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Alphabet - A national symbol?

1 reply [Last post]
Rawaz_S's picture
Joined: 1 Sep 2009

I recently noticed an article in North Kurdish at which claims the Kurdish Latin based alphabet devised by Prince Jeladet Badir Khan has the state of a national symbol and should not be modified. The author further believes that Kurdish scholars are ignoring this fact and trying to be the first in some sort of codification race at any price. Here is the article:

I would like to know your views on these issues put forward in this article?

DRoshani's picture
Joined: 9 May 2008
No racing!

Kak Rewez, yes I have read the article and saddened about the way author choose to introduce me and the Yekgirtú proposal. He stats that "Bo nimûne, Dîlan Roşanî goranîaxêvekê rojhilata Kurdistanê ye û doktorname di warê endazyariya medenî de wergirtiye. Wî di van salên dawiyê de alfabeyek bi navê Yekgirtú/Yekgirtí cí kirye."

Unfortunately many others who have read this article also thought the mentioning of me by name, making an issue of my academic achievement and being Gorani speaker and a south-Eastern Kurd, are all indicative of a view presented by a dnominatorto undermine and belittle the value of the proposal presented by a member of the minority. Many has interpreted this wording as "character assassination"-attacking the scholar for his personal biography or character, rather than the worth and substance of the work under scrutiny.

I honesty felt that author selectively omit any mention of my skills and years of experience in applied computational linguistics, clearly intended to mislead the readers to disqualify my proposal as pedestrian and amateurish. It is certainly important how we choose our wording and for what purpose. This sort of formulation can be self-destructive and could only attain deeper segregation among Kurds. However I did communicate with the author and expressed my frustration. He replied "I am extremely sorry if mentioning your dialect or origin in the article would have offended you. I absolutely did not have, and never will have, any intention to discredit you as a person. I have all respect for you as a prominent Kurdish scholar and your dialect has the same status and prestige as any other Kurdish dialect. My statement about you was to introduce you to the readers and no more. However, if that hurt you, I apologise and am ready to add a footnote to the article to avoid misunderstanding." But I have not seen any public statement or rephrasing of the that sentence yet.

Nevertheless I have clearly and proudly declared who I am and what my qualifications are ( I got my PhD 12 years after my proposal for Kurdish Unified writing system which was/is based on my skills as Computational linguistic (please read on responsibility and ways this filed of linguistic works). I worked, studied and applied computer collaboration and language codification since early 90s. My passion and profession have given me good ground to dare to have an opinion on this issue.

I decided to respond to his views in an article, but I have now changed my mind. I believe if all the services and the information banks provided on KAL web site and my seminars -which he was attending on 4th of Oct 2009 in Stockholm/Sweden- could not move the author to understand the concept of "Nation-building" and language planing, then it would be wasting of time and effort to now engage in series of articles' rhetoric. The truth is that the Kurdish nation has been existed far long before pioneers of Kurdish codifications appeared in 1920s and 30s. They simply codified a tool for communication rather than nation building. This was the main stream in my presentations that we shall not use Kurdish writing systems for our nation state building and falsify national symbols. Whilst we have 85% of illiteracy among Kurds and 90% of literate Northern Kurds are self thought adults and Kurdish Latin alphabet has never been the base for any systematic education system, some still choose to deny any reform of pioneers' Kurdish codifications for wider usage and acceptance based on political or tribal stand as well as misconception views on national identities.

However, No one dismiss or undermine the attempt of the codification pioneers. Prince J. Bedir Khan views is the core concept behind KAL project. His historical statement is the slogan of our project right at the main front page. His work will never loose its value by improving and reform. His attempt's greatest impact has been already made, namely to prove that Kurdish is writable. After all an alphabet is the symbol for functional communication not national identity. Now one shall identify that as a holy national identity and deny its shortcoming in wider perspective something which our network of scholars have touched and reformed for the best workability on a neutral ground. Here, there is no race to national codification championship. It is not the question of which idea or individual "should win," as long as the Kurdish nation wins at the end.

The truth is that the political constrains have forced to make the pioneer Kurdish scripts the "national symbols" rather than wide sociolinguistic analyses. There has never been a national debate or academic research on feasibility, workability or nation wide acceptance of these scripts. And the few times studies has been done, scholars has suggested reform, reform and reform (refer to Jamal Nebez 1975). At the end of the day it was only a trial attempt not the manifest of Kurdish people.

Please note that I cover some of the issues as FAQ topics. You may read the following two topics for now.

- Alfabéygí Yekgirig/Yekgirtú careseri bineyíg erra girifteyli zuwani Kurdí ye!
- "We must become the change we want to see" [quote: Mahatma Gandhi]