Learning the Languages of Pakistan


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Pakistan is a diverse country where many different languages are spoken. Most people communicate using Urdu or Punjabi, but there are different regional and official languages spread throughout its territories.

Urdu

Urdu is an official language in Pakistan, as well as the country’s lingua franca and national language. Urdu is more of a means of communicating beyond the regional languages; about 95% of people in Pakistan can speak it, mostly as a second or third language. Though about 12 million people speak Urdu as their mother tongue, that is only a minority of the overall population.

This language has Indo-European roots, and is written in a deriviative of the Arabic alphabet. Many young, urban youth in Pakistan are learning Urdu as a first langauge.

English

English is also an official language in Pakistan. It is used in the government, judiciary and legislative branches of the state, as well as in educational institutions. It is also the typical business language in this country.

Punjabi

Punjabi is a major provincial language in Pakistan, but not an official language. Approximately 45% of people in Pakistan speak Punjabi as a first language; about 70% of the population can speak or at least understand it. There are a few different dialects of Punjabi spoken in Pakstian, such as Majhi, Malwi and Rachnavi. Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language.

Pashto

Pashto, or Afghani, is another major provincial dialect, and is the first language of about 15% of the population. Most of its ethnic Pashtun speakers live in the northwestern part of Pakistan. Pashto is an Eastern Iranian language with Indo-Iranian roots.

Sindhi

Sindhi is the first language for about 14% of the people who live in Pakistan. It is an Indo-Aryan language that is mainly concentrated in Sindh and Balochistan. This language is taught in the schools of Sindh, and is a very old dialect that is rich in vocabulary.

Balochi

Balochi is considered a first language to about 4% of Pakistan, who are mainly located in the Province of Balochistan. It is a Northwestern Iranian language.

Saraiki

Saraiki is very similar to Punjabi, and it is spoken by about 18 million people in Pakistan, mostly in the southern part of the Province of Balochistan and Sindh.

Persian

There are about one million native Persian speakers living in Pakistan. This dialect still continues to be an important literary language in this country.

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