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Urdu: Cultures and Communities

Urdu: Cultures and Communities

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Urdu: Cultures and Communities

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  1. Urdu: Cultures and Communities

  2. Historical Background Urdu developed as a lingua franca in South Asia in the 16th and 17th centuries around the major Indo-Muslim cities of Delhi and Hyderabad. Hindi and Urdu have common conversational vocabulary and syntax. Urdu is written in Nastaliq script (a Perso-Arabic script) that goes from right to left and borrows its high vocabulary from Arabic and Persian. Even though the colloquial varieties of Hindi and Urdu are similar, their formal and literary varieties are mutually incomprehensible due to different sources of vocabulary, cultural references, and religiously marked language.

  3. Sociolinguistic and Pragmatic Issues • The historical development of Urdu as a lingua franca had/has implications for who self-identifies as an Urdu speaker/heritage learner • Colonial and Post-Colonial language policies in both India and Pakistan • Ethnic, regional, gender, religious, and class considerations

  4. Where are Urdu Speakers Today? • India • Pakistan • Post 1947 large migration of Urdu speakers to Karachi/Lahore • United Kingdom and other Former British Colonies • England-London, Bradford, and Manchester, 1950s- • Canada-Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary, 1970s- • United States-most Metro areas • NYC, NJ, LA, Chicago, Houston, NC, Seattle, Atlanta • Persian Gulf Countries • (since the 1970’s SAs provided skilled labor, managers, and merchants in the wake of the oil boom)

  5. Major Stages of South Asian Migration • Early 20th Century- Punjabi farm workers to California- Lodi, CA • 1960s to1980s-Professionals, engineers, academics, doctors, etc., from upper-middle classes of urban centers of SA • 1990s-Less well educated, more entrepreneurial class migrants from a wider cross-section of South Asian regions and classes • 1990s-present-Highly skilled MBAs, Software and IT industry professionals imported or trained in the US

  6. Urdu Heritage Communities in the US Major metro centers around the country have Urdu speaking populations. Most do not live in urban enclaves, except in the case of Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn, Queens, and Devon Avenue in Chicago. Urdu speakers are ethnically diverse UP, Hyderabadi, Mohajir, Punjabi, Most Urdu speakers will identify themselves as Muslim, on a varying scale or observance of practices

  7. Urdu Speakers Attitudes Toward Heritage Language Preservation • While there are many Urdu speakers who claim the language as an ethnic identity, such as Mohajirs coming from Karachi, Hyderabad, or Lucknow, many also claim other ethnic and linguistic identities-Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan, etc., • An Urdu heritage student may be a Pathan, who speaks Pashto with his/her parents and Urdu with family friends Uncles/Aunties • English as the colonial and post-colonial language of preference in home countries detracts from the value of studying Urdu beyond the home

  8. Where is Urdu taught in the US? • Higher Ed-most major Universities around the country teach Urdu or Hindi/-Urdu • Most of these are major universities, Ivies, some state schools, very few community colleges (De Anza College) • Community and State colleges are where we have the largest pop of Heritage students

  9. K-12 Schools Not taught in Public schools One Charter school in Chicago area has taught it at the HS level since 2000 Community Not many secular settings except one in CA, Urdu Writers Association Masjid-complicated by most parents desire to ensure children learn to read sacred language-classical Arabic (situation is very similar to Jewish Hebrew Schools) Most efforts are private small group classes done in the home, with materials imported from Pakistan or India

  10. Next Steps • Creating awareness and advocacy in communities for maintaining Urdu competency-where do we want to see Urdu language capacity in 5 years? • Highlight the real world benefits to specific groups who could be potential advocate partners with higher ed and k-12 • Urdu materials for k-12 instruction for US students