PESHAWAR: When different ethnic and linguistic groups celebrate international mother tongue day across the globe today, the Pashto Academy, University of Peshawar, has intended to initiate a comprehensive project under which all major and minor dialects of Pashto would be preserved towards a unified script for all kinds of communication purposes.
The student wing of ANP and a few literary organisations have planned various events to celebrate mother languages in the city. The Pashto Academy’s project would be completed at a cost of Rs 2,000,000 within eight months in four phases.
Expert on northern languages Mohammad Zaman Sagar told this scribe that preservation of languages was a must for cultural diversity. He said that unfortunately, several languages in the country were endangered including Bateri, Chiliso in Kohistan, Kalkoti in Upper Dir; Madak, Yadgha, Lashti and Kalasha in Chitral; Kundal Shahi in Kashmir; Domaki in Gilgit; Oshujo and Badeshi in Swat; and Mankiali in Mansehra.
He said because of less number of speakers, a few languages were losing ground to other dominating lingos. However, he expressed the hope that other languages would flourish owing to usage of social media and other means of expression.
An official of Pashto Academy said that the academy would bring out first primer of Urmari language, a project funded by Fata Secretariat, while the script of Khowar (Chitrali) language had also been evolved.
He said that several projects were underway to research and preserve not only Pashto but also to promote other languages spoken in the province. On the basis of the primer, textbooks could be prepared for children.
“Pashto Academy has the capacity to impart training to other aspiring researchers to work for their respective dialects and languages,” said the official.
The four phases of the project include survey/data collection, training workshop, composing, compilation and publication. The project would pave way for a unified dictionary of Pashto dialects.
According to the documents of the project, Balochistan, Fata and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be the target zones where researchers would work on the area, history, folklore and culture of the people to collect the required information.
The scholars and experts would work on local idioms, terminologies, proverbs and folk tales, which would be later on collected into a treasure trove of different Pashto dialects through a comparative analysis.
Prof Nasrullah Jan Wazir, the director of the academy, said that Pashto was an ancient Aryan language, composed of two major and several minor dialects spoken in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He said that necessary paperwork for the project was in its final stages and it would be launched in first week of April. He said that funds had already been released while language experts and student scholars would be shortlisted soon.
He said that the main objective of the project was to preserve all Pashto dialects and pave the way for its unified script.
Prof Wazir said under the project, all the Pashto dialects would be categorised into eight groups namely Waziri, Bannuchi, Dawari, Marwat/Betani, Khattak, Orakzai/Afridi/Bangash, Yousafzai/Mohamad, and Kakari/Waransi. He said that Pashto Academy would also display 5, 000 rare Pashto books online, out of those, 1,000 were old titles pertaining to the Pashto classical period on the history, folklore, traditions and language.
He said that a three -day seminar and workshop would be organised at the academy towards the end March in which scholars and experts of 23 languages would be invited to present their research papers.
Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2018.