Modern Media give birth to Bizarre Lingo published in Dawn Review

Courtesy "images for the new language"

It was my first day as a high school language teacher. I was excited as well as apprehensive about facing two-dozen curious students since I had no idea how I would be welcomed. As I entered the class room, I heard “Namastay teacher”, another student greeted “hi shrimati” while the rest of the naughty lot simply cheered “mornin’ ma’am.” Initially, I took it as a joke – the first day prank. But with every passing day, I realized that our young generation is fully obsessed with American lifestyle and Indian language beyond our imagination. These teenagers are part of a cult, defined by what they are exposed to on media especially on TV, Internet and in films.

Language reflects the mindset of an individual and of a nation. It mirrors the way people think, identify and express themselves. As a language teacher and communication professional, I have witnessed growth of a superficial culture in Pakistan completely alien to our cultural traditions and values.
I know a number of people personally who are ashamed of being Pakistani. They are rather proud associating themselves to Lucknow, CP, New York and London. The foreign media especially Indian channels exploit the situation to their advantage and advertise their brands and propagate their culture and skillfully enslaving our generations ideologically and economically. The modern digital and electronic media influence every aspect of our lives and transform us into a consumer society with never-ending craving for foreign fast food, designer outfits, westernized decor, Indian rituals and celebrations. Language is merely a reflection of the damage that rotten our roots.

Today’s Pakistan language is a bizarre mixture of slang and colloquialism, usually influenced by the net chat, Bollywood flicks, Star plus soaps and Hollywood blockbusters. Our youth sounds more like their movie stars than their parents’ children. When they are happy or intend to appreciate something, they scream, “wow, yeah, cool, set hai, ‘fit hai, bomb hai!!!”. Anger is often expressed bluntly in public with expletives such as shit, fuck, bull shit, damn, bitch and other such typical bizarre expressions that are inappropriate to add here. Customs and values are declining dangerously in the modern world. These days, Hollywood hip hop and Hindi films tapori (street slang) language has become increasingly popular among the teenagers from all sections of Pakistani society. Bhau (big brother), khalas (finish), bolnay ka nahi (don’t talk), siyanpati (wisdom), topi na pehnao, panga, aranga, bhinnot  and many such unsavoury expressions have been adopted by our youngsters, thanks to madar padar azad media.

They find Aashir-wad, Namaste, Hi and hello more attractive than the good old Assalam-o-Alaikum. When I asked one of my students to complete his assignment on time, he said, “Miss, aap mujhay chitavani dai rahi hain?” (Are you giving me warning?) The entire class understood what he said – thanks to the cable invasion – but ironically nobody knew the Urdu replacement “tambhi” for it.

The influence of foreign media is not confined to language; it affects the psyche and ideals of the youth as well. I hardly saw a student reciting naat or aya’at in class. But I was shocked when one day I found a student singing bhajan “Om Jai Jagjit Harai” at the top of his lungs as I entered the class. I inquired if he understood the meaning of the words which he obviously didn’t. He disclosed that he liked it since his favourite star performed it in a recent movie.

No wonder of our young generation wants to date, attend dance parties, and celebrate Valentines, rang, holi and diwali. They know more about foreign rituals like rakhi and Halloween than their own festivals thanks to a wide variety of foreign cable channels and free net access.

I think it also reflects failure of Pakistani media to counter foreign propaganda and establish its cultural identity. Family, community and educational institutions have also become less effective in holding on to a legacy of customs and traditions. They too would rather hand over this responsibility to media.

You might agree or disagree. Share how you perceive the entire situation.

 Comment, Criticize and Raise your voice on blog <erumsuchistan.wordpress.com>(the article received 20 comments on GupShup; some of which are uploaded to encourage discussion)

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10 thoughts on “Modern Media give birth to Bizarre Lingo published in Dawn Review

  1. Originally posted by Tanhaa:

    Urdu language is beautiful because of its mixed cultural heritage. Jub urdu ka istmaal hona shuru hua hoga to Farsi aur Turki log ukso Tapori kehte honge” (Im guessing)

    Even Mirza Ghalib said ” Ek brahmin ne kaha hai ke yeh saal achcha hai” In fact, Mir Taqi Meer is populqr because his poetry was in the Urdu of Hindustani masses. Forcing Farsee words in Urdu and eliminating Hindi words does not a language make. The French have tried to keep out English words but to no avail.

    I grew up in Lucknow and Allahabad, but I was never told that Urdu should not have any Hindi words. Yeh to Urdu zabaan ki shaan hai ke usne kitne zabaano ko apnayaa hai.

    [This message has been edited by Tanhaa (edited November 17, 2001).]
    I believe the urdu language with a lot of hindi words is called hindustani (or used to be when that word was allowed in India and Pakistan). However, it was never the same language for all the people. As you moved west – ie towards Pakistan – it became more urdu.

    Watch some really old Indian movies – they tend to be in urdu with often muslim leading actresses because they could speak urdu. When I first saw an indian film set in modern times as an adult -I was shocked at how little I understood because there was a lot of hindi in it which I did not understand.

    You cannot keep out foreign influencs entirely but you have to make sure the children of a country learn their own language to an acceptable standard too or you are failing them as adult citizens.

  2. Originally posted by NYAhmadi:
    It is very interesting to say the least, but had these students tried to imitate Arabs or Persians, the teacher would haven’t even noticed.
    No they wouldn’t have noticed because urdu as a language is very close to persian and has a lot of arabic words. It has nothing to do with the big bad west – now who is getting paranoid!

  3. Mr Fraudia


    I do believe that proper conversational urdu is a rare trait these days. But kids in school are just that..kids in school.

    Next time you see a teenage highschooler with well established professionals as parents, but still has the whole ghetto thing going in clothing, mannerisms and all you may see that this is a phenomenon true for every society.

    I doubt that people in US were very concenred when their teenagers started using henna, smoking beeri, and other assorted stuff.

    Cultures evolve, fads come and go, nothing is static

  4. Pristine

    So, we have a problem (ok, *I* consider it a problem).

    Now, what about some solutions?

    The avalanche of cable tv networks from Pakistani society ain’t going to go away any time soon.

    Living in the west, muslim parents are more careful about what their kids are exposed to. I am afraid (ok, so I am generalizing) that parents in Pakistan may not be as concerned about their kids adopting alien cultures. They are cocooned in a false shell of status quo. This can be very deceptive.

    Parents need to understand, that it is their responsibility to be a parent and guide and expose their kids good values and culture. Upon maturity, the kids can and shall make their own choices on what they wanna be. By exposing our youngsters to the trash of Bollywood and Hollywood from an extremely young age, we may not be doing them justice.

  5. ZZ
    . so correct me if i am wrong. kids and teenagers want to have fun, explore, they are curious and adventurous. i think there is not much way to have fun in pakistan. entertainment scene is not well developed. only avenue for curiosity and adventure is to get in lashkar-e-tayyaba camp. the problem is that pakistan did not put in any effort to encourage traditional and local culure. Ustad chote ghulam ali khan said in an interview that he cant sing raag ‘durga’ on pakistan radio. mabe he should rename it as raag ‘dargaah’.
    a false identity was to be developed for a new nation. but culture is an essential ingredient of identity. denying local, native culture as ‘indian’, pak went into search of imaginary roots as n’th century decendent of invader from west. to add, music, sculpture, painting and their encouragement was condidered harram. pak didnt really develop identity of own. the expereience of teacher is testimony to that.

  6. PakistaniAbroad
    The Devil’s Advocate
    I grew up watching How the West was Won, Little House on the Prairie, Trapper John M.d, I love Lucy reruns, two indian movies, three chitrahars a week plus three, two hour long All India Radio Urdu Service Programs of Indian movie songs a day.

    I consider myself to have turned out pretty patriotic and ‘Islamy’.

    It’s all in the ‘raising the kids’ .. TV can’t do nothing till parents start using it for babysitting.

  7. Tanhaa
    From my perspective,Pakistan has the well discussed Identity crisis. You dont want to associate with anything Hindustani(politics), and you are not cultually comfortable among Arabs or Iranians.

    I find it interesting that Ustad Ghulam Ali was not allowed to sing Raag Durga in Pakistan. That is called cultural banruptcy. As a lover of music , I know that some of the most beautiful Naats are based on Raags that originated in the temples of ancient Hindustan. Does that make the Naat any less beautiful. Nazaakat Ali, Salaamat Ali and the Daagar brothers were experts on ancient temple style of classical music. They considered Hindustani music included in their culture. Aur mere liye to Mehdi Hassan Khuda Hain. Over all culture cannot be legislated and ordered.

    Religion is practiced within a culture. Its not a culture by itself. Muslims in Indonesia hve their own culture. Hindustani culture includes Hindus , Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and all others. Rasms aur Rivaaz bring communities together and are indicators of culture. So public celebration Eid, Diwali Christmas is celebrating the culture not a religious function.

    I am a US citizen, lekin jub watan ki yaad aati hai to jo nazaara nazaar ke saam ne aata hai, vo Hindustan aur Pakistan ke siva aur kahin nahi ho sakta. Akhir yeh humari tehzeeb ka mamla hai.

    Urdu language is beautiful because of its mixed cultural heritage. Jub urdu ka istmaal hona shuru hua hoga to Farsi aur Turki log ukso Tapori kehte honge” (Im guessing)

    Even Mirza Ghalib said ” Ek brahmin ne kaha hai ke yeh saal achcha hai” In fact, Mir Taqi Meer is populqr because his poetry was in the Urdu of Hindustani masses. Forcing Farsee words in Urdu and eliminating Hindi words does not a language make. The French have tried to keep out English words but to no avail.

    I grew up in Lucknow and Allahabad, but I was never told that Urdu should not have any Hindi words. Yeh to Urdu zabaan ki shaan hai ke usne kitne zabaano ko apnayaa hai.

  8. cute nida

    Shada, now what you say is hard to believe. Although I cant read or write urdu, my spoken urdu is sufficient for me to understand spoken hindi. In fact, I hardly see any major difference. And I am pretty sure I cant even remotely follow a Farsi or Arabic conversation.

  9. Shada
    What I said were facts as I understood them – it has nothing to do with political brain washing.

    I can understand and speak urdu and can also read a bit. Unfortunately, I can only read urdu when it is written in its own alphabet. I honestly couldn’t understand what you had written.

    And this is a political comment – I would like urdu to stay as urdu and not go the way the Turks did with their language.

    If urdu is 98% hindi – how come the urdu dictionaries tend to be farsi to urdu and how come I understand more arabic and farsi than hindi?

    My indian friends have similar problems the other way round. They have problems understanding urdu.

  10. mohabbat

    Urdu is comparatively a recent language born in Uttar Pradesh, India with a mix of Sanskrit, Hindi, Avadhi, Mathili,Persian, Arabic. A mixture of Hindi and Urdu which is more popular is called Hin Urdu is spoken mainly in Hyderabad, Deccan (Andhra Pradesh). It is the second language of Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Prade

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