If Hindi is a threat to our national and regional languages, what about English?

Published: August 5, 2016

Doraemon is certainly not worth watching for the values it imparts – but to rest the fall of our language on it is unfair and unrealistic. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

Doraemon (a Japanese manga anime dubbed in Hindi) is blamed for the corruption of our children’s own language as we continue to speak a mish-mash of Urdu, English and our respective regional languages. Doraemon has risen as the latest target of criticism. This is the time to honour our culture and language and the well-being of our children. It is heart-warming to see that big-shots in the parliament are concerned about the impact of our TV screens on the youngest of their constituents. However, one of their reasons, along with the ensuing public debates, has revealed the entrenched hypocrisy in us.

The hypocrisy lies in our belief that Hindi would/will corrupt our children, yet constantly mixing English with Urdu. It lies in objectifying Hindi as threatening to our language but stereotyping Urdu; for example those who are well-spoken in Urdu must not be fluent in English, similarly, they may be old-fashioned. All stereotypes.

Therefore, the real question is whether it is mother tongue versus foreign language, or mother tongue versus Hindi?

The Zee TV generation (myself included) and their parents know that the arrival of cheap cable showered us with a variety of content on television. This included opportunities to learn English through Western shows as well as pick up Hindi words from Star Plus. Soon, Urdu was on the backburner as Ainaq Wala Jinn fizzled in thin air and children replaced Urdu words with Hindi in their daily speak.

The honest answer is that even without Star Plus, Zee TV and now Doraemon, we have pitted Urdu and our regional languages against foreign languages.

Parents complain that children are learning Hindi words from Doraemon. But the cartoon is not the only one to corrupt our language. Even 10 years ago, a student in my Urdu class was shocked to learn that ‘sehmat’ is a Hindi word for ‘ittefaaq’ in Urdu. Now over the same 10 years, parents have started using a combination of English and Urdu with their children in the hopes of developing bilingual skills to ensure academic strength.

Beta, shoes pehen lo!

“Shirt kahan hai?”

Yeh table pe rakh do!”

These are only a few of the dozens of corruptions we make in our language as English words have crept in our daily speak. Even though each of the English words used above have Urdu counterparts, we still include them. The idea here is not to undermine the importance of English or any other language, but to speak one language at a time if it is a so-called ‘corruption’ we fear.

I remember that my parents never feared my potential incompetence in the English language (which is already so actively taught in our schools now) but rather stressed upon me speaking pure and proper Urdu or English – one at a time. It did not make me any weaker in English; rather it gave me strength and confidence to excel in both languages at school and otherwise.

An example of strong bilingual skills, yet preserving in each, is found in the United States where learning Spanish is compulsory for many children. Yet, we don’t hear them say,

“May I sit on the silla?” instead of, “May I sit on the chair?”

This does not compromise their language, English. Neither does it compromise the one they are adopting.

The second hurdle we face in this linguistic crisis is the typifying of those who prefer Urdu or a regional language over English. We demean Urdu and regional languages as much as we demean Hindi, leaving us in this hypocritical state, so-much-so that excelling in them becomes a reason for judgmental reactions and stereotypes. I, too, have been a target of this criticism, especially for my decision to pursue Urdu at a higher level (even after ‘O’ levels) instead of foreign languages.

Why does being good at Urdu reflect weakness? Why does excelling in English showcase strength?

It is this inferiority complex and consciousness of our own language that allows even animated characters like Doraemon and Nobita and Indian vamps on TV to take over our children’s tongue.

Doraemon is certainly not worth watching for the values it imparts – but to rest the fall of our language on it is unfair and unrealistic. It is our own failure to decide what our children should learn to speak first. And, by not confidently speaking our own language with them throughout, we have allowed this corruption.

Be it Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashto or any other language we speak, we must speak it in its pure form and then expect our children to learn it. The same goes for English or any other foreign language.


Maham Kamal Khanum

The author is an International Baccalaureate graduate, studying Policy, Politics and Law at American University, Washington, D.C. She tweets as tweets @mahamkhanum (twitter.com/mahamkhanum)

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

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Policies of the GHQ for you. They speak Punjabi all the time but do not give it the respect of a national language.

    Unfortunately, Punjabis in Pakistan are the only ethnic group of people who hate their mother tongue.

    Urdu cannot be the language that unites the people of Pakistan. It is the mother tongue of 13% of Pakistan.

    We should have 5 national languages (urdu, punjabi, sindhi, baluchi, pushtu) and one official language (english).Recommend

  • Silver Black

    There are so many loopholes in authors argument that i don’t even know from where to begin. Firstly her comparison of Urdu/Hindi with English is utterly flawed. English is a universal language spoken by millions world wide and even these children will be doing their studies in English mostly. Secondly i don’t think that the author has been around children and observed their behavior, they are very receptive what ever they hear or see they mimic it. Hindi programs are all about Indian culture which is quite different from ours. Especially their expressions and use of certain Hindi words are outright inconsistent with our standards for instance in their films they use the word “Sallay” quite frequently and no sane parent in Pakistan would want their children use lingoo like that…….In their cartoon they frequently refer to each other as Tu, Abhay, Tera etc and then there are other hardcore hindi words like Bhagwaan, Shaanti, Pita, Mata, Rakshus etc etc.Recommend

  • Ali

    Unlike Hindi English is used in many coutnries for medium of communication most country and internet most of the content is is english so mostly people learn it as second language to for communication around the world.I myself like English it is best language.Recommend

  • hnr

    I do not know about Hindi or Urdu or other regional languages which India has in plenty and some older than Hindi.Not many anyway understand Hindi either in certain parts of the country.All I do know is English provides jobs not so with Urdu or Hindi.Recommend

  • Anon

    English programs stay in English and have no overlap with Urdu. As a result anyone watching it cannot possibly confuse it for Urdu or think the words being spoken are Urdu words. Hindi on the other hand has a lot of overlap and can cause confusion among children learning the language. Recommend

  • Alann

    Watching Doraemon (and that too in Hindi!) is still way safer than the ‘knowledge’ they gain in their nearby mullah-infested Lal Masjids of Pakistan.
    Also, with the incredulously large number of cases of child rape in these monastries, Doraemon should be the least of the problems of these people trying to ‘protect’ their children from “evil” Japanese/Indian content. But then..Pakistan always had all its priorities messed up.Recommend

  • Robert Berube

    Seriously? Comparing Hindi to English is false equivalency. English is not only Pakistan’s official language but as well as a global language.Recommend

  • vinsin

    pehen, rakh, kahan all are HIndu words and so do beta, lo, hai, pe, yeh and do. URDU is 99% Hindu, Sanskrit and Prakrit. Urdu is a subset of Hindi.


  • Fawad

    Why afraid of addition of hindi words, Urdu has hindi words and it originated mixing hindi, Arabic and Persian. Tum, hum for you and me came from hindi and hindi was before Urdu was born so don’t shy from hindi.Recommend

  • Sardar Hashmat Khan

    O Bibi! If you have any issues with Urdu, Don’t speak it and teach your children pure hindi which contains sansikrat words. we don’t have any interest in speaking Hindi.Recommend

  • Logical Pakistani

    I’m a Pakistani ( a logical one ) and I’m here to tell you that nothing is wrong with Hindi , English , or any other language in the world , if they said it as ” it was against Islam ” ( many other people say that too) they should know that no language is bad in Islam , is it the fault of the American Muslims that they were born their and they speak English ? Or even the Indian Muslims ? To be fair , in Islam even Urdu is nowhere , does that make it a bad language too?

  • Khan Nasir

    Please also mention as who has raised any objections over Hindi?Recommend

  • AD

    Urdu itself is mix of Sanskrit ,Hindi,Arabi,Farsi . What is big deal in this ? Let the kids learn the language of their ancestors.Recommend

  • Whataquestion

    Ask a silly question get a silly answer.Recommend

  • Jayman

    Urdu originated from Hindi and Persian languages. Then again, Pakistanis are never told the truth about anything.Recommend

  • Pnpuri

    How many literate or semi literate are using hindi punjabi or urdu words like toliya,rumal, kamij, pyali, thali, kamra, darwaja,bari, rasoi (towel, hanky, shirt, cup, plate, room, door, window ,kitchen) or other hindi or punjabi words of daily parlance. i doubt if my 30 year old son have used or understand these words. He only uses English equivalents. Even I have not used words like snan bath. Gusal Khana is bathroom pakhana is toilet. I am sure even in pakistan position is sameRecommend

  • Anon

    I tried being the first to comment… But obviously you guys are looking for something specific!Recommend

  • kdp

    English became such a rich language because it keeps accepting foreign language words every year several of them are officially added in oxford and other English language dictionary. Hundreds of Hindi words now also are officially English wordsRecommend

  • LS

    The topic and hand is corruption of Urdu Language.. and she is rightly talking about corruption of Urdu language in pakistan by highlighting how it is taking place with English too but no body talks about it because English isn’t Indian.. Anything Indian can be riled up in Pakistan including language.. Funny thing is that Urdu is ALSO an Indian language… that pakistan borrowed as a national language..

    So the conversation isn’t about comparison… it is about so called “Corruption” of a borrowed language… Which in itself is hypocrisy..Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    English does not have “respectful you.” Aap. Their Sir is also derivative of Sanskrit Sri and Sriman.

    You promoted your culture which made natives lose their native culture and language. Result is in front of you. Convent educated rich kids in Pakistan are killing bus load of Ismailis just like their Taliban & ISIS brothers. Till you had some HinduSikhs, Pakistan was sane, now with native roots gone, Pakistan is breeding terror.

    When Science and Maths is learnt in native language with native context then it is learnt and later used better. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madhava_seriesRecommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Bhagwan is more Boudh and has derivatives in Slavic and Russian. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavan#Etymology_and_meaning

    Aurat literally means one with shameful dirty private part. Native Stree and Mahila have spiritual meaning just as Purush. Stree means one who harmonizes three Gunas (Tamad, Rajas and Satwa) to raise consciousness. This raising of consciousness is called Saundarya.Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Maham Kamal Khanum, why Hindi or English ……. Even Urdu (an Awadhi Language) originated in India is a treat to Pakistan …… ???Recommend

  • http://gravatar.com/skchadha SKChadha

    Ha … ha … ha ….. Sardar Ji …. know more about Urdu. Hindi, Prakrit, Sanskrit have their base in Sindh and Punjab (Pakistan). It is Urdu, which is a pure Awadhi Language originating from Central India ….. It has nothing to do with Pakistan ….. :-)))Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    “Urdu” is “Ordu” the “Mughal” or “Mongol” military “camp language” The “Sipahi/Sawari/Jamadars/Subedars” created this pidgin language for the Mongol troops to communicate with the local people. This is evident in the large number of Urdu words for describing different sizes of private body parts, Urdu poetry involving alcohol and words of Turkish, Persian, Arabic and Hindi origins. The Mongol Ordu which created Urdu had passed through Iraq, Iran and India, where they collected these words, generally to support the camp needs.Recommend

  • Awais

    What else you expect from a geek with no real world experience…Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    If you can say haan, hoon, hein, hey you can speak 90% of UrduRecommend

  • Islamic Origin Language Hindi

    The Iran outsourced Islamic origin language Hindi is first of all not the heritage language of India. Pakistani language Hindi blabbering Muslim Prime Minister’s goal along with the Islamic parties BJP and Khangress are to make the whole country the enemy country Pakistani language speakers.

    Between the 2 outsourced language English and the Pakistani Islamic origin language Hindi, definitely English is more neutral and progressive than the Islamic origin language.Recommend

  • Islamic Origin Language Hindi

    Hindi and Urdu are the same language which are both Islamic origin and outsourced from Iran. Sanskrit script does not make the Islamic origin language Hindi into an Indian language.

    Muslim Prime Minister Narendra Modi is forbidden to speak Indian languages as his religion Islam does not allow to make friends with “infidels” which are Indian language speakers. Islam also commands creeping sharia and gradual conversion to Islam, in this light Indian language speakers need to be converted into Islamic origin language Hindi speakers before the Hindi terrorists from Pakistan can access the country to finish of the infidels.

    Islamic origin language Hindi has NOTHING TO DO WITH HINDUISM.

    Imposition of the Islamic origin language is nothing but a conspiracy which started when the British sold the country to the Muslim language speakers which is to surrender the country to Islam.Recommend

  • Islamic Origin Language Hindi

    Both Hindi and Urdu are the same Islamic origin language. Sanskrit script does not change the Iran outsourced Islamic origin language Hindi into an Indian language.Recommend


    LOl! what do you mean buddy?Recommend


    Urdu is not a Pakistani language. It originated in UP, India. Mohajirs took it to Pakistan. This delusion in Pakistan over what is their’s and what is not is amusing. Pakistan names its missiles on the names of people who came from outside, looted the subcontinent and imposed their religion. The most famous sirname among muslims of the subcontinent is ‘Khan’ which is a mongol name (genghis Khan and kublai khan) which were again invaders. I read in media that some pakistani’s want to identify themselves as descendents of Arabs. This is the stupidity that nobody else does. Bangladesh is proud of bengali, their mother tongue, just like indonesia is, malaysia is, iran is and so on. Languages are not linked to religion but to the land. And urdu did not come from the land of Pakistan. This is ridiculous to think of urdu as a islamic language!!Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    such an illogical article.
    english is not an annoying profanity infested language like Hindi.
    Hindi just sounds like a bad blend of tv noise and insect noises. Cant stand it.
    Dont want my kids learning hindi ever. It’s a hate language. Speaking english on the other hand is good for the economy, makes your children smarter, more intelligent.Recommend

  • gp65

    Hindi originates from Sanskrit. The script too is Devnagari. Urdu too originated in India and is a mixture of Hindi and Farsi. However the grammar is entirely based on Hindi grammar using language rules provided by Panini the grammarian.
    Unsure where you came up with the idea that Narendra Modi is Muslim. Are you saying that Gujarati – his mother tongue is also an Islamic language?
    Hindi has not been imposed on any one in India since India does not have a single official language but rather has 22 state languages.Recommend

  • gp65

    In Hindi the word for window is khidki. Bari is a Gujarati word for window. Unsure about you but in my family rumaal, pyaalo, bari, darwajo, thali are commonly used. Even my niece and nephew who are born and raised in US use these words.Recommend

  • Jayman

    Your comment makes no sense. Every other religion is at least 1000 years older than Islam. Your religion came AFTER everything else was invented.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    He has eaten/kha grass. Some weeds are intoxicating.Recommend

  • Islamic Origin Language Hindi

    Usual insults from Pakistani language hindi speakers.Recommend

  • Islamic Origin Language Hindi

    Pakistani language hindians of n india people keep telling this lie that their Islamic origin language Hindi is a Sanskrit based language just because it uses the Sanskrit script or mixes Sanskrit words. F and z are not present in Sanskrit. This language Hindi is nothing but Urdu in Sanskrit script and is outsourced language from Iran.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Sanskrit predates everything your new Abbu, Macaulay might be teaching. Macaulay Abbu cannot go before 1500 years before Roman fake Jesus happened because the Roman slave manual / Bible does not allow it.

    From Sanskrit came Prakrit. From Prakrit came Pali, From Pali came Khari Boli. From Khari Boli came number of languages, major being Marathi, Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Gujarathi, Bangali… The script of Saraswati Civilization (wrongly called Harappan or MoenjaDaro) is very close to Marathi Modi script of 17th century.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Update wikipedia.Recommend

  • vinsin

    update wikipedia and sue Pakistan those who teach that. Provide evidence. Dont be shy.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Even though you are right but that is against TNT.Recommend

  • vinsin

    And which numerals should Muslims be teaching to their kids?Recommend

  • Islamic Origin Language Hindi

    Wikipedia is always being updated, unfortunately not all these are “updates” are true.Recommend

  • Islamic Origin Language Hindi

    Actually the native Indian language Tamil predates Sanskrit. Even the word for God Bhagavan is originally a Tamil word, pagu-van. Sanskrit word are component wise individual Tamil constructs. The Tamil language is said to be mother of all languages. Look it up.Recommend

  • Islamic Origin Language Hindi

    The Sanskrit word Sri is considered to be a derivative of Tamil word thi-ru. THis prefix is also found in the name of many cities.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    what is ThiRoo is short form of Tirth Roop. Sanskrit Tamil divide is Anglo creation. What I know is this Adi Shankaracharya who revived Dharma was a Malyali. Many saints who contributed to Hindu Culture and Dharma are Tamil.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Ok so Tamil is Vedic Sanskrit or Vedic Sanskrit is based on Tamil. So, what point do you want to make? Tamils were also Bedouins… For me Tamil or Sanskrit speaking they were Indians. We cannot tolerate breaking India Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    LOL. Really???? I guess I chinese, Russians, Israleis, French, German etc, are dumb then who do most of their work in their own language or may be the use of Urdu is making Pakistanis dumb thats why they need to learn english to become “intelligent”. Any way, “Urdu” is Indan language. You guys must use Punjabi, Pashto, Saraiki, Sindhi, Balochi etc. Those are “Pakistani” languages.Recommend

  • Islamic Origin Language Hindi

    Thi is a root which means state which is in change. Thiru means stable.

    Roop itself comes from Tamil , uruvam. Word inversion from Tamil to Sanskrit is present in other words – seer / Rishi (Sanskrit), seer also mean uniform/ in order.

    If we considered human as evolved from animals, the progression of sound would be from simple sound to complex. Sanskrit has a large sophisticated set of letter Ka, Kha, Ga, Gha which is advanced development of speech. Tamil only has a quarter the sounds and only simple sounds. K/G; T/D, P/B are all the same letter, the initial words in original Tamil only start with K, G, P. But there also been circular influence with Sanskrit.

    Word components in Sanskrit words have Tamil roots, bhaagam which is Sanksrit words for “part” has Tamil root verb paagu to divide, but due to Sanskrit influence, the B sound is also used.

    The Language has been influenced by and influencing each other.Recommend

  • Islamic Origin Language Hindi

    Central government is hell bent on breaking the country. They have sold several territories to the neighbouring countries. The Southern Island Katchaitheevu, a Hindu temple gate in Manipur to Burma, several villages to Bangladesh.

    It is bitter history that the the political parties are taking turns selling the country. The most visible effect of the treason is Hindi imposition. Indian government needs to protect all its original languages, however Central government has other plans, which is to replace all Indian languages with a language outsourced from Persia.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    do you know Persian/Farsi? You can speak Hindi with your Tamil words in it. No one will object. Grammar of Sanskrit, Hindi & Tamil is same. Marathi has words from Kannada, Tamil and Telgu. Hindi is 90% Marathi. So dont complain, create TamihindRecommend

  • Islamic Origin Language Hindi

    F and Z sounds in Hindi are not Sanskrit, they are coming from Islamic countries including Iran. There was no Hindi before the Mughal invaders invaded India. “Hind” itself is Persian origin word. The Pakistani language Hindi speaking politicians are proven traitors by selling the country to the enemy and pushing the enemy country language and blocking Indian languages from central government, like what the secret radical Islamic party BJP did last year..Recommend

  • Islamic Origin Language Hindi

    TamilHind? Hind itself is Persian word. Hindi is outsourced language.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    What do you mean by out sourced? There was Khari boli before Hindi which is akin to Marathi, Bhojpuri, Awadhi Rajssthani. All I am saying is if you are proud of Tamil then use Tamil words while speaking Hindi. Like Marathi which absorbed Tamil, Telgu, Kannada words, Hindi will also do. Muslims were barely 9% by 1832. Hindi has nothing to do with Muslims. Urdu became language of Muslims, merely for political purpose. Urdu is language of Kothas as Muslims darbar ceased 2 exist by 1707.Recommend