Articles / Essays, Mother Tongue Literacy

Globalization and the Fate of Languages with Small Population in the Current Context: Experiential Knowledge from the Field and Analysis of some Ground Realities

November 21, 2022

By Fazal Amin Beg

In this small article, I try to contribute a bit on the concept of globalization based on my experiential knowledge in adition to the review of available body of literatures.It is then followed with the ground realities and a bit analysis I present on the prevalent worldviews of the people speaking their concerned mother tongues. Finally, I conclude it with some practical measures or strategies that are important to be taken as recommendations for all those who are concerned about their mother tongues and the complexities involved. It should be noted that more and more academic ventures are required for the purpose of more effective contributions on the subject matter.
When looked in historic or prehistoric context , today’s globalization is not a new concept and phenomenon but rather it could be traced back and observed continuing or sustaining from the time immemorial or at least for thousands of years. The evidences are found in different shapes or forms even today among different cultural communities and regions around the world. For instance, we find lots of similarities today among many living cultures and even among the linguistic landscapes not only in the regional context but rather also across the globe and we get stunned to find such phenomena. Why and how it could be possible?
First and foremost, we need to understand that we all are part of the same humanity, whether we perceive it in the context of scientific tradition for descending from the homo sapiens; or deriving out of the single soul, as for instance, the scriptures like the Holy Qur’an terms it as Nafs-e Wahida. Whatever the modes of understanding of human for the same ancestery may be, it is clear there signficant level of similarities are found among the entire human race in addition to the set diffeernces.
Interestingly, various type of records and discoveries or knowledge exprloeation in archaeological field studies on the distant or extinct cultures and civilizations, at least spanning thousands of years back, guide us positively and productively an provide us enormous opportunities and deep insights into the mobility, interaction, migration, settlement and many other aspects of the human population across the globe. As human beings, always fallable and prone to different layers of weaknesses and biasnesses, most of the time we are embedded in our confined spaces and limited worldviews . Consequently, we normally look for the differences among various cultural communities and ignore what type of similarities do we have with each other and what may be the contributing factors for such phenomena across societies amd cultures.
Well, we need to keep in mind and realize that globalization itself cannot be termed liable for any kind of consequence across the globe. Instead, it is a process and continues always in different periods of time. For exampel, as a process of interaction has both its varying impacts on the human popuation which is solely dependent on the intents, thoughts and actions of the human fellows themselves that to what extent they think positibvely to help out each ohter on individual, familial, communal, national and human levels. However, it is noteworthy that the pace of globalization in the past or distant past has been slower than it has in the present day.The key factors for the intensified and radical globalization or global impacts on human population in particular and other creatures are the highly significant modes of interaction through the information technologies and the internet, the speedy physical travel by air, road and marine among others.
Let’s cut short and explore some key impacts of the globalization whether it is of the past or the present but to remain focused on some genuine language issues and their development .

In adition to consulting or going through the secondary sources or literatures , what I have been observing, as a field researcher within the ambit of socio-cultural anthropology, linguistics and societal development, while in the field for the last few decades in Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, that people generally are seen to entrapped in two main categories of complexities. They could either be in grave nostalgia or superiority regarding their language and cultures connected with the families, clans, tribes, religion, and some other aspects of their societies and crave to miss them strongly; or, on the other hand, such people could be seen fallen gravely in frustration and inferiority complex who would undermine the different levels and aspects of their entities including their languages and cultures.
It is to be noted that logically like the human beings themselves desirous to move ahead, bring changes and develop themselves in their lives, Languages and cultures also evolve and develop with the course of time along with their respective language speakers. It will therefore highly be ridiculous to say or argue that we should preserve our languages for the purpose of speaking like their ancestors where normally people think and naively state that their languages were pure. It should logically adn critically be noted that no language in the world could be termed pure at any cost. If some claims for the languages being pure it means they fool themselves and those languages cannot then develop or survive but ratehr will die in contrast.
I have observe innumerable number of people across cultures and societies who try to champion for being native or local language specialist or advocates but when they speak their mother tongues, they are witness to take help of the vocabularies of their national or the international languages within their domains. In many instances, they are seen to switch over to other languages set forth as their national language such as Urdu or Hindi , Persian, Chinese, Russian, Turkic or other languages. But at the same time, they are seen to switch over to other languages they think could be more infleuential in nature. Here thus lies the puzzle that why do such people advocate for their ancestors languages being pure but de facto they cannot speak like them? It is the proof that no language could thus be termed pure and it could be termed unnatural because in natural order human beings want to learn new things and advance their learning, skills and knowledge among other things.
However, we should note and understand considerately and convinceably that there is no wisdom if we leave away those great aspects of our languages and cultures that should sustain and never be left out at the cost of modernization or globalization and kill our languages in our own hands.
It is noteworthy that endangerment of languages of small population in this globalized age thus starts from the individual scales at home and within the families themselves. It thus begins to get away or leave out the good aspects of mother tongues at and invividual or family domains.Based on the observations and experiences from the field for different languages, the mothers or female segment of the family were seen discouraging their chidren with regard to speaking their mother tongues, though a number of male members at home cannot be spared.Mothers thus become enemies of the mother tongues. For example, among the Wakhi community, it was observed for most of female and mothers who would speak with their children or bring in use the vocabularies from English, Russian, Chinese, Persian and the like.Speaking a language of small population, even in the case of larger population, thus simply comes out of speaking them at home in the mother tongues. Mothers are fundementally the first teachers of their children at home. It becomes incumbent upon them to provide a friendly environment for their children and other family members regarding the mother tongue communication.
Furthermore, the community leaders, teachers, artists, and other influential people in different societies have thus their due roles to be performed for the preservation and promotion of their mother tongues in an informal way. When they would ignore their mother tonhues in different ways, the common people will thus be influenced to imitateor follow those who are better-off comparatively in different walks of life.
Well, wihtout going more in detail analysis in this small article, what practical measures could we take for the fate and positive preservation and promotion of our mother tongues in the face of globalization is an important aspect to be kept in mind.In this regard, some priortized strategies from micro to macro level are highly imperative in different domains and they follow as under.
1. Parents and family members should get sensitized, realize and understand that their mother tongues are as valuable and important as their national, regional and international languages.That is why they should talk to their children at home in their mother and father tongues (in case the nuclear family is bilingual or if there is a joint or extended family and have multilingual background). Bilingualism and multilingualism is a blessing for the children and their learning faculty, their approaches and interactions will be highly refined and enriched.
2. The children/students should be encouraged in their educational institutions and organizations regarding their mother tongues. Informal and/or formal sessions could be carried out one or twice a weekk thorugh effective strategies.
3. In the context of pakistan, Roman Anglicized script (which is vowel-based script unlike the consotant-based Arabic)should be introduced at any cost for all unwritten languages (even for the written languages, too) in order to preserve and promote the concerned languages. The basic literatures or the mother tongue promotion could thus b produced so easily without involvement of any kind of typical or special software for the respective languages because the children and semi-literate people can easily express themselves through Roman Anglicized script due to its simplest and logical letter simbolization . This encourages the children to read adn write in their mother-tongues along side English and it doesn’t become mentally burden on them. Cildren and youngesters can thus read adn write or exchange ideas adn thoughts already through Anglicized script on their smart phones and computers.
4. Though, the researchers and scholars do use an international script based on Latin or Roman or in other words based on IPA (International Phonecti Alphabet) but field researchers like me will never approve it for the children at school and college level because it is harder and complicated than Roman Anglicized. IPA-based Roman is so befitting for the adults, especially as internationally standardized for linguistic work. In contrast, the Roman Anglicized script is entirely based on the English consotants and IPA-based vowel. That is why common people find Roman Anglicized script so effective, simple adn never complicated to learn and work with.
5. For being part of the period of outstanding globalization and for the sake of language preservation and promotion or development, language documentation at lenth and depth is therefore highlhy imperative. The related stakeholders can better use the social media (especially the YouTube channels and Facebook) as tools for language documentation, preservation and promotion at the same time. We could observe and witness many concerned people and researchers like me are engaged in the venture for the noble causes and that bears fruits as it accessed to all those who are honestily and sincerely concerned for the languages fate in the period of today’s globalization.
6. We normally focus on some aspects of language documentation in line with folk song, folktales, other types of stories, proverbs and ideoms, and so on. However, we don’t think or neglect in most of the cases to opt for the documentation of the personal life stories of the elderly people of different language communities in their mother tongues either in audio or video forms. It is therefore highly important to document the personal biotraphies of the elders of the concerned language community members cross-culturally by taking in-depth interviews of them.This provids a great deal adn opportunity not onl in terms of learning to the viewers or audience but rahter the live testimony informs the historical and societal change and development before the people and the effects of languages and vocabularies he or she brings in use are in the limelight before other people.For instance, in my case, I’ve already interviewed hundres of key informants both in audio and video form for the last 22 years. Dozens of them are published on my YouTube channel named “EaglesWorld” and could be viewed by going in the playlist.
7. The blessins of information technologies (IT) are manifilds. Those affiliated with and specialized with IT frorm different language commmunities could be encouraged to produce something special during htier lifetime for being part of his or her mother tongue. In this way, special producs could be made for the kids for learning in their mother trongue such as cartoons, or other types of animated products for the children of concerned mother tongues.
8. Professional collaboration among the native and international researchers and scholars of various language, especially with small population) is significantly the need of the time within and out of the specific cultures if we think we are part of the global human societies.
9. Universities adn and concerned research institutions should make enabling environment for the native and foreign scholars to work together on the prevailing challenges and opportunities pertaining to the language endangerment and extinction.
10. Closed collaboration of the related civil society organization with their native language community on the language development is seriously important if the the noble causes have to be sustained.

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