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This paper presents an analysis of Urdu-English code-switching in Pakistani English. However, data has been analyzed only at the phrase and clause level. Based on the empirical data from Pakistani English newspapers and magazines, this paper aims to show that code-switching is not a grammarless phenomenon rather it is ruled governed activity at the phrase and clause level. It also presents the brief overview of the use of English as a non-native variety. This paper suggests that variations and changes in a language are an integral part of bilingualism and multilingualism. All the present data shows that the occurrences of various Urdu phrases and clauses impose no ungrammatical effect on the construction of English syntax.
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ESP World (ISSN 1682-3257), issue 17, 2007, http://www.esp-world.info
Urdu-English Code-Switching: The Use of Urdu Phrases
and Clauses In Pakistani English (A Non-native Variety)

Behzad Anwar Ph. D. Candidate

Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of Urdu-English code-switching in Pakistani English.
However, data has been analysed only at the phrase and clause level. Based on the
empirical data from Pakistani English newspapers and magazines, this paper aims to
show that code-switching is not a grammarless phenomenon rather it is ruled
governed activity at the phrase and clause level. It also presents the brief overview of
the use of English as a non-native variety. This paper suggests that variations and
changes in a language are an integral part of bilingualism and multilingualism. All
the present data shows that the occurrences of various Urdu phrases and clauses
impose no ungrammatical effect on the construction of English syntax.

Key words: Bilingualism, code-switching, non-native varieties of English

Introduction

This paper centres on the variations in the English language due to Urdu-English
code-switching in Pakistan and also shows the significant role of the Urdu language in
the formation of Pakistani English. Only those syntactic features that are found as a
result of code-switching have been discussed. Mahboob (2003) described different
phonological and grammatical aspects of Pakistani English, which are quite different
from Standard British English. But in this paper, only that data has been taken into
account where Urdu phrases and clauses have been used. This paper is interested in
describing different aspects of language change in English when used in a non-native
context i.e. Pakistan. First and foremost, ‘a great deal of interest has been generated in
the English language as a result of its spread around the world and its use as an
international language (Cheshire 1991:7).

Now-a-days English has become a global language. According to Bamgbose,
(2001:357) English is recognised as the dominating language in the world as
globalisation comes to be universally accepted in political and academic discourse.
The development of ‘globalisation’ has been associated with the dominance of the
English language (Bottery 2000:6). English is used all over the world by millions of
native and non-native speakers because of its dominant position. According to Crystal
(2003:65), there are approximately 430 million L2 users and 330 million L1 users. So
the non-native speakers use English more than the natives ones. However, these
figures exclude learners of English, and Crystal suggests there may be as many as one
billion of them. Being an international language, it is used almost in all the countries
of the world. When people started using English in non-native contexts because of its
growing popularity, it developed as a transplanted language. According to Kachru
(1986:30):

‘A language may be considered transplanted if it is used by a
significant numbers of speakers in social, cultural and geographical contexts different

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ESP World (ISSN 1682-3257), issue 17, 2007, http://www.esp-world.info
from the contexts in which it was originally used………..a transplanted language is
cut off from its traditional roots and begins to function in new surroundings, in new
roles and new contexts’.

Non-native Varieties of English

Kachru (1978) was among the first to identify and delineate boundaries of a nativized
variety of English in South Asia, which he terms as South Asian English (SAE).
Kachru (1996) regarded SAE as an additional linguistic arm in the culture of identity.
He believes that ‘nativization must be seen as the result of those productive linguistic
innovations which are determined by the localized function of a second language
variety, the culture of conversation and commutative strategies in new situations and
transfer from local languages’ (Kachru 1986: 21-2). With this development, there was
a gradual recognition and acknowledgement of the new and non-native varieties of
English, e.g. Nigerian English, Indian English, Chicano English, Pakistani English,
Singaporean English, Sri Lankan English etc. The term ‘New varieties’ of English’
implies that there are more or less recognizable varieties of spoken and/or written by
groups of people’. (Platt et al. 1984:2) A new variety does not develop in isolation
but it depends on the communicative needs of those who speak and write it. Such a
variety is considered an interference variety because there is a clear linguistic and
cultural interference from the first language and culture of the users.

When a language is used in a different cultural context and social situation, several
changes take place in its phonology, morphology, lexicon and syntax. A language so
widely used has its own grammatical and linguistic system through which it conveys
its distinction of meanings. These linguistic characteristics are usually transparent in
its sound system, vocabulary and sentence construction. The non-native speakers
develop a whole new range of expression to fulfil the communicative needs. Since the
user of the non-native variety is bilingual, creativity is manifested in different kinds of
mixing, switching, alteration and transcreation of codes. When two languages come in
contact, it results in “inventiveness”. Bilingualism in itself is a source of creativity in
language (Talaat 2003). Such varieties are so widespread and have such a long
standing ‘that they may be thought stable and adequate enough to be regarded as
varieties of English in their own right rather than stages on the way to a more native-
like English’ (Quirk 1983:8)

Urdu-English code-switching and Pakistani English

English enjoys a very prestigious status in Pakistan. Its prevalence and power in
Pakistan is growing very much. For many Pakistanis, English has become not only a
“practical necessity”, but also “the language of opportunity, social prestige, power,
success as well as social superiority”. Kachru (1997:227) pointed at the ‘ideological,
cultural and elitist power of English’. Such power is vividly seen in Pakistan where
people tend to switch from Urdu to English to create special effect. Urdu is the
national language of Pakistan and one of the two official languages of Pakistan (the
other official language being English). It is the most important language of literacy in
the country. In the hierarchy of linguistic prestige, Urdu is placed lower only than
English. In Pakistan, Urdu-English code-switching is a common characteristic of
educated Pakistani bilinguals. Code-switching occurs when two languages come in
contact: ‘the alternation of two languages within a single discourse, sentence or

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constituent’ (Poplack 1980:581). This sociolinguistic phenomenon makes a great
contribution in the creation of new and non-native varieties of English. When two
languages come into contact, not only the phonological features but lexical items and
syntactic patterns also manage to filter across from one language to another. English
is used in Pakistan in a non-native context. Different changes can be observed in its
phonology, vocabulary, and grammar and now it is recognized as a distinct variety of
English i.e. Pakistani English. Non-native varieties of English are an important aspect
of language change and these varieties have emerged because of code-switching and
code-mixing. According to Trudgill (1986: 1), ‘the languages that are in contact with
each other socially may become changed linguistically, as a result of being in contact
psychologically, in the competence of individual speaker’.

Pakistani English has assumed a linguistic and cultural identity of its own. This
identity manifests itself throughout the language at the word level, the phrase level
and the sentence level. It is the natural consequence of its regular contact with the
Urdu language. A large number of borrowings from Urdu and the regional languages
of Pakistan have entered in Pakistani English (Baumgardner 1993). Certain lexical
items may show a shift from their original Standard British English usage to Urduized
meaning (Talaat 1993). In comparison with the borrowing in syntax and morphology,
lexical items have the highest ease of borrowing and seem most likely to occur (Brutt-
Griffler, 2002; Romaine, 1995). Such a vocabulary items in all the new varieties of
English are largely drawn from the areas that are significantly different to the geo-
social-cultural context of British English (Fernado 2003). As, no reliable study on
Urdu-English code-switching at the level of the phrase and clause is available, this
paper is likely to bridge the gap. The code-switching data in this paper focuses on the
use of Urdu phrases and clauses in the English language and shows that its occurrence
imposes no ungrammatical effect on the structure of English syntax. The data has
been collected from the following printed Pakistani English newspaper and
magazines:

1. Dawn (daily) (Lahore)
2. Herald (monthly) (Karachi)
3. Mag (weekly) (Karachi)

In this paper, code-switching is divided into two categories. They are inter-sentential
switching, that is switching from one language to another at a sentence boundary, and
intra-sentential code-switching, or code-mixing when the switch takes place within
one sentence. In the following section, we will analyse the intra-sentential code-
switching in Pakistani English at the level of phrase.

Phrasal insertions

A phrase is a group of words, which does not carry a complete sense. Formally a
phrase is defined as a syntactic structure that has syntactic properties derived from its
head (Mahajan 2001). Basic phrase structure is a universal feature of all human
languages. The Urdu language is not different from English as far as the structure of
phrase is concerned. There are a fair number of Urdu multi-word switches in this
section that are either two word or three word phrases occurring in the English clause
or sentence. The purpose is to introduce the position of various Urdu phrases inserted
in English syntax. Some researchers suggest that switches that are larger than one

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ESP World (ISSN 1682-3257), issue 17, 2007, http://www.esp-world.info
word are "true code-switches" but one-word switches are borrowings. However, it is
not within the goals of this paper to distinguish code-switches from borrowings. In
this section, we will analyze the occurrence of various NPs, Adj Ps and PPs in the
English sentences. Since phrase insertion is always a complex kind of switching, it
demands a high degree of proficiency and accuracy from the bilinguals involved in
code-switching.

Noun phrase


A noun phrase is a word or group of words, which acts as the subject, complement or
object of a clause, or as the object of a preposition. A noun phrase always has an
obligatory head noun and optional modifier and qualifier.
(m) H (q)
For example in the Urdu phrase ‘ mera bhai apaney dostoon key saath’, (my brother
with his friends) mera is the modifier of the head noun ‘bhai’ while Urdu
postpositional phrase ‘dostoon key saath’ is qualifying the head noun.

The structure of Urdu noun phrases used in Pakistani English is very diverse. Here are
some examples of the use of the Urdu noun phrases occurring as the subject of the
English verbs:

1. A poor hari (the farmer) can be sent to the gallows even on the mild
accusation of a crime leveled against him by a noble. (March 27, 2007 D)
2. An honorable sardar or wadera (the landlord or chief) can walk free even
after proven record of the most heinous kinds of against crimes him. (March
27, 2007 D)
3. They alleged that the naib nazim (the vice municipal officer) was receiving
threats to force him to part ways with the PPP-backed Awam Dost panel.
(March 04, 2007 D)

In the first two examples, the English adjectives are modifying the English nouns in a
noun phrase while in the third example both the adjective and noun are from the Urdu
language. All the noun phrases have the English determiners ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’
respectively in the beginning of the sentences.

Urdu noun phrase as an apposition of another noun

It is very interesting to note the use of an Urdu noun phrase as apposition in Pakistani
English. ‘Apposition’ means the placing of a noun group after a noun or pronoun in
order to identify something or someone or give more information about them. In the
following example, we can see the use of an Urdu noun phrase as an apposition of
another noun. Here the Urdu noun phrase is giving information about the proper noun
‘Haji Ramzan’.

1. Five militants who tried to kidnap tehsil municipal officer Hameedullah on
October 8 were forced to give up their hostage after Haji Ramzan, the tehsil
naib nazim (the city vice municipal officer), and his men confronted them on
the main Tank-Jandola road. (November 2006 H)

Urdu phrase introduced by an English adverb:

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ESP World (ISSN 1682-3257), issue 17, 2007, http://www.esp-world.info

In the examples below, the English relative adverb “as” introduces the Urdu stretches
of words embedded in English. This type of switching is very rare and demands high
proficiency.

1. Amjad considered her as ustad se ziyada dost (friend rather than teacher).
(January 22, 2006 D)
2. And an old friend of hers, a female writer, was so infuriated on being referred
to as a ‘Cycle wali larki’ (female cyclist) that she broke relations with her for
good. (March 25, 2007 D)

3. According to one of them, they were not shunned by the public as lula, langra
and apahaj (lame and paralyzed). (December 04, 2005 D)

4. What was sworn upon yesterday as guiding principle will be chucked at the
altar of expediency tomorrow as mere siyasi bayan (political statement).
(January 22, 2006 D)

Genitive phrases

In Urdu, genitives are indicated with ka/ke/ke as a morph-word. The choice of these
words depends on gender, number and case ending of the head noun. However, the
English word ‘of’ is equivalent to all these. The genitive or possessive form of Urdu
noun takes different positions in English syntax and imposes no ungrammatical effect
in the construction. In the following examples, the Urdu noun phrases are used as the
complement of an English verb of incomplete predication and occurring at the end of
the sentence. The Urdu noun phrase begins with the English determiner ‘an’ in the
first example.

1. Atif Amin feels "it's true that to some extend visiting therapists is an ameeron
ka nakhra. (arrogance of the rich) (July 31, 2005 D)
2. The colloquial phrase used for this punishment was kala ki saza. (severe
punishment) (July 24, 2005 D)

In some cases the Urdu noun phrase is used as the subject of the English syntax. In
example 2 the Urdu noun phrase begins with English determiner ‘the’.


1. 1."Logon ki samajh" (understanding of the people) is all he has to say
about the society's attitude towards dance. (January 12, 2006 D)
2. The Islamabad ka muqadas darakht (Holy tree of Islamabad) revolved
around a popular Banyan tree that stood in sector E-7 but was a few
months back burned down. (May 21, 2006 D)
3. Promptly can the reply from Fateh Muhammad Mailk, who argued that
kufar ka fatwa (Infidelity claim) is nothing new with us. (May 21, 2006
D)
Sometimes, the Urdu noun phrases are also inserted in the middle of the English
syntax. In the following examples, we can see the use of the Urdu noun phrases as the
complement of an English verb.


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1. Publications have just become catalogues and designers have become shadi
ka jora mills (Wedding cloth house), not aiming to produce ethereal pieces
any more.(September 25, 2005 D)
2. Rohit also revived the age-old warak ka kaam (work of silver gold leaf) once
used for mughal royalty. (January 22, 2005 D)
3. Naturally they bathed themselves properly after every hug as the grandma had
a smell of sarson ka tel (mustard’oil) and desi soap all over here. (July 31,
2005 D)
4. I am thrilled to see a lovely jurao ka set (precious Ornament) that President
Ayub Khan presented her when she visited Pakistan in the 1960s. (March 25,
2007)
In the example 3 the double genitive has been used with English mixed in a noun
phrase.

Adjective Phrase

A word or a group of words that does the work of an adjective is called an adjective
phrase. Adjective phrases are usually formed from an intensifier that is optional,
followed by the head (H) that is often an adjective In Pakistani English, Urdu
adjective phrases may occur as a predicate adjective or inside the noun phrase. In the
examples below, an Urdu adjective phrase has been inserted in the English sentence.

1. He is called sher ka bacha (bashful, brave) and mard ka bacha (high
minded). (January 08, 06 D)

In the above example, Urdu evaluative metaphors that reflect Pakistani social
customs, localized attitude and behavior have been used in English syntax. In a
typical Pakistani context, a person having great courage and with a keen sense of
honor is termed as ‘sher ka bacha’ (lion’s child).

In the following example the English intensifier ‘very’ has been used with an Urdu
adjective. This kind of code-switching is very rare.

2. Their response, ‘ I think you are right madam,’ said a young man, city life and
modern education makes men very beghairat (dishonorable) (November
2006 H)

In the examples given below, the Urdu adjective phrases are modifying the English
nouns in the noun phrases.

3. It was a taiz raftar (very speedy) bus and I merely sat on it as well. (February
26, 2005 D)
4. The 60-minutes interview was largely spent in advocate Bukhari name
dropping, saying he grew up with the lordships of the Superior Court and what
payare insaan (lovely men) they are. (March 18, 2007 D)

Example 4 reflects a very complex kind of code-switching. The Urdu stretch of words
has been introduced by the English word ‘what’, but actually it is giving the emphasis
on the Urdu adjective ‘payare’. The use of ‘what’ has changed the syntactic structure

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ESP World (ISSN 1682-3257), issue 17, 2007, http://www.esp-world.info
and it seems that it has been used to focus on ‘payare insaan’. The introduction of
‘what’ has changed the word order of the sentence.

One important thing worthwhile to mention here is that it seems harder to break up a
relative clause/phrase than other types of subordination. It is quite problematic to have
a relative pronoun from one language and the rest of the clause in the other. The code-
switching data reported from other language pairs also show that switching between
the relative pronoun and the clause that it introduces is rare. (Nortier 1990)

Mostly, the English adjectives are necessarily uninflected. They undergo no
morphological changes with the variations in the nouns they qualify. However, in
Pakistani English, Urdu adjectives, sometimes, may be inflected according to the rules
of Urdu grammar because of number and gender as in the above example. For
example: Payara (lovely) is an inflected adjective e.g. Payara larka (lovely boy),
Payari larki (lovely girl), Payare insaan (lovely people).


Prepositional phrase


Urdu has a postposition instead of English preposition, which differs in the way that it
precedes objects. A collective term used for both preposition and postposition is
adposition. In typical Urdu adposition phrases, adposition comes at the end. An Urdu
postposition phrase is syntactically inserted in English syntax in the following
example:

1. Both of them unhurt "Khuda key fazal sey" (By the grace of God) while
Shazia became paraplegic. (January 08, 2006 D)

It is very interesting to note that the Urdu postposition phrase occurs at the same
position where its English equivalent could have been.

Verbal phrase

A verb phrase is a word or a group of words that does not have a subject and a
predicate of its own and does the work of a verb. In Urdu language, auxiliaries occur
after the main verb in contrast with English where auxiliaries occur before the main
verb. Urdu verb phrases occur very rarely in Pakistani English because they have to
undergo a complex morphological change as compared to noun phrases. However,
sometimes an Urdu verbal phrase is also inserted in English syntax. Here is an
example of the use of an Urdu verb phrase:


1. My colleagues kept worrying that piracy ho rahi hay (is going on) we should
stop it; I kept saying, "hooney do". (let it be) (September 11, 2005 D)

ho rahi hai

main verb Progressive form auxiliary

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The above-mentioned data and examples suggest that Urdu phrases are frequently
used in Pakistani English and its occurrences at various positions in a sentence seem
to be quite appropriate. Urdu phrases obey the rules of English grammar everywhere
in the sentences. After analyzing intra-sentential code-switching at the level of phrase,
now we want to turn to inter-sentential code-switching in Pakistani English. The next
section begins with ‘inter-clausal code switching’.


Inter-clausal code-switching:

As mentioned earlier, code-switching occurring at the sentence level is called inter-
sentential code-switching. The term “inter-clausal code-switching” is used to refer to
switches occurring at the clause boundaries. In the present data, switched Urdu
clauses can include a coordinated clause, a subordinate clause or a clause/phrase
introduced by an English adverb. Urdu clauses that are coordinated with an English
clause through the use of coordinating conjunction are classified as coordinated
clauses. Urdu subordinate clauses are also used with main English clause. We can
find the English subordinate clause with Urdu main clause as well. Mostly, an English
subordinate clause gives a warning or advice about the consequences of an action or
attitude. It is relatively common in Pakistani English that Urdu proverbs and maxims
occur at the periphery of an English clause. There are also switched Urdu full clauses
that are syntactically independent of the preceding English clause, although there is
still thematic coherence in terms of their reference and actions. The data exemplified
in the following sections will reveal how different types of Urdu clauses are used in
Pakistani English.

Co-ordinated Clauses:

In Pakistani English, co-ordinated clauses are joined by English as well as Urdu
conjunctions. However Urdu conjunctions do not occur quite frequently. A
conjunction that often conjoins the English clauses to the Urdu adjacent clauses is
“and”. Here is an example of the use of the English coordinating conjunction:

1. Why don’t we all go together to New Delhi? N1 ki shaddi ki shopping bhi ho
jaye gi (There will be shopping of N1’s wedding) and we can have much fun.
(June 20, 2005 D)

As can be seen in the above example, there is switching here back and forth between
English and Urdu. An Urdu clause is embedded in English and English is taken up
again.

In the following example, an Urdu conjunction “leykin” (but) is inserted in the
English sentence. The reason for the use of Urdu conjunction in Pakistani English is
directionality of code-switching, because most of the times, switched Urdu clauses
follow the English main clause. This Urdu conjunction has a pragmatic effect as a
discourse marker in drawing attention to the utterance.

1. We reached there in time, lakin no body was there to receive us. (Spoken
English)

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In Nortier’s Moroccan Arabic/Dutch code-switching data (1990), the Arabic
conjunction “walikan” (but) is also most frequent and is the one that conjoins two
clauses that are both in another language. Taking a discourse marker from another
language has a pragmatic effect on the whole utterance.

Another interesting feature of Pakistani English that has been found as a result of
Urdu-English code-switching is the use of an independent Urdu clause or sentence
with English in written as well as spoken English. Here are three examples where
Urdu clauses are syntactically independent; however, they share a semantic
relationship with each other:

1. Very soon, I will be a big star in Bollywood, main naumeed nahin hougni. (I
will not be disappointed) (July 16, 2006 D)
2. He is set to release some very interesting films, which he describes as happy-
go-lucky movies, aaj kal happy fims ka zamana hai. (Now-a-days people
like happy movies) (December 11, 2005 D)
3. I cannot make new friends. Main buri, mairai dausti burai. (I am bad,
friendship with me is bad) That’s all (March 25, 2007 D)

Subordinated clauses:

Urdu subordinated clauses are also used in Pakistani English,
which is a very important aspect of inter-sentential code-switching. The subordinating
conjunction is not always in the language of the clause that it introduces. Both Urdu
and English subordinating conjunctions are used to join main and subordinated
clauses. We can classify this section to two main broad categories:

1. Urdu subordinate clauses with an English main clause
2. English subordinate clauses with a Urdu main clause

Firstly, we will look at the occurrence of the Urdu subordinate clauses with an
English main clause.

Urdu subordinate clauses with an English main clause:

Different Urdu subordinate clauses are embedded in the English sentences in
Pakistani English. The following two kinds of Urdu subordinate clauses have been
found in Pakistani English:

1. The noun clause

2. The adverb clause

Noun clause:

The data exemplified in this section will show that a noun clause is a subordinate
clause that does the work of a noun in a complex sentence. It can be used in Pakistani
English as:
1. The subject of a verb

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ESP World (ISSN 1682-3257), issue 17, 2007, http://www.esp-world.info
2. The complement of a verb
3. The object of a preposition

In the following example, the switched Urdu noun clause has been used as the subject
of an English verb:

1. Sub kutch chalet hai is their dictum. (June 12, 2005 D)
‘All is right’ is their dictum.

Most of the times, a switched noun clause acts as a complement of an English verb.
Here are some examples:
1. To underline the point he added is main science ki koi baat nahin hai.
(December 25, 2005 D)

To underline the point he added there is nothing scientific in this.


2. He got all mixed up and asked acha aap begum commondo hai. (October
30, 2005 D)
He got all mixed up and asked well. You are Mrs. Commando.
3. I get looks from them all and a couple said aap aagay aa jain. (October 09,
2006 D)
I get looks from them all and a couple said you come in front please.
4. She couldn’t resist the bohat aachi movie hai. (May 29, 2005 D)
She couldn’t resist it’s the very best movie.

In the examples below, the switched Urdu clause has been used as an object of an
English preposition.

1. No one at the CCB was willing to say anything except that is ka order ooper
se aya hai. (May 07, 2006 D)
2. No one at the CCB was willing to say anything except that we have orders
from our seniors.
3. As they turned to me, I shrugged my shoulder with a ‘Bhai dekh lo, I am
not carrying you purse’ (November 2006 H)
4. As they turned to me, I shrugged my shoulder with a brother you can see; I
am not carrying you purse.

Sometimes, it’s very interesting to note the use of an Urdu noun clause as a
complement of a verb of incomplete predication.

1. The whole thing is that key bhaiya sab se bada rupaiya. (February 12,
2006 D)
The whole thing is that bother, money is all.

Adverb clause:

As we have seen through the above examples that the noun clause acts
as a noun in complex sentences, in the same way the function of an adverb clause is
that of an adverb in complex sentences. In the following example, an Urdu adverb

10

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