ESP World (ISSN 1682-3257), issue 17, 2007, http://www.esp-world.info
Urdu-English Code-Switching: The Use of Urdu Phrases and Clauses In Pakistani English (A Non-native Variety)
Behzad Anwar Ph. D. Candidate
Abstract This paper presents an analysis of Urdu-English code-switching in Pakistani English. However, data has been analysed only at the phrase and clause level. Based on the empirical data from Pakistani English newspapers and magazines, this paper aims to show that code-switching is not a grammarless phenomenon rather it is ruled governed activity at the phrase and clause level. It also presents the brief overview of the use of English as a non-native variety. This paper suggests that variations and changes in a language are an integral part of bilingualism and multilingualism. All the present data shows that the occurrences of various Urdu phrases and clauses impose no ungrammatical effect on the construction of English syntax. Key words: Bilingualism, code-switching, non-native varieties of English
Introduction This paper centres on the variations in the English language due to Urdu-English code-switching in Pakistan and also shows the significant role of the Urdu language in the formation of Pakistani English. Only those syntactic features that are found as a result of code-switching have been discussed. Mahboob (2003) described different phonological and grammatical aspects of Pakistani English, which are quite different from Standard British English. But in this paper, only that data has been taken into account where Urdu phrases and clauses have been used. This paper is interested in describing different aspects of language change in English when used in a non-native context i.e. Pakistan. First and foremost, ‘a great deal of interest has been generated in the English language as a result of its spread around the world and its use as an international language (Cheshire 1991:7).
Now-a-days English has become a global language. According to Bamgbose, (2001:357) English is recognised as the dominating language in the world as globalisation comes to be universally accepted in political and academic discourse. The development of ‘globalisation’ has been associated with the dominance of the English language (Bottery 2000:6). English is used all over the world by millions of native and non-native speakers because of its dominant position. According to Crystal (2003:65), there are approximately 430 million L2 users and 330 million L1 users. So the non-native speakers use English more than the natives ones. However, these figures exclude learners of English, and Crystal suggests there may be as many as one billion of them. Being an international language, it is used almost in all the countries of the world. When people started using English in non-native contexts because of its growing popularity, it developed as a transplanted language. According to Kachru (1986:30):
‘A language may be considered transplanted if it is used by a significant numbers of speakers in social, cultural and geographical contexts different from the contexts in which it was originally used………..a transplanted language is cut off from its traditional roots and begins to function in new surroundings, in new roles and new contexts’.
Non-native Varieties of English Kachru (1978) was among the first to identify and delineate boundaries of a nativized variety of English in South Asia, which he terms as South Asian English (SAE). Kachru (1996) regarded SAE as an additional linguistic arm in the culture of identity. He believes that ‘nativization must be seen as the result of those productive linguistic innovations which are determined by the localized function of a second language variety, the culture of conversation and commutative strategies in new situations and transfer from local languages’ (Kachru 1986: 21-2). With this development, there was a gradual recognition and acknowledgement of the new and non-native varieties of English, e.g. Nigerian English, Indian English, Chicano English, Pakistani English, Singaporean English, Sri Lankan English etc. The term ‘New varieties’ of English’ implies that there are more or less recognizable varieties of spoken and/or written by groups of people’. (Platt et al. 1984:2) A new variety does not develop in isolation but it depends on the communicative needs of those who speak and write it. Such a variety is considered an interference variety because there is a clear linguistic and cultural interference from the first language and culture of the users.
When a language is used in a different cultural context and social situation, several changes take place in its phonology, morphology, lexicon and syntax. A language so widely used has its own grammatical and linguistic system through which it conveys its distinction of meanings. These linguistic characteristics are usually transparent in its sound system, vocabulary and sentence construction. The non-native speakers develop a whole new range of expression to fulfil the communicative needs. Since the user of the non-native variety is bilingual, creativity is manifested in different kinds of mixing, switching, alteration and transcreation of codes. When two languages come in contact, it results in “inventiveness”. Bilingualism in itself is a source of creativity in language (Talaat 2003). Such varieties are so widespread and have such a long standing ‘that they may be thought stable and adequate enough to be regarded as varieties of English in their own right rather than stages on the way to a more native-like English’ (Quirk 1983:8)
Urdu-English code-switching and Pakistani English English enjoys a very prestigious status in Pakistan. Its prevalence and power in Pakistan is growing very much. For many Pakistanis, English has become not only a “practical necessity”, but also “the language of opportunity, social prestige, power, success as well as social superiority”. Kachru (1997:227) pointed at the ‘ideological, cultural and elitist power of English’. Such power is vividly seen in Pakistan where people tend to switch from Urdu to English to create special effect. Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and one of the two official languages of Pakistan (the other official language being English). It is the most important language of literacy in the country. In the hierarchy of linguistic prestige, Urdu is placed lower only than English. In Pakistan, Urdu-English code-switching is a common characteristic of educated Pakistani bilinguals. Code-switching occurs when two languages come in contact: ‘the alternation of two languages within a single discourse, sentence or constituent’ (Poplack 1980:581). This sociolinguistic phenomenon makes a great contribution in the creation of new and non-native varieties of English. When two languages come into contact, not only the phonological features but lexical items and syntactic patterns also manage to filter across from one language to another. English is used in Pakistan in a non-native context. Different changes can be observed in its phonology, vocabulary, and grammar and now it is recognized as a distinct variety of English i.e. Pakistani English. Non-native varieties of English are an important aspect of language change and these varieties have emerged because of code-switching and code-mixing. According to Trudgill (1986: 1), ‘the languages that are in contact with each other socially may become changed linguistically, as a result of being in contact psychologically, in the competence of individual speaker’.
Pakistani English has assumed a linguistic and cultural identity of its own. This identity manifests itself throughout the language at the word level, the phrase level and the sentence level. It is the natural consequence of its regular contact with the Urdu language. A large number of borrowings from Urdu and the regional languages of Pakistan have entered in Pakistani English (Baumgardner 1993). Certain lexical items may show a shift from their original Standard British English usage to Urduized meaning (Talaat 1993). In comparison with the borrowing in syntax and morphology, lexical items have the highest ease of borrowing and seem most likely to occur (Brutt-Griffler, 2002; Romaine, 1995). Such a vocabulary items in all the new varieties of English are largely drawn from the areas that are significantly different to the geo-social-cultural context of British English (Fernado 2003). As, no reliable study on Urdu-English code-switching at the level of the phrase and clause is available, this paper is likely to bridge the gap. The code-switching data in this paper focuses on the use of Urdu phrases and clauses in the English language and shows that its occurrence imposes no ungrammatical effect on the structure of English syntax. The data has been collected from the following printed Pakistani English newspaper and magazines:
Dawn (daily) (Lahore)
Herald (monthly) (Karachi)
3. Mag (weekly) (Karachi)
In this paper, code-switching is divided into two categories. They are inter-sentential switching, that is switching from one language to another at a sentence boundary, and intra-sentential code-switching, or code-mixing when the switch takes place within one sentence. In the following section, we will analyse the intra-sentential code-switching in Pakistani English at the level of phrase.
A phrase is a group of words, which does not carry a complete sense. Formally a phrase is defined as a syntactic structure that has syntactic properties derived from its head (Mahajan 2001). Basic phrase structure is a universal feature of all human languages. The Urdu language is not different from English as far as the structure of phrase is concerned. There are a fair number of Urdu multi-word switches in this section that are either two word or three word phrases occurring in the English clause or sentence. The purpose is to introduce the position of various Urdu phrases inserted in English syntax. Some researchers suggest that switches that are larger than one word are "true code-switches" but one-word switches are borrowings. However, it is not within the goals of this paper to distinguish code-switches from borrowings. In this section, we will analyze the occurrence of various NPs, Adj Ps and PPs in the English sentences. Since phrase insertion is always a complex kind of switching, it demands a high degree of proficiency and accuracy from the bilinguals involved in code-switching.
Noun phrase A noun phrase is a word or group of words, which acts as the subject, complement or object of a clause, or as the object of a preposition. A noun phrase always has an obligatory head noun and optional modifier and qualifier.
(m) H (q)
For example in the Urdu phrase ‘ mera bhai apaney dostoon key saath’, (my brother with his friends) mera is the modifier of the head noun ‘bhai’ while Urdu postpositional phrase ‘dostoon key saath’ is qualifying the head noun.
The structure of Urdu noun phrases used in Pakistani English is very diverse. Here are some examples of the use of the Urdu noun phrases occurring as the subject of the English verbs:
A poor hari (the farmer) can be sent to the gallows even on the mild accusation of a crime leveled against him by a noble. (March 27, 2007 D)
An honorable sardar or wadera (the landlord or chief) can walk free even after proven record of the most heinous kinds of against crimes him. (March 27, 2007 D)
They alleged that the naib nazim (the vice municipal officer) was receiving threats to force him to part ways with the PPP-backed Awam Dost panel. (March 04, 2007 D)
In the first two examples, the English adjectives are modifying the English nouns in a noun phrase while in the third example both the adjective and noun are from the Urdu language. All the noun phrases have the English determiners ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ respectively in the beginning of the sentences.
Urdu noun phrase as an apposition of another noun It is very interesting to note the use of an Urdu noun phrase as apposition in Pakistani English. ‘Apposition’ means the placing of a noun group after a noun or pronoun in order to identify something or someone or give more information about them. In the following example, we can see the use of an Urdu noun phrase as an apposition of another noun. Here the Urdu noun phrase is giving information about the proper noun ‘Haji Ramzan’.
Five militants who tried to kidnap tehsil municipal officer Hameedullah on October 8 were forced to give up their hostage after Haji Ramzan, the tehsil naib nazim (the city vice municipal officer), and his men confronted them on the main Tank-Jandola road. (November 2006 H)
Urdu phrase introduced by an English adverb:
In the examples below, the English relative adverb “as” introduces the Urdu stretches of words embedded in English. This type of switching is very rare and demands high proficiency.
Amjad considered her as ustad se ziyada dost (friend rather than teacher). (January 22, 2006 D)
And an old friend of hers, a female writer, was so infuriated on being referred to as a ‘Cycle wali larki’ (female cyclist) that she broke relations with her for good. (March 25, 2007 D)
According to one of them, they were not shunned by the public as lula, langra and apahaj (lame and paralyzed). (December 04, 2005 D)
What was sworn upon yesterday as guiding principle will be chucked at the altar of expediency tomorrow as mere siyasi bayan (political statement). (January 22, 2006 D)
Genitive phrases In Urdu, genitives are indicated with ka/ke/ke as a morph-word. The choice of these words depends on gender, number and case ending of the head noun. However, the English word ‘of’ is equivalent to all these. The genitive or possessive form of Urdu noun takes different positions in English syntax and imposes no ungrammatical effect in the construction. In the following examples, the Urdu noun phrases are used as the complement of an English verb of incomplete predication and occurring at the end of the sentence. The Urdu noun phrase begins with the English determiner ‘an’ in the first example.
Atif Amin feels "it's true that to some extend visiting therapists is an ameeron ka nakhra. (arrogance of the rich) (July 31, 2005 D)
The colloquial phrase used for this punishment was kala ki saza. (severe punishment) (July 24, 2005 D)
In some cases the Urdu noun phrase is used as the subject of the English syntax. In example 2 the Urdu noun phrase begins with English determiner ‘the’.
1."Logon ki samajh" (understanding of the people) is all he has to say about the society's attitude towards dance. (January 12, 2006 D)
The Islamabad ka muqadas darakht (Holy tree of Islamabad) revolved around a popular Banyan tree that stood in sector E-7 but was a few months back burned down. (May 21, 2006 D)
Promptly can the reply from Fateh Muhammad Mailk, who argued that kufar ka fatwa (Infidelity claim) is nothing new with us. (May 21, 2006 D)
Sometimes, the Urdu noun phrases are also inserted in the middle of the English syntax. In the following examples, we can see the use of the Urdu noun phrases as the complement of an English verb.
Publications have just become catalogues and designers have become shadi ka jora mills (Wedding cloth house), not aiming to produce ethereal pieces any more.(September 25, 2005 D)
Rohit also revived the age-old warak ka kaam (work of silver gold leaf) once used for mughal royalty. (January 22, 2005 D)
Naturally they bathed themselves properly after every hug as the grandma had a smell of sarson ka tel (mustard’oil) and desi soap all over here. (July 31, 2005 D)
I am thrilled to see a lovely jurao ka set (precious Ornament) that President Ayub Khan presented her when she visited Pakistan in the 1960s. (March 25, 2007)
In the example 3 the double genitive has been used with English mixed in a noun phrase.
Adjective Phrase A word or a group of words that does the work of an adjective is called an adjective phrase. Adjective phrases are usually formed from an intensifier that is optional, followed by the head (H) that is often an adjective In Pakistani English, Urdu adjective phrases may occur as a predicate adjective or inside the noun phrase. In the examples below, an Urdu adjective phrase has been inserted in the English sentence.
He is called sher ka bacha (bashful, brave) and mard ka bacha (high minded). (January 08, 06 D)
In the above example, Urdu evaluative metaphors that reflect Pakistani social customs, localized attitude and behavior have been used in English syntax. In a typical Pakistani context, a person having great courage and with a keen sense of honor is termed as ‘sher ka bacha’ (lion’s child).
In the following example the English intensifier ‘very’ has been used with an Urdu adjective. This kind of code-switching is very rare.
Their response, ‘ I think you are right madam,’ said a young man, city life and modern education makes men very beghairat (dishonorable) (November 2006 H)
In the examples given below, the Urdu adjective phrases are modifying the English nouns in the noun phrases.
It was a taiz raftar (very speedy) bus and I merely sat on it as well. (February 26, 2005 D)
The 60-minutes interview was largely spent in advocate Bukhari name dropping, saying he grew up with the lordships of the Superior Court and what payare insaan (lovely men) they are. (March 18, 2007 D)
Example 4 reflects a very complex kind of code-switching. The Urdu stretch of words has been introduced by the English word ‘what’, but actually it is giving the emphasis on the Urdu adjective ‘payare’. The use of ‘what’ has changed the syntactic structure and it seems that it has been used to focus on ‘payare insaan’. The introduction of ‘what’ has changed the word order of the sentence.
One important thing worthwhile to mention here is that it seems harder to break up a relative clause/phrase than other types of subordination. It is quite problematic to have a relative pronoun from one language and the rest of the clause in the other. The code-switching data reported from other language pairs also show that switching between the relative pronoun and the clause that it introduces is rare. (Nortier 1990)
Mostly, the English adjectives are necessarily uninflected. They undergo no morphological changes with the variations in the nouns they qualify. However, in Pakistani English, Urdu adjectives, sometimes, may be inflected according to the rules of Urdu grammar because of number and gender as in the above example. For example: Payara (lovely) is an inflected adjective e.g. Payara larka (lovely boy), Payari larki (lovely girl), Payare insaan(lovely people).
Urdu has a postposition instead of English preposition, which differs in the way that it precedes objects. A collective term used for both preposition and postposition is adposition. In typical Urdu adposition phrases, adposition comes at the end. An Urdu postposition phrase is syntactically inserted in English syntax in the following example:
Both of them unhurt "Khuda key fazal sey" (By the grace of God) while Shazia became paraplegic. (January 08, 2006 D)
It is very interesting to note that the Urdu postposition phrase occurs at the same position where its English equivalent could have been.
Verbal phrase A verb phrase is a word or a group of words that does not have a subject and a predicate of its own and does the work of a verb. In Urdu language, auxiliaries occur after the main verb in contrast with English where auxiliaries occur before the main verb. Urdu verb phrases occur very rarely in Pakistani English because they have to undergo a complex morphological change as compared to noun phrases. However, sometimes an Urdu verbal phrase is also inserted in English syntax. Here is an example of the use of an Urdu verb phrase:
My colleagues kept worrying that piracy ho rahi hay (is going on) we should stop it; I kept saying, "hooney do". (let it be) (September 11, 2005 D)
main verb Progressive form auxiliary
The above-mentioned data and examples suggest that Urdu phrases are frequently used in Pakistani English and its occurrences at various positions in a sentence seem to be quite appropriate. Urdu phrases obey the rules of English grammar everywhere in the sentences. After analyzing intra-sentential code-switching at the level of phrase, now we want to turn to inter-sentential code-switching in Pakistani English. The next section begins with ‘inter-clausal code switching’.
As mentioned earlier, code-switching occurring at the sentence level is called inter-sentential code-switching. The term “inter-clausal code-switching” is used to refer to switches occurring at the clause boundaries. In the present data, switched Urdu clauses can include a coordinated clause, a subordinate clause or a clause/phrase introduced by an English adverb. Urdu clauses that are coordinated with an English clause through the use of coordinating conjunction are classified as coordinated clauses. Urdu subordinate clauses are also used with main English clause. We can find the English subordinate clause with Urdu main clause as well. Mostly, an English subordinate clause gives a warning or advice about the consequences of an action or attitude. It is relatively common in Pakistani English that Urdu proverbs and maxims occur at the periphery of an English clause. There are also switched Urdu full clauses that are syntactically independent of the preceding English clause, although there is still thematic coherence in terms of their reference and actions. The data exemplified in the following sections will reveal how different types of Urdu clauses are used in Pakistani English. Co-ordinated Clauses:
In Pakistani English, co-ordinated clauses are joined by English as well as Urdu conjunctions. However Urdu conjunctions do not occur quite frequently. A conjunction that often conjoins the English clauses to the Urdu adjacent clauses is “and”. Here is an example of the use of the English coordinating conjunction:
Why don’t we all go together to New Delhi? N1 ki shaddi ki shopping bhi ho jaye gi (There will be shopping of N1’s wedding) and we can have much fun. (June 20, 2005 D)
As can be seen in the above example, there is switching here back and forth between English and Urdu. An Urdu clause is embedded in English and English is taken up again.
In the following example, an Urdu conjunction “leykin” (but) is inserted in the English sentence. The reason for the use of Urdu conjunction in Pakistani English is directionality of code-switching, because most of the times, switched Urdu clauses follow the English main clause. This Urdu conjunction has a pragmatic effect as a discourse marker in drawing attention to the utterance.
We reached there in time, lakin no body was there to receive us. (Spoken English)
In Nortier’s Moroccan Arabic/Dutch code-switching data (1990), the Arabic conjunction “walikan” (but) is also most frequent and is the one that conjoins two clauses that are both in another language. Taking a discourse marker from another language has a pragmatic effect on the whole utterance.
Another interesting feature of Pakistani English that has been found as a result of Urdu-English code-switching is the use of an independent Urdu clause or sentence with English in written as well as spoken English. Here are three examples where Urdu clauses are syntactically independent; however, they share a semantic relationship with each other:
Very soon, I will be a big star in Bollywood, main naumeed nahin hougni. (I will not be disappointed) (July 16, 2006 D)
He is set to release some very interesting films, which he describes as happy-go-lucky movies, aaj kal happy fims ka zamana hai. (Now-a-days people like happy movies) (December 11, 2005 D)
I cannot make new friends. Main buri, mairai dausti burai. (I am bad, friendship with me is bad) That’s all (March 25, 2007 D)
Urdu subordinated clauses are also used in Pakistani English, which is a very important aspect of inter-sentential code-switching. The subordinating conjunction is not always in the language of the clause that it introduces. Both Urdu and English subordinating conjunctions are used to join main and subordinated clauses. We can classify this section to two main broad categories:
Urdu subordinate clauses with an English main clause
English subordinate clauses with a Urdu main clause
Firstly, we will look at the occurrence of the Urdu subordinate clauses with an English main clause.
Urdu subordinate clauses with an English main clause:
Different Urdu subordinate clauses are embedded in the English sentences in Pakistani English. The following two kinds of Urdu subordinate clauses have been found in Pakistani English:
The data exemplified in this section will show that a noun clause is a subordinate clause that does the work of a noun in a complex sentence. It can be used in Pakistani English as:
The subject of a verb
The complement of a verb
The object of a preposition
In the following example, the switched Urdu noun clause has been used as the subject of an English verb:
Sub kutch chalet hai is their dictum. (June 12, 2005 D)
‘All is right’ is their dictum. Most of the times, a switched noun clause acts as a complement of an English verb. Here are some examples:
To underline the point he added is main science ki koi baat nahin hai. (December 25, 2005 D)
To underline the point he added there is nothing scientific in this.
He got all mixed up and asked acha aap begum commondo hai. (October 30, 2005 D)
He got all mixed up and asked well. You are Mrs. Commando. I get looks from them all and a couple said aap aagay aa jain. (October 09, 2006 D)
I get looks from them all and a couple said you come in front please. She couldn’t resist the bohat aachi movie hai. (May 29, 2005 D)
She couldn’t resist it’s the very best movie. In the examples below, the switched Urdu clause has been used as an object of an English preposition.
No one at the CCB was willing to say anything except that we have orders from our seniors.
As they turned to me, I shrugged my shoulder with a ‘Bhai dekhlo, I am not carrying you purse’ (November 2006 H)
As they turned to me, I shrugged my shoulder with a brother you can see; I am not carrying you purse.
Sometimes, it’s very interesting to note the use of an Urdu noun clause as a complement of a verb of incomplete predication.
The whole thing is that key bhaiya sab se bada rupaiya. (February 12, 2006 D)
The whole thing is that bother, money is all. Adverb clause:
As we have seen through the above examples that the noun clause acts as a noun in complex sentences, in the same way the function of an adverb clause is that of an adverb in complex sentences. In the following example, an Urdu adverb conditional clause has been embedded in the English sentence. However, the Urdu subordinate clause precedes the English main clause. The subordinating conjunction is in Urdu, whereas the clause that follows it is in English:
Aap ko kissi cheez sey strings ketney hoon, to its best to run from it. (June 26, 2005 D)
If you want to cut the cord off, then its best to run from it.
English subordinate clauses with Urdu main clause:
In some cases, English clause is subordinate to an Urdu main clause. In the following example the English noun clause is joined with the Urdu main clause through the English subordinating conjunction “that”.
Mujhe shikayat hai that we are not making history. (July 31, 2005 D)
I have a complaint that we are not making history. In the example below, the English conditional clause is subordinate to the Urdu main clause. In this example, the English subordinate clause precedes the Urdu main clause:
The police asked both of us to settle things between ourselves. Because if it becomes court case, then mamla lamba ho jaiga. (February 19, 2006 D)
The police asked both of us to settle things between ourselves. Because if it becomes a court case, then it will be a lengthy process. Repetitions and other switches
Sometimes, Urdu phrases or clauses are used just as the repetition of an English phrase or clause. The purpose of this type of switching is to give emphasis. However, in spoken it is used to address different audiences.
Take care, apna bahut khayal rakhiya ga. (December 18, 2005 D)
They shouted for his execution. Zen ko phansy do. (October 02, 2005 D)
Feroz was very drunk. Usko chad gayi thi. (May 07, 2006 D)
He thought that Geeta Bali was the daughter of a certain Dr. Bali,a dentist in Aligarh, who was shocked when one day, Sikandar asked him:Aap ki sahabzadi kaisi hain? (How’s your daughter?) (November 2006 H)
In some cases, Urdu clauses are used to quote maxim and proverb or some other person in Pakistani English. Here are some examples:
My unbending procrastination is one thing that repels the beauty of the world but they say ‘sabar ka phal meetha’ (patience has its reward) (January 22, 2006 D)
Talk about ‘lakkar hazam, pathar hazam’ (very powerful and digestive stomach), they deserve a batter deal, if only for their patience in eating such swill day after day. (October 2006 M)
He gave the example of the phrase “auratein bhot bolteen hain” (females are very talkative). (August 07, 2005 D)
She was very touched and impressed, especially when the waiter uttered these words ‘baaji, mehman sey paisay nahin letay (sister, we don’t charges from guests)’. (July 17, 2005 D)
She opened the Q and A session by saying ‘aab court aap ki ball main hai’ (Now all depends on you). (May 29,2005 D)
Conclusion The data and examples presented in this paper demonstrate that code-switching affects Pakistani English at the phrase and clause level and Pakistani English has its unique features. This paper has shown the variations in English syntax when it is used in a non-native context i.e. Pakistan. This paper shows that in code-switching many traces of native language can be observed on the foreign language. The grammatical usage of Urdu language on English is visible here in the above mentioned examples. Some linguists are of the opinion that there is no language that has not been under influence of another language. English is no exception in this regard. Several changes are taking place in the English language. Isolated languages are rarely met in the global village. Bilingualism or multilingualism is a characteristic feature of modern society. According to Wardhaugh (1998: 100)
‘Command of only a single variety of language, whether it be a dialect, style or register, would appear to be an extremely rare phenomenon, one likely to occasion comment. Most speakers command several varieties of the language they speak, and bilingualism, even multilingualism, is the norm for many people throughout the world rather than unilingualism’.
Note:I would like to thank Professor Dr. Mubina Talaat for her valuable
comments on my paper.
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