LEARNING English will make you rich, and learning Arabic will make you holy. No one ever says these things out loud in Pakistan, but their premises undergird many decisions. They dominate the thinking of parents braving long lines outside the compounds of English-medium schools during admissions season. They inspire other, newer educational institutions to advertise that they teach both Arabic and English to their students — a winning recipe for the next generation ie, holiness and wealth.
Unsurprisingly, then, many regional languages in Pakistan are dying a slow and silent death. According to one report, one-fifth of the 30 regional languages spoken in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are in danger of extinction, with only a handful of some hundred people left to speak them. The languages gasping for life include Ushojo, Gawro, Gawarbati, Badeshi and several others.
According to Fakhruddin Akhundzada, a Pakistani linguist, Yidhga, a language of Chitral, is one of those recently placed on the endangered languages list by the United Nations Educational Social and Cultural Organisation. Also comatose and nearly dead is Ushojo, another language from the same area, which numbers only about 200 people among its speakers.
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