How I learnt ‘I can’t speak Urdu’ is not cool

Published: April 17, 2013

What’s embarrassing is, I was born and brought up in Pakistan and Urdu should come naturally to me, but ‘hey English has always been the cooler language’ – right? ILLUSTRATION: IMAAN SHEIKH

I had recently shifted to the web desk at The Express Tribune and much to my amazement, it was only fun up until I had to translate breaking news into English!

I didn’t really learn how to speak Urdu as a child, and never did well in that subject at school either. Guess what, it’s come back to bite me on my backside!

Make no mistake, Urdu is not just a problem for me. There are lots of societal “burgers” out there who struggle with the language at all times and do absolutely nothing about it. What’s embarrassing is, I was born and brought up in Pakistan and Urdu should come naturally to me, but ‘hey English has always been the cooler language’ – right?

We’re not doing anything for the language by not speaking it, yet I still always hear:

“Laila, please don’t speak in Urdu!”

I have to admit my Urdu vocabulary improved after marriage with my husband’s vast ‘maila’ vocabulary, but you know what? He can’t read Urdu either!

So I guess we’re just a bunch of Urdu illiterates.

My sisters-in-laws, brothers and cousins all between the ages of 15 and 17 are struggling with the language in school. The trouble is not the way it is being taught – it’s just not “cool” enough.

I know this because when I was in school I never thought twice about Urdu. I mean why would I? I would never really need Urdu, right? It was always about getting those high distinctions in English.

Now, regret is slapping me in the face each time I try to remember what tabdeeli (change) means.

Urdu is slowly becoming a forgotten language not just for me, but for many of us. The schools we attend do not give importance to it anymore, and neither do our parents. I don’t see kids taking tuition for Urdu anymore either. It’s all about maths and other compulsory subjects, but what people forget is that just like it’s so super awesome when you can speak French, being able to speak, read and write in Urdu is just as awesome and useful when we exit the bubble many of us live in.

It’s sad that I have to witness the demise of Urdu in my lifetime. I hope to do myself a favour and work on my Urdu skills – maybe I’ll take some tuitions, or something.

This post originally appeared here.

Read more by Laila here.

laila.dharamsey

Laila Dharamsey

Associate creative manager at Red Communication Arts. She tweets @LailaDharamsey1 (twitter.com/LailaDharamsey1)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Shah

    In simple urdu: kia zarorat thi iss blog ki? Recommend

  • http://mezaajedeen.blogspot.com Tribune Reader

    What on Earth are you talking about? Why must you keep talking about these confused wana be westernised burger kids and their burger problems, big deal, re connecting with Urdu not a big deal, i couldn’t speak Urdu well when I first moved back to Pakistan. Start watching the Urdu News on Television, Listen to Urdu Programing on Radio, pay attention to what they say, how they say it, and if a word is unfamiliar to u, ask some one or look it up in a dictionary. Give it a year, and also do watch TV dramas for practice and home work purpose. It really helped returning me to being an Urdu Speaker as a first choice language.Recommend

  • Clarus

    Waqt aur halaat sub kuch sikhha dayta hai. In my case though i could speak really good urdu but could’nt write a word. by hook or by crook some how i did manage to write same as i had no option and had to pass Olevels urdu in any case.
    And it’s not cool, it does get really embarrassing at work when i’m unable to comprehend words like artalis and chowalis ( number counting in urdu).Recommend

  • citizen

    phew ! seriously ? Come out of your elite SOCIAL circles and you will realize urdu is pretty much there in masses !Recommend

  • omair shahid

    excellent article on a very important issue urdu is our language we should take pride speaking & writing it all the other countries speak in there own language but sadly we feel ashamed when speaking urdu it’s time we realize this before it’s to late.
    just like you i also had to learn the hard way that urdu is very important. Recommend

  • Stranger

    Change is inevitable. Language undergoes change like everything. We cannot ( must not ) fight change. Take it as it comes.Whats wrong in embracing new things ?Recommend

  • ink

    I don’t think anyone i thinks English is the ‘cooler’ language and urdu the uncooler one. And ‘maila’ vocab, really?Recommend

  • Faisal

    Urdu is slowly becoming a forgotten language not just for me, but for many of us I don’t know which tiny part of the society you belong where Urdu is a source of shame or trouble and the way you are calling Urdu vocabulary as ‘maila’ vocabulary it’s just pathetic!! Recommend

  • Dr.X

    And we even write urdu in english while texting/chatting etc. The great thing about this language is that it has the ability to absorb other languages. It is a mixture of Persian, Hindi and Arabic but you will also find a lot of english words in urdu. It grows with the nation or the individual using this language. Recommend

  • Haq

    This assumption that what’s true for you is true for a majority is a hallmark of people who live in a bubble. Urdu is alive and thriving and facing no such demise. The fact that you are forced into a situation where you have to learn it to identify with the mainstream is evidence enough.Recommend

  • Ishaq Akram

    There is a parallel universe, and then there is a parallel universe with an alternate reality. What world do you live in!!
    Paris in Karachi..perhaps!!!Recommend

  • Sarah

    i m still wondering being born and bred in Pakistan….how come you have such low understanding of urdu that even simple word like “tabdeeli” is difficult for you to comprehend.
    but its about time you consider what you lacking in and its the right time to work on it and make sure your kids do not face such trouble. Recommend

  • http://avoiceforislam.blogspot.com Faroha Liaqat

    I think Urdu is a superb language and it is evolving itself with time. I do not think you can forget it if you love it or read about it and try to read it. I can speak four languages, write and understand a further three and I still think Urdu is the best. It is just so beautifulRecommend

  • Saima

    This is true!!! My son who is in grade 3 is being taught 2nd grade Urdu in school but most of the English comprehension sheets he gets from school are of 4th grade level (a few times I have found them on educational websites of US in grade 4 category)Recommend

  • Ali

    Oh my god, i’m utterly shocked at this situation. This is just plain sad and shows how disconnected you are from the country within which you live, if you cannot even speak to the majority of your own country men in your own national tongue. Its an utter disgrace to your class of people.

    I was born and brought up abroad, my father only ever allowed us to speak Punjabi at home and my mother made sure we not only spoke but also learned how to read and write in Urdu from a very young age.

    I, as a person who has only ever visited Pakistan can speak its languages better than you, who live there.Recommend

  • anonymous

    a particular problem with every “MUMMY DADDY KID”Recommend

  • AL

    Could not agree with you more Laila! thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention and how we must give Urdu more importance in private schools.Recommend

  • saima faisal

    oh come on? Dont u ever go out of ur house? Ppl all ovr the city speak Urdu.. If you dont know words like tabdeeli.. how did u giv ur exams for OLevels? in schools also, urdu is very tough fr kids at senior levels sp from grade 5 onwards..Recommend

  • PSE

    @Dr.X:
    (and others)

    its high time we start writing urdu in the original script. The problem with latin transliteration is that it is approximate, A word in urdu can be converted to latin in many ways, and quite a few of Urdu sounds cannot be accurately transcribed with the English alphabet. This create a lot pf further problems with adoption of Urdu on the internet. (for example, for the search and SEO terms)

    It has been possible to type Urdu on the computer for a long time, and it is getting easier and easier. The phonetic keyboard layout makes it so much easier to type urdu on a US keyboard. The layout can be downloaded fom the CRULP website. There are also a whole bunch of Nastaleeq Fonts out there (Jameel Noori Nastaleeq, Alvi Nastaleeq and lately, Taj Nastaleeq). There is also this software called “Pak Urdu Installer” which sets up all the required keyboard layouts and fonts.

    There is also a quite active Urdu blogging community.

    (Not providing any links here, but all the software mentioned can be easily found with google)Recommend

  • Amara

    Seriously quite shocking that people living in Pakistan can’t even understand urdu. What a sad day it is when people think forgetting Urdu is a good thing, some of these elite classes need to get of their bubble and the so called gora complex!!!

    I wasn’t born and neither brought up in Pakistan but I can speak urdu fluently and I learnt this as a child while learning English. People outside of Pakistan are more inclined to teach their children urdu and that is why you will meet a lot of kids from other countries who can speak these foreign languages with ease. Might I add that knowing another language is always a benefit, I can always write in my CV that I know English, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi. Recommend

  • Shamy

    A Reality check is needed here…please be practical….your chances of standing out in a corporate environment are immediately minimized if you speak better urdu than English….Urdu will not lead you anywhere in the practical world…please tell your kids to focus more on english if they need success…survival urdu is all we need.
    If anything needs changing, it is the management mindset in every single major corporate in Pakistan. Only then can Urdu be of any use.Recommend

  • A. Khan

    Reason is that Urdu is not really a national language. It was thrust upon us by the founding fathers, at the time of partition. Each province has its own language. Apart from Urdu speaking community, no one else can call it their mother tongue. We don’t even use it in official communication. Out of all places, AJK has Urdu as its official language and all official correspondence is in Urdu.Recommend

  • Faizan Ul Haq

    Wesaaaaay, How did u actually learnt ‘‘I can’t speak Urdu’’ is not cool ?Recommend

  • Khanzept

    Having grown up in a lower middleclass family with parents speaking punjabi and we siblings urdu. I feel sorry for the author. Its only when we leave our bubbles that we realise learning more than one language is cool ( it also helps your brain get better at learning) and learning a language you can call your own even more so. I live in denmark now, unless you are a tourist no one will speak English with you (they somehow seem to sus that out)

    with only 5.5 million people in the whole country they are proud of their language, makes me feel jelous. btw they speak best English in whloe of europe (excluding Britain of course) .

    we should expose our kids to different languages (in our case both english and urdu) as we underestimate learning capabilities of kids when we say “Laila, please don’t speak in Urdu!”

    :)Recommend

  • JB

    Inn Aqal k Andhon ko ulta Nazar aata Ha!Recommend

  • Dubai Resident

    There are 180 nationalities in Dubai and there is only one language that has the power to connect them i.e english. English is the language of Universe.Recommend

  • kinza

    You need to walk out of the little world you live in and get some exposure. It’s not as bad as you think. MashaAllah main aik “burger” school main zair-e-taleem hun, lekin mujhe Urdu bolne main koi sharam mehsoos nahi hoti. Maine Urdu aur Angraizi (Adab wa Qawaid) dono main hi A* grade hasil kiya tha, aur dono main se kisi k liye tuitions ki madad hasil nahi ki. Meray saray doston ki Urdu bhi qadre behtar hai aur ham sab k liye ye aik bohot aam si baat hai. Na koi sharam, na koi fakhar. Shukriya :) Recommend

  • ss

    they have become Aadhey teetar aadhey batair :-/Recommend

  • salman

    It’s a dying language. Why bother?Recommend

  • Fudge

    For someone born and brought up in Pakistan, I just cannot and will not believe they can’t speak read or write urdu?! You are probably elite, elitist but have you NEVER gone out of your home? do you talk to your servants even in English, your driver, if anything? I think it’s just cool to pretend you can’t speak Urdu!

    Its actually embarrassing to hear Pakistanis speak in very Pakistani accent thinking they look and sound very cool but ask any American or Brit and they will tell you your accent sounds very….Pakistani, no matter how hard you try to look cool you will stay Pakistani, better accept this and try not to be someone you are not, besides being Pakistani is cool, anyway.Recommend

  • Fudge

    @Stranger:
    new things? maybe these new things exist within less then 2% of the community you live in. Forgetting about yourself and trying to move on to “new thing” is not very wise my friend. And by the way, your accent will still be very Pakistani, so much for “new things!” ;). Recommend

  • Fudge

    @Shamy:
    practical world? what practical world are you talking about? if you can’t even tell the chaukeedar to close the gate when the office closes for instance? Learn English for sure, who is stopping you from that but why NOT learn Urdu? Is it too difficult to have good grasp on your mother tongue? Just appalled at the thinking of some of the commentators here. Come out of your inferiority complex and live in the PRACTICAL world my friend. Recommend

  • Fudge

    @author
    I strongly believe all these elites (and those want-to-be elites) only pretend they can’t speak Urdu. If you actually go and live abroad, only then you will realize the importance of knowing more then one language and how much these gora people which you try so hard to copy value this. Knowing more then 1 language is a cool thing, not denying the existence of your mother tongue, for heavens sake.Recommend

  • NICOPer

    @Author
    My first language is not Urdu (it’s Pushto), although through watching channels like ARY and GEO abroad, I have been able to converse with fellow Pakistanis. Urdu is my third language but I have to applaud my parents who took keen interest in ensuring we maintain our Pakistani identity. I can read Urdu well enough to find directions and so on…

    Social elites of Pakistan need to come to reality and mingle with the local “street” population. I find your blog obnoxious, explains why social elites are disconnected from the masses and more importantly the reality.

    ET, please post my comment to show, people who care will make an effort to learn the language. Recommend

  • Rahat

    Urdu is not in demise. It is spoken widely and well spoken by many. This is a problem particular to a specific group of people and belongs there, since putting it in a blog or newspaper shows that the particular publication is completely out of touch with reality.Recommend

  • Hafeez

    What? Trust me you represent 0.00000001 percent of Pakistan population. Recommend

  • Heratzada

    Bibi, aap kabhi ghar sey baahir nikli hain ya nahin?
    Lady, have you ever ever stepped out of your house or not? Recommend

  • Ali

    This is well expected from a nation that has become an international joke.
    Speak English brown sahibRecommend

  • Milestogo

    Arabic is better than Urdu. Arabic is the best.Recommend

  • http://-- Talha Saleem

    Very well written…!! situation is the same in almost every city of the country.Recommend

  • Mano

    yeh mazmoon meri nazar se guzar, bara tajaub hoa yeh parh ke kay aap apni madri zuban ke baray mein mufasil maloomat nahin rakhtin. Jahan tuk Urdu ke napaid honay ka, tu taslee rakhayay ke hum jaysay kuch loog hain jo urdu ko bacha lain gaay.

    On a serious note, Urdu is still the main language of communication in Pakistan. You really need to get out of your burger environment and go for shopping in some un-cool markets and bazars :)Recommend

  • Pro Bono Publico

    Laila Dharmasey,

    Very glad hearing from you after decades, I appreciate you tumbling upon such a serious issue which unfortunately happens to be very true indeed yet an eye-opener. It is good knowing that you regret not being very fluent in Urdu (both written/verbal), acceptance, which is the first step towards learning, though there are still many and even here reading this blog who arent just concerned about their original language.

    We must learn and gain lesson from the Chinese people, where majority of the population are unaware, couldnt speak a word of English yet, yet they happen to run the powerful running economies in the world.

    Language is our true identity, which must not be ignored or paid lesser attention than any other language per se.

    Very well written piece Laila, i must say. :)
    For all those who are critiquing, thanks a lot for the comments but the truth is she just showed us the partial mirror image of the society of our country Pakistan, whose national language happens to be Urdu.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    It is perfectly cool to not speak Urdu. It is perfectly cool to not speak English.

    Your Pakistani-ness does not need to be defined by the kind language(s) you speak. Part of the reason why we lost East Pakistan was the West Pakistan’s inability to wrap its head around the fact that their Eastern brothers wanted to speak Bengali instead of Urdu.

    You are not obliged to speak any language for the purpose of appearing “cool’. You may learn a local language to be able to better communicate with the locals, but that’s pretty much it. Communication. Otherwise, you can speak whatever you’re comfortable with, or proud of.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Its brave of you to tell your story…………..at least you recognise the problem and can correct it, if you wish.Recommend

  • Imad Uddin

    @Author
    ppl need sumthing to take out their frustration on…this time ur urdu!Recommend

  • exPaki

    @ A.Khan “It was thrust upon us by the founding fathers, at the time of partition” Bhai Sahib,
    You are right this was THRUSTED upon us by FOUNDING FATHERS, ironically neither they knew this language. DARING Bengalis refused to accept this GIFT by FATHER.

    Moderator Ji, This message contains MIRCHAAN for some :-))) Tusi Publish Ker Dio :-))Recommend

  • abacus

    lady, who are you trying to impress? Recommend

  • Shamy

    @Fudge:
    What are you talking about ?? When did i say “NOT learn Urdu” ?? Can you not understand simple english ?? This is exactly my point….it seems that you have stressed too much on Urdu and fail to understand the comments i made in English….hence the outcome…now Lets talk PRACTICAL.Recommend

  • B+

    Your problem is not Urdu, your English is not good that is why you cannot translate.Recommend

  • Optimist

    I have seen a case like you in London. She was from Bangladesh and always complained about her Bengali being weak. She was doing Bar at Law.
    .
    Whenever she was under stress, she would forget and start speaking Bengali (in her mock trials). It was very difficult for her to accept that after all her natural language is Bengali and not English (for which her father had spent huge amounts in private schools).
    .
    You can only claim to have Enlgish as first language if you lived abroad most of your life. I think you are overestimating command of English. Recommend

  • Raj Kafir

    Urdu is really cool. Election Commission of Pakistan is also Election Commission of Pakistan in Urdu. Supreme Court of Pakistan is also Supreme Court of Pakistan in Urdu. Recommend

  • Kazim Muneer

    It is a shame that Parents in our society encourages their children to abandon one of their own languages and switch over to another language, which they can always learn and excel to be their second or third language. I for one rejects this idea of speaking in English at home by abandoning the first language, may it be Urdu or Sindhi or Pubjabi or Pushto or Balochi or Siraiki or Memoni (and the list may go on). The Societies (and people) who tend to forget their own roots are often turn out to be confused and misfit in their own societies. How come China, Japan, Korea, Turkey, and most of the European Countries are progressing by sticking to their own languages and cultural values rather than using English to convince themselves as-of they are part of progress. Shame on all those parents who prefer to speak English at home and misdirect their child/children to live in fools paradise. Recommend

  • http://www.tohfay.com Yousuf Rafi

    Excellent blog!!! They say if you really want to be good at something, give it your best shot… nothing is impossible in this area of Google…. everything you want is just under your fingers… everytime I face a problem I Google it… Either I get my answer of I get a better question to ask….

    Spent some time Googling YouTube videos of LEarning Urdu language.. or get a good book from Urdu Bazaar or a stationary shop…

    Give some time to learn Urdu and you will get results soon!!

    feemanaALLAH!!!Recommend

  • Punjabi Pakistani

    It is so sad to hear this! We should always love our langauge and learn to use it. I never klet my children speak or learn Punjabi at home. They are learning Urdu and are becoming good Pakistanis. So sad you don’t love your lnaguage and never learnt it. :(Recommend

  • Intelektual

    I m sory but you hav failed to state exactly Y is it cool nor Y should it be?
    Also y hav you compared it to French what is similar there?
    It might be for some obvious reasons but you have clearly failed to state the obvious den…Recommend

  • Nobody

    @Fudge:
    Why is it embarrassing to speak in a Pakistani accent? Only Pakistanis have that complex man. I’ve yet to come across people outside the subcontinent who are ashamed by their language or their accent.

    Spanish people here are so proud of their heritage that even a couple of generations later, Spanish is the predominant language in their home, and NOT in a white washed accent, in a proper accent. I was born and bred in the states but since my parents knew I would inevitably learn proper English before and during nursery school, they made sure my first language was Urdu. I’m so glad they did otherwise I wouldn’t be able to speak it. I can never forget it now. My accent may fluctuate between proper desi and cheesy white washed depending on how long it’s been since I went to Pakistan and polished my accent a bit, but other than that, I haven’t forgotten how to speak it. How strange that you were born and bred in Pakistan and can’t speak it properly? And some people you know can’t even read it…??? That’s like living in the states and only knowing how to speak and read Spanish as opposed to English. Absurd and unheard of for someone born here. I take pride in knowing another language and only hope to teach myself more of it and actually learn to read it so I can pass it on to my future kids if I have any. Cheers. Recommend

  • Murtaza Jafri

    Really compelling piece, having been back to Pakistan for a few years now, I still have trouble reading the news tickers before they disappear on me. It is alot about practice and being able to put in the time to reconnect with your mother tongue, but the truth is that Urdu, like any language is about practice, and having people willing to speak to you in that language and using that language on a constant basis. I’m going to bet that most people with bad Urdu generally have friends who don’t read or speak Urdu fluently. I don’t think its about being cool, its about actually reading, Nowadays we barely have time to read articles on the internet in english let alone books in Urdu. Recommend

  • shahida kazi

    Okay so now we know that you are a burger!Recommend

  • Urdudaan

    Google translator can help you now :DRecommend

  • bling bling

    Not only you can’t speak Urdu but you should not be writing for a newspaper.Recommend

  • Jameel ur Rehman

    Urdu is very live and kicking and understood in all corners of the country, here and elsewhere. It will remain live except for “kaalay angrez and amricans”Recommend

  • http://www.linkagoal.com sara-J

    I think Its really important for all us to speak and write Urdu well because its our national language. Thanks for sharing your story Recommend

  • Not cool but a fool

    @Pro Bono Publico:
    Thanks! Who are you again?

    I got a better bashing here then i ever got at home! Thanks mummies and daddies! Sach bolo toh laat parti hai, jhoot bolo toh laat parti hai… Tabdeeli i want tabdeeli! Recommend

  • hamza

    I believe you are referring to a minority when you talk about Urdu losing its place in our society. Also, Alif Bay Pay its as easy as Aik Do Teen…..Recommend

  • heera

    In India ,Urdu is dying its natural death.Hindi is overpowering it.Urdu is good for music and poetry.But its reading and writing style from right to left is just ‘ULTA’ of natural way of reading and writing.Also there is very less research and development in the field of Urdu language.India has language development institute for Hindi .Also Hindi is the third largest language spoken world wide.Does Pakistan have language development institute for Urdu?Recommend

  • Barrister

    Dear Laila,

    I think if you have lived in Pakistan all your life, which I am assuming you have, and still dont know how to understand or translate basic urdu into english then the problem isnt your command over the Urdu language. I know many people who when to the posh schools of Karachi and can still read/write/understand urdu and english.

    During the time I spent in the UK, I came across a lof of these ‘burgers’ who would, among other things, fail to understand basic Urdu counting and would not know how much ‘chabis’ is. There were so many others, like you, whose command over english or urdu was pathetic. I was often mocked for having an interest in in things like Iqbal’s poetry but now I feel that there is nothing more relevant to Pakistan’s state than what Iqbal wrote about a century ago.

    Lastly, nobody cares about you being an illiterate and if you are still going to write then please write about something meaningful.

    Kind Regards. Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Let me break something else to you. If you ever live and work in a real English speaking country, you will realize that your English is not cool as well. I can bet most people will have difficulty understanding the language you speak and claim that it is English.Recommend

  • Stranger

    @Fudge: U seem to be having some chip on your shoulder man. Embracing new things does not mean forgetting old things. U can mould the old things in a new way . Its inevitable.What our parents and grand parents did 50 – 100 years back , we are not doing . similarly our children and grand kids will do the same things differently .Lets accept it .Whats wrong in change anyway. Remember a rolling stone gathers no moss. Its the stationary water which gets sewage. Hope I have driven home my point.Recommend

  • mahmoodalisyed

    Some of the comments above are pathetic, ridiculing writer, where as it is Excellent & Honestly written Blog.Recommend

  • maliha

    Wow way to tear into the author for pointing out an unfortunate reality. Whether you want to accept it or not the general mindset of EVERYONE in Pakistan is that the minute you start speaking in english your coolness points increase exponentially. Turn on your television and watch some of the people on local television channels (I’m talking from everyone ranging from Meera to talk show hosts discussing politics and the such) “log moun tera kar kar english mein kiyun baat kartay hain”? This isnt a bubble the author lives in, its a result of having been a colony all those many years ago.
    And it doesnt just stop at english. Its sickening when your hear people talking in urdu using words like parampara and shanti and other hindi words picked up from mindless indian soaps!
    Accept it as Pakistanis have a severe identity issue. Recommend

  • gul

    Urdu is just another name of Hindi language. The thought that Urdu is a separate language in its own right is struggling to survive in Pakistan , whereas in India and most of the world its already a dead thought.This blog is just another manifestation of it. Recommend

  • Pro Bono Publico

    @Maliha:
    Very-well-summed-up. Spot on.
    Now those were the facts.Recommend

  • No name

    in simple urdu: yaqeen nahi ata aesay log bhi hain iss duniya mai jin ko apni zabaan nahi ati :SRecommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    Dear Author,

    to be honest. I understand you. Its true that the elite, burger or cool give any name to this class, finds speaking and writing Urdu not cool.
    This is a threat to Pakistani development. Almost all the so called elite school KGS, St.Michaels, St.Patricts,etc etc. dont give enough importance to this language.
    This means one class of hardworking students who might be good in all other subjects cannot read or write Urdu.

    What I like in the article was for the first time some one wrote about this issue. Most of us dont even consider this as a problem.Recommend

  • pani ka horse

    @Laila… start with Urdu proverbs… they are so cool and will teach you lot of new things :)Recommend

  • sidrakhawaja

    What an incredibly shallow and stupid article by Mrs. Dharamsey.
    Come on ET….get some depth!Recommend

  • http://www.faiz-e-zabaan.org Ray Alif

    It is good to know that you realized Urdu is cool as well. If you are interested in knowing what is happening in the world of Urdu language and literature, do visit http://www.faiz-e-zabaan.org. It provides access to all news, articles and columns published in the media realted to the Urdu language and literature. Also see http://www.facebook.com/faizezabaan. Recommend

  • Sigh.

    I wonder why almost every week we are witnessing one two blogs on little tiny burger problems.Recommend

  • Dear Author.

    I mean really? Do you even step out of your house? Don’t you go shopping? Don’t you go to restaurants? I am sure not everyone speaks english in Pakistan then how do you communicate with them?
    And just because you are the 0.0000001 of the population who don’t speak urdu – DOES NOT MEAN URDU IS DYING. Please try to accept yourself as minority in that case. Recommend

  • Humanity

    Goray rukstat hue zamana beet gya, goruan kee parastist abhi jaari hae .. Perhaps, you would not understand ..

    One who does not bother to learn his or her own mother tongue must be one deprived of self respect and always struggling to please. Recommend

  • Virkaul

    @Punjabi Pakistani: Did you say you never let your children learn and speak Punjabi at home? Recommend

  • Virkaul

    @heera: Languages have suffered due to politics in the subcontinent. Urdu, which was born in India (formerly known as REKHTA) was almost given a backseat while Hindi was promoted. Pakistan surprisingly adopted Urdu and declared it as their national language although no ethnic group except those who migrated from India (UP) spoke it. Languages like Punjabi, Bengali, Sindhi, Pushto, Balochi, Saraiki, Hindko, etc., were ignored. Most rural folks understand and speak in their own mother tongue. Jinnah, who could not read or understand Urdu tried language and religion to bind people into one nationality but it failed in Bangladesh. Urdu is a beautiful language, so are other languages of the subcontinent. Promote them without politics, develop them without discrimination. I speak English, Hindi, Urdu, Kashmiri, Bengali and Punjabi. Trust me, it has helped me to mingle with people so well that I have felt part of them.Recommend

  • awellwisher

    Why should Urdu be of any importance to a Sindhi, Punjabi, Balochi or Pashto speaker?Recommend

  • awellwisher

    @Punjabi Pakistani:

    ” I never klet my children speak or learn Punjabi at home. They are learning Urdu and are becoming good Pakistanis. So sad you don’t love your lnaguage and never learnt it.”

    What is really sad is that you discouraged your children to learn or speak your native language Punjabi. Why do you equate being good Pakistanis to forgetting your native tongue in favor of Urdu?Recommend

  • Sunflower

    c’mon gustakh tou kithna easy word hai,,,,, urdu is a beautiful language beside i dont agree urdu is becoming forgotton language :)Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/bohotsaara Sarah B. Haider

    Good topic! I pity how people, specially women (suffering from identity crisis) talk to chowkidaar and dukaandaars in English. Recommend

  • heera

    @Virkaul: I dont agree with the fact that Urdu is suffering coz of politics.I have mentioned some of the point why urdu is getting decimated.Urdu is not that rich language.In northern india or Hindi heart land,every subject whether it is science,math,social studies, is used to be taught in Hindi.I used to learn equilateral triangle as sam bahu tribhuj etc .Its just an incite.We study whole science in our own language.When i changed my curriculum from state board to CBSE(English medium) immediately after class 10th,i had have whole list of English words to make analogy with respective Hindi words in order to bring into effect earlier studied things.Every yr, Hindi has new researched words added to Hindi vocabulary.Later those words r made familiar to readers through journals.If you go into deeper study,Hindi is derived from Devanagari script which derives directly from .Sanskrit is very vast language. On the other hand,there is very little research done in the field of Urdu.However in India ,some people study Urdu a part from Muslims from UP and Bihar in order to enrich poetry skills and shero -sayari,gajal. If a language doesnt cater to modern demand,it will die specially when it is under the influence of a language which is richer ans similar in accent with it. Thats the case with Urdu in India. Pakistan has Urdu as its national language.So Pakistan should focus on its development.Having said all this thing ,Hindi is not national language of India . Recommend

  • DiK

    Very well written. Ms Dharamsey ;)Recommend

  • anum

    It’s really funny to read this non sense blog. Laila Mandviwalla, remember its not just urdu you cannot read. Honey forget urdu, you have no command over English too! The worst blog I’ve read in ages! Recommend

  • http://habloid.wordpress.com Habiba Younis

    well, everyone around me can speak urdu with no issues what so ever. Maybe im not a part of ur bubble world?Recommend

  • Laila

    @anum:
    Thanks for reading and commenting!Recommend

  • Moyed

    @Anum
    Repecting your thoughts and comments on the topic but your comment very vividly dipicts that its not Ms.Laila but you(anum) who really needs schooling to improve that immature, bullish and childish attitude that needs to be fixed.
    Laila; You’re an amazing writer, believe me. Just ignore entirely yet repectfully these agitated readers :)
    Peace everyone.
    Moyed.Recommend

  • Anum Dada

    @Ali:
    “if you cannot even speak to the majority of your own country men in your own national tongue”. I fear that you may be wrong there. The majority of people in Pakistan do not speak Urdu and I’ve experienced this firsthand. There is so much emphasis on regional languages and very little on Urdu that we have lost our unity as a nation. You are lucky that your parents paid so much empahsis on both Urdu and Punjabi, but everyone is as lucky; in fact I remember being told in school that unless I learnt perfect English I wouldn’t be accepted to any international university. Sadly no such emphasis was paid to Urdu.Recommend

  • Noman Z

    Ohhh the irony of this article and the comments below!

    Likho Urdu par aur wo bhi angrezi main aur tabsiray bhi karo angrezi main! Aur phir ye shikayat karo k urdu nahi ati!

    Afsos hua!Recommend

  • Sarah

    @Stranger: agree. just like the concept of Roman Urdu. students can now write urdu in english alphabets and still pass urdu paper. thats the reason for the lang demise :S
    accept the change that’s reasonable, not something like this.Recommend

  • Syed Zahid Ali

    Laila you are not convincing. Urdu is well and alive. I have seen Bengali Muslims, (the worst enemies of Urdu language) in Saudi Arabia who sweep the streets of Makka and Madina, speak Urdu fluently to communicate with pilgrims from the Sub-continent. I have seen Zulfiqar Mirza and Paleejo address Liyri Baluch in Urdu. I have seen Shahi Syed making speeches in Urdu, in all-Pathan rallies. They have no alternative but to speak Urdu. It is an exercise in futile to fight Urdu. It is spreading like a prarie fire in Karachi and Islamabad. There is nothing you can do about in cities where many nationalities converge.
    Recommend

  • swiss

    isn’t urdu pakistans national language? shouldn’t you guys speak urdu as mother-tongue? well, obviously not….what else du you claim to be your mother tongue? English??? Are you telling me that you guys in pakistan are speaking english with your paki-parents since birth? Recommend

  • Ania

    Asalam o alikum

    Have u guys ever been to France or Germany or Japan? No, then let me tell u that these nations no matter how fluent they are in English, they will never speak to u in it, infact they will communicate only in their national languages. And they have no complex about it!!
    But we Muslims as usual are always suffering from some sort of inferiority complexes whether its our language Urdu, whether its our country Pakistan or whether its our religion Islam!
    Thats why we stand nowhere.Recommend

  • SH

    Guess what, it’s come back to bite me on my backside!
    it has*

    I have lived abroad all my life; I have never studied Urdu at school, but being a Pakistani, I am proud of myself that I can read, write and speak fluent Urdu. Your blog just made me sad. You made me sad.Recommend

  • Khan

    @ Author.. This article should be name ‘agonies of the elite’. Somehow I have felt unable to communicate with people like you even though I have at least an average understanding of English.Recommend