Am I a ‘ganwaar’ if I speak in Punjabi?

Published: February 12, 2014

While children are discouraged from speaking in Punjabi at home, the Punjabi Sufi kalaams of Baba Bulleh Shah and others in Coke Studio, continue to enthrall Punjabis and non-Punjabis alike.

Over the last few weeks, I have been meeting children from different parts of Punjab. They ranged in age between three and five years and included children of my friends and extended family.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear these kids speaking in Punjabi. Some of the phrases that I recall hearing them use are,

“Kithay chalay o?”

(Where are you off to?)

“Aa ki aey?”

(What is this?)

“Ki karde paye o?”

(What are you doing?)

Punjabi is the most widely spoken language across Pakistan. However, from what I have seen, most of the people in Punjab – especially those living in the urban centres – do not encourage their children to speak in their mother tongue – Punjabi.

But kids will be kids and they will always find a way to learn new things. So, these children tend to pick up the language from their parents and other people around since ironically, the adults speak in Punjabi among themselves. And by listening to and mimicking these adults, children add Punjabi to their linguistic skill set.

Since it is a process of informal learning, these children learn Punjabi quite effortlessly.

Such is the beauty of the mother tongue.

Incidentally, in an average Pakistani school a child generally learns two new languages, that is, English and Urdu, and the teaching of all other subjects is also via the medium of Urdu or English. And since recitation of the Quran and saying prayers is also part of the curriculum in the Pakistani society – whether at school, a madrassah or at home, almost all children end up learning Arabic as well.

In this way, a child in Punjab starts to learn three or four languages between the young ages of three and five years.

However, I believe that as far as the effectiveness of learning is concerned, it is in the best interest of any child that primary education be imparted in the mother tongue. Children learn at a faster pace if they start learning various subjects in their mother tongue instead of learning a completely new language first. This is why a three-year-old enrolled in a nursery class in Punjab naturally finds it difficult to read,

“Meem se murghi.”

(‘H’ for hen)

And instead, reads it as,

“Meem se kukri”

(‘H’ for hen)

Since the word for hen at home is kukri (Punjabi) and not murghi (Urdu).

However, in Pakistan it is common for children to be labelled jahil (illiterate) and ganwaar (uncivilised) if they speak in Punjabi. This is why parents try their best to refrain from speaking in Punjabi with their kids. And frankly, one cannot blame the parents since the harsh reality is that when a three-year-old is enrolled in school and begins to speak in Punjabi with the other students and teachers, they label the child as ‘illiterate’.

Needless to say, this can be quite disturbing for young minds and naturally, the parents want to prevent this from happening. Hence, the mother tongue is ignored and sacrificed.

However, this line of argument assumes that it is common knowledge that in real life knowing Punjabi is not of any use while learning Urdu and English are more important for education and a career. And when I look at it practically, I realise that this line of thinking is not entirely wrong. After all, one has to get a job.

And hence, once again, Punjabi is ushered out of the door.

Frankly speaking, discrimination against the Punjabi language is nothing new in our society. It began during the British period with the end of Sikh rule in Indian Punjab. Later, it was somewhat obtusely assumed that Urdu was the language of Muslims while Hindi was spoken by Hindus and Punjabi by the Sikhs.

This oversimplified formula not only divided the land on the basis of religion but also divided languages on the same criteria.

Even today one observes the abundant and regular usage of Punjabi everywhere in Indian Punjab – signage on highways, in schools, colleges, universities and in public offices. And this is why the Chief Minister of Pakistani Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, delivered a speech in Punjabi while visiting the Indian counterpart to win the hearts of his hosts.

However, I am afraid that I have rarely heard him or any other leader delivering a speech in Punjabi in Gujranwala, Faisalabad or any other city in Pakistani Punjab.

This is what I call the inferiority complex of us Punjabis in Pakistan.

It is obvious that Punjabis in Pakistan live in some kind of confusion. The bitter truth is that we have gradually destroyed our own language since we never owned it with pride and confidence.

Despite being the largest spoken language in Pakistan, it is not taught in any schools.

You would not find any sign boards in Punjabi in Punjab, except perhaps the Billay di Hatti shops (Iqbal’s shop) in various cities.

Photo: Shiraz Hassan

The way I see it, the future of Punjabi in Pakistan is quite dark.

And yet, a strange contradiction to this phenomenon of our self-denial is the popularisation of the language without Punjabis even intending it through the televised musical program, Coke Studio – Pakistan.

I am sure you have heard numerous kalaams of Baba Bulleh Shah or Sultan Bahoo being performed by the participants on countless episodes of Coke Studio. It is becoming quite a fashion to be associated with the music of these Sufi poets from Punjab. People have come to love and share this music by whatever means are available to them. And in doing so, they feel liberated at projecting the secular and moderate culture of Punjab.

Many people were introduced to the poetry of Baba Bulleh Shah and other Punjabi Sufi saints through Coke Studio. I find it quite ironic that while we discourage the promotion of this language through schools and at home, we are grateful to this corporate giant for introducing Punjabi to the world.

Such contradictory behaviour is frankly quite baffling.

However, I do see a ray of hope and at times from completely unexpected quarters. Just recently, a friend who had moved from Karachi to Lahore complained,

 “Why does everyone speak in Punjabi here? I spoke to rickshaw drivers, shopkeepers and a few other people and everyone replied to me in Punjabi!”

His complaints brought a smile to my face as I realised that Punjabis have not completely given up on their mother tongue – at least not yet. It was heartening that a visitor to the province realised that Punjabi is the language of Punjab.

Deep inside, this made the Punjabi in me immensely happy.


Shiraz Hassan

A Rawalpindi based journalist, blogger and photographer who tweets @ShirazHassan

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

  • Fact is Fact

    Really don’t see any point in this article. I cannot even understand why the writer is trying to push so much on Punjabi (or any other regional languages) when he himself has said that kids do learn Punjabi even though parents and schools refrain them from learning. The point is simple, you got to learn international languages in order to survive in this world. The other option being make you own language so powerful in the world that you don’t need English language. Unfortunately, we have never respected Urdu (im saying Urdu bcz its the only mean by which all Pakistanis can communicate). So the point is simple, English is important than any other language because like writer said, you will learn your mother tongue from surrounding but won’t be able to speak English if parents and schools don’t push you. People will call you illiterate when you will study some international degree without knowing the English because unfortunately our curriculum is also in English.Recommend

  • SajjadHashmi

    No one is a ‘ganwaar’ just because he or she speaks Punjabi, they belong to one of the most rich and colorful cultures of Pakistan. All languages and cultures should be respected and loved across the country.
    There do exist a group of particular mentality who has this habit of stereotyping others based over the language they speak. For e.g. only if this article was about the similar situation with Urdu incase comments would have been filled with fatwas of author being a racist, and how ‘Mahajirs’ should start to blend in with others.
    We all should respect each other, this is how we all can come closer and live peacefully.Recommend

  • Eric Francis

    Yes it is totally right that are Punjabi language is missing from Pakistan, If one is speaking Sindhi,Balochi or Pashto no one would critisized them or say any bad thing like illlerate or harsh words like this. So why Punjabi is being so down and why people feel shy to speak Punjabi .Even i born into a Punjabi family my mother is Punjabi and wherever i worked whether its a Bank Or My Multinational Company i speak in Punjabi and also bi proudly say MEIN PUNJABI HAN.Recommend

  • optimist

    Punjabi is thousand years old language. It’s original script is Gurmukhi with its own alphabets. Later Muslim Sufi saints started writing it in Persian script because their mother tongue was Farsi. My Sindhi friends MISTAKENLY think that Punjabi is a language that doesn’t have its own alphabet and copies Urdu.
    It is a complete language but we have sacrificed it a bit to be part of something bigger (our beloved Pakistan).
    We may not speak Punjabi to our kids but our kids start learning it from films, drama and society and when they grow older, they take pride in both languages. It is a win win situation. Recommend

  • Usama

    Brilliant article.
    I have come to the conclusion that Punjabis are the only people on earth who dont speak their own language. Sindhis, speak Sindhi, pathans pushto and Balochis speak Balochi.
    Why don’t we speak our own language?
    You’ll never see a Spanish person communicating with another Spanish in French.
    We need to teach our children Punjabi, and get rid of the element who think its “paindo.”Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    As a Muslim, not interested.

    Talk about Arabic and I’ll listen.Recommend

  • Hindu Meditation

    Ironical. The author has an arabic name. Why not keep a punjabi name? Charity begins at home.Recommend

  • Jaz Dhillon

    “The point is simple, you got to learn international languages in order to survive in this world”
    ^ Exactly. And Punjabi is the second most spoken language in the most ‘international’ city on earth: London, as well as being the second most spoken language in such global cities as Toronto. Punjabi, and it’s history as an ancient language 900 years older than Hindi is respected and acknowledged internationally. Punjabi, and it’s unique position as the only tonal language amongst all south Asian languages is respected by international scholars of linguistics. When Hindi speakers for example, move to places such as London they find that it is Hindi (and by default Urdu) that is of no use and so have to learn a smattering of Punjabi to fulfill their south Asian needs.
    It is Punjabi that is part of the national school curriculum in England and Canada for example. It is Punjabi that is being learned by children in schools of various races and creeds with Chinese children in Canada, for example, repeatedly scoring the highest marks year after year in Punjabi exams.
    So, the situation in Pakistan is truly unique to Pakistan, and a Pakistani should not think that feeling or situation is replicated anywhere else.
    Apart from Pakistan, nowhere else on earth, throughout history, has any people willingly and enthusiasticaly given up their mother tongue. Everywhere else on earth, and every other peoples, have faught wars and given their lives in defence of it. In this regard Pakistan is unique, and it’s nothing to be proud of as discarding your own mother tongue is little different to discarding your own mother.Recommend

  • Gulab Singh Cheema

    Great Article! Bengalis speak bengali Sindhis speak sindhi, balochis speak balochi, tamils speak tamil, but punjabi muslims are the only people in the world that have banned their own mother tongue, they are ashamed of their own mother language. for the same of being a more “Muslim”, are the muslims living in afghanistan, india, bangladesh, burma, malaysia, indoneasia any less muslim b/c they speak their own mother language? Pakistan has completely destroyed its own culture, and its own regional languages for a fake identity. Recommend

  • Fact is Fact

    @Jaz Dhillon: Still english is a priority because it is important in everyday dealings around the world.. You cannot deal with Obama, Cameron or Hollande in Punjabi. The only means of communication at the moment in the world is English and one got to learn. The point is Punjabi is mother tongue so even if you don’t learn, your kids will automatically get hold of it sooner or later. I would doubt your comment on people in UK going after punjabi. there might be few instances in london but london is not the whole world. There are few schools in canada opened by Sikh community and thats because they don’t get the enviornment for their kids to learn punjabi. Pakistan/India (esp Punjab) gives that environment and therefore kids get to learn is easily. Focus needs to be given to English as those kids do not have any english language skills that creates a big difference when they get out to the world.Recommend

  • Armughan

    Its not abouy punjabi or ganwaar its all about common sense which is not in common. Also its about the behavior of learning, its about thinking style conflicts in mind, its about to get high status even you belong to low class hide or cover ur orignality.. Its about that you dont have ethocs or you unaware from the education.. Its mean everything… Never shame and be ounhabi :)
    Punjabi is 3rd largest spoken language in the world..Recommend

  • Pappu

    This is called evolution. A few generations down the lane english will be the mother tongue of all humans.Recommend

  • Muhammed Abdullah Qadri

    I dont know why the author feels sympathetic about Punjabi and threatened about its existence, where as Punjabi seems to be the most spoken and heard language from London via Lahore to Chandriga. Also these days every song has punjabi wordings, sentences, phrases be it Pakistani or Indian. It would be worth mentioning that the promotion songs like Pani da Rang Waikh ke and singers like Imran Khan in Uk to Honey Singh in India have given to Punjabi language, such a promotion could not be matched to the actual works of early Punjabi Poets. Even at Sindh Festival recently held at Karachi, Punjabi songs were played most of the time. Above all Punjabi concerts are the most held concerts in the World be it Canada, Australia or Dubai. So I think the author need not to worry at all because Punjabi is every where. For author Mr Shiraz Hassan I would say, “Good Good Ganderian, Do Terian Do Merian”. Recommend

  • Jay Sean

    You really need a history lesson my friend, the original Punjabi script is “Shah Mukhi”, the first ever written punjabi found is in “shah mukhi” which you call urdu script, urdu did copy punjabi script, not the other way.
    Gurmukhi was developed during guru goband singh era in late 18th century, just to write down gurbani, later sikh nationalism make this script to write punjabi.
    So my friend original punjabi script is always have been shah mukhi, all classical punjabi litrature was written in shah mukhi. But alas you never have read your owb history.Recommend

  • Jay Sean

    @Fact is Fact: So according to your own standard english parents should not teach their kids english, because they will learn it from their surrounding?
    My friend language is “JUST” a tool to communicate, it has nothing to do with “Educating” anyone, and every language satisfy its main objective, i.e let people communicate.
    EDUCATION is on otherside is process of thinking, observing and getting to results based on those observations, and you are saying forget about training a child’s mind to think, we must teach him a new so called “International language”, which is not part of his surroundings, hence wasted, a 5 year will never ever be able to graps concept of daffodells, so why dont we teach him logic about Suraj Mukhi, which he observes everyday, he will never be able to understand why do they put salt on roads, when it snow, why are then we teaching him all this crap, which is not part of surroundings? Which he can not observe in his life? So is he going to develope logic about that, Education starts from observing your surroundings, we are just producing inferior pupils with this education system, and now it is proven sceintifically that a child must learn “ONLY” in his mother tongue, to grasp ideas.Recommend

  • Pak Punjabi

    I wish Pakistani Punjabis would speak their language with the same pride that Sikh Punjabis in east Punjab have. Why Pakistani Punjabis want to abandon Punjabi identity? Being Pakistani is important but being Punjabi should be seen as important also. Always remember that Punjabi identity is longer and richer than Pakistan and India (two countries created less than 70 years ago). Pak Punjabis need to stop discrimination against their MOTHER TONGUE.

    Proud to be a Punjabi Muslim.Recommend

  • Pak Punjabi

    @Salman Arshad:
    being Muslim does not means one should abandon one’s identity!Recommend

  • sterry

    @optimist: Sorry but the Persian script for Punjabi called Shahname is older than Gurmukhi since Islam in Punjab is over 1000 years old; Sikhism and Gurmukhi is only a few centuries old. All of the original Punjabi works of Bulleh Shah, Waris Shah etc are written in Pakistani style Persianized Punjabi called Shahname or Shahmukhi. I don’t know how the relatively new Gurmukhi came to be known as a written tongue in the much smaller Indian Punjab. It’s true that less educated middle class Punjabis may think that Urdu / Hindi is better than Punjabi but real educated Punjabis and the intelligentia have never given up on their mother tongue. I still communicate in Punjabi and I teach it both to my children and grandchildren. I want them to understand Urdu / Hindi but more importantly English too. However I would never let them forget their mother tongue and I believe Punjabi needs to be promoted again at the primary school level. Just because some people in Pakistan have let themselves get fooled about Punjabi history and its beauty doesn’t mean that the educated class of Punjabis have forgotten it. It represents a beautiful language which is ideally suited to music. In Canada, people respect Punjabi more than Urdu / Hindi anyways. Those who speak Punjabi, including the smaller number of Indian Punjabi speakers will tell you that the Pakistani form of Punjabi from Gujranwala is the highest form of the language. Punjabi in Pakistan cannot die because it is the birthplace of Punjabi.Recommend

  • Ejaz Mahmood
  • Ejaz Mahmood

    Punjabi language has eminent poets and those who speak punjabi must be proud of it.Recommend

  • http://@net Khushab wala.

    This article is basically about nothing.
    The author could not find a relevant or
    better subject. Just beating a dead
    horse or trying to stir up controversy.Recommend

  • Humza

    @optimist: The original script for Punjabi is Shahmukhi or Shahname – it is older than Gurmukhi. Gurmukhi means from the Guru’s mouth and Sikhism is relatively new to East Punjab whereas Punjab has a long history of Islam many centuries before Sikhism even existed. Shahmukhi or Shahnahme is a variant of the Persian Nastaliq script. As we all know the term Punjab is itself a Persian word. Punjab like a lot of Pakistan used to be part of Persian Khorasan Empire.Recommend

  • Naila

    @Hindu Meditation:
    Many Muslims have names that have roots from Arabic. I have met Indonesian Muslims with names like Hassan and Muhammad.Recommend

  • http://AgreedwithFactisFact Aetzaz

    Totally agree with remarks in fact is fact.Recommend

  • Fact is Fact

    @Jay Sean: Yes if english is your mother tongue, whether you go to school or not, you will get it. The example is seen here. we are communicating in english no matter what our mother tongues are because we educated ourselves in this international language so regardless of caste, creed, race or language, we can communicate properly. It is, nowadays, an important part of life. You will observe things and educate but what is the point if you are unable to communicate your observations to a larger audience. lets say if you have some findings to publish, if you are unable to read and write in english which is a mean of communication at this moment in time then you are nobody in the world. Can you go with your findings in your mother tongue? Lets say, Yes. but that will decrease your target audience. Same rule applies to business field. Mother tongue would limit your approach whereas an learning an international language would clear those barriers which are still there in pak society because we are not willing to change and always cursing angraiz :PRecommend

  • lodhi

    EVERY PROBLEM IN PAKISTAN HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM.It was that element which propagated before partition that Punjabi was a language of Sikhs and Urdu belonged to muslims.Arabic culture ,dress and language was
    given high importance,despite the fact that religion does not bound us to speak Arabic or wear Arabic dress.Punjabi speaking urdu were given respect and were offered jobs.Punjabi language was degraded by the Nawabs and Muslim elites from other places of India.Recommend

  • Avtar Singh Tehna

    People of both Punjabs must come forward
    Writer has expressed a deep concern about the Punjabi language. It is the language of great poets like Sheikh Farid and Bulle Shah. It is said that Sheikh Farid was the first poet of Punjabi. Sikh Gurus had also written Gurbani in Punjabi. In Indian Punjab, Punjabi is an official language and is being taught in the schools and colleges as a compulsory subject. Even in Canada U.S.A., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand and in other many countries Punjabi is growing day by day.
    For instance, in the New Zealand, especially in South Auckland, Punjabi is also developing. Moreover, if a person wants to obtain his NZ driver’s Licence, can take driving test in Punjabi.
    In addition, Punjabi classes are being conducted at Sikh Gurudwaras to educate the children of Punjabi origin.
    I feel it is the need of hour to promote the Punjabi language. People of Indian and Pakistan Punjab’s must come forward to save Punjabi, especially in west Punjab. Social media can also play an important role bridging the people of both the Punjabs.

    Avtar Singh Tehna
    Auckland, New Zealand
    [email protected]Recommend

  • Javed

    Punjabi is the 9th most spoken language wordlwide (Wikipedia), And in Pakistan Punjabi is written in Urdu. پنجابیRecommend

  • Fact is Fact

    @Avtar Singh Tehna: Big difference. Punjabi in pak and india are mother tongues which the kids will eventually get hold of. In New Zealand, for example, the native language is english so kids will learn that eventually where punjabi is going extinct in those families and that is why people are focusing on punjabi there so their kids can know it better. In Pak or India, punjabi is like english in New Zealand and therefore English is important in Pak as Punjabi is impt in New Zealand. I hope you are getting the point here.Recommend

  • soraya mahmood

    @Salman Arshad:
    that makes no sense unless you are an Arab (in which case this article should be irrelevant to you)
    Arabic is not spoken in any part of Pakistan except when learning to read the Quran. Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Gulab Singh Cheema: It may have to do some thing with the belief that only Arabic speaking Muslims will be allowed in Muslim heavenRecommend

  • I am a Khan

    A language does not make anyone gawaar. its their deeds that make them gawaar.
    every human being has the right to love and speak in their mother tongue. The best thing would have been to have made arabic the lingua franca of the islamic world including pakistan. That way every muslim would have been fluent in their mother tongue, arabic and english. Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    “And since recitation of the Quran and saying prayers is also part of the curriculum in the Pakistani society – whether at school, a madrassah or at home, almost all children end up learning Arabic as well”. Not true. Memorizing parts of the Holy Book doesn’t mean a person learns Arabic, for this reason most mullahs in Pakistan don’t know Arabic at all. Moreover, spoken Arabic today is totally different from what it was 1400 years ago.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    “Punjabis have not completely given up on their mother tongue”. Quite true. Even in Lahore I have found that most people do not speak Urdu. It takes them some time to understand that there are people in Pakistan who are not able to speak Punjabi. So you need not worry, Punjabi will never disappear from Pakistan!Recommend

  • Soraya mahmood

    That is utter nonsense. Recommend

  • Soraya mahmood

    @I am a Khan:
    Why do you feel that Arabic should have been enforced as a language in states like Pakistan who have nothing to actually do with the Arab World? We are not Arabs. We belong to Asia and we come from the subcontinent. We need to realize this. The only thing we have in common with the Arab world is Islam. Our culture was completely different and it is only recently that Pakistan has been under Arab influence. Recommend

  • Shafiq Khan

    I am a Punjabi and speak punjabi at every possible opportunity. I only lived in Punjab for my early years since then I have been living in UK. Went to universities in the UK happened to be married to a native English and speak English at home.
    The authors observations are close to my own. The children of my brothers and sisters speak udru at home and give Punjabi a second place. They are all exceptionally well to do Punjabi live in Punjab.
    I fear the Punjabi themselves are the worst offenders and undermine their own language. Consequently we are in a desperate position as far as the development is concerned. Indian Punjabi has developed no end but Pakistani Punjabi has not because the Pakistani Punjabis do not value their beautiful language which is the origin of all ,perhaps most Indian languages.

    If you do not use the language in the new sciences the language will die. Farsi has suffered in the scientific world because the research is not conducted in Farsi hence they have converted English terms in Farsi for their use. Arabic has suffered the same fate.

    All languages suffer from low esteem if the speakers of the language do not value it.
    I have lived in Wales for some years and found the Welsh speakers absolutely passionate about their language, though the language of a minority but still very well respected.
    By taking pride in you own mother tongue is equivalent to your pride in yourself. Any language that has half of its literature in their own language as the Punjabi has can be very proud of themselves.
    Irrespective of what people think my mother tongue is the best for me. I love it and often travel a long way to find fellow speakers of the language.
    Good, bad or indifferent Punjabi is my language by denying that I feel less than what I am. Recommend

  • Unknown

    Teaching a foreign language to a children is killing his/her intelligence. That is the reason, we make records only in getting x number of As in O or A level exam but never do any real invention. Whereas Children in Japan, China, Germany are way way ahead in science and engineering not only from Pakistan but also from UK.

    Best is, teach the children in mother language till he is 15 to 16 years of age and let him grow intellectually as well. Rotting english language is destructive for children. Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    I have a feeling that Allah will be happy if we abandon our Punjabi identity and strive to take on original Islamic culture, which incidentally happens to be Arabic.Recommend

  • Strategic Asset

    @Jay Sean: You really need a history lesson my friend, the original Punjabi script is “Shah Mukhi”, the first ever written punjabi found is in “shah mukhi” which you call urdu script

    Not entirely true. The oldest surviving written Punjabi prose is in the Lande Mahajani script. The script of all prior Punjabi prose was lost (only oral tradition survived) due to frequent wars and invasions of Punjab. In mid-16th century (1539-1552), Guru Angad beautified existing letters and added new letters to the Lande script on the basis of the Devnagari script to create standardized Gurumukhi.script.

    Shahmukhi as standardized today is only from the mid-20th century. It is surmised that some early Punjabi poets may have written in a Persian-Arabic script.Recommend

  • Ali

    Good piece of writing and an eye opener . i feel proud to have been groomed in other parts of the world and country and yet stick to my mother tongue , punjabi . in addition i do speak other regional languages as well and i have always found and edge on the fellows who do not speak regional languages . Lets be proud in what mother nature has given us and let this heritage be cultivated through our off springs .. Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    @Soraya mahmood:

    what do we have in common with the British/Americans? neither race, nor religion. Why was English enforced on us? If we can learn and speak English, then why not Arabic? The entire muslim ummah would have been a lot united if every muslim was fluent in Arabic. Recommend

  • Soraya mahmood

    @I am a Khan:
    English is an established language not enforced but recognized all over the world. It is also the most convenient to communicate between two nations who speak different languages. How do you expect to get ahead in the world not knowing the language the world is running on? The British do have history with our nation which is also why it has the influence that it does. Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    @ I am a Khan:”The entire muslim ummah would have been a lot united if every muslim was fluent in Arabic”. Which Arabic? The Arabic of Syria is totally different from that of Saudi Arabia. Egyptian and Palestinian Arabic are again different. Egyptians, Palestinians and Yemenis are unable to pronounce “jay”. As for Tunisian, Moroccan and Algerian Arabic, they are as different as Sindhi is from Punjabi. Let’s stick to English, which is homogeneous and is understood throughout most of the civilized world.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    @Soraya mahmood:

    I am not against learning or speaking English. The more languages you learn the better.
    I was replying to your comment that why should we pakistanis learn Arabic. We as a nation are closer to Arabic and Arabs (geographic proximity, Religion) than we are to English and British/Americans. When we make ourselves fluent in English, then we should be equally fluent in Arabic. In fact Pakistan’s (and other muslim nations’) national language should have been Arabic.

    @Shakir Lakhani:
    Please do not comment on an issue that you are not fully conversant with. Arabic is one language and the differences you mention are just differences in dialects like the punjabi of lahore is different to the puthwari of Mirpur, but can be understood by the different speakers. Have you ever heard a Scottish guy speak english?…it sounds like a completely different language (due to the scot accent which completely changes english). FYI the Pakistani/Indian English we speak is not the same as American English or Australian English or Queens English, or Cockney or Scot English. They are all different dialects/accents of the same language.

    Having different dialects is no excuse not to learn Arabic. I am more than happy to have our own punjabi or urdu accented arabic as the national language of Pakistan!Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    @Soraya mahmood:
    “English is an established language not enforced but recognized all over the world”

    Hope you have read history and know how English became “Recognized” all over the world after the British captured the common wealth countires by force and “Enforced” English on those countries.

    All I am saying is that Pakistanis are closer to Arabic and Arabs by way of geography and religion than we are to English. Its good to learn English, but learning Arabic is an equal must.

    @Shakir Lakhani:
    What you are talking of is different dialects and different accents which every language has be it punjabi or english. I.m happy to make urdu/punjabi accented arabic as our national language if we cannot get the accent of the arabs when speaking arabic. Just as we try to ‘fake’ american/british accents in English but what comes out mostly is a punjabi or urdu or pushto or sindhi accented english!Recommend

  • Haider Ali

    but punjabi looks somewhat rigid…..Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    @I am a khan,
    I agreed bro but truth is u cant even get admission in there Arabic school and universities,
    i lived in mid east and seen discrimination and they dont wanna promote there lang or culture at all and on other hand English countries give u all the facilities…. why is this dif?
    sir… Recommend

  • Humza

    @Strategic Asset: Long before Sikhism came into being, Muslim rulers controlled the Punjab and all used variants of the Persian Arabic script that we now call Shahname. All of the Punjabi Sufi poets who existed before Sikhism also had their words recorded in the modified Persian script we call Shahname. It matters little than the same Shahname was modified and standardized at a later date – the fact remains that the Persian script for Punjabi is older than the Lande script and there is no record of Sanscrit ever being used to record Punjabi. There is evidence to show Punjabi recorded in Persian Arabic script long before Sikhism. Think about Fatimid rule in parts of Punjab including Multan before Islam spread to other parts of South Asia.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    @Ali Tanoli:
    Bro, Arab countries discrimination is no excuse for us not to learn Arabic, just as we never stop learning English, due to the racism against Pakistanis/South Asians in USA, Auz & UK.
    You have millions of Pakistanis working in the Middle East. How many are fluent in Arabic? Very few. instead the arabs have learnt urdu/hindi.
    Compare that to the Pakistanis living in USA & UK, Australia, almost everyone can communicate in English.
    You cannot complain about discrimination by Arabs, when you live in their country and are not fluent in their language. Learning the language of the country you live in reduces social barriers. Recommend

  • http://@net Chakwali

    ‘…less educated middle class punjabi.’ ..real educated punjabi,..intelligentsia..’
    Had absolutely no idea punjabis had a caste system. Thought that was limited
    to India, or England, more or less. Upper class, upper middle class, lower class,
    untouchables. And in Canada people ‘respect’ punjabi more than Urdu/Hindi? You
    must have conducted a survey. That would be discrimination really, to hold one language
    above the other. Should point out to you that Quebec wants to separate from Canada
    because they think they are French. Their culture, language, is different from rest of Canada.
    They don’t want to integrate. Had no idea Gujranwalas speak the purest punjabi.
    You should really read your comment before hitting the sent button.Recommend

  • http://@net Goonga

    @I am a Khan:
    Arabic was/is not the Lingua Franca of the muslim world.
    Even during the height of Islamic Rise it was the Turkic/Persian
    that was spoken. From India, all the way to Bucharest, Hungary.
    And the Indo-Pak sub continent has it’s own beautiful, thriving culture.
    Multi faceted.
    Nothing in common with the Arabs. Except religion. Of course,
    you can ape the Arabs. Remember there is Iran and Afghanistan in
    between,.. before you even get to see the first arabic soil.
    However you can pretend to be descended from Arabs and ape Arabs
    The fact remains, you are from the Indian sub continent and culture.
    Culture that goes back 6000 years. There was Moenjo Daro. While
    arabs were still living in caves.Recommend

  • http://@net Chakwali

    You are still teaching your adult children punjabi??
    Maybe you are using the wrong alphabet. Switch to
    Hindi alphabet. That might help. Try Sanskrit. And
    teaching your grand children too? First make sure grandkids
    are “educated.” As you mentioned…’educated class of punjabis
    have not forgotten punjabi.’ See,…that will help them retain it
    In the meantime, who knows, the ‘uneducated class’ of punjabis
    will forget their language. Recommend

  • Necromancer

    Well This is blasphemy and should be dealt with Iron Fist only Arabic should be spoken through out Pakistan and all Muslim countries I would request Khadiman-ul-Harmain-urSharifan to intervene and save us Muslims while issuing Fatwa against anyone who speaks any other language that is not Arabic and of course our beloved Burqa Maulvi as wellRecommend

  • Maria

    I think the worry about Punjabi as a language is only unique to Pakistan since many Pakistanis in North America continue to use it. It’s media in Pakistan which is down on native languages for the wrong reasons. Every society values its traditions and culture. For many parents of my generation, Punjabi, Pashtu, Baluchi and other native Pakistani languages are very important since it ties us to Pakistan. In the West most people see Hindi and Urdu as the same language – that’s why for example the University of Texas has a combined Hindi Urdu Department. Hindi and Urdu is only a link language that allows people to watch Indian movies qnd songs but it does not carry the importance in Western society among expatriate Pakistanis, especially 2 nd generation. I prefer Punjabi, Sindi and Pashtu culture since it is richer and older than Bollywood and Hindi or Urdu. Recommend

  • Strategic Asset

    @Humza: This contrived linkage is the problem with Pakistanis. How can you or anyone say that Shahmukhi is derived from the ancient Perso-Arabic script when the truth is that no single Punjabi document with that script exists today? Moreover we know very well that the ancient Perso-Arabic script had many missing letters to be used with Punjabi and these letters were only added to the Perso-Arabic script in today’s Shahmukhi.

    Secondly Sanskrit is one of the world’s ancient spoken languages. The oral tradition survives to this day. Please re-read what I wrote — I never said that Punjabi was based on Sanskrit script because there is nothing called a Sanskrit script. Gurumukhi was fashioned by Guru Angad with some design cues from the Devnagari script.

    Thirdly you bring up Shahname. It is the name of an ancient Persian book. Not sure what you want to convey with that.

    I am all for regional languages and their richness, be it scripts, prose, poetry, etc. I also don’t care whether one writes in Gurumukhi or Shahmukhi. I do have a problem though if someone distorts history just to put one script down for silly reasons as the original poster did.Recommend

  • Visitor

    Even though the title of your article has nothing to do with the content, the unapologetic and politically incorrect answer to the question is quite simply……yes. Recommend

  • Rashid Behlim

    Punjabi is a beautiful language and children should be taught their mother tongue and think the Punjabi themselves are discouraging their own language. I am from Gujarati speaking family and my parents were the last to communicate in this language which was never taught to us as Urdu was the order of the day. Linguistic factor plays a vital role in daily life as I reside in foreign land and meet many Guju’s but unable to communicate. I feel its important that one should be aware of his mother tongue and always hold it in high esteem.Recommend

  • SlutMagnet

    What’s the point of this article? I’m not sure if it was the way you tried to express your words or if it was me who is tired and misinterpreted whatever I read.Recommend

  • Mera na

    And yet I see you speak, read and write English quite well. Do I detect a bit of the ridiculous here? And dare I say it,…. hypocrisy? Recommend

  • Inam

    Having lived in Lahore for over a decade, I haven’t met too many people as stated in the blog. Punjabi people love speaking Punjabi. Infact wherever I go, i see people spaeking Punjabi, be it an office, a hospital or shop… almost evrywhere. I like the Punjabi spoken by rickshaw walas. I am not a Punjabi, but I have learnt Punjabi and speak quite well and I love speaking it. So no worries, Punjabi is strong language and its future is not dark. :-)Recommend

  • Rohidas

    Punjab is a Sanskrit word. It is a combination of 2 Sanskrit words. Paanch meaning five and Aap meaning water. We are all made of panchtatwas viz. prithvi (earth), aap( water) tej (I don’t know English word for this) , vayu(air), aakash (ether)Recommend

  • Jutt Arain Rajput Changar

    Dont try to suppress Punjabies like Bangalis otherwise ……….Recommend

  • Jutt Arain Rajput Changar


  • Sidhu

    Only Pakistani punjabis dont like to speak punjabi to there kids….Recommend

  • Yussuf Khan

    You can also sign a petition asking for equal rights for the Punjabi language:

  • R. Ahmad

    It’s a good article but the logic and reasoning used is true for any
    language. The root of the problem is being unconfident in our identity –
    and our mother tongue (whether Punjabi, Sindhi, Urdu, etc.) is part of
    our identity, it defines our culture and our thought processes. Mr. Hassan is outlining a case of identity crisis (starting with the title) and has picked one
    psychological display of a group of people who are suffering from this problem – being ashamed of their mother tongue. That said, I do not agree with learning many languages from a young age hinders a child’s learning abilities. There are numerous studies that show children/adults who know more than one language are better learners. If a child can develop the ability to think in more than language (and that
    at an early age), they have a “brainy” edge over those who cannot. I believe teaching languages at an early age is important but using a different language as a medium of teaching is not conducive to learning – Unfortunately not many good math, science and history textbooks are written in any one of our national and local languages.Recommend

  • arun bawa

    22 g I am arun from Punjab India and want to say that a language doesn’t belong to any particular place and community even in India people speak Punjabi only in surten area of north India bt Punjabi songs r quite famous across India through Bollywood people i . All over India dance on Punjabi song regardless they don’t understand it properly . Recommend

  • Shahid Bhagat Singh

    Guys, you use punjabi and nothing else at your home and neighbourhood if you are a Punjabi.. These languages like urdu and hindi are not our languages. Remember, “je Punjabi Zinda Rahi Tan Punjab Zinda Rehange”Recommend

  • shahbaz shahid sherazi

    I think first of all its goverment fault. I mean its punjab goverment duty or job to give an official status to punjabi: in school from primary to universaties like other languages of pakistan regions. If u look in india every state of india has its official language with national language and english. Same must be in Pakistan Punjab. But unfortunately many parents trying to teach urdu to their children just because they dont want to be called so called jahil or ganwaar. REMEMBER PUNJABI is our mother tongue it has thousans of thousand of years while urdu is only few centuries old. Hope to see one day InshaAllah Punjabi as an official language in our Pakistan’s Punjab.Recommend

  • Shadaan

    You will never be an Arabs.Recommend