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Urdu gaining popularity in USA: Warsi

india Updated: Dec 16, 2006 15:42 IST

URDU HAS gained popularity and more Americans are taking interest in the language in order to understand the culture of South Asia, said Dr MJ Warsi, Professor in Linguistics at the Washington University.

Dr Warsi said special interest in understanding Muslims has also brought attention to Urdu, which has a vast Islamic literature. He was delivering a lecture at the Mulla Ramoozi Sanskriti Bhawan on Thursday. The MP Urdu Academy organised the lecture.

“The government agencies in America need a large number of Urdu-knowing population as foreign language experts, translators et al,” he said, adding that, “this has also propelled the urge to learn Urdu.”

Warsi said Americans were less multi-lingual than Europeans and a survey indicated that 53% Europeans were fluent in a language other than their mother tongue while in case of Americans, the figure was just 9%. After 9/11, the US government needed more people well versed in languages of Middle East and South Asia and subsequent Urdu evoked greater interest. Dr Warsi said that scholarships are available to students learning Urdu.

Though few schools teach Urdu, community schools and Islamic centres are learning centres of Urdu for kids. And particularly at the university level where it is mandatory to learn a foreign language, most South Asian prefer either Urdu or Hindi as it helps them fetch good grades because they have at least some familiarity with their mother tongues. In most universities Urdu is taught.

The cultural functions, mushairas and other events also add to popularity of language. Large immigrant populace from South Asia has led to surge in popularity of Urdu. Dr Warsi, who was born in Darbhanga, and has worked with the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language here before joining the Washington University, said that Urdu is no less popular in Europe, particularly Britain.

“Queen Victoria had learnt Urdu and even the governor of Bengal was appointed on the basis that he knew the language,” he said, suggesting the link of Britain with Urdu. On a question regarding treatment of Muslims in America, Dr Warsi said  situations have improved a lot and American citizens are making efforts to understand Islam and Muslims.

Urdu Academy chairman Dr Bashir Badr, Regional Director of Maulana Azad National Urdu University study centre and senior litterateurs were present.

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