HYDERABAD: Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, has said that indigenous languages are under no threat due to pervasive application of English in academia and for official purposes.
“We must not fear English is a threat to indigenous languages, which will sustain and thrive on their own as they have millions of users to preserve them,” contended Haroon while speaking on Monday at the three-day ‘International Conference on Language and Literature’ at the Institute of English Language and Literature in Jamshoro. “I don’t see the use of English jeopardising the local linguistic entities in any way.”
He disagreed with proponents of the national or regional languages who want these languages to be applied as the medium of education at all levels, arguing that they lacked proper comprehension of the issue.
“It is convenient to wish for local languages to replace English in academic settings but almost impossible to translate and make available thousands of course books, voluminous text materials and other millions of literary titles that are published every other day in one or the other corner of the world. So, the very argument becomes self-cancelling,” he said.
According to Haroon, English has the privilege of being the language of trade, politics, international relations, expansion, communication, the internet, fashion, sports, law and personal expression.
The former ambassador to the UN encouraged the youth to develop speaking skills and advised them to value fluency over accuracy when they begin the learning process. He gave his own example and said that he never went to a language institute yet even the native English admire his accent and fluency.
Three research scholars read their papers at the conference, exploring the use of English in post-colonial countries, language teachers’ skills and language research.
Sindh University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Fateh Muhammad Burfat also spoke at the conference.