Four unique languages you can only hear in Karachi

This blog cannot do justice to all community languages but we will try to discover 4 unique languages from the metropolis's communities.

Char Minar Chowrangi, Bahadurabad, Karachi. (Shutterstock)

Karachi, the ‘Mini Pakistan‘, the ‘City Of Lights, the ‘Paris Of Asia‘,  whatever you want to call it — is home to millions of people from various diverse socio-ethnic backgrounds.

Similarly, the city is home to unique pockets of communities, which people from other parts of the country are completely unaware of.

These communities have their own unique cultures and languages.

This blog cannot do justice to all community languages but we will try to discover 4 unique languages from the metropolis’s communities.

It is pertinent to note that with every passing generation, the use of these languages has significantly declined.

1.) Lisan ud-Dawat لسان الدعوة

Lisan ud-Dawat - Wikipedia

The Lisan ud-Dawat is a unique community-based language. This language is exclusively spoken among the Dawoodi Bohras, an Isma’ili Shia community.

The language is considered a regional dialect of Gujarati but includes a heavy amount of Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu vocabulary and is formulated in the Arabic script (naskh) style.

Lisan ud-Dawat - The Reader Wiki, Reader View of Wikipedia

Many in the Bohra Shia community look upon Lisan al-Dawat as a link to keep united irrespective of their sphere, profession, and education.

The language also acts as a unique tool for the Bohra Shias to distinguish themselves from other Gujarati populations who rather speak the same Gujarati but without the Arabic accent and vocabulary.

It is pertinent to note that most of the Bohra Shias in Pakistan migrated to the country after partition from the Indian state of Gujarat. A significant number of Bohra Shias still reside in Gujarat.

2.) Gujarati ગુજરાતી

Gujarati alphabet, pronunciation and language

Do you know that Gujarati was the mother tongue of the Quid-e-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah? If you didn’t already, well, now you know!

The Gujarati language is the lingua franca and the official language of the Indian state of Gujarat.

Many of the Gujarati speakers in Pakistan migrated to Karachi during the independence.

Nevertheless, a significant Gujarati community already existed in the metropolis even before the partition.

Daily Vatan, Karachi’s only Gujarati language newspaper.

The communities in Karachi that speak Gujarati are the Gujaratis, Bohras, Parsis, Isma’ilis, and some Memon and Hindu communities.

The Gujarati language was popular in Karachi even after independence. There were Gujarati language newspapers and the language was even taught in schools.

Unfortunately, the language has suffered terribly as the newer generation has moved towards Urdu.

3.) Memoni میمنی

New Memon Masjid in Karachi was built by the Memon community. (Junaid Kureshi)

The Memoni language is associated with the Memons who migrated to Karachi during independence from Kathiawar (Saurashtra) in the Indian state of Gujarat.

In stress, intonation, and everyday speech, Memoni is very similar to Sindhi or Kutchi, but it borrows extensively from Gujarati, Urdu, and Arabic.

The Memoni language does not have its dictionary and literature. The language was preserved via everyday speech and inherited by the generations of the Memon people.

Nevertheless, the Memoni language has been in a sharp decline since the newer Kathiawari Memon generation mostly speaks Urdu.

The Memoni language was the mother tongue of the great philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi.

4.) Bengali বাংলা

Stateless Bengali-speaking children in Machar Colony, Karachi.

There used to be a huge population was Bengali speakers in Karachi but many left after the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Nevertheless, in search of better opportunities, many Bengalis came back to Karachi in the 1980s. Many of them permanently settled in the city but only a handful of them was able to get CNIC’s.

Currently, there are now around 3 million Bengali speakers in Karachi, but most are stateless and poor.

Stateless Bengali-speaking men gather at a market in Karachi. (AFP/File)

The stateless Rohingya refugees in Karachi have assimilated into the Bengali community as well and now speak Bengali as well.

The third-generation of Bengali speakers in Karachi have never set a foot out of Pakistan in their lives.

Yet, sadly, the state does not consider them Pakistanis, and they do not have basic rights.

What are your views on this? Share with us in the comments below.

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