Language is the primary medium of communicating and building relationships with people, which creates a community. Language is the key essence of a nation that reflects its cultures and traditions.
Language is power, and instrument of culture, the instrument of domination and liberation.
There are about 6500 total languages that are spoken all over the world. Language consists of sound and written symbols and they are used for not only talking but also for writing by the people of that particular country. It is a vital instrument and tool through which we can communicate our thoughts, ideas, and also feelings with other people.
Languages Spoken in Pakistan
Pakistan is known as a multilingual country as it has a set of languages that are spoken by its people living in different regions and they use it as their first language. There are approximately 70 to 80 languages that are spoken in Pakistan.
Urdu is the national language. It is also dealt with as a second official language along with English. Although it is the national language but it is spoken by only around 8-9% of the population. Additionally, there are a lot of regional languages that craft the cultures of that specific regions. About 60% of the population of Pakistan use Major dialects of Punjabi ( Punjabi, Sindhi, Hindko, Pothowari) as their first language.
The most popular languages spoken by the Pakistanis as their primary languages with their percentage are,
- Urdu (National Language)——8%
Urdu (Pakistan’s National Language)
Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and it is spoken by around 70 to 80 million people as their first language in Pakistan while it is dealt with as a second language by over 100 million people in the subcontinent.
History of Urdu Language
It is one of the oldest languages in the world and it came to be as a result of intermixing of many other languages like Arabic, Persian, and Turkish in the 12th century AD.
The new language that was a mixed speech of all these languages was given several names as, Zaban-e-Hind, Zaban-e-Delhi, Zaban-e-Urdu, or just Hindi or Urdu. Then the name Urdu was selected for that new language as the most suitable one as it means, “the language of camp”.
From then, this language progressed and many people expertized in Urdu literature. During the period of the 14th to 15th century, much poetry. The first renowned poet of this language is Ameer Khusro.
In Pakistan, 25th February is celebrated as National Language Day.
It is the most commonly used language by the Pakistanis and is among the Indo-Aryan Languages. Only in the province of Punjab, about 70 million individuals speak Punjabi. This language has many dialects and a high percentage of the population of India and Pakistan speak Punjabi.
This language has major dialects as,
Majhi is a very important dialect of the Punjabi language as it is then used as a standard in Punjabi writings.
The Sindhi language is also one of the most popular languages that are spoken in Pakistan. This language is based on Devanagari and Arabic script. In South Asia, many regional languages intermingle and this popular Indo-Aryan language was formed. Its major dialects are as follows,
- Kathiawari kachi
- Siroli Lari
- Muslim Sindhi
Saraiki is one of the most popular languages that are spoken in Pakistan. It is an Indo-Aryan language. It has many other names as,
- Western Punjabi.
About 17 million people only in Punjab and Sindh, Pakistan speak this language as their first or mother language.
A large percentage of the Indian Population in the province of Punjab also use this as their primary language. In Pakistan, to write this language, we use Perso-Arabic script. Indians use the scripts of Devanagari and Gurmukhi to write Saraiki. Saraiki is the dialect of the Punjabi language.
Pashto is one of the most famous and most spoken languages in Pakistan mainly in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and also in the upper parts of Balochistan. It is also widely spoken in Afghanistan and Iran. It is also called Pukhto and is the member language of Indo-Iranian languages.
Depending on the region, the Pashto language consists of three main languages, which are,
- Southern Pashto
- Northern Pashto
- Central Pashto
Southern and Northern Pashto is spoken mainly in Pakistan while in Iran and Afghanistan, Central Pashto is spoken.
Balochi is one of the most common and popular languages that is spoken in Pakistan. It is the member language of Indo-European Languages. This language is mainly spoken as the first language in the countries of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan mainly in its largest province, Balochistan.
After 14th August 1947, when Pakistan came into being, Balochi people started using Perso-Arabic script for writing this language.
The main dialects of this language are,
- Northern Balochi
- Western Balochi
- Eastern Balochi
- Southern Balochi
Except for the Eastern dialect that is spoken in Iran and Afghanistan, all other dialects (Northern, Western and Southern) are spoken by the people of central and upper regions of Balochistan, coastal areas, and lower Balochistan respectively.
It is one of the most common and ancient languages that is spoken in Pakistan. It is an Indo-Aryan language. This language is spoken mostly by the people residing in the northern areas of Pakistan and they are called Hinkowan.
History of Hindko Language
Hindko is derived from two words, “Hind” meaning Sinh, and “Ko”, which means language. This language came into being when some Afghani invaders came to reside in the Northern areas of Pakistan, they gave the local language o the areas from Peshawar to UP was named Hindko.
There is a vague concept about the dialect of the Hindko language. Some linguistics say that it has no dialects and it itself is a dialect of the Sindhi language and some also say that perhaps it is the dialect of the Punjabi language.
Miscellaneous Languages Spoken in Pakistan
About 6% of the whole Pakistani population speak miscellaneous languages. Among this 6%, most of the people speak Kashmiri, Brahui, and Bengali languages. Brahui is an Indo-Iranian language and is spoken in some parts of Balochistan.
Some people living in the province of Gilgit Baltistan speak the Shina language. However, other languages that are spoken by the minorities in Pakistan are listed below:
- Kohistani Memoni
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the top 3 languages that are spoken in Pakistan?
The top 3 languages that are spoken in Pakistan are,
- Punjabi (47% population speaks it)
- Pashto (11% of Pakistanis speak it)
- Sindhi (11% of the population speak it)
Which language is spoken more in Pakistan?
The commonly used language by the Pakistanis is the Punjabi language along with its major dialects. It is about the 60% of the whole population of Pakistan uses Punjabi and its major dialects (Saraiki, Pothowari) as their first language)
Is Hindi spoken in Pakistan?
Yes, Hindi is spoken by the Indian minority that is residing in Pakistan. There is also a school in Islamabad that gives Hindi classes to the children which is operated by Indian High Commission.
Which is the sweetest language in Pakistan?
Saraiki language is the sweetest if all the languages that are spoken in Pakistan. It is mainly spoken in Punjab and neighbouring countries. It was also known as Multani language.
Are Urdu and Arabic similar?
The two languages, Arabic and Urdu have many similarities because of their historical connection. But the major difference between the two languages istheir language family. As Arabic is from Afro-Asiastic language family and Urdu is from Indo-Aryan family.
Are Hindi and Urdu the same?
Hindi and Urdu are actually the two languages or variants of the same language family. In speaking, they are mutually intelligible but in writing, they have different symbols. There language origin is also the same.
Do they speak Farsi in Pakistan?
Although farsi language is a royal language of Mughal Empire, but now it is only spoken by minority of people in Pakistan. It is now not served as official or cultural language.