The Soul of Civilization
By Talha Masood
The languages we speak are essential carriers of our thoughts and expressions. Consequently, each and every word that we speak is a representative of our civilization. So every language constitutes to be the sole of the civilization it represents; and when it dies, it extinguishes the life of an entire worldview. An entire culture, a diversity of thought and tradition which is unique to its people, a heritage that marks the beauty of a distinctly colorful way of life is buried beneath that all-consuming soil of forgetfulness and is lost forever. Keeping in view the fact that 43% of globally spoken 6000 languages are in danger of such extinction, United Nations educational scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) has taken the initiative to celebrate every 21st of February as the International Mother language Day.
Every language has specialized terms for different expressions, which are not so readily available in other languages: and thus is established its distinct identity and the identity of its speakers. It is to prevent the loss of such individuality and to protect its subsequent diversity that it has become a necessity to safeguard the survival of these languages. According to UNESCO’s report, every 2 weeks we sustain the loss of a language and with it the loss of a cultural and an intellectual legacy. While these languages are fading into nonexistence, the threat to linguistic diversity is rising to an alarming height, tightening the noose around any cordially respectful and tolerant appreciation of the many differences, found among people and their respective cultures alike.
Academically, about 40% of the global population is denied the privilege of being educated in the language they speak and understand according to the findings of UNESCO. So that even if they manage to acquire sufficient education to live their lives respectfully, they are unable to grasp the originality of their learning due to the lack of intimacy with regards to the thoughts and expressions they study, in the prescribed language of their education. Nevertheless, successful efforts have been made to adopt curriculums that are based on the student’s mother language: and as a result, the awareness of its significance in one’s private as well as public life is growing, may it be with a funeral slowness. For the sad truth is that most of us do not consider our mother languages important enough to be preserved and sustained with a steadily increasing rapidity of interest and progress.
Take, for instance, the Barohi language which is 1 of the 27 endangered languages of Pakistan. The name Barohi means mountain dwellers and it refers to nomadic people. Their cultural heritage is essentially oral and tradition and consists of traditional music songs and dances. Professional minstrels, who sing these songs and play the Barohi traditional instruments are called Dombes, and hold a significant place in every tribe. Just as they have a name of their own for their musicians, the instruments played by these worthy individuals are also unique in their names and nature’. “ the rabab (an Afghan stringed instrument plucked with a piece of wood), the siroz (a stringed instrument played with a bow), and the punzik (a reed instrument). These have replaced the dambura (a three-stringed instrument played with the fingers) which is found in the more isolated areas”. The names of their cuisine, their distinctly rich customs and rituals and most importantly, the individuality of their identity is threatened by the extinction of their admirable language.
Likewise, there are untold cultures, which are in need of our attention and concern for their preservation. In this regard, the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PLA) has endeavored to make considerable efforts by conducting awareness seminars and adopting other mediums of communication to spread the urgency and the significance of saving all these languages, and by doing so, their respective cultures. It then becomes obligatory on all of us to play our parts in preserving these languages by accustoming ourselves with the beauty of our mother languages, and by encouraging others to do the same.