Ethnolinguistic dilemma and static maintenance syndrome
A study of language policies and language perceptions in Pakistan
Only two out of over 70 indigenous mother tongues are recognized in schools in Pakistan. This study examines orientations of the governments’ language-in-education policies, and scrutinizes the influence the policies exert on vitality of indigenous mother tongues, and the perceptions of their speakers. Using undergraduate students as samples, the study employed mixed-method for data collection. Linguistic diversity and multilingualism have been looked upon as problem than asset in successive government policies. We find that although indigenous mother tongues enjoy strong roots and oral presence in informal private domains; however, they suffer from acute shrinkage in more literate domains such as schools and different media as majority of respondents passively assimilate towards Urdu and English languages. Language policies and current linguistic hierarchy appear to have exerted appreciable effect on respondents’ attitudinal and cultural orientations. Although, respondents demonstrate sentimental attachment towards their languages as cultural and identity signifiers; however, they overwhelmingly support English and Urdu as their desired languages-in-education leaving their own mother-tongues marginalized. Respondents’ approach is marked by ‘static maintenance syndrome, an attitudinal conundrum, in which they rationalize the ‘supposed inferiority of their languages’ vis-à-vis English (the official) and Urdu (the national) languages. Top-down and bottom-up orientations are characterized by neglect towards linguistic diversity.
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