A new script: Four books to revive Torwali language

Research, anecdotal history to be used to collect information about grammar, vocabulary and folk tales.

Our Correspondent October 26, 2014


In order to protect the language spoken by thousands in Bahrain, cultural activists and civil society members in Upper Swat have started work to consolidate data on and to promote Torwali.

An initiative to focus on the Torwali language was launched at a ceremony organised by Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT) in Bahrain on Sunday.

IBT representative Aftab Ahmad said four books of the language would be published under the project.

“The first book would be on the grammar of Torwali while the second would be a dictionary listing 3,000 to 5,000 Torwali words with Urdu and English translations.” He added, “The third book is structured on the daily usage of Torwali and the fourth one will contain selected folk tales; both the books will have Urdu and English translations.”

Cultural activists at the event said Torwali—of Dardic root—is an ignored language. It is from a group of closely related Indo-Iranian languages spoken in Pakistan, Kashmir and Afghanistan, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Most of native speakers of Torwali live in Upper Swat which is a popular tourist destination.

IBT Executive Director Zubair Torwali who was also present at the launch told the audience, “Language is closely related to people’s identity.” He added, “It is a bearer of indigenous wisdom and history, and an effective means of education and communication.”

Once a language dies, a nation dies, and along with it, a great portion of world heritage dies, he said.

Researching Torwali

A four-member team will research the language for the four books. Their plans include visits to remote villages in the areas where most Torwali speakers reside. Torwali music, with a touch of fusion, will be recorded to promote the language.

A project activity titled ‘Preservation and Promotion of Torwali Language & Culture’ will be undertaken by IBT, financed by United States Agency for International Development under its Ambassador’s Fund Programme. “The project includes work on the production of video and audio DVDs of the music with the help of famous media houses,” said Ahmad.

Local political and social activist Khan Saeed lauded the efforts to strengthen the identity of the Torwali people. He appreciated the initiative to focus on creating a Torwali script and the work done on the development of Swat-Kohistan.

Torwali elders promised to help the researchers collect data for the four books. Some of them recited ancient poetry in Torwali.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2014.



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