Wednesday, August 4, 2010

West Punjabi Poetry Article: Safir Rummah

"West Punjabi Poetry." Safir Rammah. From Journal of Punjab Studies, 2006.

An important impact of literary isolation between East and West Punjab can now be seen in the growth of two somewhat distinct Punjabi literary languages there, in which some vocabulary is not even mutually comprehensible. In West Punjab, the writers, magazine editors, and book publishers have had to deal with several issues in developing a literary Punjabi.

Persian alphabets that have long been adopted for writing Punjabi language cannot represent all Punjabi sounds, and the efforts to modify and add new symbols are still in the works. The debates on these issues are on but no general agreement is in sight. Questions of representation of regional dialects in standardized Punjabi, and replacement of Urdu and Persian vocabulary with pure Punjabi words is still a work in progress. In East Punjabi literature, Sanskrit vocabulary is now used in abundance. West Punjabi readers in general are notfamiliar with most of the Sanskrit words used in East Punjabi writings, to the point that magazine editors and book publishers who transliterate and publish in Shahmukhi now resort to providing annotations of these word

He quotes an article by Tariq Rahman (1996), also on the web:

Soon after the creation of Pakistan, Punjabi vanished as a
university subject. Because of its association with Sikhs and due
to the state’s promotion of Urdu, Punjabi was relegated to the
periphery. In 1948, however, some activity did begin when a
meeting of some Punjabi intellectuals was held at Dyal Singh
College under the presidentship of Syed Abid Ali Abid. All the
participants were distinguished men of letters, M. B. Taseer and
Faqir Muhammad Faqir amongst others. They decided to work
towards making Punjabi the language of education in the Punjab
and to encourage publications in Punjabi. The first objective
remained an aspiration, but Abdul Majid Salik did start
publishing the monthly Punjabi in 1951. Its editor, Faqir
Muhammad Faqir, was successful in persuading eminent Punjabi
literary figures, who had made their name in Urdu literature, to
write for it. The Punjabi League and the Punjabi Cultural Society
were formed in early 1952, and a number of minor Punjabi
organizations, such as the Punjabi Morcha (Punjabi Front),
created in 1954 by Sardar lqbal Dhillon, proliferated. But none
of these organizations was able to get Punjabi accepted as even
an optional language in the University of the Punjab in 1953.
The first significant event of this period was the Punjabi
Conference held on March 9, 1956 at Lyallpur. It was sponsored
by the Punjabi Bazm-e-Adab (literary society) and its main
purpose was consciousness-raising. This Bazm-e-Adab was the
Pakistani version of Umar Din Ulfat Varsi’s organization, which
has been mentioned earlier. Having migrated from Jullundur to
Lyallpur, Varsi organized his society under an acceptable Persian
name. The major impediment to the acceptance of Punjabi, as
perceived by Punjabi intellectuals, was that most literate
Punjabis (and perhaps also the illiterate) exhibited various
degrees of cultural shame about their language. In his
presidential address at the conference, Abdul Majid Salik pointed
to this and the fact that Muslim Punjabis had always served
Urdu. He was, however, quick to add that the progress of Punjabi
should not be at the expense of Urdu which should remain the
national language of Pakistan.
The Conference demanded that Punjabi be used as the medium
of instruction at the lower level. This was accepted in principle,
although no real change was made. In fact, since all the
provinces of West Pakistan had been amalgamated into One Unit
by this time, the ruling elite was less supportive than ever of the
indigenous languages of the former provinces.
[Tariq Rehman, 1996]