KHAIRPUR MIRS: The Sindhi language is one of the oldest languages of the subcontinent. According to Shamsul Ulema Daudpota, it descended from the Virachada dialect of Prakrit. In the early stages, it was written in the ‘Marwari’ and the ‘Devanagri’ script. Later on, it came to be standardised in a script derived from Arabic. Sindhi is rich in mystic poetry, romantic tales and love stories.
There is a Welsh proverb, “A nation without a language is a nation without a heart.” It saddens me when people around me in Sindh speak in English and Urdu instead of Sindhi at schools, colleges, universities, offices, and homes. Pakistan is a multilingual and multicultural country and there is no harm in being bilingual and multilingual. Every language has its own cultural and linguistic value. In Sindh, native speakers themselves are destroying their language by adopting their second language as a means of communication. Sindhi has been the lingua franca of Sindh since times immemorial and it is now being completely neglected. Private schools are depriving their students of learning their first language.
If this system continues without some sort of revitalisation there would be a gradual death of the Sindhi language. Historically, in 1920 and 1940 the Ajawa language was wiped out from Nigeria because entire speakers switched to the Hausa language for economic and practical benefits. As a result, the entire community stopped using their traditional language. Similar can be seen happening with the Sindhi language. There need to be proper systems in place that ensure that local native languages are kept alive. In a global world, we can see that everyone is moving towards a universal language but we need to remember the language of our land. Languages are the part of the culture and when it dies, a part of our culture also dies with it. In Sindh, there are many places where people can learn Chinese, French, Turkish, German and Persian but there is no place where one can learn the Sindhi language. It is the job of the Sindh Culture and Education Department to save the Sindhi language from extinction. Learning Sindhi should be free of cost and strict action should be taken against private schools which deprive their students of learning their provincial language.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2019.