Lingual Diversity Of Pakistan

Written by admin on January 7th, 2012

Pakistan is blessed with a rich ethnic and cultural background, also evident from its lingual diversity, comprising of two major and about sixty small languages. But two languages dominate the scenario as national and official languages, i.e. Urdu and English.

Urdu is a part and parcel of its culture and history, being national and official language while English, due to its worldwide presence and acceptability, also serves as official language.

Four major provincial languages also add variety to its lingual portfolio, namely Punjabi, Pashto, Balochi and Sindhi with addition of Saraiki and Kashmiri as two major regional languages.

Most of these languages belong to the Indo-Iranian branch of Indo-European language family.

Urdu being the national language of Pakistan serves as a mother tongue for only about 8% of the population but still is the single most effective medium of communication all across the country. Moreover, new generation of urbanized Pakistanis is adopting Urdu as its first language at a rapid pace, strengthening its base even more.

Historically speaking, Ameer Khusro, was the first poet having Urdu poetry on record to his credit in mid thirteenth century. First Urdu book to be published, by the name, Dah Majlis, was around early 18th century.

The word Urdu originates its roots from a Turkish word ordu translated as camp or army. It came into existence and flourished as a communication medium amongst the Muslim soldiers of Arab, Persian and Turkish descents, during their conquest of spreading Islam into the region of Indo-Pak subcontinent.

Urdu vocabulary relies on Farsi or Persian language as its major source, almost about 70% of it, while the rest comes out to be a mixture of Arabic and Turkish with the recent additions from English and Hindi as well, thus keeping it alive and flourishing through the obstacles of time and place.

Although Urdu majorly relies on Farsi and Arabic as its written and spoken bases, several major differences are still evident. Majority of written Urdu alphabets are borrowed from Arabic and Farsi but not all of them are pronounced in the same manner as their native language has them.

Urdu is considered to be an alive language readily adopting and adapting new terminologies and words that gain immense popularity in use by masses over a period of time. That is how Urdu has populated its dictionary with words borrowed totally from a language of different nature (e.g. English and Sanskrit) as well as languages having few similarities with it (e.g. Hindi) and has carved its way through centuries still maintaining its unique identity.

Regional and provincial languages also play an important role in furnishing the lingual diversity of languages spoken in Pakistan. Punjabi language being the most dominant overall, being used by 44% of Pakistani population, followed by Pashto at about 16%, Sindhi at about 15%, Saraiki at about 11%, Urdu at about 8%, Balochi 4% and a few other regional languages complementing the lingual portfolio of Pakistan.

It is further diversified by different dialects that are being followed by these regional languages. Punjabi is spoken in almost 35 different dialects while Balochi and Pashto carry 3 dialects each and so on.

The development of these languages has also been influenced by religious and cultural ideologies a great deal to take present shape, thus adding into cultural heritage of the nation.

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