Heavenly singing: the practice of naat and nasheed and its possible contribution to reversing language shift among young Muslim multilinguals in the UK

Andrey Rosowsky 1
  • 1 The University of Sheffield


This article presents data that consider the complexity of language interplay involved in minority ethnocultural communities experiencing language shift. A revival of interest in religio-cultural poetry and song, primarily evidenced within the younger generation of Muslim multilinguals of Pakistani-heritage living as part of the South Asian Diaspora in a northern city of the UK, is encouraging an accompanying interest by the same young people in the community's prestigious varieties of Urdu, H-Punjabi, and also in its religious classical, Arabic. What this might mean for reversing language shift is considered together with the extra but associated question of the use of English (Yish) in religio-cultural practices traditionally carried out in community languages. Particular attention is given to the way Web 2.0 platforms are increasingly providing real and virtual networks for these young practitioners in the exploration of the languages of their songs and poems. In the light of these data, tentative and modest modifications to Fishman's Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (GIDS) are suggested.

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IJSL is dedicated to the development of the sociology of language as a truly international and interdisciplinary field in which various approaches - theoretical and empirical - supplement and complement each other, contributing thereby to the growth of language-related knowledge, applications, values and sensitivities. The journal features topically-focused issues with individual contributions on small languages and small language communities.