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Old Monday, November 21, 2005
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Courtesy: Dawn Magazine, 20th Nov.

English for you

By Amar Jaleel

An advertisement enticing you to join an academy for acquiring skills in English language often appears in the newspapers. It shows a yelling young man leaped up in the air with a guitar in his hands. This is what they aim at turning you into after acquiring efficiency in English. They don’t promise to help you become a scholar, a writer, a novelist or a poet.

The advertisement truly depicts the place of English language in Pakistan. With English language are tagged torn stonewash jeans hanging down from the hips, filthy joggers, lousy T-shirts labelled with silly slogans, unshaven face, entwined hair (they call it sexy look), disgusting aping of Western pop singing, motorbikes without silencers, and cigarette-smoking girl friends who call you yar. English language in Pakistan has nothing to do with libraries, seminars, reading-rooms, literature, essays, dissertations, research, and communication.

All English newspapers and magazines in Pakistan believe their clientele consists of people who spend their time in clubs, social get-togethers, glamorous parties, fashion shows, watching vivacious models on catwalks, art galleries, boutiques and with dress designers. Their readers either own, or manage, or hold pivotal position in national and multinational companies. Jet set, they keep flying all over the continents. When in Pakistan they travel in expensive luxury limousines.




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Speaking English fluently rather than correctly is the trend everyone seems to be following blindly

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World renowned interior decorators immaculately furnish their palatial bungalows. Their shoes and clothes come from abroad. They eat nutritious balanced diet and keep consulting the physicians and the dentists. They either jog, or go to the gyms to stay trim. Thus, English newspapers invariably cater to them.

Publishers in Pakistan do not believe that English has anything to do with the people who live in localities like Rangiwara, Bhimpura and Chakiwara. Thousands of people, not rich and influential, whose mother tongue happen to be English, live in Saddar, Karachi. They are the native English speaking citizens of this country, the Christians, but they are never addressed to by our English print medium.

The womenfolk of English knowing elite families meet at different places over a cup of coffee, or a drink of their choice, and indulge in gossips of all sorts. They spend hours in discussing sex related scandals between husbands and wives of the high-ranking bureaucrats, politicians, and well-placed businessmen. They giggle and burst out laughing. The ones who come under seething remarks happen to be from among them.

A favourite beauty parlour is other place where they exhaust hours, and emerge rejuvenated. Some of them prefer a thorough massage. If need be they watch movies. This is how they are opinionated and highlighted in Pakistani English print medium. Another common view of our publishers is that the English knowing youngsters hang around late-night cafes, and sneak into hideouts for a heavenly puff. They are often seen with a burger or a sandwich in one hand and a can of a drink in other. They mimic the lifestyle of back street boys in the western countries, and love aping the juvenile gangsters and agitators of America.

I have not exaggerated things. Simply look at weekly additions of our English newspapers. They cater to the ultra fashionable few, if not elitist class. Seemingly it has been assumed by the publishers that the fashionable few are the only persons in Pakistan who comprehend English, and the people at large have nothing to do with it.

Have you ever thought why we don’t have a single magazine in English dedicated to literature! Citing examples is always good for comparative study. In our neighbourhood, India is culturally very close to us. After all, we have had lived together for more than ten centuries. Remember, only half a century ago while seceding from India our leaders had vowed that we would leave India far behind in each and every conceivable field of activity. Have we?

In India they publish numerous monthly, and quarterly literary magazines, and biannual and yearly anthologies of English writings. They have countrywide forums, study centres, and societies dedicated to English literature written in India. English, like any other language, is not merely a medium for communication in Pakistan. Of all the symbols English language has assumed in Pakistan during the last twenty years or so, snobbery is at the top. Its role as medium of instruction, information and communication has minimized, whereas its importance as a status symbol has maximised.

“Gonna come!” “Wanna go!” “Shit man!” and, “Yah, yup,” are a few phrases good enough to earn an illiterate admiration in our society. In the puzzling situation, the most vulnerable class to succumb to the psychological pressures is the emerging middle class in Pakistan. Parents die to see their young ones speak a word or two in English. They send them to the schools that promise to transform the child into an angrez. Some of the high-profile schools lay stress on pronunciations rather than on contents, and convert your child into a parrot. For them what one says is not important; how correctly he pronounces the words is important. I wish such teachers get an opportunity of listening to the Chinese, Japanese, and Arab scholars delivering lectures in English!

The few knowing English easily fall prey to superiority cult in Pakistan. Simply on the basis of speaking English fluently, they hover over the genuine scholars in other languages in Pakistan. By remaining aloof they conceal their incompetence in composing original and indigenous literature in English.
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Old Monday, February 12, 2007
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Adil bhai i m agree with all above activities but it has become avocation among people.they prefer to be affected rather than realistic.Our society has been divided in categories of "burger" and "non-burger".Hastily,most of people are endeavouring to adopt foriegn traditions and looks so as to they become fribble.
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