Pakistani English

Pakistani English

Pakistani English, is the variety of the English language as it is spoken and otherwise used in Pakistan.


Although British rule in South Asia lasted for almost two hundred years, the areas which comprise what is now Pakistan, were amongst the last to be conquered; Punjab (which included what is now the North-West Frontier Province) was captured in 1849, Sindh a few years before; while Balochistan was never fully integrated into the Indian Empire. As a result English had less time to become part of local culture; that it did and is an integral part of the country's social fabric was due to several reasons which will be explored later in the article. In 1947 upon Pakistan's independence; English became Pakistan's de facto official language, a position which was formalised in the constitution of 1973.

Relationship with Indian English

Pakistani English shares many similarities with Indian English, however since Independence (and also before due to Pakistan being on he fringes of South Asia) there have been some very obvious differences. These include unique idioms and colloquial expressions as well as accents [ Pakistan Now a Hot Spot for IT Outsourcing] ] ; foreign company's find accent naturalisation easier in Pakistan than in India. However like Indian English, Pakistani English has preserved many phrases that are now considered antiquated in Britain [ [,3858,4464765-110738,00.html How the Woosters captured Delhi - Shashi Tharoor] ] .

Use in Pakistan

English is as mentioned above is Pakistan's official language. All government documents, military communications, street signs, many shop signs, business contracts and other activities are done in English. The language of the courts is also English [ [ A judgement of the Supreme Court.] ] .English is taught to all school level Pakistani students, and in many cases the medium of instruction is also in English [] . At College and University level all instruction is in English [] .Pakistan boasts a large English language press and (more recently) media. All of Pakistan's major dailies are published in or have an edition in English, while DAWN News is a major English Language News Channel. Code-switching is very common in Pakistan and almost all conversations in whatever language have a significant English component.


Pakistani English is heavily influenced by both Pakistan's languages as well as the English of other nations. Many words or terms from Urdu have entered the global language and are also found in Pakistan. For instance; (cummerbund; literally to close the back). In addition the area which is now Pakistan was home to the largest garrisons of the British Indian Army (such as Rawalpindi and Peshawar) this combined with the post-partition influence of the Pakistan Military has ensured that many military terms have entered the local jargon.

The type of English taught (and preferred) is British English. The heavy influence and penetration of American culture through television, films and other media has brought in great influences of American English.

Unique Terms

Pakistani English contains many unique terms, as well as terms which are utilised somewhat differently in Pakistan. Examples.

*"Shopper", means a shopping bag, rather than a person who is shopping, the latter is referred to as a customer.

*"His/her meter has turned" means that the person has lost his/her temper. Usually used for a sudden outburst, one which is construed as unreasonable.

*"Got no lift"; received no attention or assistance from the person.

*"On parade"; being at work/ at a set activity. Usually (though not always) in the context of starting something for the first time. For example "I have been hired by the company, on parade from next Monday" .

*"Out of Station"; being out of the city.

*"Become a direct Sargent"; be promoted out of turn/ given responsibility and authority very early. Often in the context that a person is out of his/her depth. For example, "no wonder that team has failed so badly, leader was a direct Sargent". Usually "Sargent" is replaced by "Havildar" the equivalent rank in the Pakistan Army. Also used for upwardly mobile, ambitious or nouveau riche.

*"Auld Lang Sang"; as an idiom to donate the end of an event or a matter, often to convey sadness; for example," my last day at the job, Auld Lang Sang,." Less often the first words of the song are used in a similar way, "Lest Auld acquaintance be forgot"."

*"First Class"; means top quality; often used by shopkeepers and salesmen to donate good quality.

*"Tight"; high quality, or aesthetically pleasing and desirable. Often to describe physical attractiveness, usually of females, e.g "Ali is going out with a very tight girl."

*"Miss" is used to address or refer to female teachers, whatever their marital status, e.g "yes I have done my homework miss." Less commonly used to refer to women collegues or subordinates.

*"Madam" is used to address and refer to females in positions of authority, usually a superior, e.g "madam has ordered me to get the figures for last years sales."Can also be used as a noun, e.g "she is the madam of that department" meaning she is the head of the department, without it being derogatory.

*"Sir"; used for a male superior, often combined with their name or used as a noun. E.g "Is Sir in?" or "Sir Raza wants to see you in his office as soon as possible".

*"Do the needful"; perform/complete or abstain from doing the required action. E.g "I have enclosed the instructions in the letter, please follow and do the needful". Also seen in Indian and Sri Lankan English.

*"Eve teasing"; harrasing women. Seen in Indian and Sri Lankan English also.

*"Hit for a six"; ruined, e.g "I had planned to go to Murree for the weekend, but the blizzard hit that idea for a six." Also seen in Indian and Sri Lankan English.

*"Well left", avoided artfully, often a tricky situation; from cricket, the term "well left" is applied when a batsman choses not to play a potentially dangerous dilervery, e.g "I well left that offer, it could have caused many problems."

*"Threw/ receieved a googly", an unexpected situation arose, a person was surprised, often unpleasently, e,g "had just settled down and then got the googly about the transfer". From googly, a delivery in cricket.

*"Yorker", a sudden, dangerous and potentially devastating situation; similar use to googly, but usually has a certain amount of danger attached to it. "my mother's heart attack while we were hiking in the mountains hit like a yorker, we were far from any medical help". From Yorker another type of cricket delivery. Also used in a similar manner; "bouncer".

*"Hit middle stump", did the action in such a manner that there is little room for further action, or a decisive blow,e.g "really hit middle stump last year on that contract"

*"Master Sahib", usually contracted to "Ma'Sahib", used to refer to a master craftsman, nowdays it usually tailors and carpenters.


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