Linguists suggest adopting roman script for Sindhi

Say language heading towards another evolution after move from Devnagri to Arabic


Use of Roman script to replace the writing system of Sindhi language in Arabic script for a selected group of non-Sindhi readers has started to draw attention of some Sindhi linguists and writers.

The evolution prompted Sindhi Language Authority (SLA) to organise a discussion titled ‘Adopting Roman script with Arabic script for Sindhi writing’ the other day.

Sindhi though written in Arabic script in Pakistan is written and read in Devanagari script in India. The language expert, Dr. Altaf Jokhio, while acknowledging need of using Roman letters for Sindhi writing, allayed concerns that use of Arabic letters will gradually stop. He believed that the two scripts will exist side by side depending on users of the language.

He recalled that during the British era, a debate got underway about selecting one of the two scripts, Arabic or Devanagari, for official writing purposes in Sindh. However, because Sindh was mostly influenced by Persian and Arabic languages, the latter was chosen for official works.

Nevertheless, Devanagari letters also remained in use on the other side of the border. “But we are yet to come up with a single authentic version of Roman script,” he observed. “So far, we often find replies to messages written in Sindhi, in Urdu Roman script.” Jokhio suggested that language experts will have to work in concert to develop a common Roman script for Sindhi language.

English language teacher and writer, Manoj Kumar, echoed same concerns of different versions of Sindhi being written in Roman letters which he said is giving a bad shape to the language. He pointed out that writing of Urdu in Roman letters has been professionally developed and some websites are also dedicated to that work.

“Resultantly, this is helping increase readers of Urdu in the world.” He believed that Sindhi linguists should also have started work on Roman script long ago. Kumar said a large number of Sindhi in India cannot read the works in Sindhi language produced in Pakistan and vice versa because people of Sindh are not familiar with Devanagari letters.

He said developing Sindhi writing in Roman letters will greatly facilitate Sindhis across the borders to read and know each other and their works of art, literature and poetry. Other speakers suggested that use of Roman letters will also help in using Sindhi language on the platforms of artificial intelligence. They said adopting Roman letter has become inevitable for Sindhi.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2024.

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