The Punjabi language has always been a victim of social, political and economic circumstances even before the partition of United India. It is currently facing extinction in our nation and here are only two daily newspapers published in Punjabi in the Central areas of Punjab. Only a few monthly literary magazines constitute Punjabi press in Pakistan. Yet, Punjabi has no official status either in Pakistan or in West Punjab and is considered as a dying language and there are various reasons for that.
Firstly being that Punjabi is not taught in Pakistani schools but is widely spoken. There is not a single Punjabi medium school in Pakistan. Very sadly even though this language is the main language of the Pakistani public and is one of the oldest languages of the Indian subcontinent, despite it is not taught to Punjabi children in Schools nor is it the official language in any part of Pakistan. If we want to reclaim Punjabi language, the first step is to provide it educational backing by teaching Punjabi as a subject in schools.
Secondly, most ‘educated’ parents think it is ‘uncivilized’ to talk to their children in Punjabi. Punjabi is considered to be a very low class language.
When I interviewed Mr. Mohammad Moeen Ameen he said, “Punjabi has been confined to only the rural areas and people of Pakistan”.
It is the social attitude of people that have associated Punjabi with informal and insignificant linguistic functions in life. The language desertion phenomenon is so visible in Punjabi urban families where parents speak with their children in Urdu and English, which are considered to be prestigious languages.
Hence it isn’t really alarming when I heard the Vice Principal of Government College say “I have never seen or heard of an educated, or even semi-educated, Punjabi parent who is willing to communicate with his or her own child in their native tongue. Rather, they strongly discourage and often rebuke their children if they even suspect that they might be talking to other children in Punjabi, because speaking Punjabi is considered a mark of crudeness and bad manners.