Does English Have Anything to Do With Intellect?

No, it does not. As a matter of fact, how fluently we speak the language of the west is by no means a reflection of our intellect or skill. Our ability to do absolutely anything is not directly linked to how flawlessly we pronounce words like “plural” or “Canada”, (I’m looking at you, all the people who make fun of their Phupos or Mamos for “Canada”). Please understand that we can laugh at mispronounced words and errors in verb placement all we want but it will never change the truth that is English has nothing to do with our intellect or skill and by making fun of broken English we do nothing but undermine a perfectly good human being and degrade their value down to a few syllables.

You’ve probably already seen the video of Sarfaraz Ahmed with his mumbling English in a press conference after a glorious victory against Sri Lanka. Our Indian neighbors were quick to start making jokes at his expense and ignored everything that he had accomplished that day.

Does English Have Anything to Do With Intellect?

Because that is what cowards do when they know they have no comeback, when they’re out of their wits they go for your English. And as refreshing as it was to see our nation come together and fight against this, we ourselves have been at the other side of the table far too many times.

We drove a girl to an anxiety disorder because we couldn’t handle her pride. “You’re” and “your” is apparently the end to every online debate. Why is it so hard for some people to understand that grammar Nazism will never be funny, but it will always be irrelevant. The English left us free but left behind their most damning chain, the English Language and we gleefully tied ourselves up. We used it as the divide between rich and poor, smart and stupid, modern and backwards. I understand that English is a global language and makes communication with the rest of the world easier. It is a powerful tool no doubt but a lack in proficiency in English does not mean a lack in anything else. In the words of Alif Allah aur Insaan Star, Ushna Shah “We, as a nation, are so inferior that we believe those who can speak faultless English are above the ones who can’t.”

We also seem to forget that even learning English is a privilege that many of us in Pakistan and India do not receive and making fun of someone for having to express themselves in a language they do not fully understand is nothing short of cruel. It reduces confidence not only in the ones we laugh at but our own mother tongue Urdu. The introduction of ‘Why English’ summed it up by saying, “The expansion of English continues to impact in negative ways on other languages and their cultures. While English opens the doors of privilege and access for some, often the few, the way many countries organise education systems means that the English door is closed for the many.”

Muhammad Ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi became the father of algebra without ever learning the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’. Al Jazari wrote The Book of Knowledge of Indigenous Mechanical Devices without a care for which colon was more appropriate. Our forefathers were some of the most skilled and brightest minds of their era and they spoke, wrote and breathed their mother tongue. If they had been judged on their ability to speak a second language, would civilization have been the same today? If they had been ridiculed till their self esteem was shattered we might be reading a foreigner’s name in our books instead of theirs.

So please whenever you feel the need to correct someone over a misplaced adjective or a giggle over at word pronunciations, realize the effect you may have and the unnecessary of it. Realize that they may not have had the same advantages as you. Realize that English is just a language and nothing more. Realize that they are just as human as you.

Summaya Baloch