Orthography Workshop held in Chitral for the Yidgha Language
Chitral Times Report
CHITRAL: The Forum for Language Initiatives (FLI) held a
five day orthography workshop for the Yidgha language community in
Chitral. Twelve persons (both men and women) including teachers,
local researchers, language activists, and writers from the
language community attended the workshop, which aimed at training
them in how to document their mother tongue, Yidgha.
Yidgha is spoken in Lotkuh, a valley lying some 46 km west of
Chitral town, and is one of the 23 languages of Pakistan that
UNESCO has declared as ‘on the verge of extinction’ for being just
oral languages and undocumented.
This workshop was part of a project FLI has initiated to
document four endangered languages in Chitral and Swat so as to
preserve them from elimination with financial assistance from
USAID’s Small Grants and Ambassador’s Fund Program (SGAFP-USAID).
The workshop was focused on discovering the unique sounds in Yidgha
and developing a writing system for this language that is losing
ground even in its home region. The workshop will be followed by
additional activities including the publishing of a book of
folktales in Yidgha. This allows the Yidgha language researchers to
be provided with further trainings under the project, as well as
furthering the impact of documentation efforts. Mr. Naseem Haider
and Farid Ahmed Raza facilitated the workshop.
Though Yidgha was previously just a verbal dialect,this workshop
has provided an opportunity to document the sounds of the language
in written form. Participants have now received the training
necessary to take their keen interest in preserving and promoting
their mother tongue and channel it into tangible activities,
including being able to finally write in their mother
tongue.Hopefully, there will soon be stories, poems, and anecdotes
also published in the Yidgha language. The combination of these
community members’ commitment and their newfound training may be a
huge factor in saving the Yidgha language from fading into history.