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NEED FOR AN ACTIVE DICTIONARY FOR
THE ADVANCED LEARNERS OF ENGLISH IN
PAKISTANMahmood Ahmad, Ph.D. Candidate
The learners have no escape from the dominant language, Urdu in the present case. Consequently, a lot of negative transfer takes place in the production of English. Various kinds of reference works have been prepared to cater for the encoding needs of the learners. In case of encountering difficulties, while composing a text or translating into L2, the learner starts from Urdu/L1 word which s/he hopes to find only in an Urdu- English dictionary. He/she uses this to find equivalents in English, along with information on their context of use and restrictions, if any. The existing Urdu-English dictionaries fail the users on various counts. There is a need for a learner’s dictionary prepared along modern principles drawing upon the insights of research and advancement in lexicography, linguistics, psychology, translation studies, lexicology, and information technology.
1. Linguistic Situation in Pakistan
In order to discuss the kind of dictionary advanced Pakistani learners of English need for encoding purposes, we need to look at the issue from the perspective of the target users – a cardinal principle in modern lexicography (Tono 2001).
Pakistan is a multi-lingual country where around 70 languages are spoken as mother tongues. Urdu serves as the lingua franca. It happens to be the medium of instruction and the language of media. It is the national language of the country. The constitution of the country recognizes it as pre-eminent and restricts the use of English. The constitution proclaims to replace English with Urdu. Interestingly, the constitution itself and the laws are codified in English. English is the language of power and prestige. That is why, perhaps, English enjoys monopoly in the formal education system.
2. Lexical Contrastive Analysis
The students have access to English through Urdu as Grammar Translation Method (GTM) is employed to teach English in Pakistan. Urdu and English widely differ from each other. Their orthographies, vocabularies, phonologies, syntaxes and morphologies are different. The learners face problems at all levels of language – pronunciation, syntax, morphology, vocabulary and pragmatics. Added to these are the difficulties posed by the cleavage of culture and clime. Consequently, frequent negative transfer takes place, i.e., the features of Urdu are carried over to English resulting in students’ errors.
It will be pertinent here to cite some examples of points of difficulty. In Urdu, the feature of count noun vs. non-count noun is non-existent. Hence, the words like ‘kaam’ (work), ‘baal’ (hair), ‘khabar’ (news), and many more have plurals in Urdu. The learners are misled and they carry over the feature into English. Hence, it is not uncommon to find such errors as:
(Urdu) Us kay baal ghungrialy hain. Eng.Tr. *Her hairs are curly.
In the sentence
(Urdu) aap kay waalid sahib kia kartay hain. Eng.Tr.: What is your father?
the word sahib remains untranslated. In Urdu it has a special function. It shows deference. Moreover, for the same reason, i.e., to show deference, the words ‘aap’ ‘ kay’ ‘kartay,’ ‘hain’ are used, but, in English, their equivalents do not convey the same connotations. Matters are made worse due to ‘bilingual reflex,’ which refers to the belief that one can and should match every word in one’s native language with a corresponding term in the language one is learning (Nesi 2000).
3. A Typology of Learner’s Communicative Needs
According to Tomaszczyk (1983) the reference needs of the foreign language learners fall into two types: ‘receptive,’ i.e., (a) to comprehend the spoken language, (b) to read the target language text, (c) to translate the target language text into the source language, and ‘productive’ i.e., (a) to express verbally in the target language, (b) to produce text in the target language, (c) to translate the source language text into the target language.
Hartmann (1999) et al., note, ‘Dictionaries are essential tools for foreign language learning’. However, it is equally true that no single dictionary can cater to all kinds of the above-mentioned needs.
The present writer subscribes to Hartmann (1999) et al.’s observation that ‘A full range of monolingual, bilingual and multilingual dictionaries and other reference works should be available for each language and language pair’.
Various kinds of dictionaries have been developed to help learners address the encoding needs. They include: (a) monolingual learner’s dictionaries, (b) bilingualised dictionaries having L2 – L2 – L1 format (Laufer 1995), (c) Thesauri and Dictionaries of Synonyms and Antonyms, and (d) bilingual dictionaries in L1- L2 format.
Bilingual Advertising in a Multilingual Country | Need for an Active Dictionary for the Advanced Learners of English in Pakistan | Voices of the Marginalised - The Voice of God in the Lives of the People
Mahmood Ahmad, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of English
Government College, Burewala
Vehari, The Punjab