October 2006 News

Stress laid on efforts to revive local dialects: Burushiski-Urdu dictionary launched

2 October 2006
The Dawn

Gilgit: Speakers at the launching ceremony of the first Burushiski-Urdu dictionary said that the valuable literary work would help revive dying languages of the Northern Areas as the project opened doors for research in other languages and dialects of the region. The Burushiski Research Academy (BRA) launched the first volume of Burushiski-Urdu dictionary on Sunday at the Karakurum International University here under the aegis of Halqa-i-Arbab-i-Zouq, Gilgit. Speaking as chief guest, Northern Areas Chief Secretary Imtiaz H. Kazi highlighted the importance of mother tongue and dialects. He said that man began progress once he was able to translate his language in written form and script. Mr Kazi said that languages and dialects which were on the verge of extinction could be revived through folk songs, poetry and lyrics, while the addition of foreign words enhanced the beauty of a language. Tracing the history of Burushiski language and Burushiski dictionary, research consultant and project director of the dictionary, Dr Shehnaz Hunzai, said that Burushiski was a unique language which defied classification with any other language of the world. She said linguists considered it as one of the 12 isolated languages of Pakistan presently spoken in Hunza, Nagar and Yaseen valleys in the Northern Areas. Ms Hunzai said that for a long time Burushiski remained just a dialect and there was no written script. She said that Prof Allama Nasiruddin Nasir Hunzai, the first poet of the Burushiski language and renowned scholar of the region, introduced Arabic alphabets and gave the language a script in 1940. She said that apart from Burushiski poetry Dr Hunzai had also elaborated the grammar and more than nine books on Burushiski language had been printed. She said the BRA, with the help of the Bureau of Composition, Compilation and Translation (BCCT) at the University of Karachi, collected 60,000 words during the last two decades. Ms Hunzai said that the first volume of the dictionary, containing 20,000 words, had been printed with the contribution from motivated friends of Burushiski language. She said special software was developed to prepare the dictionary. She claimed that Burushiski language had the capacity to absorb the translation of the Holy Quran. Halqa-i-Arbab-i-Zouq, Gilgit, secretary Jamshed Khan Dukhi paid tributes to Dr Hunzai for the revival of dying languages and dialects in the region and added that local languages and their diversity was unique but globalization and market forces had threatened their existence. Mr Dukhi said that local languages could be promoted and preserved only through research and the Burushiski dictionary was a first step in this regard. He hoped that it would open doors for research in other languages of Gilgit-Baltistan and the project would encourage other language projects in the region. He demanded that the government should set up a language board in the region, due coverage of local languages on PTV should be given and Shina, Burushiski and Balti languages should be included in primary school syllabus.


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