Urdu and the bilingual Pakistani

Published: March 4, 2012
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The writer is a director with Hill Road Media and a former editor of the Mumbai-based English newspaper Mid Day and the Gujarati paper Divya Bhaskar 
aakar.patel@tribune.com.pk

The writer is a director with Hill Road Media and a former editor of the Mumbai-based English newspaper Mid Day and the Gujarati paper Divya Bhaskar [email protected]

I wrote a piece a few days ago, about how nasty Pakistan’s Urdu media is. That nastiness is one aspect of it, but there exists another aspect.

There is a very attractive bilingual quality to the urban Pakistani because of his knowledge of Urdu. This comes out in Pakistan’s news television. The urban Indian reads and writes mostly in English, and so speaks a broken version of his mother tongue. In Pakistan, one is likely to find many more people who know Urdu almost as well as they know English.

Watching the television of Pakistan from India, this is immediately clear.

I enjoy watching anchors like Sana Bucha, guests like Salman Akram Raja, and leaders such as Shah Mahmood Qureshi speak. Often, this does not have to do with what they are saying (though it is difficult to disagree with someone like Raja), but how it is said. Sometimes I even enjoy watching the fetching — though otherwise repellant — Meher Bukhari because she has great fluidity of expression.

These people are opposed to those from the English press, who are not so fluid in Urdu on television, like Ejaz Haider and Nasim Zehra. They speak more as Indians do, and must compensate by bringing in English words. Pakistan’s great scholar of languages, Dr Tariq Rahman, says he has no problem with this mixing, either aesthetically or otherwise. I see his point. But I must admit that I like listening to those who can speak cleanly in one language. I had the same feeling when I heard Bangalore’s theatre director Prasanna speak a few months ago at an event where I also spoke. Prasanna spoke in Kannada and though I caught the gist of what he was saying, I could not understand all of it. I did, however, observe that he used not a single word of English in a fluent speech of about 20 minutes, and I found that both remarkable and pleasing.

Why is the Urdu of Pakistanis so attractive? Let me speculate. First, it is relevant.

There is no similar high culture for the urban Gujarati, for instance, to access. Much of his classical poetry was written in the Middle Ages. Some of it, for instance, the writing of Narsinh Mehta, was made popular by Gandhi. But on the whole, there is not much poetry to go to and little that can be recited as a response to the modern world.

It isn’t that there is nothing similar at all in any of our cultures, of course. Tamilians have their Kural, and all languages have their sayings in poetic form. But the sort of corpus that Urdu has accumulated from Ahmedabad’s Wali Mohd Wali to Lahore’s Faiz Ahmed Faiz is, I think, unmatched.

Second, it has more range. Urdu has a multicultural, multi-religious vocabulary, bringing in something of many nations. This gives it a width of experience that can precisely nail a sentiment in a couple of words.

Then there is the matter of how it is spoken. To some — I must include myself in this — the sound of spoken Urdu is pleasing. I mean things like the correctly enunciated qaaf, khay, ghain and ain.

Jinnah thought that Urdu should be the national language of Pakistan, and that Bengali should be recognised but demoted. Whatever his reasons may have been for feeling this, and whatever other fallout of this might have been, we must admit that some of the credit for what we are discussing is his. He himself, so far as I know, spoke formally in Urdu only once, after Partition, in a short speech over Radio Pakistan. I have read it, but not heard it and I do not know what the quality of his diction was.

In India, Hindustani in the Devanagari script became the national language. But far too many of India’s states were distant from Hindi and so it wasn’t really enforceable and so our regional languages have thrived. This has meant that the common medium of communication for urban Indians has remained English alone. In Pakistan, Urdu has permeated and flourished since Partition.

There is one last thing that makes Urdu appealing. It is our language and can better express our emotions than English. Wielding it correctly, as so many Pakistanis do, makes the listener proud of our shared culture.

Perhaps, unfortunately for Pakistan, the only nation that can really appreciate this lovely quality of theirs is not China or America, but India.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (83)

  • MilesToGo
    Mar 4, 2012 - 12:56AM

    You are contradicting yourself. Urdu is Hindi with Arabic and Persian words. You can read some of the work by Dr. Tariq. Google language families and locate where Urdu is – most of the time you will not see it but when you see it, it will be clubbed with Hindi, under the indic branches.

    Now you like Urdu because it mixes various languages but you don’t like English in the mix.

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  • MilesToGo
    Mar 4, 2012 - 12:59AM

    Moreover, Hindi, Persian and English – all are part of one language family.

    Arabic is a different branch all together.

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  • TightChuddi
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:18AM

    Sindhis will soon be trilingual, they will soon speak Chinese and write in Mandarin as all Sindhi schools need to teach it compulsorily by next year.

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  • ishtiaer hussain
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:22AM

    Thanks, Mr Aakar for your insightful article. One great side-effect of the deep penetration of Urdu is that the Urdu media is far more powerful in Pakistan than the English one. If we have to look closely, the Urdu media (which is very ferocious, irrational and emotional) seem to be directing the national discourse on a range of issues of vital importance to a harmful direction. Pakistani English media (which is far more rational, objective and emotionless) have a very limited outreach.

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  • Falcon
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:28AM

    Well said. Language carries within it the genetic code of cultural values. For example, in English, there is only one word for uncle, while in our South Asian languages such as Urdu, there are many more depending on the type of relationship, example being maamoon, chachaa, taayaa, phoophaa, etc. Essentially, it points to the fact that South Asian societies pay a lot of attention to the nature of relationships, subtleties of relational communication, and expected responsibilities.

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  • Pak Hindu
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:42AM

    It’s should be said “fortunately”
    not “unfortunately” at the end of the article. Unless the writer here trying to be “sarcastic”?
    After-all we watch Indian & it’s natural they like to watch our’s too.
    The fact is: Together we have not only built the “Urdu” language but the history and culture it too.

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  • Talha
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:57AM

    Jinnah’s decision to have Urdu as a national language was a brilliant decision and one that had a lot of thought behind it.

    Urdu as you have stated “has a multicultural, multi-religious vocabulary” and this is the reason why it was so suitable for Pakistan. A language of a specific ethnic group would have resulted in inter-ethnic friction and would have resulted in more problems.

    Another thing about Urdu is that it allowed us to have a linguistic link with India. As Jinnah wanted close relations between the two neighbors, a language that is understood across the border by a high percent of people allowed us to continue to share culture, arts etc.

    Your article is excellent and you have a lot of knowledge about our country. Please keep up your good work on this website.

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  • H A KHAN
    Mar 4, 2012 - 2:07AM

    love to read this article….By the way i myself can’t speak Urdu fluently..

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  • Shoaib Malkera
    Mar 4, 2012 - 2:08AM

    A well described article.
    Urdu is definitely the language that shares the common culture of India. It was never a matter of conflict, but we made it so. Hope that more and more people understands it.
    I would love to see if the glory of this beautiful language revives in India. Delhi and Lakhnow have been her motherlands.

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  • Raj
    Mar 4, 2012 - 2:47AM

    @Akaar – I have my own respect for Urdu poetry and literature but I beg to differ with you when you say that it is unmatched in comparison to literary works in other Indian languages. Bengali has been a tremendously rich language and the number of legendary literary works and as well as number of legendary authors and poets in Bengali especially during the British India and even till the late 20th century was simply overwhelming. Tamil and Malayali literature has always been super rich with intensity and depth. Similarly you will find great literary works in Marathi and Punjabi. Not to say that other languages were lagging behind , infact they surely have their own examples. A change in the last decade that India particularly has observed is that it’s brightest minds are now more and more writing in English and less in their mother tongues.

    The advantage that Urdu got was that since it was a language of the Elite during Mughal era especially in the 17th-18th century, it received proper state patronage by the then Sultans and Kings who helped the language to flourish as well as increased it’s popularity and acceptability within the mass.

    My point is not to demean Urdu or prove that in a scale of 10 if Urdu is x then there are other languages from Indian subcontinent which are x+1 or x+2. I really don’t have the calibre to come up with such measurements. All I want to convey is that each language has it’s own set of pillars and your article should not give a sense of complacency to some that Urdu is far superior than others which unfortunately if happens will only be because of their ignorance.

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  • PakiKaka
    Mar 4, 2012 - 2:56AM

    Due to the British rule, we have this feeling instilled in us that they are superior to us and they have left us with their language which is still a sign of prestige in our countries. Though you’re right, Pakistan is better in this regard than India as we are still better at our national language, but let me assure you, it is fast fading. Don’t believe me, come over to Pakistan and see young mothers talking to their 2 to 3 year old children in English as if it’s their mother tongue, I don’t understand this complex. Why put so much burden on the young mind. He/ she is going to learn English anyway in school. Let them talk in their national language and don’t deprive them of it. My parents never spoke to me in English and i can say with reasonable conviction i speak fluent and correct English. I hope better sense prevails in both India and Pakistan regarding this matter. Thank you for writing this article.

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  • amit
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:06AM

    , unfortunately for Pakistan, the only nation that can really appreciate this lovely quality of theirs is not China or America, but India.**you are right sir only india appreciate this beautiful language .but sir i saw their talk show and i am unable to understand many of the words in their talk show same in some bollywood urdu songs.and i am from hindi state .i think only 10-15% indians understand urdu language vary well but i like old urdu bollywood songs .urdu is vary beautiful language

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  • Cynical
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:19AM

    What a tribute to a beautiful (words at times seem to be so inadequate) language.
    Thanks Aakar.

    Regards.

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  • hammad
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:25AM

    As a kid, I always flet uneasy at the use of Urdu in India for poetry and celebrating Urdu poets, thinking it was for propaganda. As I interacted with more Indians, I flet proud as I realized their love and respect for Urdu. Even though my parents never emphasised learning it, I have made it a matter of honor to improve my skills, enough to understand what Faiz wrote.

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  • Mir Agha
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:30AM

    Most youngin’ Pakis can’t complete a full sentence of urdu without a smattering of english. Nothing wrong with that, the stronger languages (ones that have utility) will go on while the “sweet” ones will be relegated to poetry and academia. The reason for urdu being strong is that it is relatively easy for the diverse peoples of Pakistan to communicate in with each other. Also, despite the tired attempts of “scholars” to make urdu out to be a secular construct, it is inherently a “muslim” moghul-derived language; extremely important from an identity pov. You can see that with muslims in india being able to conversate in urdu from up all the way down to tamil nadu.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:38AM

    Indians like to speaks and learn Urdu but since it is connected with pakistan they dont wanna
    do it what a irony they forgets JANAM POOMI of urdu is U.P india not khyber pukhtunistan.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:50AM

    And world peoples knows how india speaks Engleesh with very thick accent really laughable

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  • Raj
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:53AM

    @Akaar – I have my own respect for Urdu poetry and literature but I beg to differ with you when you say that it is unmatched in comparison to literary works in other Indian languages. Bengali has been a tremendously rich language and the number of legendary literary works and as well as number of legendary authors and poets in Bengali especially during the British India and even till the late 20th century was simply overwhelming. Tamil and Malayali literature has always been super rich with intensity and depth. Similarly you will find great literary works in Marathi and Punjabi. Not to say that other languages were lagging behind , infact they surely have their own examples. A change in the last decade that India particularly has observed is that it’s brightest minds are now more and more writing in English and less in their mother tongues.

    The advantage that Urdu got was that since it was a language of the Elite during Mughal era especially in the 17th-18th century, it received proper state patronage by the then Sultans and Kings who helped the language to flourish as well as increased it’s popularity and acceptability within the mass.

    My point is not to demean Urdu or prove that in a scale of 10 if Urdu is x then there are other languages from Indian subcontinent which are x+1 or x+2. I really don’t have the calibre to come up with such measurements. All I want to convey is that each language has it’s own set of pillars and your article should not give a sense of complacency to some that Urdu is far superior than others which unfortunately if happens will only be because of their ignorance.

    Recommend

  • Mar 4, 2012 - 3:58AM

    “He (Jinnah) himself, so far as I know, spoke formally in Urdu only once, after Partition, in a short speech over Radio Pakistan. I have read it, but not heard it and I do not know what the quality of his diction was.”

    Well Mr. Patel, this ought to give you a good idea of the our founder’s diction : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-HfOCcZ5oY

    On a rather lighter note, they say Jinnah ended his short speech on June 3rd, 1947 with the words “Pakistan Zindabad!” (Long Live Pakistan!), though to some listeners it sounded as “Pakistan’s in the bag!”

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  • Arpit
    Mar 4, 2012 - 4:16AM

    I disagree with Author’s assertion that having a single language did any benefit to the urdu per say. India is such a diverse country that each state has it’s own language. Forcing a language on people whom they don’t have affinity is like caging a bird. You are killing freedom of that person to talk in his language of mother and that is one of the reasons for partition of Pakistan. Secondly, you have killed the diversity in your society by imposing a language. I would also argue that forcing a language decreases tolerance level as anyone who doesn’t speak urdu will now be looked down upon as second class citizen. Languages must be saved from intrusion of English but there are better ways to do that.

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  • bingo
    Mar 4, 2012 - 4:30AM

    @Ali Tanoli.. You are wrong.. Indians don’t want to learn Urdu because it is associated with Pakistan but because Urdu, unfortunately, some how got the tag of being a Muslim mother tongue. Most of the Indian Muslims, even from South India prefer Urdu over local languages.. I have many Muslims friends(from Andhra) who speak/always want to speak in Urdu rather than in Telugu…

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  • Babloo
    Mar 4, 2012 - 6:03AM

    I know Punjabi, Urdu and Bengali and can speak fluently in all. Bengali , sanskrit based, is astoundingly rich and beautiful language with a treasure trove of literature and poetry. I doubt if Mr A patel, knows any Bengali.

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  • Alam siddiqui
    Mar 4, 2012 - 6:56AM

    Hmm…. Urdu (and it’s sister) Hindi are Indian languages from the gangetic delta, a descendant of khariboli, which in turn is a descendedant of Sanskrit. Urdu has nothing to do with the land area currently associated with Pakistan!! We linguist think of hindi and Urdu as an dialects of the same language (more technically called registers of the same language). Like many myths devoid of reason, we keep sustaining these fictional stereotypes about Urdu and the losers are the true Pakistani languages of punjabi, sindhi, seraiki, brahui, Hindko, pushtu, etc.

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  • vasan
    Mar 4, 2012 - 7:01AM

    “But far too many of India’s states were distant from Hindi and so it wasn’t really enforceable and so our regional languages have thrived.”
    Well the central govt tried to enforce Hindi as a national language in 1962-65. But the vigorous opposition made sure that it wasnt enforced. Thank god, Language issue did not split India like it split Pakistan. People do learn mother tongue and english. In many states there are migrants from other states as well. They end up familiarizing with 2 or 3 languages in addition to English. There is nothin wrong with that.
    Ali Tanoli : Your generalisation is stupid. If you add up bengalis and south indians, they form a sizable majority who dont speak hindu. Why would India in general want to speak in urdu. If they are all forced to do, then their english would be like yours.
    We thank Nehru for reverting back to 2 national language formula, one of them being english.

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  • Mar 4, 2012 - 7:13AM

    In Pakistan, Urdu has permeated and flourished since Partition.

    Two reasons that come to mind are that one, after partition the all-powerful civil bureaucracy belonged to, by-and-large, the Urdu speaking community. And two, that the Punjabi populace (second largest then, but still powerful) sacrificed, in written script at least, their own Punjabi language for Urdu. And the fact that Urdu and Punjabi are similar languages helped.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Mar 4, 2012 - 7:16AM

    @vasan
    English is not indian mother bhoomi lang but u guys dont hate em it is actualy foriegn enforced lang why u guys are so in love with english man Ghulam Ibn Ghulam.
    And i heard and know how indians brothers speak engleesh in thick funny accent.

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  • Mar 4, 2012 - 7:18AM

    @ Babloo

    It is not a competition. It doesn’t have to be. Both (all) the languages are rich and beautiful, after-all they are a reflection of the culture of their speakers.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Mar 4, 2012 - 7:28AM

    We are Hinko speaker peoples from khyber pakhtunistan but we speak Urdu only.

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  • unbeliever
    Mar 4, 2012 - 7:52AM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    how the accent of a pakistani is better?
    do they have their own british accent?

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  • American urdu
    Mar 4, 2012 - 9:08AM

    Its a shame gujaratis dont have an evolved linguistic culture. They are generally not very well educated people, so that may the reason. They have always been ruled over by muslims so that could be another reason. Other indian groups like bengalis and tamils, kannadigas, marathis etc generlly speak very pure forms of their language; and they do it with panache and elegance. Gujarati should be banned in india and it should be repalced by urdu since gujurati is a useless language. By the way, bengali is richer than urdu. I find a lot of gujaratis are impressed with proper urdu sounds because their own pronunciation skills are very poor and they sound like rustics. Sorry. Recommend

  • sarita talwai
    Mar 4, 2012 - 9:37AM

    In India ,as in Pakistan, English is the language of progress.Thanks to the booming retail industry,employees are speaking to and mixing with socially different classes and becoming more comfortable with using the language.Thus,English is fast losing its snob value and is now considered a link language,a role that Hindi could not adequately perform.

    We now consider English an Indian language and we have chutnified it to suit our needs.So we have Tanglish ,Hinglish,Punglish..etc .Language is ever evolving to suit newer needs.

    One should never forget that the primary objective of any language is to communicate.In today’s world it is more important to have a working knowledge of more languages than perfection in one.

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  • vasan
    Mar 4, 2012 - 9:43AM

    Ali Tanoli : You have taken a wrong stand on Indians not speaking Urdu. And u sidetrack about Indians’ english accent. First and foremost, you must understand that language is a medium of communication and it is upto one’s interest and desire to learn and practice a language as he seems fit in the environment he or she lives. Indians in general have contributed a lot to the english vocabulary. One need not have a love/hate relationship to a language just because it has foreign origins or not. One must think practically how it is going to benefit learning a language and using it in addition to the mother tongue. Just for the love of mother tongue, one need not hate other languages or one should shun it. If u do, I repeat, one can never master the language, like your english. So better get out of hate mentality and learn english first.

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  • Mustafa Moiz
    Mar 4, 2012 - 10:23AM

    Why was the last line required?

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  • arjun
    Mar 4, 2012 - 10:31AM

    comparing India with monoreligious pakistan and saying india cold not follow single religion is foolish!!! The diversity of India is much more than islamic world put together. Recommend

  • MilesToGo
    Mar 4, 2012 - 11:50AM

    For some reason my comment did not get published – lets see if this one gets published –

    Research language families and language tree – see where Urdu, Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic belong
    Find out what different languages make Urdu
    Think why or why not can Urdu be called a pure language
    Then think why the author does like one mixed language but does not like further mixing
    Then google evolution of languages…
    Then conclude if or not the author is contradicting himself
    Above is not just for the readers, author can do this simple research as well
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  • Mirza
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:19PM

    @Alam siddiqui: You wrote “Urdu (and it’s sister) Hindi are Indian languages from the gangetic delta, a descendant of khariboli, which in turn is a descendedant of Sanskrit.”
    I agree 100% with you. There is no boundary or lines between these two languages. In fact most people understand each other when people go from one country to the other. I have been told by many Indians in India “that my Hindi is very clean and good” while I spoke Urdu. Not to start a long discussion with strangers I usually replied I am from Aligarh even though I have never even visited Aligarh. The main difference in Urdu and Hindi is the way we write. We cannot read each other’s writings otherwise we speak the same language. There is a small difference in the words we prefer to speak when we have multiple choices. The sad thing is we cannot read and write each other’s letters. However, good news is with the advent of computers now most young people write in Roman English and that breaks down the walls between the two languages.

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  • Mar 4, 2012 - 1:41PM

    “In India, Hindustani in the Devanagari script became the national language”

    I would like to highlight it here as an Indian who does not speak Hindi, that Hindi never become “the national language”, an attempt was made and it failed spectacularly.Now India does not have a national language similar to the case where India does not have a state-religion. India only has official languages, Indian central government has 2 official languages – English & Hindi. State Governments have their own official languages example Tamil Nadu – its Tamil & English. Maharashtra it is – Marathi & English..so on

    Being Indian does not mean speaking Hindi :)
    India is agnostic and secular as far as religion and language are concerned. I feel that is the right path too…

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  • Ak
    Mar 4, 2012 - 1:43PM

    @Ali Tanoli:

    And world peoples knows how india speaks Engleesh with very thick accent really laughable

    LOL. You are hilarious Ali Tanoli. Just read it again and you will know why i am saying that. :-)

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  • Cynical
    Mar 4, 2012 - 2:31PM

    @Mustafa Moiz

    ‘Why was the last line required?’

    It’s about choice.You can either read the last line or read what is there above the ‘last line’.

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  • observer
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:05PM

    @Ali Tanoli

    And world peoples knows how india speaks Engleesh with very thick accent really laughable

    Well, at least the Indian peoples do not write Engleesh with a thick accent. Thank God for small mercies.

    We are Hinko speaker peoples from khyber pakhtunistan but we speak Urdu only.

    Brother, if you are a Hindko speaker then how can you claim to speak Urdu only.

    And if you speak Urdu only then you are not a Hindko speaker.

    Further,I presume you write but don’t speak English as you speak Urdu only.

    OR, Perhaps being logical does not suit you.

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  • harkol
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:51PM

    hmm.. Liguistic puritanism?

    Let’s see. Akar refers to Kannada Being spoken without using a single English word. In linguistic classification, English belongs to Indo-European language family.

    Kannada Language belongs to Dravidian Family And Sanskrit belongs to Indo-European!! And, Kannada is littered with Sanskrit words.

    How pure is that?

    There is nothing called a pure language. As long as someone make themselves understood clearly and can speak lucidly, the purpose of language is served – which is to express oneself.

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  • Abhi
    Mar 4, 2012 - 4:00PM

    english media in India, They may be high in getting advertisements but circulation wise they stand no where infront of Hindi and other Indian languages. Times of India, the most read english newspaper is at number 11 in national readership survey. Top 10 slots are taken by hindi, tamil, bengali, telugu, marathi and gujrati language newspapers.Recommend

  • unbeliever
    Mar 4, 2012 - 4:03PM

    @Ali Tanoli:

    We are Hinko speaker peoples from khyber pakhtunistan but we speak Urdu only.

    so forgetting your roots is a matter of pride for you. it’s because of people like you that such a beautiful language, as your mother tongue, will one day vanish from this earth.

    though hindi is commonplace in northern part, yet whenever i have opportunity i prefer to speak in AWADHI, my mothertongue, a dialect of hindi spoken in regions of erstwhile OUDH around lucknow.

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  • ather
    Mar 4, 2012 - 5:48PM

    all languages of pakistan should be respected and give proper care. urdu is our national language but in provinces proper education on pashto,sindhi and balochi should be applied. these language s also have great history.

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  • Observer
    Mar 4, 2012 - 6:51PM

    @Bingo .. The mother tongue of muslims of andhra is urdu. its not telugu. this is in quite contrast to the states of tamil nadu and kerala where the muslims there speak tamil and malayalam respectively. in these 2 states, the muslims were actually tamils and mallus who converted to islam, in various stages. in the case of andhra, the muslims are a remnant of nizam. the andhra muslims came to andhra region along with nizam and stayed back. so they speak urdu as their mother tongue rather than native telugu. however, to my observation the deccan area muslims do not assimilate with native telugus. they have ghettoized themselves and so are mostly marginalized. where as those muslims from the rest of the areas of andhra state, they assimilate with other telugus to most extent and as a result of that they are more educated, open minded and less poverty among their community as compared to hyderabad muslims. the hyderabad muslims are like odd man out in a crowd, as they dont speak telugu as fluent as the rest of the people do.

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  • Gul
    Mar 4, 2012 - 7:02PM

    @Talha:
    Sir Agha Khan has advised in his famous speech in 1951 not to adopt Urdu as national language in Pakistan. He argued that Urdu is the language of divisions and has been associated with the downfall of Muslim rule in sub continent. It has divided first India in 1947, and then Pakistan in 1971. Again Urdu is one of the major reason of divisions in Pakistani society.

    Is Urdu a separate language in its own right or just another name of Hindustani / Hindi language with a Persian script is yet to be proven. As the Hindi/Urdu controversy still exists over 150 years. Will the Urdu pass the test of history as a separate language than Hindi is a diminishing prospect.

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  • Maria Sadoon
    Mar 4, 2012 - 7:13PM

    Brilliant Ending.

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  • Mario
    Mar 4, 2012 - 7:18PM

    Indian Hindi is a very flexible language with many overlapping registers. It can accomodate english words very easily which makes its use very dynamic and at the same it draws from sanskrit very naturally and effortlessly which gives it a wonderful cultural and systemic stabilty.

    Urdu is basically an islamized version of hindi hence it does not have the same appeal for people today except if they are shayirs or chauvinists.

    Hindi is today the third most widely practised/spoken language in the world in terms of the number of people (native and non native speakers) using/understanding/communicating it.It comes in right after english and mandarin chinese. The sheer numbers give it great strength and importance even as its footprint and appeal continue to grow significantly in the global age. Once india becomes a permanent member of the un security council, devanagari hindi will be added to the list of the six UN world languages and will be promoted better by indian as well as foreign governments, universities and agencies.

    India does not “officially” have one single national language, but hindi is today india’s defacto national language — along with english. Look at an indian currency note. While it lists the value in all of the indian languages in small print, it displays hindi and english in the main, on both the sides. With regard to the position and status of hindi, the rupee says it all.

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  • Ravi
    Mar 4, 2012 - 7:23PM

    Never understood why Pakistan adopted Urdu as the national language, when by their own admission, only 8% of Pakistanis can actually speak it? The most rational basis of a national language is the most widely used NATIVE language, and hence Punjabi should have been its national language.Recommend

  • Rohit
    Mar 4, 2012 - 9:07PM

    urdu is not a natural langauge in true sense and also it is only poetical refined, its prose is heavy and too ornate. therefore in real life the urdu is very close to spoken hindi. Urdu as official language couldnt even survive for 100 years. The hindi has been down graded by both Muslim rulers and English and subsequently by english speaking elite of urban india, same population which is not fluent in hindi and thinks that hindi doesnt have enough vocabulary. Recommend

  • kaalchakra
    Mar 5, 2012 - 12:25AM

    Rohit, it’s not just Hindi. The wise moderators of Express Tribune chose not to publish my last post simply stating so, but Aakar is simply ignorant of the diversity of literatures in India’s native tongues, be they Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Malyalam, or other. Probably, Gujrati is a bit rustic, unrefined, and underdeveloped, as someone else mentioned. So, at best, Aakar is articulating his personal situation.

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  • An immigrant in the UK
    Mar 5, 2012 - 1:07AM

    The beauty of Urdu is not only in the written word but the spoken word as well. It is very nice that Jinnah wanted to adopt Urdu as the national language. This too is very good and indeed natural that Pakistanis speak Urdu. The difficulty is that the majority of Pakistanis speak Urdu with a Punjabi accent and that really kills the beauty of the language. The Urdu of Ghalib and other scholars in India – mainly from Delhi and UP – was the language that sounded supreme and even today in places like Lucknow the spoken word is lovely to hear. However long may Urdu continue to be spoken in India and Pakistan in whatever dialect.

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  • Talha
    Mar 5, 2012 - 2:47AM

    @Gul:

    Sir Aga Khan advised Arabic as the national language which would have been disastrous for this nation.

    Its not the language that causes divisions, its the people.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Mar 5, 2012 - 4:03AM

    Indias could not wiped of Urdu from india after so much hate against arabic letters Urdu is still ruled the Bollywood.

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  • Mar 5, 2012 - 4:40AM

    @Antebellum:

    “In Pakistan, Urdu has permeated and flourished since Partition.
    Two reasons that come to mind are that one, after partition the all-powerful civil bureaucracy belonged to, by-and-large, the Urdu speaking community. And two, that the Punjabi populace (second largest then, but still powerful) sacrificed, in written script at least, their own Punjabi language for Urdu. And the fact that Urdu and Punjabi are similar languages helped.”

    Maulana Mohammad Hussain Azad, Hafiz Jalandhari, Manto, Rajindar Singh Bedi, Krishan Chandar, Mohmmad Iqbal, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Shafiqur Rahman, Ahmad Nadim Qasmi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Taseer, Patras Bokhari, N M Rashid, Ram Laal, Chiragh Hassan Hasrat, Imtiaz Ali Taj, Ashfaq Ahmad, Jagan Nath Azad, Hafiz Hushyarpuri, Amjad Islam Amjad, Ibn-e-Insha, Mumtaz Mufti, Wazir Agha, Abid Ali Abid, Hakim Ahmad Shuja, Sufi Tabassum, Tilok Chand Marhoom ….etc are a few writers, poets, critics who hailed from Panjab. This is a list of just a handful, many of whom died even before the name Pakistan came into being.
    Akhtar Shirani has proposed a thesis insisting that Urdu was in fact born in Panjab.

    Sacrifice? Which sacrifice are you talking about?
    Illahabad(Allahbad) had the biggest number of colleges before1947, the second biggest concentration of institutes of learning was in Lahore. Allahabad had almost a monopoly in printing text-books in English while Lahore printed Urdu text-books.

    Before making absurd claims of any sort, not just about languages, it may be beneficial to open a book or two on the subject. Please go back to the events of history, why Urdu became associated with culture of the urbanised Muslims of the subcontinent.Recommend

  • Aligarian
    Mar 5, 2012 - 4:47AM

    One should be glad that Urdu language was given home in Pakistan. Now beside many Pak languages Urdu is spoken and understood by everyone in Pakistan. There is no place in Pakistan where anyone has a reservation against speaking Urdu. Urdu has so much Persian, Arabic, Bangla, Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Sanskrit, English and many other local words that it will be injustice with historic evolution of a cultural language like Urdu to eliminate it from existence just to make room for the new Indian name “Hindi”. Urdu is even recognized in Indian Universities as a separate language and degrees as high as PhD are offered here.

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  • MilesToGo
    Mar 5, 2012 - 6:24AM

    Urdu is an un-islamic language, same as Persian. Both Urdu and Persian do not belong to the Arabic family of languages.

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  • Akhtar
    Mar 5, 2012 - 7:41AM

    Why not promote Arabic in Pakistan? Most Pakistanis really want to learn as it helps in understanding islam!Recommend

  • Helmand
    Mar 5, 2012 - 7:58AM

    @Ali Tanoli

    I thought Hindkos spoke Pashto and Urdu. FYI Urdu, Farsi and Arabic is taught in Indian Universities like Aligarh Muslim University and other Universities across India. I bet you can get a better education in the above languages in India as opposed to your beloved Pakistan. Stop your ignorant and incoherent ramblings.

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  • Mar 5, 2012 - 8:36AM

    @MilesToGo:
    “Urdu is an un-islamic language, same as Persian. Both Urdu and Persian do not belong to the Arabic family of languages.”

    I can’t question your IQ, I am anxious to know whether these objects belong to Islamic family?

    Date Palm
    Sand
    Caves
    Square shaped buildings
    Gold
    Camels
    Sun Glasses
    Musk
    Kohl

    Who would like to commit sin?

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  • kaalchakra
    Mar 5, 2012 - 3:10PM

    Abid khan Sahib, of that list, square shaped buildings existed, and we see too many sun glasses in unIslamic places like the beaches, but the following are clearly Islamic:

    Date Palm
    Sand
    Caves
    Camels
    Musk
    Kohl
    Green color
    Moon

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  • Cynical
    Mar 5, 2012 - 10:34PM

    @kaalchakra

    Thanks for adding ‘Moon’ to the list.But it also brought back a painfull memory from the days bygone; 21st July,1969 when two infidels (American, who else!) Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin desecrated the sacred Moon by stepping on it.Didn’t even bother to take their boots off.If there is one instance of US’s depravity, more repulsive than Abu Ghraib, then it is ‘manned landing on moon’.

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  • Haq B.
    Mar 5, 2012 - 10:45PM

    Ha ha!
    The respondents here are turning this “replies” section into a tit-for-tat comedy competition.

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  • Mar 5, 2012 - 10:51PM

    @Cynical:

    “Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin desecrated the sacred Moon by stepping on it.”

    You are telling half of the story only. Buzz never came back, he was sucked in that cleavage between the two parts. Armstrong returned, reverted as a Muslim.

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  • unbeliever
    Mar 5, 2012 - 11:03PM

    @Cynical:

    Thanks for adding ‘Moon’ to the list.But it also brought back a painfull memory from the days bygone; 21st July,1969 when two infidels (American, who else!) Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin desecrated the sacred Moon by stepping on it.Didn’t even bother to take their boots off.If there is one instance of US’s depravity, more repulsive than Abu Ghraib, then it is ‘manned landing on moon’.

    huh, are u graduate? or shall i say have you read beyong 6th grade?

    because even a child knows moon does not have atmosphere and stepping outside your suit may be your last mistake.

    @Abid P. Khan:

    . Armstrong returned, reverted as a Muslim.

    well this is indeed a plain lie. why not use the net available to you to search and find that it’s a hoax.

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  • Mar 6, 2012 - 2:56AM

    @bingo:
    Bingo if that is your name. For your info, not only muslims but people like us from the Telangana region can speak Urdu because of the Nizam’s influence. Now your home work for today is to read about what are the cities which come under Telangana? Also I did my graduation and PG from Osmania medical college and most of our professors although they were Hindus spoke good urdu, because medicine was taught in Urdu once upon a time in Hyderabad !

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  • Mar 6, 2012 - 4:09AM

    @American urdu:
    OK American Urdu I will give you some home work for now! Although I am a Marathi I like this gujju singer. He sang beautiful Hindi songs and of course urdu gazals as well and one of his Hindi [almost the entire song is in Urdu] songs has these lyrics ‘Baharon ne mera chaman loot kar’ you can find it in youtube. Now tell us who this Gujju singer is ? He passed away some time ago but his grandson is a famous Indian actor. After listening to this song you will change your opinion! Dont forget your homework chokra !!

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  • Mar 6, 2012 - 4:12AM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    First learn the spelling of English, Baba Tanoli! Is Feroze Khan related to you?If he is I take my comment back!!

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  • Mar 6, 2012 - 4:22AM

    @sarita talwai:
    I dont agree with you! Once upon a time in Hyderabad [India] you were considered a Jaahil if you could not speak Persian and very low if you had no knowledge of urdu. If you think that language is a means of communication you dont know what you are missing! And if you don’t understand Urdu then what have you done with your life? Big mistake! It’s never too late! The film star Rekha was a Tamilian and she learnt Urdu and just watch her in Umrao Jaan! She won the president’s national award for this movie! I can go on and on! This lifetime is not enough to learn this dream language! I will dream on….. and listen and watch all those ghazals, thumris, dadras etc etc!

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  • kaalchakra
    Mar 6, 2012 - 4:57AM

    It would be great to hear from any other Indian Gujrati Hindus, if they are here. Is this concept of Gujrati as an unrefined, underdeveloped language and love for Pakistani urdu a common feature among the community? It’s a little hard to believe.

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  • kaalchakra
    Mar 6, 2012 - 8:58AM

    Hey Priyanka, isn’t marathi similar to Gujrati?

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  • American urdu
    Mar 6, 2012 - 11:00AM

    @kaalchakra:
    Marathi is just as crude as gujarati.

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  • Mar 6, 2012 - 5:19PM

    @American urdu:

    “Marathi is just as crude as gujarati.” I am assuming that you meant the way it sounds in your ears.

    GB Shaw, a very clever person from the last century, has discussed the subject in great detail. Inconsistency of English spellings was one of his pet subjects, resulting in his version of spellings. Getting back to the subject, the play Pygmalion illustrates how pronunciation of English words reflected social class. In My Fair Lady, the movie version of Pygmalion, Professor Higgins takes a flower girl, with a broad London accent and manners, coaches her, finally to be presented to the crème de la crème of London society, where Elisa (Audrey Hepburn) passes off as a person of high pedigree.

    Proper Urdu behooves that every letter is pronounced distinctly. One has to do justice to shin & qaaf. This attributes to its crispness. In Urdu proper, one can not slur. However, it does not rule out the existence of a street version, where slurring plays an important role.

    Both English and Urdu have the capacity to absorb words from other languages and then using them, applying own rules. Webster lists 92 languages as the source of its lexicon. Comparatively, Urdu has far less borrowings.

    A slight digression. Arabic is not that pure. Arabic has generously borrowed words from many other languages, such as Hebrew, Greek, Persian and Syriac in early centuries, Turkish in medieval times and contemporary European languages in modern times.
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  • Mar 6, 2012 - 6:20PM

    @Observer:
    So you say Hyderabadi muslims are marginalised and ghettoized. Refrain from using this bizarre language. Find out who Shabana Azmi, Tabbu, Farha Naaz, Maqbool Mohiuddin, Nizam of Hyderabad Osman ali Khan, Salar Jung etc etc were and which ghetto of Hyderabad did they come from? So the muslims of Dakkan ar marginalised are they? that’s why they get national awards etc etc. I am ashamed that you speak this. We don’t want to stay with you Andhra Pradesh. I request all readers on this forum to go to the history of Telangana and how we people overnight were asked to be a part of a state called Andhra Pradesh and the tragedy that followed! You can google it gentlemen and ladies and decide for yourself as to how the Muslims and Hindus of Hyderabad were cheated.

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  • Cynical
    Mar 6, 2012 - 6:25PM

    @American urdu

    Looks like you are quite proficient in both ‘Marathi’ and ‘Gujrati’ but may be not so in ‘English’.

    Languages are either more, or less evolved, but never ‘CRUDE’.

    By the way I am neither a Marathi, nor a Gujrati.

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  • American urdu
    Mar 6, 2012 - 8:20PM

    @Dr Priyanka:
    Proud to be ruled over by muslims, eh?

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  • American urdu
    Mar 6, 2012 - 8:31PM

    @Cynical:
    I know you are not gujrati or marathi. If you are mohajir refugee or tallygoo im sure, no shame in that.
    @i disagree, pashto is also very sounding crude. And urdu people slurs all the time. Clarity or slurring is possible in every language. Urdu is not extra special in that respect. Ask bernard shaw and read mrs. Warren’s profession after you finish my fair lady.

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  • Ex-Gujju
    Mar 6, 2012 - 8:46PM

    @ Aakar Patel: This problem of Gujarati language dying has been there for couple of centuries now. Maan bhatt Premanand, a contemporary of poet Naarmad wrote “Abey-tabey ka 12 anna ane Gujarati na shun-shaan paisa chaar” .(12 annas for Urdu and 4 paisa for Gujarati). But Gujarati is still here, while pure Gujarati may not exist in day to day use; there are plans to simplify grammar and certain spellings to make easier for people to write it.Recommend

  • Zubair Torwali
    Mar 6, 2012 - 8:51PM

    “In Pakistan, Urdu has permeated and flourished since Partition.”

    Both Urdu and English in Pakistan flourished since partition at the cost of other regional and native languages. The worst victim among them is Punjabi, Pakistan largest language and Pashto the second largest language.

    Pakistan has over sixty languages besides Urdu and English but all of them are fast declining due to our forefathers’ obsession of Urdu only policy.
    That policy was misplaced and is based in the fear that giving due status to other ethnicities and languages Pakistan would break.

    Since the very inception Pakistan is in perpetual denial of its rich cultural and linguistic diversity.

    To me every language is the collective public property of its speakers and non speakers.

    I like Urdu because Ghalib and Faiz wrote in it; I like Bangla because Tagore wrote in it; I like Pashto because Ghani Khan and Rehman Baba wrote in it BUT I love Torwali because the firts word I was able to utter was in Torwali.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Mar 7, 2012 - 2:43AM

    @Dr Priyanka
    Yes feroz khan sahab family is from Tanoli tribe too but they are from upper side of terbela area its far from us and we dont have any relation with those side peoples but same family name. and i will say jaye hyderabad.

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  • Mar 10, 2012 - 7:57AM

    @Ali Tanoli:
    Thanks

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  • Mar 14, 2012 - 5:52PM

    [Bilingualism and Your Brain]1

    Chauvinists of every colour and variety have a propensity to hijack every discussion here and elsewhere too. Totally, irrelevant and unintelligible statements reeking of bias and unscientific thinking are simply dumped.

    It reflects a society, which has ended further down on the food chain. I hope the article on bilingualism in The Guardian (link above) will inspire some of you to seek further.

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  • Mar 14, 2012 - 6:45PM

    The right link to Bilingualism article

    (Link provided earlier, is malfunctioning. Sorry about that.)

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