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Vocabulary

The Iraqi government has not as a rule opposed lexical modernization (cf., however, 8.4.2.2 on a recent official policy regarding purism), though lack of planning a unified vocabulary was a direct outcome of the policy of preparing textbooks. In the absence of a committee supervising translation and compilations and interested in standardizing the language, individuals were guided by their own tastes in every respect except orthography which they were not allowed to reform. Thus, the twenty-seven books used in grades 2 to 6 in academic year 1957-58 (cf. 7.5.4) were translated by 17 individuals: 13 translated one book each, three translated two and one translated eight books. Of the four arithmetic books two (grades 3 and 6) had each a different translator. Each of the three religious studies books were also translated by different individuals.

Although not involved in a planned collective undertaking, the translators were part of an intellectual milieu interested in modernizing the language along puristic lines. For example, a comparison of two textbooks (Objects Lesson) one translated in 1929 by Nuri and the other in the mid-1950s by Najib, shows that both translators were interested in creating Kurdish terminologies and tried to avoided borrowing whenever possible:

Before there was any chance for secondary school instruction in Kurdish, Jemal Nebez, a teacher in Kirkuk, compiled a series of science textbooks in 1956¬57 (cf. 7.2.2.8) in order to show that it was possible to transmit and teach science in Kurdish. When the preparation of secondary school textbooks finally began in the late 1970s, some progress had already been made in terminological creation. To prepare the books, however, translators and compilers had to coin over one thousand terms. The Director General of Kurdish Studies, in charge of the work, said that no claim was made as to the authenticity (rast u durustiy of the neologisms though "all the hidden abilities of the [Kurdish] language had been touched." To popularize the coinages and invite comment, the educational authorities published some 4,200 terms in a special issue of Perwerde w Zanist (Fuad 1983:31, 32).

The Ministry of Education has, in fact, been criticized for the disregard of standardization in textbooks. Nakam (1971:4-9), for instance, criticized the policy of translation which, he argued, did not allow the compilation of original works in Kurdish and by Kurdish authors. Also criticized was the content of the textbooks, which did not cover Kurdish history, geography and culture. Nakam complained that in some cases, one book had been divided into three parts, assigned to three translators, and published without editing. Fuad, director of the Kurdish studies program at Sulaymaniya University in the early 1970s, informed the educational authorities of the inadequacy of the textbooks and offered guidelines and assistance in preparing them with a view to standardization and unification of terminology. According to Fuad (1973:6), this could be achieved only through the work of qualified committees.
 
Although textbook translation was better organized in the late 1970s and 1980s, terminological unification was not achieved. Bimar (1986:287) noted that different coinages for one concept were used not only in different textbooks but even within the same text. For example, hêllî yeksanî, hêllî kemerey zemîn and xettî tstiwa were all used for 'equator' in a single geography book. According to Baldar (1986:235-37), terminological unification remains an urgent and very important task which requires careful planning. Lack of school dictionaries (Kurdish-Kurdish, Arabic-Kurdish and English-Kurdish) has further aggravated the problem (Ibid., p. 234). Terminological creation and unification have also suffered from a lack of cooperation between the Ministry of Education and the Kurdish Academy (cf. 10.3.5).

Source: Dr. Amir Hassanpour, "Nationalism and Language in Kurdistan 1918-1985", 1992.

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