|Author ||The Reverend Peter M. Hawkins
|Topic ||Urdu - A Moghul Camp Language
|Date Entered ||09/09/2006 09:48:34
|Message ||"European and Community Languages"
An article by Iftikar Ahmed with commentary by the Reverend Peter M. Hawkins shewn in italics.
"The class of 2006 is poorly equipped to take on the globalised world, despite of their high grades. Less than five percent take foreign languages. The UK recently came bottom out of 28 countries in language ability, according to a study. Learning of languages widens the mental horizons."
The acquisition of languages in my experience is a matter of the need to know. An insular people do not need to know many languages, especially as in the recent past their major language has become the main means of international communication. However I, an Englishman, have had to learn seven languages in the course of my life. It is desirable that people learn the languages that they need for their life, study and work. In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the following languages are in use officially, Norman French in the Privy Council, English in it’s various local forms and the local forms of the Celtic Language, Welsh in Wales, the Irish form and Gaelic in Scotland.
"The British education system is depriving its citizens of the possibility of all the wonderful and useful things that come with a foreign language."
There is no “British education system” in the United Kingdom. Education is a Kingdom Subject, and thus the arrangements here in England are those of this Kingdom, those in Scotland are of that Kingdom, those in Wales of that Principality, and those in Northern Ireland of that Province.
"An English only education leaves our children at a linguistic and cultural disadvantage. It leaves our children behind. Learning a second language at an early age has a positive effect on intellectual growth and enriches and enhances a child’s mental development. It leaves students with more flexibility in thinking. It opens the door to other culture and helps a child understand and appreciate people from other countries. It increases job opportunities in many careers where knowing another language is a real asset. Some research suggests that bilingual children are more creative and better at solving complex problems. Bilinguals outperform verbal and non-verbal tests of intelligence. Researchers from University College London found out that learning a second language “boots” brain power. It is a well known fact, if somebody refuses to learn someone else’s language; they implicitly reject the other’s culture and their way of life. Schools need to teach children maths and three languages from nursery to A-level. In western European countries, all children are supposed to learn two languages along with the mother tongue at early stages. Younger children are more receptive to foreign languages than older pupils and are able to absorb the rhythms and structures more easily. It is essential that enthusiasm for languages could be nurtured earlier.
The largest ethnic minority groups in British schools are children of Pakistani origin: a community often accused of resisting assimilation and integration. Ann Cryer, the MP for Keighley blamed Imams for not speaking English. She should blame British schooling for not teaching Urdu/Arabic to Pakistani children, thus depriving them of understanding the Sermons in Arabic/Urdu. They are unable to enjoy the beauty of Urdu/Arabic literature and poetry. Imams are not part of the problem rather than the solutions. There is a proposal to teach Urdu as a compulsory language instead of French and German in British schools."
Iftikar comes from Luknau, Uttar Pradesh, India and only lived in Pakistan a short time before coming to the United Kingdom. His understanding of the situation of Azad Kashmiri language is defective. Azad Kashmiris are the largest group of “Pakistanis” here in England. They come from that part of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir that was invaded by Tribesmen in September 1947, and which was not liberated by the Indian Army after the accession of the State to the Dominion of India in October 1947. Life in that region was not particularly congenial after the annexation by Pakistan, and so when the chance arrived, many left. They come from an area where the spoken language is Kashmiri, a form of Punjabi, but which has no script there. The “Official” language of Pakistan is Urdu, but that is a patois or camp language, using Hindi Grammar and words, but with some Arabic and Persian words. It is written in Persian Script. It was a language concocted for use with the Moghul Army whose soldiers knew no Persian. The Moghuls and the East India Company used Persian for Court and Legal proceedings. Urdu was not a local language in Pakistan in 1947 and I doubt if Jinnah who came from Bombay, spoke it!
"The British Government is urged to remove the requirement in the National Curriculum that children between the ages of 11-14 study at least one European language. The linguistic abilities of large number of Muslim children were being ignored because they had to learn another European language as well as mastering English. The Government must promote the status of Urdu language instead of languages of European origin. Tim Benson, head of Nelson primary school in Newham said that the “nationalistic curriculum failed to recognize the staggering array of linguistic abilities and competencies” in schools such as his, where the pupils spoke more than 40 languages."
There is a non-sequitur here. Urdu will not usually be the home language of children from Pakistan, and will certainly not be the home language of Muslim children from Bangladesh, India or Sri Lanka, let alone the other countries from which Muslim and Non Muslim children have come.
"The linguistic dexterity of families speaking an array of languages was celebrated but the “awesome achievements” of children mastering three or four languages were barely recognised by the education system. Social and emotional education comes with your own language-literature and poetry. A DFES document clearly states that children should be encouraged to maintain and develop their home languages. A study shows that bilingualism is a positive benefit to cognitive development and bilingual teacher is a dire necessity and is a role model. The price of ignoring children’s bilingualism is educational failure and social exclusion. Bilingualism could be developed by bringing a partner from Pakistan. The kids will get better at both languages. One will speak English while the other will speak Urdu."
There is a particular problem in schools for Pakistani descended and Bangladeshi descended children, who are not doing well, especially the girls. One of the reasons may be that the people who have come are illiterate in their home language and in Urdu, and Muslim educational provision is poor. The rate of illiteracy in Pakistan has increased many times since Independence.
"A language is not just a series of words and communications; it’s the product of a culture of people. Language is a product of history and culture. The more we destroy our linguistic diversity by only using English, the more we lose the diversity of our cultural and historical identities. Erasing languages is erasing history. Erasing history leaves people without identity and a sense of identity is what makes us human. Learning languages teach us different ways of thinking, a worthwhile and enlightening mental exercise. Languages keep us apart from animal world. Human diversity is a part of God’s plan of creation. It is something to be encouraged as a social good, not something to be annihilated in a melting pot of national cohesion. If we force the whole world to speak only one language, we are forcing the whole world to lose its own identity and culture. Languages make the world a better place. It helps us to realize that we are all different and hopefully to be more tolerant with our differences.
I hope that I have demonstrated that Urdu originating in what is now India, is a post 1947 imposition upon the people of Pakistan East and West. The people of East Pakistan were so incensed by this imposition that they left Pakistan, and now live in the country of their language, Bangladesh. The cultures of the remaining people of Pakistan have been overlaid by the imposition of Urdu.
The Reverend Peter M. Hawkins.