Cultural Maintenance in the Face of Language Shift- Young Sindhi Muslims in Karachi, Pakistan
The Sindhi language, a descendent of a pre-Vedic Prakit language is the most widely spoken language in South Asia. Sindhi speech community comprises both Muslims, and Hindus which have distinct cultural and religious practices, yet they are socially connected because of the geographical link with their land. However, due to the partitioning of the Indian sub-continent, many Sindhi Hindus migrated to India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and many other countries. There has not only been an external diaspora but within Pakistan, there has also been an internal diaspora of younger Sindhi Muslims who have moved to cities like Karachi, Hyderabad, and Sukkur to pursue tertiary education. These young speakers have acquired and learned the dominant languages Urdu and English as their second and third languages while shifting away from their native Sindhi language. This study investigates the identity markers which have enabled them to retain their Sindhiness. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 male and female young Sindhis and shadow observation of three participants in Karachi. The analysis shows that young Sindhi speakers have a high sense of group solidarity with their community and retain the use of culturally loaded identity markers which include naming patterns, cuisine, dressing, music, customs, rituals, social values, and networking. According to Fishman (1996), there is a deep relationship between language and culture. Despite a shift away from the habitual use of the Sindhi language these respondents have maintained their cultural values and norms.
Keywords: cultural maintenance, language shift, Sindhi community, Karachi
Abbasi, M. H & Zaki, Sajida. (2019). Language Shift: Journey of Third Generation Sindhi and Gujrati Speakers in Karachi. Bahria Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences BUJHSS, 2 (1). 60-88.
Ahmar, Moonis. (2020, August 28th). Karachi as an ethnic challenge. The Express Tribune. https://tribune.com.pk/story/2261540/karachi-as-an-ethnic-challenge
Ahmar, Moonis. (2018). Sindhi Culture and Sindh’s urban spaces. Dawn.
Bhavani, Nandita. (2016). Unwanted Refugees: Sindhi Hindus in India and Muhajirs in Sindh. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. 39 (4), 790-804.
Cook, M., & David, M. (2020). Language Shift and identity Reproduction among Diaspora Sindhis in India and Southeast Asia. Modern Asian Studies. 1-30.
Creswell, J. (2014). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches. (4th Ed.). Los Angles: Sage Publications.
Daswani, C. J. and Parchani S. (1978). Sociolinguistic Study of Indian Sindhi. Central Institute of Indian Studies. Mysore: CIIL.
David, M. K. (1999). Language Shift among the Sindhis of Malaysia. South Pacific Journal of Psychology, 10(1), 61-67.
David, M. K. (2000). The Sindhis of Singapore: Language Maintenance or Language Shift? Migracijske Teme, 16(3), 271-288.
David, M. K. (2001a). The Sindhis of Malaysia: A Sociolinguistic Account. London: Asean
David, M. K. (2001b). The Sindhis of London: Language Maintenance or Language Shift? Migracijske I etnicke Teme, 3, 215-238.
David, M. K., Ali. M., & Baloch, G. M. (2017). Language Shift or maintenance: The Case of Sindhi Language in Pakistan. Language Problem & Planning, 41(1). 26-45.
David, M.K., Channa, L.A., Manan, S.A., & Dumaing, F.P. (2020). Language Shift and Ethnic Identity: Focus on Malaysian Sindhis. International Research Journal. 10 (1). Retrieved from https://researth.iars.info/index.php/curie.
Dweik, B.S & Omar, R. M. (2016). Cultural Maintenance among the Circassian American Community of New Jersey. International Journal of Culture and History, 3 (1), 42-55.
Fishman, J. (1996). What Do You Lose When You Lose Your Language? In G. Cantoni (Ed.). Stabilizing Indigenous Languages. Flagstaff: Center for Excellence in Education, Northern Arizona University. Retrieved from http://www.ncela.gwu.edu/pubs/stabilize/iii-families/lose.htm
Fishman, J. A. (2000). Can Threatened Languages Be Saved? Clevedon, Multilingual Matters.
Glasgow, H. (2012). Croatian language and culture maintenance in the Slavic American community of strawberry hill Kansas City-Kansas. (Unpublished M.A thesis), University of Kansas. Kansas: U.S.A.
Iyengar, A. (2013) Self-perceptions of heritage language shift among young Sindhis in Pune. Masters in Applied Linguistics, University of New England, Australia.
Jabeen, M., Chandio, A.A., & Qasim, Zarina (2010). Language Controversy: Impacts on National Politics and Secession of East Pakistan. South Asian Studies, 25 (1), 99-124.
Khan, Zafar Ahmed. (11th July 2020). Britinca. Retrieved from britinca.com
Khubchandani, Lachman M. (1963). The Acculturation of Indian Sindhi to Hindi: A Study of Language in Contact. Ph. D. Dissertation., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
McDonald, S. (2005). Studying actions in context: A qualitative shadowing method for organizational research. Qualitative Research, 5(4), 455-474.
MIntStud, D. (2008). Cultural Maintenance and identity among members of the Druze Community in South Australia. School of International Studies. University of South Australia. Australia.
Monahan, T., & Fisher, J. (2010). Benefits of ‘observer effects’: Lessons from the field. Qualitative Research, 10(3), 357-376.
Umrani, Sumera. (2015). Constructing, Negotiating and reconstructing English Language Learner Identity: A Case Study of Public Sector University in Post-Colonial Pakistan. Doctoral thesis. University of Edinburgh.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors are free to:
- Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
- Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material
- for any purpose, even commercially.