With at least 60 languages in Pakistan, the society must realise that a language must be given its due respect regardless of whether its speakers are few in numbers, linguist Dr Tariq Rehman said in his keynote address at the two-day Pakistan Mother Languages Literature Festival.
Speaking about the percentages of speakers of different languages and their numbers he stressed that if a language has few speakers, it must draw attention to preventing it from getting extinct,” he said.
The literature festival, organised by Indus Cultural Forum in collaboration with Lok Virsa and Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) began at Lok Virsa on Saturday. The first day featured discussions on the folk literature of mother languages, discussion of literature and prose of mother languages, print and electronic media in mother languages, why it is important to teach students in their mother language, endangered languages of Pakistan and various other sessions of contemporary trends in Pakistani languages.
Niaz Nadeem from Indus Cultural Forum gave a brief introduction to the festival and different sessions planned for the two days. “I would like to thank Lok Virsa, the schools, volunteers and writers who have supported us and made this event possible,” he said.
Naseer Memon from SPO underlined major objectives behind holding the festival. “Today’s word challenges the beauty of the mother languages. In the past, we have tried to develop an artificial society, which has harmed us more than it has benefited us. It is now time to value all languages of the nation, regardless of whether they are uncommonly used,” he said.
The Chief guest, acclaimed Urdu and Sindhi writer Noorul Huda Shah said that we often host huge literature festivals without representing the endangered languages of Pakistan. “This literature festival, however, is a great effort by everyone. Such a platform where the future generation is gathered with people who speak, write and promote mother languages of Pakistan is significant,” she said.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Executive Director of Lok Virsa Dr Fauzia Saeed said that culture and traditions are embodied in language. “A mother’s rhyme is in the mother language, when we laugh the most it is on jokes that are in mother language, we connect most with people who speak our mother language too,” she said.
She further said that folk culture also exists in mother languages. “In order to preserve folk culture, we need to preserve our mother languages. The beauty of our region lies in the diversity of the mother languages spoken here. It is important to acknowledge the diversity of mother languages in order to truly understand the diversity of the culture of Pakistan,” she said.
Lok Virsa Mandwa Film Club screened Balochi Film “Saawad” directed by Waheed Baloch on the occasion. The festival was attended by writers, linguistics, researchers, youth, students and families.
The festival will continue through Sunday, 21st February 2016.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2016.