Punjabi medium of instruction | Irritating Roman Script
'Punjabi to be adopted as medium of instruction'
Lahore, July 06: The Punjab government will
adopt the Punjabi language as a medium of instruction in non-formal schools as
an attempt to increase the literacy rate, Provincial Education Minister Mujtaba
Shujaur Rehman said in a statement on Sunday.
The minister said Rs 50
million had been earmarked for this scheme and Rs 385 million would be directed
towards technical education under the Punjab Literacy and Livelihood Programme.
He said research showed that education through the mother tongue had
proven helpful to educate the illiterate people in the world and added that the
amount allocated for the purpose would be spent on textbooks, teachers' training
and provision of learning material. The minister also said a centre for training
and literacy would be opened in Punjab under the Punjab Literacy and Livelihood
Programme. The major targets of this scheme are the provision of literacy
material for the centres, technical and vocational training, research
components, monitoring and evaluation. The minister said the scheme was being
introduced to make the non-formal schools more attractive and also to increase
literacy. Daily Times
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Irritating trend of using Roman Script for Urdu
George Bernard Shaw, a witty fellow as he was, had offered a large sum of money
to anybody who would rationalise English spelling rules. Shaw quipped that
according to English spelling rules the word 'ghoti' could be read as 'fish'.
His argument was that in the English language 'gh' is sometimes pronounced as
'f', as in 'laugh' and 'enough'; 'o' can be pronounced as 'i' like in 'women';
one can read 'ti' as 'sh' as in 'nation'. So 'ghoti' is equal to 'fish' in
Reforming spelling rules, writes Mario Pei in his The story of
language, especially of languages such as English and French, is often mentioned
in order to bring the written form in line with the present-day pronunciation,
but the matter becomes something like weather about which Mark Twain had once
remarked: "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it."
Pei goes on to say about the Roman alphabet that "it is far from
perfect. The fact that it came into being to serve the linguistic needs of the
Romans, but was later adopted by other nations with widely different speech
habits, accounts for part of the problem."
A letter in any alphabet,
linguists believe, is in fact a symbol of a symbol, just like a cheque which is
a symbol for paper money, which in turn is a symbol for purchasing power
measurable in any commodity such as gold. In most primitive writing systems, a
letter or ideogram stood not for a spoken sound but for a concept or an idea.
With the passage of time, a letter began to symbolise a sound instead as writing
systems progressed. Some languages, such as Chinese, still have a writing system
where a symbol represents a thought rather than a sound.
And a letter is
supposed to represent, ideally, one sound only. According to the traditional
phonological theory, the smallest unit in the sound system of a language is
called phoneme. In any alphabetic system of writing a language, therefore, there
should be as many letters as the sounds or phonemes that language has, assigning
a symbol to each sound. Ironically, no language in the world has a perfect
And of all the languages, our dearest English
is perhaps the most lacking in this regard as it has 45 phonemes but only 26
letters to represent them. As a result, it uses two letters to represent one
phoneme such as 'sh' and 'ch'. Secondly, at the time of adopting the Roman
alphabet, according to Pei, English had sounds that did not fit well into the
scheme of the Roman alphabet. What I am trying to establish here is that the
Roman alphabet does not represent all sounds that occur in the English language.
Therefore, how can one use the Roman alphabet for writing a language such as
Urdu that has many more phonemes than English, knowing that it does not fully
cater to the needs of English itself?
The reason why I am trying to make
readers realise this is the growing trend of writing Romanised Urdu and that,
too, quite unnecessarily. The billboards, commercials on TV, and advertisements
in the print media all use this linguistic impurity, agonising people like me.
Another reason for raising this point and protesting against this atrocity is
that a large number of scholars feel as irritated as I do by it.
Fateh Muhammad Malik has done a wonderful job by collecting valuable articles on
the linguistic controversies in a well-produced book Urdu zaban aur Urdu
rasm-ul-khat. Published by the National Language Authority, or Muqtadira Qaumi
Zaban, the book basically defends the Urdu script and tries to ward off the ill
effects of a trend that aims at replacing the Urdu script with either Roman or
The book has four sections. The first one deals with the
controversy kicked up by Indian scholar Dr Gian Chand Jain's highly partisan
book Aik bhasha, do likhawat, do adab, published in 2005. This section presents
some very interesting articles written on the issue on both sides of the border.
The second portion reproduces some important articles on the dichotomy known as
the Hindi-Urdu controversy, highlighting the historical aspects of the
controversy that has been raging for some 150 years.
The third section
includes articles that shed light on the historical and technical background of
Urdu's script, its development and its significance. Some articles also argue
why Urdu's script should not be changed and why no other script can fully
express the sounds that occur in the language.
During the sixth and
seventh decade of the last century a malicious campaign was launched to change
Urdu's script. Urdu scholars reacted sharply to this movement. The last portion
records the arguments in favour of Urdu's present script, which basically is a
modified form of the Semitic alphabet used to write Arabic.
collected in this volume are written by renowned scholars such as Moulvi Abdul
Haq, Dr Syed Abdullah, Shams-ur-Rahman Farooqi, Farman Fatehpuri, Jameel Jalibi,
Mirza Khalil Beg, Shamim Hanfi, Hasan Askari, Rasheed Ahmed Siddiqui, Ehtesham
Hussain, Salahuddin Ahmed and a score of others who have expressed their views
on issues like Roman Urdu, Hindi-Urdu controversy, linguistic fascism, Hindi
imperialism, Nagri etc.
In his introduction to the book, Prof Fateh
Muhammad Malik has very succinctly described the mala-fide campaign against Urdu
and the response that makes up the content of the book. -By Rauf Parekh, firstname.lastname@example.org (Dawn)
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PU medical camp for IDPs
Lahore: Punjab University (PU) Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran has
expressed satisfaction over the performance of PU medical and relief camp
established at Shah Mansoor, Swabi, for the welfare of internally displaced
According to a press statement issue on Sunday, he also
issued instructions to constitute a committee on permanent basis in the PU to
handle emergency situation in the country. The committee will prepare lists of
volunteer students and teachers to impart them training on regular
The VC stated this while addressing a meeting of a PU team which
came back from Shah Mansoor. Member of PU Syndicate and Relief Committee
Chairman Prof Dr Haris Rasheed led the team, including PU Chief Medical Officer
Dr Farasat Ali Syed, Pharmacist Iftikhar Ahmad Ch, Camp In Charge Dr Abul Wafa,
Major (retd) Taif-ur-Rehman and Muhammad Khalid Khan.
Ahmad told the VC that PU relief camp had provided treatment to 13,500 patients
since May 26. The News
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