Asymmetrical distribution of resources, powers killing languages: Experts at CRSS-ASC Pak-Afghan Workshop

Expert linguists warned on Friday that by the end of this century, we will lose almost half of the languages spoken today. This observation is alarming for Pakistan because it is a linguistically and culturally rich country and hosts around 74 languages.

They said this at the 8th workshop of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS).

The experts said that many Pakistan languages were dying and being replaced by the mainstream languages due to the underprivileged socioeconomic status of their speakers, linguist Dr Uzma Anjum said on the occasion.

She was addressing participants from different areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, including Swat, Bannu, Kohat, Kabul, Kunduz and Ghazni, and mostly enrolled in universities in the capital city.

She said the vitality or endangerment of languages depended on the asymmetrical distribution of resources and powers of their speakers. Resources and powers ensure that the process of standardising languages through writing dictionaries, defining the grammar and publishing literature, was taken forward. It also included using specific institutions that promoted the norms of those languages, she added.

Dr Uzma further said the disappearance of certain languages was truly a political issue. She also used the term ‘othering’ and stated that many people in Pakistan belonging to minority groups could not avail good jobs as they were not fluent in the mainstream languages spoken in the country.

She also said that women in every society played a pivotal role in keeping a language alive, adding that there was a need to provide breathing space to everyone in the society, irrespective of their popularity, majority or status.

The workshop was attended by 14 Afghans and five Pakistanis. In the interactive discussion session at the end, the participants discussed the diversity of languages existing in Afghanistan, as well as, how every language was accompanied by its own culture and worldview.

This was the 8th workshop conducted by CRSS Afghan Studies Centre which was focused on training the youth of Pakistan and Afghanistan on a single platform and grooming them as future leaders of their respective countries.

Story Courtesy: Pakistan Today

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