‘Settled in the Heaven and Celebrated on Earth’: A Sociolinguistic Study of Written Wedding Invitation Genre in Pakistan
Human communication seems to be a multifaceted, multidimensional and multilayered phenomenon. Sociolinguistics helps us explore how society and language (spoken and written) are intricately intertwined. In this context, this study seeks to analyze the linguistic and semiotic features of written wedding invitation cards printed and used in Pakistan. Weddings unite not only two individuals but they also merge families, tribes and clans. In fact, Islam introduces a family as a basic unit of world peace. So, weddings and wedding processes are important. How are such social ceremonies of happiness and joy communicated in Pakistan? How do Pakistani wedding invitations offer us access to deeper recesses of Pakistani culture and traditions? Theoretically, this study was based on the model of genre analysis by Bhatia (1993) and Swales (1990). Researchers in the field of sociolinguistics have analyzed the wedding invitation genre in Arabic, Iranian, and Christian, Muslim, Chinese, and Indian and Pakistani cultures. For the current study, a sample of 60 wedding invitation cards in Urdu and English was collected in the city of Hasilpur, Southern Punjab, Pakistan. The randomly collected cards were real wedding invitation cards published and used in weddings in 2015-2021. The results of the study revealed that the examined wedding cards featured seven mandatory and one optional move. The obligatory moves were found almost in all cards. The occurrence of optional moves, however, varied from card to card. The semiotic features were also channelized by the wedding hosts or senders of the cards to convey the nuptial messages effectively. Caste system, religious values, religious texts, economic positions, man-woman relationship, preference for hijab, architectural glimpses, musical instruments, traditional and modern means of transport and many other aspects of Pakistani cultures were skillfully depicted in the wedding invitation cards.