‘27 languages face extinction’

Published: March 16, 2011
According to UNESCO, Urdu is the 19th most popular language in the world. DESIGN: SAMAD SIDDIQUI

According to UNESCO, Urdu is the 19th most popular language in the world. DESIGN: SAMAD SIDDIQUI


Around 27 languages spoken in Kashmir, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and surrounding border areas of Pakistan are facing extinction, according to a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Language is the source of communication, education and progress and their (languages) extinction discontinues the transfer of social values to the coming generation and eventually the language is declared to be dead, the report said.

In Pakistan, Punjabi has the highest number of speakers, which are 48 percent of the total population. Sindhi is spoken by 12 per cent of the population, Pashtu and Urdu eight per cent, Balochi three per cent, Hindko two per cent and Barohi one per cent.

The most common languages spoken across the world include Chinese, Spanish, English, Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi and Urdu.

According to a research, Punjabi is ranked 11th and Urdu the 19th most popular language in the world.

A total 6,912 languages are spoken in the world, while 516 have been declared dead languages. However, 36 per cent of the existing languages are endangered and may die soon due to globalisation, the research added.

Talking to APP, Deputy Secretary National Language Authority (NLA) Rashid Hameed said that the NLA is solely dealing with the promotion of Urdu, while some language authorities are working at a provincial level to preserve languages which are in danger of becoming extinct.

Some local language authorities acquire funding from the government and must work for the preservation of the less spoken languages, he said.

Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) Chairman Fakhar Zaman said that all the languages spoken in Pakistan are the national languages of the country. “All languages in the country are Pakistani languages and we should strive to make the mother tongue a part of the curriculum at the primary level,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Sheraz Chaudry
    Mar 16, 2011 - 1:06PM

    Why is hindi called Urdu in Paksitan? What is the difference between two. When we see hindi movies, we hardly find any difference. There are few words which are new, however they too are adding into the dictionery and conversation.
    As per this report punjabi is 11th most spoken language in world as compared to Urdu, than why isn’t Punjabi the national language of Pakistan.
    Sindhi is spoken by 12 % of Pakistanies and Urdu by 8%. So Sindhis is a larger languarge

  • visuvius
    Mar 16, 2011 - 1:21PM

    in subcontinent spoken Urdu/Hindi is 95% is understood by both segments. Hence it is No1 language. The No 2 is Bengali. Punjabi is not in language category. it is a dialect.Recommend

  • muhammad asif
    Mar 16, 2011 - 2:04PM

    the punjabi language is facing extinction as it’s hardly spoken now in lahore,islamabad or faisalabad where the most spoken language by a long way is now urdu.
    For some reason the punjabis have stopped speaking their mother tongue & don’t value their punjabi culture any more.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Mar 16, 2011 - 2:16PM

    why are there only 3 punjabi channels in pakistan when punjab has the highest population?? the languages of the smaller provinces have many more channels when compared with the 3 punjabi channels.

    is it because the younger generation of the punjabis is not proud of who they are or their heritage & languageRecommend

  • sadaf bilwany
    Mar 16, 2011 - 2:18PM

    why don’t the punjabi ppl in karachi speak their language when everyone else: the sindhis,pathans,memons,balochis,urdu speakers etc. speak their mother tongue proudly??

    i’ve observed this only in the punjabi ppl of karachi,not any other community.Recommend

  • saher
    Mar 16, 2011 - 3:06PM

    there are basically 2 differences between hindi and urdu… firstly the script and secondly the vocabulary base… hindi takes its vocabulary base from sanskrit and urdu takes it from persian and arabic. yes we can understand hindi movies and they can understand us because semantics are the same, and in everyday usage we don’t use difficult words.Recommend

  • Aman
    Mar 16, 2011 - 11:58PM

    an ignorant comment: punjabi is not a dialect but a language. Don’t try to be a linguist when you are not one.Recommend

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