Feb 17, 2008

journalist fine is linked to the culturolanguage debate

Three Afghan journalists working for government-owned media have been fined for using words not approved by cultural policy. A reporter and two of his superiors were fined for using three words from Persian, as used in Iran, instead of their local equivalent derived from Pashtu -- the language of the Afghan majority. Afghanistan's official languages are Dari-Farsi and Pashtu, both members of indo-persian languages, a subclass of indo-european languages. Pashtu has dominated Dari in the last two centuries in Afghanistan. The Pashtun rulers and Kings pursued a cultural policy of Pashtuization, changing names of location, people and objects into Pashto from Dari.

The reporter fined used three words for "university", "students" and "certificate", in a report from Persian spoken in Iran. Many Dari scholars in Afghanistan would argue that reference should be made to language history and indeed the original Persian words are not used in Afghanistan because of Pashtu influence. The governments in the past only introduced a Pashtu word for the above three and promoted its use in Dari too. The influence of Pashtu on Dari is tremendous and vice versa. there are many Dari words in Afghan Pashtu while they have an English or Hindi equivalent in Pakistani Pashtu. The two languages of Afghanistan are very close to each other and the government policy has been to identify both particular to Afghanistan and set some peculiarities to separate them from the same languages spoken in the region. The origin of Dari debate has heated up lately, new media outlets have mushroomed across the country and each pursue different language policy over which the government has no control. Popular stations like Tolo uses the Dari as it is spoken in Iran and it seem to enjoy a lot of popularity. Government officials have not spoken against this because they don’t have a policy guidelines. However, unofficially they have condemned the new approach Dari. In an unofficial gathering Jabar Sabit, Afghan General Attorney, was arguing that the Dari language in Afghanistan is not only similar in words with the one spoken in Iran but there are structural differences. This is clearly a prove of General Attorney’s ignorance but it does show that senior officials in Karzai government pursue the old policy and Karzai seem to appoint more of them and tacitly support the implicit policy. more...