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Youth trained in collecting data on Pashto dialects

By Bureau report
July 02, 2018

PESHAWAR: A three-day training workshop on the Pashto dialects preservation concluded at Pashto Academy, University of Peshawar here on Sunday.

Scholars and language experts several of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and recently merged Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) attended the training.

Around 11 young scholars were trained in collecting data from south, north and central regions of the Pashtun belt where different dialects of Pashto language are spoken.

Scholars pointed out that politicization damaged our linguistic diversity owing to the tunnel vision. “There is no technical difference between language and dialect, every language spoken by a community represents a distinct layer of our society which should be respected and included in the mainstream to preserve its treasure trove of culture which again opens a window into a unique expression of the social and cultural values,” said one of the experts.

Concluding, the workshop, Prof Mirajul Islam, Dean of Islamic Faculty and Oriental Studies said, the exercise would pave the way for standardization of Pashto script to be used for academic purpose. He said young scholars would go out in the respective dialect region for baseline data collection which would be later saved on a computer.

Participants of the workshop identified several groups of Pashto dialects including Kakari, Yousafzai, Moomand, Afridi, Bettani, Bangash, Shinwari, Waziri, Khattak, Dawari, Banusi and other variations of Pashto.

Professor Muhammad Kamal Khan, an expert in linguistics, explained through different activities and slides presentations that, over 7,000 to 10,000 languages and dialects were spoken throughout the world.

“The study of Pashto phonetics and phonology is very interesting due to its variations and different flavours. Being the oldest language the region, Pashto contains valuable vocabulary, terminologies, proverbs, tongue twisters, folk tales, idioms and maxims dating back to thousands of years which shows its vastness and richness,” the scholar pointed out.

Resource person, Professor Yousaf Khan Jazaab, in his paper said different geographical and sociological factors played an important part in shaping and differentiation of language from a dialect. He said language formation was not static but a dynamic process.

Prof Omar Usman Marwat, another expert, said learning computer linguistics language was a new phenomenon for our leaners but was not that difficult to master it. Giving various tips about the data preservation, he said that efforts should be made to avoid fake research sites on a particular subject.

Prof Dr Nasrullah Jan Wazir, Director, Pashto Academy, said that linguists and computer experts trained young scholars hailing from various Pashto dialect zones how to record, analyze and insert baseline data from the common folk in the remote areas on the basis of which unified Pashto script would be prepared. He said the project of Pashto dialects preservation would be completed in six months.