By Yeshel Asif
Pakistan is known for its Cultural, Religious and Linguistic diversity. People from various backgrounds speaking different languages and following diverse customs live under one flag. These people preserve their regional identity while being identified as Pakistanis as well. Since, our concern is linguistics and language so we would just hold onto that.
In Pakistan, over 30+ languages are spoken. Urdu is the national language of the country, while Pashto, Punjabi, Balochi and Sindhi being the prominent among regional languages. Unfortunately, as a result of increasing globalization and modernization, some of the regional languages are being neglected and being left in complete isolation. Punjabi being the main victim suffers from neglect due to our false sense of inferiority and the growing cultural invasion.
The growing significance of English is one of the main reasons of the neglect regional languages are suffering from. English is treated as a hallmark of rationality and intelligence while Punjabi and even Urdu are being perceived otherwise. English is standardized as the epitome of superiority. Although knowing a certain language is no standard of superiority. Punjabi is just like any other language in the World, and should be treated with equal substantiality.
Punjabi has a rich and versatile history and outlook. Famous poets and figures like Baba Bulley Shah, Waris Shah, Baba Guru Nanak and Faiz Ahmad Faiz are some prominent names and their works are cherish worthy. Unfortunately, we have been blinded by a false sense of modernization and intellectuality. Modernization doesn’t follow a certain language or a culture, rather it is more of a mindset. Language is a means of communication and it could never showcase superiority.
Even in our households, the younger generations are appreciated when communicating in English, whereas on the contrary, are discouraged when they try to communicate in Punjabi. Many grandparents complain they are compelled to compromise on their language and culture for the sake of child’s future, which somehow depends on the child being well versed in English.
We are currently living in a globalized era. There are hundreds of different cultures and languages and none is superior to another. We should respect and promote our unique and versatile language, rather than blindly following the stereotypes. Punjabi is nothing to be ashamed of. It does not make you inferior. It is your language, your identity and you should be proud of it, and not let anyone tell you otherwise.
This false sense of modernity and intelligence needs to be rubbed off. Punjab Government should introduce Punjabi literature and language in schools and colleges, and parents should be inspired to promote and teach regional languages to their kids too. There is no doubt that English, being a global language, holds immense significance in contemporary World, but it should never be prioritized over your own language. Your national and regional languages represents you.
Be proud of who you are, of where you belong to. Be proud of your country, your region, your language, your skin colour, your background. You are diverse. You are unique. We are unique.
Lets not compromise our identity and erase these false hallmarks of superiority together.