Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Postcolonial innovations and transformations: Putting language in the forefront

The role of the English language in the development of Pakistani culture and society

Nadia Butt (Johann Wolfgang-Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main)



This paper addresses the role of the English language in the development of Pakistani culture and society with a special emphasis on the flow of modernity in native culture through the acquisition of English language; and the consequent transformations in the cultural sphere. Since its independence from the British Empire in 1947, Urdu is the national language besides five regional languages in the country whereas English is the official language and the language of the intelligentsia. In this way, Pakistani culture and society face a dual challenge in restoring the indigenous languages for developing native culture on the one hand, and in promoting English for higher education on the other. I argue how far the dominance and necessity of the English language has created a linguistic as well a cultural crisis, leading to a torn society. For instance in Pakistan, according to a recent survey, roughly fifty percent of the population is still anti-western, anti-English and is in favour of Sharia (Islamic Law) while the other fifty percent is for liberalism and modernization. The aim of this paper is to reveal the current tug-of-war in the Pakistani contemporary society as it experiences the risks and challenges of modernity via English language in the postcolonial era.

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-10-10