Lahore School of Economics

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Personal Names and Identity-Construction in Pakistan: Linguistic Cringe: Shame, a Major Cause of Language Desertion Linguistic Cringe

Dr Saiqa Imtiaz Asif, Chairperson, Department of English and Director, English Language Center, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan


Siraiki, the language of millions of people is slowly losing ground to officially recognized and promoted languages, Urdu and English in home domain. A large number of parents living in urban Multan are deserting Siraiki and are not transmitting it to their children. This paper aims to elaborate shame as an important factor in ‘Language Desertion’. The paper will examine the role of English medium schools in Multan which are serving as active agents in the promotion of the “Linguistic cringe” of the Siraikis. With the help of data collected in the form of interviews the paper will demonstrate that in these schools the Siraiki speaking students face constant dismissals, inequalities and put-downs.

The findings also reveal that colonial discourses of different documents written during the colonial regime in India emphasizing the superiority of the English language and English people over the natives of India, and their languages reverberate even today in the discourses of the teachers and heads of elite English medium schools in Pakistan. It is in such discourses that we can see the relationship between self and other as constructed by colonialism, a relationship which continues to date. This attitude coupled with ignorance of teachers/educationists about the positive results of additive bi-multilingualism proved through research is largely responsible for creating a sense of ambivalence and conflict promoting ‘Language Desertion’. In the end strategies will be proposed that can enable the school teachers and in turn parents/community members to ‘read’ the phenomenon of language shift and language loss and its full implications in order to bring about a change in the status of Siraiki language.

About the presenter:

Prof. Dr Saiqa Imtiaz Asif is the Chairperson, Department of English and Director, English Language Centre at the Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan. Prof. Asif earned her first master degree from the Bahauddin Zakariya University in English literature and language and then did her M.Sc. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh, UK. She completed her PhD in linguistics from Lancaster University, UK and also conducted her post-doctoral research at the same university. Prof. Asif has published extensively in sociolinguistics and ELT in leading international journals and has represented Pakistan at several international conferences held in the UK, USA, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Sweden, China, Japan, Egypt and New Zealand. Prof. Asif is involved in teacher education and conducts workshops organized by the HEC, all over Pakistan. She is a member of National Committee on English at the HEC. She is a member of Board of Studies of various Pakistani universities and is on the editorial board of many research journals of international repute. Prof. Asif has been the recipient of many prestigious awards and scholarships which include, ODA scholarship for master studies in the UK, Fulbright pre-doctoral scholarship, Commonwealth scholarship for PhD studies, Commonwealth fellowship for post-doctoral research and Star Woman of the Year award in the field of Education.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4/03/2014 10:30:00 AM,

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