SINDHI IN ROMAN SCRIPT
by Dr. Satish Rohra
Language is a medium of communication and basis for social interaction, which constantly evolves and changes. In this respect it is necessary to understand the relationship between the language and its script. It is clear that there is no definite relationship between language and script and therefore any language can be written in any script. I have proved that whenever a certain script is chosen for any language the basis of such a decision lies on the external factors like history, social factors, economic realities, religious and political atmosphere. It may be recalled that Turkey already had a Turkish script but King Kamaal Pasha, in order to link the country with modern civilization decreed Roman as the official script for Turkish language. And so the issue of writing Sindhi language in Roman script must be seen in this perspective.
Nowadays this issue has caught on rather quickly. Mr. K. Sital, editor of the Hong Kong based journal 'The Indian' has written an editorial on this subject wherein he writes that such a move, to write Sindhi in Roman script will solve half the problems of our community and the other half will be solved by the presence of a powerful leadership in the community. The question regarding the problems facing the community and how to solve them is not to be discussed here but it is a fact that not only outside India but even within India, such voices have been heard since long.
The number of Sindhis in India is not large. Out of this, a minuscule minority knows and uses the Sindhi script. The Arabic and Devnagri scripts are being used here and now this issue of using an additional Roman script has come upon us. Why has this suggestion, to use Roman script arisen? We must apply our minds to this question with a practical and pragmatic outlook.
Why should we use Roman script for Sindhi language? The straightforward answer to this question is that under the circumstances today, there is a crying need for the use of Sindhi language and the requirement cannot be met by using the Sindhi or Devnagri script. Now let us see what are these necessities.
The most important reason for writing Sindhi in the Roman script is for the benefit of those Sindhis, who can speak Sindhi, but cannot read or write Sindhi as they lack knowledge of the Sindhi or Devnagri script. These Sindhis will however find it easy to read and write Sindhi, since they know the English language. Albeit we will have to make some adjustments to the Roman script since it contains 26 letters whereas the Sindhi language has 52 letters. But these Sindhis will not have to learn Sindhi to read and write in the language. One can argue that instead of Roman script these Sindhis can learn Sindhi or Devnagri script since it is not such a difficult task. But we all know that to learn a new language, apart from mother tongue, which one takes up naturally in childhood, is a mighty difficult job. For example, a child who has heard Sindhi from childhood will not realize whether it is difficult or easy to learn the language because he has picked it up naturally. But a non Sindhi will know the difficulty of talking or using Sindhi language.
One can imagine the difficulties faced by people who attempt to learn the Sindhi or Devnagri script, specially those around whom the Sindhi atmosphere is missing. That is the main reason in foreign countries the Roman script is being used. Noori Granth brought out by Sadhu Vaswani Mission is available in the Roman script in most foreign countries. Apart from that, Satyanarayan Katha and Aartis are also available in the Roman script.
Another reason to use the Roman script for Sindhi language is the electronic media, specially the use of internet. It is true that Sindhi software is available and many newspapers, magazines are being brought out with the help of that Sindhi software. But internet and email systems still use the Roman script, and more importantly, to make online literature available, one can feed hundreds of books into the internet, to be read by the new generation. It has been heard, that the government of Sindh has already taken up a project to transform Sindhi classics into the Roman script and to make them available online. In this way, the new generation can benefit immensely from the classics as well as contemporary literature.
To learn Sindhi in the Roman script has one more advantage and that is to maintain the quality of pronunciation of Sindhi words. It may sound strange to state that the Roman script can enable proper Sindhi pronunciation, but it is a fact. Because we would have to be focused and pay due attention on the pronunciation of the Sindhi word while writing in the Roman script. And for this we will have to know the correct pronunciation of the Sindhi word. For example to write the word 'Akhbar' in Sindhi it is comparatively easy, but to write it in English one will have to know the correct marking to add to the letters. So we will have to create a database in which we will have to give only one form to one word so that the computer can easily distinguish right from wrong. Just as in English a wrong word is automatically underlined by the computer and the typist corrects that spelling, the programme for Sindhi in Roman script will have to be written, keeping this in mind.
In the end, I emphasize that the purpose of writing this is not to suggest that Sindhi language should be written in Roman script. In actual fact, any language is the example of history and culture of that community. Therefore Sindhi language should definitely be written in Sindhi script because by doing that one can always be connected to ones literature, culture and the writings coming out of Sindh. It is not necessary to emphasize that in India the number of Sindhis is not more than 60 or 70 lakhs whereas in Sindh it is more than 3 crores. So it is evident that Sindhi should always be written in Sindhi language. This is only to suggest that Sindhi can be written in Roman script to fulfill certain necessities and requirements and if we have to do that one should not be hassled by it.