February 21st is observed as the International Mother Language Day to empahasise the importance of mother languages and to explore how they should be promoted. In Pakistan too, the day was observed like elsewhere in the world. The fifth Pakistan Mother Languages Festival kicked off at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts on Friday. Speaking at the event, noted personalities stressed the significance of mother tongue in children’s learning process. They rightly said children learnt fast when they are taught in their mother language. They said all languages should be protected and promoted because the mother tongue reflected culture and heritage.
There are many developed countries in the world like Japan and China where students are imparted instructions in their mother tongue even at the higher level. In order to do this, books on technical and other subjects are translated into local languages on a fast track basis. There is also the need for bringing various linguistic groups closer through translation of books on literature, especially in countries like Pakistan where many languages are spoken. There is also the need for translating books written in regional languages into English, which is widely understood. English translation will also give exposure to our writers at the global level. Unfortunately, in the sphere of translation things are sluggish in Pakistan nor is there much interest among the public to read literature.
There are also complaints that people don’t show enthusiasm for learning regional languages. In this respect, man is like the parrot. It speaks what it hears. People know the names of a few writers and poets and nothing beyond this. It is like, “In the room women come and go, talking of Michael Angelo.” That is, they are totally ignorant of what Michael Angelo did. The study of literature is necessary for good conversation. Speech everyone knows but few know the art of conversation.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2020.
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