiers will continue to hegemonise the land for many more years that would follow, hence promising unrest and mayhem to last.

From the very beginning, the prowess of the English language as the sole means of soaring high in life has rendered the people not only miserably entangled in decoding a non-native asset, but has also made them oblivious to the language they should have proudly owned and employed. Those with opulent backgrounds, smoothly tread their ways into fancy, elite English-medium schools and come out with a new tongue installed. Conversely, those coming from low-income households, after attending non-elite English-medium schools remain bewildered, too. They gain some capability to understand and express themselves in English, but are rarely fluent and grammatically correct. The destitute ones, after disgruntledly been sent to public-sector Urdu-medium schools, consider uttering English an open invitation to being mocked by those who are proficient or better than them.

The divide is further intensified with a varying range of boards — Cambridge, Aga Khan, Federal, Matric, etc. What stems from it is the inevitable segregation of masses into groups that are highly impermeable. Being equipped with English augments one’s chances of being on the winning side of the battle as per the status quo.

In the list of problems you sign up for when living in a battleground of languages, then comes the part when individuals, after they’ve honed the alien means of communication, are accused of giving their own language a cold shoulder. Long been churned in the language mishmash, poor folks are then held responsible for the decline of Urdu. Who once were expected to read Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, and John Keats are now derided for marginalizing Urdu authors and poets.

The battleground of languages

The deeply rooted notion now that Urdu has now become redundant has stripped it of its right and need to be preserved. Though Urdu is still the lingua franca of the country, the adulteration in it with English words and phrases have resulted in its massive retardation. From listening to phrases like ‘Khana finish karo’ at home to uttering ‘scene on karo’ and ‘fit hai’ to friends, Urdu has suffered a lot. The introduction of English into our syllabi at the very start keeps the national language from booming to its fullest. The children who were once confused over ‘banana’ and ‘kela’ grow up only to find themselves translating their lectures delivered in English rather than understanding them. Future leaders of the ‘nation’ are criminally made depleted of any skills altogether of reading, writing and speaking their own national language. The confused sailors of two boats, therefore, seem to be entrapped in an identity crisis; and the most discernible remnant of the colonial hangover doesn’t seem to be departing anytime soon from the crises-laden state. Our national leaders can also be seen ditching the national language on higher platforms. The only use they make of it here and there is limited to the conversational jargon that is drained of any richness of the language whatsoever.

While the narrative of the impediment to the development of Urdu due to the dominance of English is widely debated and bought, the annihilation of other regional languages — Sindhi, Punjabi, Balochi, Pushto — is often overlooked. The country, gradually being disinherited of its national and regional languages, is at the stake of losing any residual traces of its cultural assets.

The battleground of languages

Command over English is now the omnipresent scale for judging one’s literacy. There is only survival of the fittest and now deeming one fit has a lot to do with their English proficiency and rightly so. It would be extremely obtuse of someone to nullify altogether the distinction that English holds when it comes to job prospects and opportunities in the practical world, which renders the narrative of strict confinement to Urdu rather ludicrous. But, honing your colonisers’ language at the expense of your native language should be an idea only suited for laughing off. As of now, the language of our erstwhile masters is ruling the minds of our people. The war between English and Urdu continues, but the eventual outcome is not really in doubt.

The battleground of languages

The debate has long been moved past the stage of determining one language’s superiority over the other, though the required dosage of each above the level of toxicity still demands to be settled. Letting both soldiers fight till eternity and not expecting chaos would only work in a fool’s paradise. A treaty, fine and fair, should be ratified giving fixed rights and power to both the candidates—before the battle results in the killing of any.

The policy of disguising the looming crisis as people’s wrongdoing and hoping for a reversal to the days of glory is lunacy at its finest; and a wisely devised solution is paramount. For starters, admission of this dilapidating crisis on the state-level would do. Though a hard nut to crack, the call for a unified educational system might become a prelude to synchronize the fractured national psyche and tongue.

The battleground of languages

“Go!” is the shortest grammatically correct sentence in English.

There are 24 different English dialects in the U.S.

“Goodbye” originated from the Old English phrase “God be with you”.

The first English dictionary was written in 1755.

The oldest English word still in use today is “town”.

Shakespeare is credited with adding 1,700 words to the English language during his lifetime.

More English words begin with the letter “s” than any other letter.

No words in English rhyme with month, orange, silver, or purple.

Approximately one new word is added to the English language every two hours and around 4,000 new words are added to the English dictionary each year.

“Queueing” is the only word with five consecutive vowels.

The shortest and oldest word is “I”.

English is not the official language of the United States.

The phrase “long time, no see” is a literal translation of a Chinese phrase.

The word “set” has the most definitions in the dictionary.

“Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” is the longest word.

Pilots communicate primarily in English.

“Bookkeeper” is the only word with three consecutive double letters.