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The importance of English language can be understood from this fact that there are about more than two thousand languages in the world but among all of them only English has the status of an international language. Over the past two centuries most of the research work has been published in English language. Similarly the importance of English has increased even further in the past few decades especially after the invention of internet where English is the only medium of exchange of views and ideas among people around the world. In such circumstances when the importance of English language is increasing day by day, it is hard to say clearly whether we can do without English or not. There are two schools of thought in this regard, the opinions of which have been given below.
Before highlighting various arguments both in favor and against English language, it is important to throw a light on the history of languages in the Sub-continent. Before the arrival of Muslims in the Sub-continent the major spoken languages of that time belonged to Indo-Aryan language family. However when Muslim came to India, they brought their languages with them. During the reign of Mughals, Persian became the court language while Urdu was the language of soldiers and common people. These languages remained dominant until the Sixteenth century when English entered the Mughal courts. After the 1857 war of independence of the Indians, which failed brutally, direct Britain rule was established in the United India, after which English was introduced gradually as an official language of the land. Since then, even both Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have achieved their independence and the Britains have left the Sub-continent about seven decades ago, still in these countries English is a major language used in public offices, which has both some advantages and disadvantages for its people. Some of these advantages and disadvantages have been discussed below.
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Those who are in favour of English to be used as a medium of conversation in both public offices and academic institutions present many reasons. Some of these reasons have been discussed below.
The use of English as a major language in both public offices and academic and other general institutions has deep roots in our system. Any attempt of its replacement with another language would result in chaos. Since independence no serious attention has ever been given by the government towards the promotion and implementation of Urdu as an official and dialectal language of the country in place of English. Thus any such attempt now would create many problems both for the public and government.
English is an inevitable language especially for Pakistan and other similar multiethnic countries. According to the supporters of English as an official language, Pakistan has unfortunately no other option but to keep English as a major public language. The reason for which they present is that any deliberate change in the language could provoke confrontation between the federal government and provincial governments. It is argued that the adaptation of Urdu as an official language would stir up the entire language policy controversy throughout the regions of Pakistan.
As we know that most of the research work today is recorded and published in English language therefore it is impossible for us to avoid English as a language of instruction in schools, colleges and universities. Similarly it is also believed that the replacement of English with Urdu in academic institutions would further strengthen class division, upper and middle-class elitism, in the society.
Twenty-first century is the century of astounding scientific inventions. In today’s world the life of an average person is dependent on the use of scientific appliances. As English language is installed on most of these gadgets therefore their application is only possible if a person knows English language otherwise all these gadgets are useless for him. Similarly the use of English is also important for Pakistani scholars in the publication their research work.
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The ever increase process of globalization has not only brought people of the different parts of the world close but it also has interlinked various political objectives of different states. In such an interconnected world, only English language is a medium of debate in which political leaders can put their ideas across.
Those who cites that English language should retain its position as it is in Pakistan’s institutions, argued that English is a language of future. According to them, if we have to remain a member of the world community in the future, we should develop strong basis of English.
Despite of all these arguments, the opponents of the use English language in all spheres are also in large number and they too have strong arguments that strengthen their cause of opposition. Some their arguments have been pointed out below.
The very strong objection that is raised by the opponents of English language against its use is that the use of English in public offices and institutions is an insult to the national dignity of Pakistan. According to them we are a nation, having our own national language with a history of hundreds of years and which is rich in literature on all basis. Therefore the use of a foreign language is both a matter shame for us as well as a question mark on our own national language and identity.
Urdu is spoken by the Ninety Nine percent of the population of Pakistan. Such a high percentage shows the importance of the use of Urdu in Pakistani society. Therefore it is necessary to use Urdu instead of English in public offices and institutions. Similarly to strengthen the base of the public in Urdu, it is necessary that all the literary work should be produced in Urdu language.
Another argument that the opponents of English language presents is that English was introduced by the colonial masters in the Sub-continent to spread a feeling of inferiority among the masses of the Sub-continent and to destroy their academic system. Though they succeeded in their plan at that time but now when we are independent why we are following their footsteps? We should rather promote our own national language.
It has been clearly observed that the excessive use of English in learning process is proving a barrier for most of the students. In Pakistan, students have to use native language for conversation at home, Urdu for debates with friends of other areas and English at schools and colleges. This multi-linguistic system has made the learning process very difficult for the students. After mother tongue, average students hardly gets fluency in Urdu language, therefore they have left no time for learning English language.
To keep the wheels of our progress going and to keep in touch with the best and latest of the present world, we should continue studying this language. It will not dominate our culture and civilization but it will rather work as a source of inspiration for it and will evaluate our national pride.