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Languages and Literature in Pakistan

Indo-Aryan languages, grouping according to SI...
Indo-Aryan languages, grouping according to SIL Ethnologue (Urdu is not shown because it is mainly a lingua franca with no prevalence as a first language.) Central and East Central zones Northern zone Northwestern zone Eastern zone Southern zone Insular (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Languages and Literature with the arrival of the Muslims and later the British, India witnessed rise and fall of many foreign languages both as official and widely spoken national and regional languages. From Indian "Sanskrit" script to Arabic and Persian and later English and then revival of indigenous languages is a journey of more than a thousand years. This transition brought to fore one distinct change: Hindi for Hindus and Urdu ( a new language) for the Muslims, while English being common to both as official or "Daftari" language. Continuing with the British system of official language of, English continues to be the official language of Pakistan till date , while Urdu is the national language and lingua franca.



"Urdu", a language that has originated between the 11th to 13th centuries became a language for the invaders who came from different language regions. Later it also became the language of the Muslims. Although it is spoken as a first language by only 8% of the population, upon partition was recognised as the national language of Pakistan for its easy understanding by majority of the population.
Urdu derives its origin from the Turkish ""Orda" (camp). With he emergence of the Turkish and the Persians, a need was felt to have a common language which could be equally understandable by both the foreigners and the natives. So by combining the Hindi, Persian and Turkish, a new language was born. Camp followers, traders and native soldiers working with the invaders all helped to shape the original lingua franca, which is why Urdu is also known as the 'Lashkari (camp)' language. Urdu thus owes its syntax to the subcontinent as English does to Anglo-Saxon Dom. Like English it is harmonious and musical without being monotonous. Initially it was a more of a literary language, specially in poetry, than its household application. Mir Taqi Mair a renowned Muslim poet of 18th century once remarked that Urdu was the language that was spoken at the doorsteps of the Dheli's great red mosque. Hyderabad Daccen, which had a Muslim ruling class fostered Urdu culture. The language continued to be patronized more by the Muslims than Hindus and thus was adopted as the "National" language of Pakistan at the time of independence. Generally, the majority of Pakistanis can speak or understand two or more languages, one being Urdu which is widely understood and spoken in all parts of Pakistan, in addition to the native languages of each area.

The Regional Languages

"Sindhi" is the language widely spoken in the lower Sind province and is one of the oldest native languages of the subcontinent. With its unique spoken accent and four dots, it is very pleasant to listen to. 12% people, mainly in Sind speak Sindhi. Sindhi word is derived from the river Indus Called Sindh or Sindhu which runs from Ladakh to Arabian Sea. Sindhi language is an Indo-Aryan language which has mixed with Arabic Sanskirit and Persian with course of time. It has its own script which is similar to Arabic but with lot of extra accents and phonetic. There are 52 characters in Sindhi language. Quraan was first time translated into Sindhi in back in 12th century or earlier.

"Punjabi", is the language of Punjab and adjoining areas. As a first language, about 48% people all over Pakistan speak Punjabi. In addition to this, "Saraiki" a variance of Punjabi is spoken by around 10%. "Hindko" yet another regional language, mainly spoken in NWFP closely associates with Punjabi and about 2% speak this language. Punjabi, Hindko and Seraiki, all mutually intelligible, are classified by linguists as dialects of Lahnda. Added together, speakers of these mutually-intelligible languages make up nearly two-thirds of Pakistan's population. These are also, to a lesser extent, mutually intelligible with Urdu, and it can easily be understood by even those whose mother tongue is not Punjabi.

"Pushto" is the language of most of the people living in the NWFP and is also widely spoken in adjoining areas of Afghanistan. Although a little hard to speak has it own charm. 8% people of Pakistan speak Pushto, mainly in the NWFP and Balochistan.

"Balochi" is the language of the Balochistan province. Brahwi and Pushto languages are also spoken in the province. The ratio of Balochi and Brahwi is 3% and 1% respectively. Balochi and Pushto draw their roots from the Persian language.
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