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Interview with

Ashfaque Arain

Name: Air Marshal M Ashfaque Arain
Nationality or Ethnicity: - Pakistani
Where do you live?: Islamabad, Pakistan
Languages: English, Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Hindi, Siraiki

1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?

I was born in a Punjabi family in interior Sind. That helped me master Punjabi and Sindhi. I learnt Urdu and English during my education as the schooling was in these two languages. I had to learn Hindi for a three year diplomatic assignment in New Delhi, India. My stay there helped me further improve my Hindi. Siraiki language is spoken in a belt bordering Sind on one side and central Punjab on the other. My skill in Sindhi and Punjabi and interaction with Siraiki speaking people helped me learn this language.


2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?

Sindhi and Siraiki


3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?

Turkish and Persian


4. Which is the most beautiful language in your view?

Urdu, especially the poetry


5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?

One can enjoy meeting and conversing with people from diverse backgrounds and comprehending their perspectives. Additionally, it’s a skill that provides you the opportunity to be comfortable in most environments.


6. Some people say the world is really just going to have a few languages left in a 100 years, do you think this is really true?

That may not be true as local populations will continue to speak their native languages.


7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?

Learning multiple languages enhances your mental faculties as well as helps in communicating with people from diverse backgrounds and absorb different perspectives.  It also helps in expanding your circle of friends / acquaintances. It is extremely useful for people working in multinational organisations. To achieve command on a language, one has to interact with the people speaking that language and understand their culture.

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