Ethnolinguistic dilemma and static maintenance syndrome: A study of languages policies and language perceptions in Pakistan

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Only two out of over 70 indigenous mother tongues are recognized in schools
in Pakistan. This study examines orientations of the governments’ language-ineducation policies, and scrutinizes the influence the policies exert on vitality of
indigenous mother tongues, and the perceptions of their speakers. Using undergraduate students as samples, the study employed mixed-method for data collection. Linguistic diversity and multilingualism have been looked upon as problem
than asset in successive government policies. We find that although indigenous
mother tongues enjoy strong roots and oral presence in informal private domains; however, they suffer from acute shrinkage in more literate domains such
as schools and different media as majority of respondents passively assimilate
towards Urdu and English languages. Language policies and current linguistic
hierarchy appear to have exerted appreciable effect on respondents’ attitudinal
and cultural orientations. Although, respondents demonstrate sentimental attachment towards their languages as cultural and identity signifiers; however,
they overwhelmingly support English and Urdu as their desired languages-in-education leaving their own mother-tongues marginalized. Respondents’
approach is marked by ‘static maintenance syndrome, an attitudinal conundrum,
in which they rationalize the ‘supposed inferiority of their languages’ vis-à-vis
English (the official) and Urdu (the national) languages. Top-down and bottom-up orientations are characterized by neglect towards linguistic diversity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-86
JournalLanguage Problems and Language Planning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • language policy and planning, indigenous mother tongues, Urdu & English, static maintenance syndrome, language-as-a-resource and language-as-a-problem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language

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