Judging foul language


Most Pakistani talk shows are like a “verbal Noora Kushti” with the cunning host/master of ceremony playing referee. The bored audience has little choice in the matter. The other evening, a popular talk show host posed questions to a famous Maulana, who illuminated the road to a “better existence” in two golden rules of Islam.

He said that (a) belief in the “hereafter” was a check on what we do today and (b) we must use ‘proper language” in our daily speech. It may just be a coincidence that the next day PPP accused Shabaz Sharif of using “un-parliamentary language” against the President.

Foul language in Punjabi has become quite a serious problem, thus the so-called language infraction of a public figure calls for some serious thought. Most people learn Punjabi language by osmosis. The children are denied the use of this provincial language at school and hence improvise and develop their own variants of English/Urdu words in Punjabi. On the other side of border, the separation of 60 odd years and the inclusion of Hindi words have made that Punjabi unintelligible to the stagnant Punjabi speakers of Pakistan. So who indeed is the right person to ask about whether the language is “parliamentary”, “proper”, or “foul”? Since Punjabi is not a part of communication system, who will be the judge? Perhaps, Urdu speaking politicians are really capitalising on the ignorance of Punjabi youth, who have been deprived of their culture dictionary.

Perhaps, the use of foul language is really a result of denial of development. Lectures of Maulanas, ministers and assorted MC’s on TV cannot possibly be understood by this group of people who barely understand themselves and must punctuate every sentence with a foul word for emphasis.




  1. We have made a mess of spoken Urdu, which now has more English words than Urdu. And our TV presenters are the worst offenders. So its no surprise that Punjabi is similarly affected.

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