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Language issues should be depoliticised Nomanul Haq (LUMS) Lahore University of

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Language issues should be depoliticised Nomanul Haq Professor Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

Islamabad: Professor Nomanul Haq of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) has said language issues should be depoliticised.

He was delivering a talk on 'Trailing the Twilight of the UN Year of Languages: A Conceptual Plea in the Political Marketplace' organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday. Dr AH Nayyar moderated the talk.

Prof Haq favoured the entry of scientism in social sciences and observed that it is also true for languages in a multilingual world. "If you want to tell someone about Mirza Ghalib, you should also give him the literary background." He said art thrives on ambiguities but denied that a language could have imperialism in it. "There is a need to standardise languages. Farsi was there from Tehran to Bokhara to Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas because it was standardised."

He praised Faiz and Faraz for using words in a proper perspective and with pronunciation, which retained the metre in poetry. He did not agree that 44 per cent people speak Punjabi and the reason is the onslaught of Bollywood. Basing his observation at LUMS, he said, urban Punjabis are familiar with but could not speak Punjabi and use Urdu.

He said the battle is not between Urdu and other regional languages but between economic and cultural hegemony. Urdu is semantically Indic and the same is the case with Seraiki as far as the motive is concerned. He also called for standardising Urdu.

Dr Tariq Rehman, director of the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-e-Azam University, said many known linguists talk of linguistic imperialism, adding many Hindi words were excluded from Urdu by Muslim elites during the British period but the change remained with elites and the common people did not adopt it.

He said the language change is a reality and Bollywood is not destroying but preserving the language. He said Hindi is tilted towards Urdu or Hindustani whereas Door Darshan is still 'Sanskritising' it. In a heated question hour session, Dr Haq said a language change might not be a development essentially, but it could also be deterioration. A participant said now even Urdu is being replaced by English in the wake of the to-look-down-upon phenomenon. He also called for reducing the number of letters denoting the same phonetic sounds like 'zuad', 'zoen', 'zaal' and 'zay' in Urdu, and raised the issue of who would decide what is standard. Prof Inam, while agreeing in the end that language has to change, observed that if there was no standardisation, there would be chaos. Replying to a question, Dr Rehman said linguists do not accept orthography. The News