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I am Imdad, a native speaker of Brahui language.
We have a test page at incubator, so thought it was a requirement to translate the wikipedia menus and messages into Brahui before proceeding to real content producing job.
Wikipedia in Brahui Language
The position statement on the use of Latin script
Why Latin script?
It was decided in a meeting of Brahui Language Board (BLB) that Latin/Roman script shall be utilized for pedagogical and publication purposes in future. This meeting was specially called to discuss the matters of orthography and standardization. It was resolved that, due to relatively high use of vowels and vowel combinations in the language, Arabic script was the most disadvantaged script to be used.
- Arabic script does not contain the required number of vowels
- Sometimes vowels are used as consonants depending upon their position in a word. This is quite confusing for people who are getting literacy instruction in the language.
It was decided that the phonemes of the language are sort out and one different symbol is allocated to represent each single phoneme. This was an effort to follow “sound-symbol faithfulness”. But I guess it is not the right place to go in the details of pros and cons of utilization of any script for Brahui language. But if someone, for any purpose, requires detailed information than he/she can contact the secretary of BLB on email@example.com.
What is Brahui Language Board?
The following description is provided on the website of Brahui Language Board, explaining its background and the nature of work:
In consensus with the various Brahui literary forums and research organizations, the Department of Brahui, at University of Balochistan, Quetta made the historic move of establishing a Brahui Language Board on November 29, 2008 to address the various issues concerning the standardization of Brahui language.
Brahui Language Board has been formed to tackle the following issues:
- To re-design the Brahui script/orthography.
- To standardize the most famous/frequently used dialect.
- To introduce new terminology, publish Brahui dictionary and publication of Balochistanica in Brahui language.
- To seek consensus for adaptation of the roman script as the re-designed/new script to be utilized for Brahui language, keeping in view that it is comprehensive and more adoptable.
- To design the language/certificate courses for new learners.
- To launch advocacy campaigns for utilization of Brahui as the language of instruction at primary level and to design curriculum for such purpose.
Additionally, I would like to mention that the formation of this board is the only serious effort in the course of standardizing the language. This organization was formed on November 29, 2008 as a result of agreement between six most significant literary and linguistic organizations under the supervision of linguists and literary personnel belonging to Department of Brahui, at University of Balochistan. The editors and producers of different media organizations (only those media personnel who had ever produced/published anything in Brahui language) were also invited on the occasion.
A board was formed to govern the work of BLB and to take any decisions regarding standardization of the language. This board contains people from different organizations and specialties and list of its members can be found on the website of BLB.
The final decision to adopt Latin script was taken in the meeting of BLB on March 21, 2009. Although the board was given the authority to take decisions regarding script and other matters, yet they held a broad workshop style meeting for the purpose and, along with the board members, invited people from 7 different organizations and also invited editor of daily/weekly Talar and some people from Radio Pakistan and PTV (the state owned tv channel as this is the only electronic media which is producing programs of any kind in Brahui language). In this workshop/meeting they decided the total number of letters in the alphabet, the shapes and names of the letters, and the sequence in which the letters shall be present in the alphabet.
What BLB plans to do in the future?
After taking decision to adopt Latin script for Brahui language, the team of BLB and Department of Brahui (at University of Balochistan) are working in this direction:
- They have already started certificate courses in the language to teach the use of Latin script. Hundreds have attended these classes and are capable of reading and writing in Latin script version of the language.
- They are running advocacy campaigns for utilization of Latin as the official script in curriculum of Masters of Art in Brahui Language at University of Balochistan. This is the only university level degree offered in Brahui language throughout the plant.
Talar Publications and its significance
Weekly Talar: It is the only weekly in Brahui language which is being published regularly for more than seven years. They have utilized Arabic script for all those years but have started to publish it in Latin for the last 19 weeks. This weekly news magazine has current circulation of 3500 copies approximately. They still have Arabic script pages but have planned to reduce these pages gradually by time until magazine is completely in Latin script. They plan to completely drop the Arabic script portion within a year.
Daily Talar: Talar is also published as a daily newspaper since July 2005. The difficulty faced by writers and readers in Arabic script has prevented this only daily newspaper in Brahui language in winning a wider audience and acceptance. The team at Talar is willing to adopt Latin script for this daily newspaper too, but once Weekly Talar is completely converted into Latin and has wider acceptance from the readers.
Why Wikipedia in Brahui Language?
Currently Talar is the only medium to present reading material for literates in Brahui language. But this is not a medium for new writers to produce content collectively. It is also limited in sense of collection and presentation of information and making them readily available for readers. And secondly there is no platform on internet for the users of the language where they can read or write (to foster their literacy skills).
Wikipedia is the best solution in this direction.
This came to our mind in March 2010. But, honestly saying, we were not expecting the approval of test wiki in Brahui language that quickly. So, we were also working on alternatives. For that purpose we had planned to start a private wiki using the mediawiki software. This we planned to do until our language got approval on Wikipedia. We had already installed the software on a local server and started configuring it when we got the message that we are approved as a test wiki.
What if we still use Arabic script for Brahui language in Wikipedia?
We will be wasting our time and energies if we stick to Arabic script for Brahui language. There is not a single organization working for the standardization in that direction. The utilization of Arabic script currently was the result of “no one thinking seriously about the language” and this script had to be adopted because users of the language were literate only in Urdu.
On the other hand, there are organizations working on the utilization of Latin script for Brahui language. They already have built a keyboard layout to insert the additional symbols and are working to build word processor, typing tutor and interactive primers.
Yet, if someone wants to give it a try, go ahead. I assure all of you that not even a single serious page could be produced at Wikipedia if we stuck to Arabic script.
Our position now!!!
One would have notice that sometimes I am using words like “we” and “our” instead of “me” and “my”. This is because I am here on behalf of Talar and BLB.
So, our position now is that we will start producing content in test wiki using Latin script until language committees reach to any decision regarding scripts. We are not in any rush to change the interface messages into Brahui. Take your time to decide. We leave rest to the hard working team of Wikipedia.
We now look forward to language teams at wikipedia to guide us in the right direction.