Heal Thy Tongue

By Zafar Sultan.

Language is a complex phenomenon which entails one’s mental make-up, family background, grooming and ideological or political leanings. Well groomed individuals exercise a great deal of care while selecting (uttering) a particular word, phrase or a sentence. Do our educated lot, political leadership, religious scholars and media men really care about the nuances of language?

Unfortunately, the answer seems to be away from affirmative. Quite invariably, we come across instances where people misuse words or sentences so as to express repugnance against someone over particular issue(s). Without a doubt, these speakers are acutely aware of the roar or applause of the crowd or the audience which particular expressions would elicit. Do these inglorious utterances have far reaching consequences on public, especially on our youth: which tends to be easily impressed (trapped) by unruly speakers?

To seek answers, it’s apropos to reflect at near history of foul utterances of prominent men at public places. Publically, ZA Bhutto (late) would growl ‘swine’ and ‘go to hell’ against his adversaries, amid cheers and ovation of charged crowd. Similarly, Sheikh Rashid, a political turncoat, would froth and fume at BB (late) and other political opponents in broad light. The vile and verminous expressions frothed by MQM honcho;  Altaf Hussain is not a secret. In the same way, supremo of PTI would in full public view, would grumble “oye noore”, “ganje” “your trousers would get wet”. Without reluctance, Imran Khan would call the cleric: Fazal Rehman (an opportunist politician) as ‘diesel’.

As mentioned at the outset, this unholy phenomenon is not confined to one political party only. The PML N also has its notoriously known figures who pride themselves in deriding their opponents. Khawaja Asif and Abid Sher Ali are a case in point. Khawaja Asif feels prides mouthing derogatory language even at National Assembly, the August house supposedly used for legislation of country. He ridiculed Imran Khan by hissing ‘koi sharm hoti hae, koi haya houti hae’. As expected, this won him the applause of his followers, and possibly leadership as well: which appeared to maintain mysterious silence on such occasions. It’s not hard to decipher this silence amounts to approval.

Lately, yet again, he same foul mouthed minister ridiculed PTI MNA, Shiren Mizari by labelling her as ‘trolley tractor’. A close look at the ignominious episode reveals that the minister had the nod of approval of speaker as well who held MS Mizari responsible for earning the ire of the worthy minister.

Without a surprise, the fans and followers of political heads,   use the same expressions (expletives) public gatherings, and ever expanding social media. One would shudders to think that what message was (is) being beamed to our nation, especially our youth.

Very recently social (media) has been inundated by the debate regarding verbal skirmish of JUF Senator: Hameedullah, Barrister Masroor and Marvi Sarmad. Since in this incident, a religious head was involved, so media found it as a God- gifted opportunity to demonise mullah and madrassa (seminary). While no one in right condition of mind can endorse the use of foul language, even from a religious figure; a close look at the occurrence unveils some startling aspects. Barrister Masroor, a UK graduate, not a madrassa alumnus, calls Moulana Sheerani a ‘charsi’ (an addict) which puts the senator at unease. Following it Marvi Sarmad, a journalist known for her ultra-secular ideas, shows to side with Barrister Masroor. She even goes to the extent of challenging the senator that ‘do what you can do’; such an obscene expression in Punjabi whose equivalent in English would put the readers at unease. Do these graduates of much acclaimed and admired foreign institutions not learn the subtleties of language and contemplate the consequences of speaking repulsively in open?

As aforementioned, it is distressing to see our students (both males and females) at university campuses and in certain cases at schools and colleges using questionable language, in open. Do they get the inspiration from the political leaders or there is amiss in our education system? The answer seems to lie somewhere in the middle.

It‘s the call and cry of the hour that political leadership, media and academics took a serious notice of the gravity of the situation. Our nation is already ailing; can we afford to have feculent speaking generation? Can we, particularly leaders heed to this clarion call to heal their language?

The writer is an academic and can be reached at: sliklight55@gmail.com

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