ENCOUNTERS WITH PUNJABI LANGUAGE

Dr. Khalid Sohail

Date:01-08-04

Source: From Dr. Khalid Suhail's website

Dear Khalid Suhail Ji:

I hope you are doing well. Thanks for sharing the article with me. I have read it with great interest. Since it is an expression of your personal experience with and discovery of Punjabi language, there is not much I can say here as a reviewer. I am glad, though, that an Urdu/English writer of distinction has decided to share his views on the reasons and implication of depriving Punjabi's from learning to write in their own language. You have hit most of the key points on this unique phenomenon. It is a very well written article. I only paused at one place where you had replied to friends who may have asked you to write in Punjabi.

You may need to make your point a bit more clear. The main point here is that one would naturally write in the same language one learns in school and views as the literary language. We were taught in schools to view Urdu, and to some extent later English, as literary languages. No one ever exposed us to the fact that Punjabi is and can be a literary language. It was then quite natural for us to start writing creatively in Urdu from the get go and get all the training and learning that goes with it until writing in Urdu became an unconscious creative process, just as after reading English at higher level over a number of years makes writing in English an unconscious process. My point is that there is a long process before writing in Urdu or English or for that matter in any other language becomes an unconscious process. This chain of events starts in early grades in schools when one learns the simple poetry and prose writings in Urdu or English and slowly learns the beauties of these languages in an atmosphere where all the people around us are full of praise of various Urdu or English writings, and no one ever mentions Punjabi literature. Otherwise, writing in any foreign language, which is not our mother language, does not happen naturally.

Safir Rammah


Our previous generations in India, for centuries, went through the same learning process in Persian and most of the creative minds expressed themselves in Persian. This is how it came "naturally or in your terminology unconsciously" to Allama Iqbal to write his best poetry in Persian. Since the end of formal education in Persian, it is now hard to find anyone in our present generation who can appreciate Persian poetry, let alone be able to write in Persian (and most of the best work of Allama Iqbal is now hidden from our eyes).

I think that being a creative writer, you fully understand this phenomenon. That is the reason that all Punjabi activists are now focusing on the need to introduce Punjabi as the medium of education in Punjab's schools since that is the root cause of why almost all educated Punjabi's and writers abandon their mother tongue. 

Also, there is really no need to justify your choice of writing in Urdu, which is a product of your education and learning experience and not a mysterious unconscious phenomena, by pointing out that Punjabi language is only two-generations deep in your family. Whether Punjabi has been in one's family for two or two hundred generations, once we put a child through Urdu schools and teach him, consciously and unconsciously, to consider Urdu as the high language and Punjabi as the low language, the result will be the same - he/she will write in Urdu quite well (and speak in Urdu in a Punjabi accent).

Thanks for mentioning Sain Sucha's book. I was not aware that he has written a book under the title of Roots of Mystery. I just called his home in Sweden to find out where I can get a copy of his book. He was not home and I will call him later.

I do get reports of the activities of Family of the Hearts from Ahmad Jan Niazi who is a dear childhood friend.

Finally, I would like to post your article on APNA web page to share it with a very large community of Punjabi's around the world who regularly visit APNA web page. Let me know if I have your permission.

Regards, 

Safir Rammah. 


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