Lost and Found

LOST UNESCO REPORT
Lost and Definitely Not Found is the citation on Punjabi in the UNESCO report referred to by Author Activist Kuldip Nayar that lists Punjabi as one of the languages set to disappear in fifty years. We are getting frantic messages at Uddari from all types of flustered Punjabis to the following effect:

“I have wasted much time in locating the alleged report on Punjabi. It does NOT exist. The language spoken by 120 million people can NOT disappear in 50 years. It is a simple logic.” Poet Amarjit Chandan in an email message from London, Britain.

“For quite some time now reference is being made on both Pakistani and Indian Punjabi Internet networks to a UNESCO report that allegedly predicts that in the next 50 years the Punjabi language will become extinct. I have tried in vain to get hold of the report to make sure it is not a hoax” Author Ishtiaq Ahmed in The News, 5/24/2008 previously Stockholm and now from Singapore.

“Early last month Prof. Ishtiaq Ahmed had asked me about such report and source was Mr Kuldip Nayyar. I checked with several persons including Mr Nayyar. He said he had seen some such report and did not remember where and when. He was quoted in The Tribune of March this year. Accordingly I informed Prof. Ishtiaq” Journalist Gobind Thukhral from Chandigarh, India.

I first heard of this report and Kuldip Nayar’s initiatives from Rights Activist Mohammad Tahseen in Lahore. Now, though unsuccessful in locating Punjabi either in the ‘UNESCO Red Book on Endangered Languages’ or in the UNESCO report ‘Our Creative Diversity’, i did FIND a March 2008 news report where Kuldip Nayar seems to be in the same situation as the rest of us.

“I have gone through a report prepared by Unesco which says the Punjabi language will disappear from the world in 50 years. It shocked me. I am out to save Punjabi language and culture,” he said. He was invited by the Punjabi Bachao Manch seeking his help to save Punjabi in Chandigarh, capital of Punjab, a state carved on the basis of Punjabi language.” (http://www.sikhsangat.org/news/publish/social_issues/Punjabi_language_will_disappear_in_50_years_Unesco_report.shtml)

I must tell you that the FINDING of such a report is an issue of mere academic interest to me because i, coming from the West Punjab, do not need UNESCO or Kuldip Nayar from East Punjab to tell me that Punjabi is an endangered language; and that, if appropriate actions are not taken it will for sure become extinct in the near future. Here is a criteria that United Nations has developed to find the survival state of a language.
“Languages were originally divided into five categories; a sixth, potentially endangered languages, was added later:
(i) extinct languages other than ancient ones;
(ii) nearly extinct languages with maximally tens of speakers, all elderly;
(iii) seriously endangered languages with a more substantial number of speakers but practically without children among them;
(iv) endangered languages with some children speakers at least in part of their range but decreasingly so;
(v) potentially endangered languages with a large number of children speakers but without an official or prestigious status;
(vi) not endangered languages with safe transmission of language to new generations.”
(Source: http://www.helsinki.fi/~tasalmin/europe_index.html)

The status of MaaNboli Punjabi languages in Pakistani Punjab hovers between these two:
(iv) endangered languages with some children speakers at least in part of their range but decreasingly so;
(v) potentially endangered languages with a large number of children speakers but without an official or prestigious status;

And so, i would say to find a way to multiply Kuldip Nayar in both his male and female incarnations, at the rate of Thousand-A-Minute-Aggregate, and give tenacious support to all Kuldip Nayars and Nayara Kuldips in both the Punjabs and the Diaspora, to pull our Maanboli Mothertongue out of this rut.

Still, that UNESCO report needs to be FOUND.

Meanwhile, i like to take this opportunity to log a few other cases of Lost & Found but this time, i will be brief and do it later.

Feel free to make use of this space if you have lost something that you can not do without, something that is not a pet but still has to be found. If there is something of immense cultural value that you have found that was lost and it is not your pet…

Writings of Kuldip Nayar
Endangered Languages

3 comments on “Lost and Found

  1. […] a UNESCO report lists it as endangered to disappear in the next few decades. And, even when we can not find the report, it is apparent that the extinction may well happen if we do not take notice of the situation faced […]

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  2. […] and Found-2 More information is coming in after the previous post on the need to find the lost UNESCO Report that cites Punjabi as one of the languages that will […]

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  3. jagtar singh says:

    Bagrat Shinkuba’s novel The Last of the Departed is about the Ubykh people from Georgia who became extinct and also the language. It was a small tribe which migrated to Turkey and got lost. Of course, Punjabis don’t fall in that category. But then there is not even one profesional newspaper in Punjabi. This is just one aspect of the Punjabi language in Gurmukhi script.I don’t know whether Mr. Kuldip Nayyar writes his pieces in Punjabi which appear in the Punjabi newspapers.
    Most of the journalists who happen to be Punjabis but working for English newspapers like me are far from being fluent in writing in Punjabi language.

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