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Is English dominating Urdu?

Most Pakistanis are brought up speaking Urdu and English, our national and official languages. Many of us slip into English during ordinary conversation rather than speaking Urdu. Even those who struggle with English do their hardest to smuggle in a line or two because they believe it will help them fit in with the "cooler" set. How come? Is it because we don't take pride in our own language? We are all well aware of Urdu's beauty; its poetry, elegance, and rhythm are extraordinary. I'm not sure when the trend began, but in one way or another, we're all drawn into the trap inadvertently or unintentionally.

Here is an incident that comes to my mind and happens to Professor Amna Khalid.   Together with other LUMS fellows, she visited Istanbul. They stopped at a café one day while touring the city. The waiter inquired of them, "Where are you from."  When they informed him, the waiter was shocked. His subsequent query was, "Are you brought up in England? Why don't you talk in the Pakistani language since you were born and raised there?"

He also explained to them how popular Turkey was as a tourism destination, drawing millions of visitors worldwide to Istanbul in particular. The Dutch, however, would speak Dutch when they came to visit. French would be spoken when the French arrived. The Chinese would speak Chinese when they came to visit. The same was held in Turkey; everyone spoke Turkish. He said that he was very proud of his language and culture and that he could not comprehend why someone would prefer to speak a foreign language over the language of their own nation.

I like how these nations cherish their sense of self, culture, and language. Like many of us, I am very proud of Pakistan and Urdu. Whatever the issues, it still defines us. We give our nation the respect it deserves by speaking and displaying our actual origins in Urdu, which is a lovely and charming language.

Aap kia kehty hai???

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I do think that no language, especially your regional ones is something one should feel ashamed about. And it should be made sure that no one is made to feel this way. However I think similarly there is nothing wrong with people who prioritize speaking in english whatever their reason is. English can come as way more convenient for some people and some people find their ideas and feelings way better communicated that way. Same is for people who prefer Urdu. Point being is everything in the new world is becoming hybrid and same is for language. So I think nobody should be made to feel like that they should prioritize the language they aren't rightnow be it Punjabi Urdu…


Thank you for writing on this, Ali.

I agree with your blog on the part about how we should strive for promoting our own national language instead of a langauge borrowed from our colonial masters. However, i do not agree that students today speak in english to fit in or to sound cool. Language, although abstract, is a very prominent form of expression. The structure of language helps determine how one is likely to view the world and it determines how people think. Now, since most of us have been taught in English since pre school, and most education we receive is in English, we are more comfortable in expressing ourselves in it. This happens because we have a firm…


A very pertinent issue that needs to be addressed, Schools need to teach children from early on that Urdu is a matter of personal identity and pride and should therefore be focused upon in learning institutions. Nowadays, a lot of households also prefer to converse in English so that their children can brush up their communication skills when applying abroad for education and job purposes. I think that the culture itself needs to accept flaws that exist within it, and then take measures to right those wrongs.

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Yes Fatima, you're right. It is worthwhile to know that successful nations prefer their mother tongue, but these practices need long terms to have a positive outcome.

Here in Pakistan, we have been under the influence of great Britain for a long time, after which we have adopted many of such unnecessary customs and tones.

We have been consciously or unconsciously forced to adopt their trends and terms and language as also a part of it.

We as a nation feel superior if we can talk and speak for foreign language, so we take the English language as our pride, which is not fair at all.

Pakistani schools should teach Urdu in all schools. In Sindh province, Sindhi is also…


Very well said Ali. The importance of English cannot be denied in any way; however, the fact that now we categorize people on the base of how fluent they are in English is perturbing. So many of us who are not from English medium backgrounds have trouble settling in such environments where speaking in English is the only way you can prove yourself. In our desi culture, you are intelligent only if you are good at English.

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That is the sad reality where our people don’t take pride in our national language and instead are complexed by the fact that they can speak fluent English. In fact, people miss out on a lot of opportunities just on this fact, and it isn’t very pleasant. We do not take pride in our language, and that is why the Chinese always inspire me when they take pride in their language and speak it everywhere.


This is blog is very pertinent to the situation in Pakistan.

I believe that this glorification of English has less to do with students trying to look 'cool' in front of their peers and is more because of the colonial hangover that this country faces. In their attempts to appease the British masters, the pre-partition Pakistani and Indian populace, forgot their own identity. Subsequently, Urdu has now become a second class language which is not worth studying.

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Agree with you. Colonialism did more harm than good to the language and culture. Pakistan never became a decolonized country. Never,

Pakistan never got rid of colonialism because the country’s triangle of power — the army, the bureaucracy and the feudal landlords — has remained under British influence.

Nasir Abbas Nayyar (LUMS professor) used to say, “The hegemony of the English language is also still present.”

Colonialism might have had some benefits, but it adversely affected language and culture by breaking the natural unity of the subcontinent’s inhabitants and starting new discourse, which only spread confusion among the populace. By lessening the emphasis on making Urdu what it should not be, if more impetus were given to literature in Urdu…

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