Like students from all over the world, Pakistani students often take up the opportunity to study abroad in Western English-speaking countries, like the United States, England, and various European countries. While English and writing is one of the official languages of Pakistan, next to Urdu, it is spoken somewhat differently than it is in Western English-speaking countries.
History of English in Pakistan
English was first introduced to Pakistan when the British colonized the country and surrounding countries, including India, around 1600 AD. Even though the British brought the language to Pakistan, they did not stay there to cultivate the language. Because of this, the language did not evolve in the same way in Pakistan than it did in England.
Over time, the English spoken in Pakistan began to be more similar to the English spoken in India, rather than the English that is spoken in Western countries. Because of this, there are a few differences between the two “languages” that foreign exchange students should keep in mind when they are writing or speaking in English when they are away from home.
Differences Between “Western” English and Pakistani English
There are several differences between Western English and Pakistani English. These differences can be shown in both the grammar and the vocabulary used when writing and speaking. Below are some of the most important differences to keep in mind when writing papers in English.
1. Avoid Hybrid Words
While many people in Pakistan know how to speak and write in English, most people in Western English-speaking countries do not know how to speak or write in Urdu. Because of this, it is best to avoid using Urdu words in your writing, as they are not likely to be understood by whoever is reading your paper.
One thing that can be common in Pakistan is combining Urdu and English words to create new words. Once again, since most English speakers cannot also speak Urdu, it is best to avoid these “hybrid” words. If students are not sure if a word is hybrid or not, it is best to avoid using that word and use a word they know is entirely English instead.
2. Differences in Word Meaning
Sometimes, Pakistani English and British English share words that are spelled the same, but that mean different things. When words are like this, it is called having a “semantic” difference. Some examples of this are listed below.
- Scene: In Pakistani English, this can refer to a situation. In British English, this can refer to a couple of different things. Dictionary.com gives three main definitions just for the word ‘scene’! “The place where some action or event occurs”, “any view or picture”, and “an incident or situation in real life.”
- Timing: In Pakistani English, timing refers to a specific schedule. However, in British English, timing usually refers to either a person keeping track of how much time a task takes, or when something happens.
- Uncle: Lastly, in Pakistani English, an Uncle may refer to any respected older man. However, in British English, uncles are strictly a family relation. Uncles are only a person’s parent’s brother or their parent’s sister’s husband.
These are just a few examples of some of the words that have different meanings based on the culture. If a student is unsure if a word, they are trying to use means the same thing in both English, then it is best to consult a dictionary just to make sure the word means what they think it means.
3. British English vs. American English Spellings
Many students who study abroad will end up in the United States. While most people in the United States speak and write in English, they write in American English. In Pakistan, British English spellings are used. British English is used in every other English-speaking country, so most of the time, Pakistani students will not need to change their spellings. However, if they end up attending school in the United States, there are a few key differences in the spellings that they should keep in mind as they write their papers.
In words with “ou”, like “color,” the U is usually taken out. Instead, it would be spelled “color.” This is true of almost all words with the “ou” letter combination.
Sometimes in American English, S’s are replaced with Z’s. This is usually when an S is before an E at the end of a word. One example of this is in the word “organize.” In American English, it is instead spelled “organize.”
Sometimes S’s are instead replaced with C’s. For example, the word “license” in British English is spelled like “license” in American English. It should be noted, that the change from S to C happens before an E at the end of the word, much like changing an S to a Z.
Many spelling differences may seem arbitrary, but they are important for students to get right if they don’t want to lose points on their assignment.
While there are some differences between Pakistani and British/American English, students who wish to study abroad shouldn’t feel overwhelmed. After all, there are many more similarities between the two “languages” than there are differences. If students keep the small differences in mind, they are sure to do well on their writing assignments, no matter which English-speaking country they study in. However, there are a lot of ESL students who contact essay writing services e.g. Custom Writings which hire professional writers for custom writing purposes.