Cultural Invasion and Linguistic Politeness Among English-Using Pakistanis (R-19)

Cultural Invasion and Linguistic Politeness Among English-Using Pakistanis (R-19)

Publication details

  • Wednesday | 01 Jul, 1998
  • Tariq Rahman
  • Research Reports,Project Publications
  • 21
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Tariq Rahman, SDPI 1998 Introduction English is used in the domains of power--the bureaucracy, military, judiciary, academia, media and commerce--at the elitist level. Those who use English in connection with their work but are not as fluent in it as if it were a first language are generally people who were not educated in English medium schools or did not get much exposure to English at the informal level. Most middle level professional people, doctors, engineers, college and university lecturers, lawyers and civil servants belong to this category. The kind of English they use is formal, bureaucratic, somewhat old-fashioned and full of Pakistani idiomatic constructions, loan words from Pakistani languages and distinctive grammatical constructions. Their pronunciation too is influenced largely by their first languages (this variety of Pakistani English is described in Rahman 1991: 16-17). While these English-using Pakistanis do not speak English informally and spontaneously with each other as a matter of course, there is a small elite which does. This elite is generally educated in highly Anglicized Pakistani elitist schools where English is not only the medium of instruction but is also used by the pupils in informal domains . Some of these schools were traditionally run by the state on the lines of the aristocratic English public schools (Mangan 1987). Others were administered by the Roman Catholic clergy before the partition and even till the late seventies (such as Burn Hall, Abbottabad; Saint Mary's, Rawalpindi and convents at Lahore, Murree etc); The armed forces (such as the Cadet Colleges at Hasanabdal, Pitaro, Kohat etc); and the Railways etc. Recently private entrepreneurs have opened chains of schools notable among them being Beaconhouse, City School and Froebels etc. The products of these schools, as well as the children of Pakistani immigrants in English-speaking countries, speak English spontaneously and socially. The immigrant children speak like the host community while the Pakistanis speak a sub-variety of Pakistani English which is nearer to British English than the sub-varieties used by other Pakistanis (see Rahman 1991: 16). This elite is called the 'Westernized elite' in this paper though it is not as homogeneous as such a label suggests. It is, in fact, in a state of transition from indigenous to Western norms of behaviour and some of its members use more of the latter than of the former.