Hindi, Urdu give competition to English in US

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Washington, May 16 (UNI) The US is welcoming the advent of Asian languages like Hindi and Urdu as alternatives to English as the country faces cultural challenges owing to an emerging multicultural society.

Prof MJ Warsi of Asian Languages and Literatures Department at Washington University says, ''Living in a diverse place like the US, you come across and converse with people from all over the world.

One finds people who have come from a non-English speaking ethnic and cultural background; how many can speak and understand their parents native language?'' ''A lot of people of the older generation can understand but can't speak English. So, their children speak to them in English and they reply in Hindi or Urdu,'' he added.

He also spoke about at an emerging trend, in the US in particular and the world in general, to know and understand other cultures post 9/11 terrorist attacks.

About the relevance of Urdu, he said, ''Though many South Asian languages are taught at US universities, Urdu has a prominent place because it is spoken by one-third of the world's population, almost all Hindus, half of the Buddhists and 70 per cent of the Muslims.'' ''Non-Urdu speakers get a chance to understand the South Asian Islamic culture and history by learning the language,'' he added.

The large number of students from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan in various US universities communicate mainly in Hindi or Urdu.

South Asian Students' Associations in many universities observe cultural weeks and celebrate festivals like Diwali, Eid and Holi.

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