Summary & Prospects
What types of language policies are in place in the country/countries where the language is spoken (both at local and national levels) that may either threaten or assist in the survival/maintenance of the language?
Recent Language Timeline of Pakistan:
2009: Pakistan's Language Policy placed heavy importance on English, at the same time also calling English one of the factors responsible for educational inequality in Pakistan. English (along with Urdu, the national language) was made a compulsory subject from Kindergarten.
2010: The 18th Amendment devolved the language of "education or schooling" to the provinces. However, the provinces did not avail the opportunity.
2012: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Promotion of Regional Languages Authority Act “recommending to the government a curriculum and syllabus for the gradual teaching of the regional languages spoken in the province”
2013-14: It also introduced four other regional languages (Pashto, Balochi, Punjabi, and Sindhi) to be taught in the pre-primary classes in areas where these languages were the mother tongue of a majority of children, aiming to make such language classes gradually compulsory throughout primary school.More emphasis was placed on the political aspect of language.
Urdu could not be made official language despite multiple promises. The social status of English could not be changed in Pakistan and it consistently remains a ‘language of power’. The policies oscillated between English, Urdu and the regional languages. (*NOTE: For the SWAT region this means Pashto not Torwali)
2015: Pakistan Government announces plans to make Urdu the sole official language and abolish English as the second official language
2017: National Language: Urdu - Official Languages:Urdu & English
All the people of Pakistan have "the right to to protect, preserve, and promote their unique languages" as outlined by Article 28 of the Pakistani Constitution (which was written in English rather than Urdu) however it is increasingly difficult due to the absence of government resources.
Torwali is not recognized as an official language at any level. Furthermore, according to Zubair Torwali
"Mainstream Pakistan does not give much importance to the preservation and promotion of (Torwali). The majority of the people who belong to the community don’t realize the need for preservation of their languages. And how can they if they are mostly struggling for daily sustenance? They live underprivileged and neglected lives."
This is a problem in itself.
Prospects for Reversing Language Shift:
Based on my research, Torwali exists at Stage 6 of the Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale aka the GIDS. The GIDS is a systematic model that allows us to attempt to answer the question of if reversing language shift is possible.
Stage 6 Languages are still used informally between generations within minor contexts. This means that it is the normal form of interaction between all three generations for daily aspects of normal family life.
According to the GIDS, languages at Stage 6 (especially ones, like Torwali, that were formally only Oral languages) have already undergone the reversal of language shift.
The greatest challenge of Stage 6 languages is to keep the language going beyond these three generations. As time goes on, it is becoming increasingly common for the younger generation of Torwali people to move to larger cities and discontinue their use of Torwali completely.
The truest prospect of Torwaliis that like many other Stage 6 languages, it is most likely that Torwali will continue to exist at this stage forever.
Torwali has already gone through the reversal of language shift mainly due to the amazing efforts of Zubair Torwali and the IBT in the domains of Supplemental Education, Literary/Art/Music Publication, and the Production of a writing system.
Final Thoughts on Linguistic Diversity
Does language endangerment happen in the U.S.A.?
Sadly, yes, over 150 US languages are endangered - many of them Native American languages.
Are the reasons for endangerment the same for all languages and are all languages dying at the same rate and in the same way?
Not at all. Reasons for language endangerment can range from specific cultural/ethnic discrimination against the speakers of a language, people moving away from villages/areas, education, more "powerful" or killer languages, or natural disasters. In the case of Torwali it is a mixture of geopgraphical isolation, education, people moving for opportunities, and the presence of more widely spoken languages of power.
What exactly is lost when languages are lost?
At the beginning of this study I would have struggled to answer this question, not because I doubted that something important was lost, but because I was unsure what that "important thing" was. When languages die - specific ways of percieving and interacting with the world are lost music is lost, art is lost, and often specific information carried within these lanugages is lost.
Is all language death bad, and is language endangerment the same thing as biodiversity or species endangerment?
In my opinion, no, not all language death is bad and much of it is truly inevitable. However it is bad if we do not work to document and at least keep references of dead languages. It is similar in the sense that both types of diversity add to our world, but both types of diversity are also inevitable as our world changes.
Is multilingualism desirable or even practical in our world today?
Absolutely. More now than ever as we are more able to connect with people from all over the world because of technology. Even more so now because the population of our world can intermingle racially, ethnically and culturally more so now than ever before.
How does Torwali fit in with language vitality/endangerment on a global level?
I am so glad I picked Torwali because whenever I chose it, I knew virtually nothing about the language other than that it was spoken in Pakistan. Even more interestingly, neither of my parents (both from Pakistan) had ever heard of Torwali either. I am so honored to simply showcase the work done by others on the language to raise awareness that it exists.
Torwali is a great example of language vitality/endangerment becuase if it were not for the community's revival efforts led by Zubair the state of Torwali would be very different. Torwali speakers came together to create a writing system, publish books, upload music to Youtube, and even created a mobile keyboard for Android phones.
This is what people in and those who support endangered language communities can and should be doing to give their language a better chance of survivial and maybe even language shift.