An argument over adopting the roman script as writing system for Memoni by our elder Abdur Razzaq Thaplawala

..... In this age of computer, the Roman Script is easy and convenient for writing and communicating. You can easily type it on any ordinary typewriter or computer. You can even send an e-mail in Memoni to your relatives, friends and business associates. One hears a lot about the computerization of Urdu’s “Nastaliq” script. However it still takes a great deal of time to type Urdu. Computerized Urdu composing requires a formidable keyboard with too many letters. Vowels constitute another ordeal for the typist or computer operator who finds Urdu five times slower than English. For using Roman Script to write Memoni, we may form some simple rules assigning specific phonetic sounds to alphabets which have more than one phonetic sound. Some suggestions are included in this booklet.

In the present circumstances, the adoption of Guajarati script for Memoni language is out of question. The Bohri (a brach of shia Islam)  community speaks Guajarati within their homes but they have started using Urdu script for religious announcements and notices in their Jamat Khanas (community centers) . The “Memoni” is as a matter of fact, a different dialect of Sindhi and therefore it can be argued that we should use Sindhi script for Memoni as well. This also does not appear to be feasible. Even our younger generation in Pakistan is not familiar with Sindhi script. On the other hand every young man within the community has developed the ability to read and write in Urdu & English in Pakistan. The Urdu script (Nashlaliq), the script of Pakistani national language could therefore be a choice for us.

The idea about conversion of Memoni “Boli” into a written “language” was floated by this writer in a community function in 1998. The most practical response to the suggestion was from Mr. Iqbal Motlani who started writing Memoni column in Urdu script in an Urdu daily of Karachi. Mr. Iqbal Motlani subsequently created history by compiling a collection of these columns and his memories in the form of a 250 pages book. The book was published by coordination group headed by Mr. Hanif Kalia. The first book in Memoni Language and Urdu script was launched in September 2000.

Originally I had suggested adoption of Urdu script for writing Memoni. The Urdu script has been successfully adopted by Mr. Iqbal Motlani and it is there for all of us to see.

Ever since, I have been thinking over the matter of the script most suitable for the community. Our community is now located not only in Pakistan and India but also in Africa, Middle East, U.K., U.S.A. and Canada. Why can’t we think about adoption of Roman script for Memoni instead of Urdu script? Is it not a fact that the whole of Europe is using Roman script with minor variation for their respective languages? Turkey did it in only in the recent past. Indonesia and Malaysia have also adopted Roman script for their languages. If we adopt Roman script for Memoni, it will be equally readable by Memons living anywhere in the world whether Pakistan, India or even in Europe, USA or Canada. I am not jumping from one proposal to another. What we are trying to do is to create a language. It is a long, arduous and evaluating process. We cannot afford to block our mind to one particular idea. We have to think over it with an open mind and start going into a direction, which is most suited to us.

Unfortunately, the idea of converting “Memoni” into a written language has apparently not appealed to the leaders and dignitaries of our community. Perhaps they do not think the way I do. During general discussions, some of my friends have even questioned the need of maintaining a separate identity of the community. They are of the view that we should forget about separate identity and integrate ourselves with the main stream. They are also of the opinion that we should adopt our respective national languages as our language. Keeping aside the question of advisability of such integration, my question is that whether such an integration is possible in this society of ethnic divide? The whole society is divided into nationalities and sub-divided into Biradries & tribes. In Pakistan, for example, the so-called nationalities like Pathans, Baloches and Sindhis are divided into scores of tribes. The Punjabees & Urdu speaking people are also divided into several biraderies. Where will we fit in?

It is essential that we maintain our identity and rather strengthen it. For this purpose, we must keep emphasizing the need of developing “Memoni” into a language. At the book launching ceremony of Mr. Iqbal Motlani’s “Panji Boli Main”, this writer had quoted an extract from a report of a seminar on “Language loss and Public Policy” held at University of Mexico recently. The same is being reproduced below:

For detail refer to "Memon Community and Preservation of Identity by Memon"