While looking for Dari resources, I find a review on Linguistlist of a 2017 grammar 'A grammar of Dari / Rebecca Mitchell & Djamal Naser'. Googling offers no more information, and it seems to have had a limited printing run. There's no way for me to get my hands on it in the near term.
What I like is its specific focus on the prestige variety spoken in Kabul with no reference to the prestige variety spoken in Tehran. That appeals to me for two reasons.
One, from a research POV. Solely comparing the two varieties and pointing out where Dari differs from the Iranian Persian, as previous grammars do, restricts the field of linguistic research. There are surely interesting things about Dari, seen from within the system of Dari. If linguists are only interested in using Dari as a point of comparison, they run the risk of missing something interesting about Dari.
Second, on an ideological basis. The pluricentric nature of Persian is a sociopolitical reality, and yet linguists and Persianists don't treat it as such. A grammar that does not reference the variety spoken in Iran is a step towards redressing this fault within the halls of scholarly power.
Here is one interesting thing that I did not know about some varieties of Afghan Persian:
On the other hand, there exists in the northern provinces a dual participle progressive construction that requires the use of a semantically functional verb, the past participle of ستادن (‘to stand’), and the present tense of بودن (‘to be’). Such linguistic phenomena are at best rarely discussed and at worst completely obscured by other studies that privilege non-Afghan varieties of Persian.
An example from Badakhshan:
من نان خورده ایستاده ام ma nān xorda istād am I am in the process of eating
Compare to the progressive construction in Iranian Persian:
من دارم (غذا) می خورم man dāram mixoram
Now for an anecdote. Many years ago, when I was taking a Persian class at university, I met a guy who used to be in the Australian Army. He didn't advertise this fact. The rest of the class, except for me, were full of Arabic majors and people studying geopolitics and international affairs. I was just there because I wanted another language credit, my studies had nothing to do with Islamic studies or politics.
He joined as an infantryman when he was 18 or 19, served in Afghanistan. Got out as soon as his contract finished, because he hated being a soldier. But he did enjoy the country. Afterwards he used the money he had earned to backpack through places like Iran and Iraq. It was this experience which inspired him to learn Persian when he came home.
He told me that he wanted to go back to Afghanistan 'when the war was over', because Afghanistan was a stunningly beautiful place. I'm sure that must be true, and I'd like to see for myself 'when the war is over'.
Now the guy is living in Pakistan. He's been there for a couple of years so he must like it.
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran states in Chapter 3, Article 15:
زبان و خط رسمی و مشترک مردم ایران فارسی است. اسناد و مکاتبات و متون رسمی و کتب درسی باید با این زبان و خط باشد ولی استفاده از زبانهای محلی و قومی در مطبوعات و رسانههای گروهی و تدریس ادبیات آنها در مدارس، در کنار زبان فارسی آزاد است.
The official language and script and the common language of the people of Iran is Persian. Official documents, correspondence and texts and textbooks must be in this language and script. But the use of regional and ethnic languages in the press and mass media, and the teaching of the literature of these languages in schools, as well as Persian, is permitted.
Theoretically this provides enough leeway for other languages to carve for themselves a space in the education system. However in practice, as far as I know, only one other language is used as a language of primary and secondary education, and this in a limited way.
This is Armenian within the context of Armenian national schools. It is a kind of parallel education system which goes from kindergarten to high school, where Armenian children study their own curriculum rather than the Islamic one. They have Armenian classes and classes on Christianity (the vast majority of Armenians are Christians), and these classes are given in Armenian. In fact, the special dispensation goes further because if an Armenian child goes to a mainstream school, they are exempted from religious studies, and they get Armenian language classes outside of this school.
Note also that the Constitution allows mass media and press to be in other Iranian languages. In practice, only the largest linguistic minorities accrue enough funding to fund their own news and cultural products (theatre, music etc) in their own languages, such as Arabic, Azeri, Balochi, Kurdish or Mazandarani. Most of the cultural products produced in Iran, on a national and provincial level, are funded by the state, and the state privileges products in the Persian language.
I want to understand why Iranian languages are not being taught in school. Why do Iranians not enjoy the right to have an education in their own mother tongue that their own Constitution recognises? Who are the major actors? Who are the activists who are fighting to save their languages? Who are the actors who work to thwart them and maintain Persian dominance in Iran?
To do this, I need to have a better knowledge of Iranian politics and society. But to have a better knowledge of Iranian politics and society, I need to know more Persian. It's as simple as that. My level of Persian is currently insufficient to understand Iran.
An intriguing bit of information is that the فرهنگستان زبان و ادب فارسی, the Academy of Persian Language and Literature, states that one of its objectives is:
بهره بردارى صحيح از زبانهاى محلى (در داخل و خارج از ايران) بهمنظور تقويت و تجهيز اين زبان و غنى ساختن وگستردن دامنۀ كاركرد آن؛
The correct utilisation of the regional languages (both within and outside of Iran), with the goal of strengthening and equipping the language and enriching it, and extending its domains of usage/its functional domain.
The Academy which was created in 1935 in conscious imitation of the monolingual language academies of Europe (such as the Académie française) at least on paper acknowledges that it has a responsibility towards other Iranian languages. Not to keep them on life support but to help them flourish and grow. Promising to extend the domains of usage of a minoritised language is serious business, because it directly threatens the hegemony of an H language in a diglossic situation.
But as the Spanish saying goes, del dicho al hecho, hay mucho trecho. Even if the Academy did take its mandate seriously, its range of action is limited. Top-down changes to language policy take place in the halls of political power.
A simplistic measure (but not for being simplistic, less correct) would be affirmative action with regards to the minoritised Iranian languages. Special funding should be given to other Iranian languages. There should be a mandatory quota on how much media space is given to other languages, especially in Tehran. In areas where say, 20% of the population speak another language, all students should have the option to study in their mother language, from primary to high school. Of course, this would fly in the face of the centralising tendencies of Iran for the last hundred years...
Yesterday I was watching the film 기생충 'Parasite' with my family.
My sister commented that the characters were 철면피. In Korean there is a variety of other ways you can express the sentiment of outrage at someone's shameless behaviour.
I can say for example 그놈은 철판을 깔았구나, literally 'this bastard has laid down a metal plate', often said in full 얼굴에 'in his face'. Another expression you can hear, but with less imagery, is describing someone as 얼굴이 두껍다, literally 'their face is thick'. This is similar to the Spanish way of describing someone who acts shamelessly as being or having caradura.
In Persian, someone who is cute, funny or whose company one would like to keep, is described as بانمک, which comes etymologically from با + نمک. Literally, this person is 'with salt, salted'. In Spanish, similarly one can describe a lively, witty person as salado. And the opposite is true in both languages, someone can be described as بینمک and soso, 'saltless', rather boring.
This exact association with salt and personality does not happen in languages like French or Italian (salé is used to describe a dirty joke and salato for the steep price of something, but not for the personality of a person). So, discounting some kind of ancient survival from a distant Indo-European past, I presume that the reason is simple fortuitous cultural convergence on the importance of this foodstuff.
I talked previous about Ricardo Carvalho Calero the linguist from Ferrol. He died in 1990. Well, he has been finally chosen by the Real Academia Galega to be the Galician figure that will be celebrated on O Día das Letras Galegas of 2020. After seven consecutive years that his name has been nominated, finally his will be the name on everybody's lips. The Día das Letras Galegas is not just a day where the Galician language is celebrated, it's actually an entire year organised around a chosen person. Schools will prepare projects, artists will prepare concerts, universities will do conferences.
Striking news. Not because Carvalho Calero is undeserving of the reward. His decades of service and activism for the language make him eminently worthy, but because it recognises someone who ideologically was opposed to what the RAG publically promotes.
Carvalho Calero was the father of Reintegrationism. As an RAG member himself, he was opposed within the RAG and outside in society by very strong currents that rejected the idea that Galician and Portuguese were two variants of the same language. Including advocating for a Portuguese style orthography, which is why he signed himself as Carvalho and not Carballo (as the RAG insists on doing). Not just his linguistic work, but the fact that reintegrationism is strongly supported by Galician nationalists and independentists made him even more disliked.
A decade ago, the idea that he would be recognised by the RAG's highest honour was unthinkable, which is why lesser known figure after lesser known figure was chosen instead of him. A kind of Galician Leonardo Dicaprio vis-à-vis the Oscars until he won.
What has motivated the change? It's been long enough that visceral hatred of Reintegrationism has subsided somewhat, and it has become a bit more mainstream, and put simply, the pressure to finally acknowledge him was too great to ignore. There is a bit of controversy over how precisely he got elected.There were two groups who nominated him simultaneously within the RAG committee. His intellectual followers who always vote for him, the minority group. And strangely enough the rest: it looks like that this bunch, which includes intransigent opponents to Carvalho Calero, wanted to pre-empt the minority group and steal their thunder. Politics!
2020 promises to be a good year. A debate that some people thought long closed, and want to keep it that way, will re-open and a new generation will be exposed to his work and thoughts.
A short interview from 2011 of a Portuguese teacher, Filipa Fava, who at that time was the organiser of Portuguese courses in Portugal for the reintegrationist organisation AGAL in the northern city of Porto. In other words, Portuguese courses for Galicians interested in learning Portuguese. Looks like a great experience! See the first video for participant feed back.
Filipa Fava lived for five years in Galicia and talks about her time there:
PGL: Como foi a tua integração social na Galiza? A queda pela música tradicional habitava em ti ou foi uma descoberta in situ?
FV: Quando cheguei à Galiza, trazia já a bagagem da música tradicional portuguesa, pois tinha cantado e tocado adufe nos Comvinha Tradicional durante uns 4 anos. Depois, a passagem para as Liñaceira foi muito natural – éramos cinco moças com o mundo nas mãos. Tenho saudades desses tempos, foi tudo muito intenso e apaixonante. A integração na Galiza foi a tal ponto que a dada altura me sentia absolutamente galega e tinha inclusivamente dificuldade em falar português padrão – é muito fácil absorver o galego como língua própria, tem a mesma doçura que o português. As nossas culturas (a galega e a do Norte de Portugal, o Sul é outra coisa) são extraordinariamente semelhantes, sobretudo ao nível mais profundo, ao nível dos valores mais enraizados, dos costumes tradicionais, talvez não tanto à superfície, como por exemplo... nos horários!
What was your social integration like in Galicia? Was the aptitude for traditional music already in you or did you discover it once there?
When I got to Galicia, I brought with me already the baggage of traditional Portuguese music, because I had sung and played adufe in the group Comvinha Tradicional for about 4 years. Afterwards the move to the group of Liñaceira was a natural one - we were five girls with the world at our fingertips. I'm nostalgic about those times, everything was very intense and passionate. The integration into Galicia happened so well that at some point, I felt absolutely Galician and I even found it difficult to speak standard Portuguese. It's very easy to absorb and make Galician one's own language, it has the same sweetness as Portuguese. Our cultures (I mean the Galician and the north Portuguese one, the south of Portugal is a different matter) are incredibly similar, especially at the deepest level, at the level of the most rooted values, traditional behaviours, maybe not so much on the surface like for example...the way we think about schedules!
PGL: Quais são os nossos pontos fracos do ponto de vista da aprendizagem do português de Portugal?
FV: Na minha opinião, o pior obstáculo à aprendizagem do português por um galego é uma certa resistência psicológica. Ouve-se infelizmente muito pouco português (e outras línguas, exceto o castelhano) na Galiza, de modo que, quando tomam contacto com a nova língua, dizem “que raro!” (em português diríamos “que estranho!”) e torcem o nariz! Pois! É necessário abrir a mente e o coração (no sentido da predisposição e vontade) e estar à espera das maiores bizarrias – afinal, e deixando agora de lado as questões de se são a mesma língua ou não, é outro mundo, como dizíamos há pouco! Então, temos todos direito a ser diferentes, a ter coisas e sons e palavras esquisitas (tanto no sentido português, como no galego). Isso é riqueza!
What are our weak points, from the perspective of learning the Portuguese of Portugal?
In my opinion, what most blocks a Galician from learning Portuguese is a kind of psychological resistance. Unfortunately in Galicia one hears very little Portuguese, or any other languages other than Spanish, so that when they have contact with a new language, they say, that's weird (raro)! In Portuguese, we would say, that's weird using the word estranho. And they crinkle their nose! Well! One must open the mind and the heart (in the sense of predisposition and desire) and expect even weirder things. After all, and leaving aside for the moment questions about if it's the same language or not, it's still another world, as we were saying before (aprender (e ensinar) uma língua é descobrir uma outra cultura, é realmente abraçar um mundo novo e torná-lo nosso). We all have a right to be different, to have things and sounds and words that are strange/wonderful, both in the Portuguese (strange) as well as Galician (wonderful) sense of that word. Now that's richness!
PGL: Que temos a ganhar os galegos e as galegas ao estudarmos português na cidade do Porto?
Todo o galego ou galega devia ter, pelo menos uma vez na vida, uma namorada ou namorado português e vice-versa. Aí está uma boa proposta para abrir pontes entre os dois povos: aprender línguas com amor!
What do we have to gain, us Galicians, by studying Portuguese in Porto?
Every Galician man or woman should have, at least once in their life, a Portuguese lover and vice-versa. There's my suggestion to open bridges between the two peoples: learn languages with love!
PGL: Quando chegaste à Galiza que sabias de nós e com o que te foste?
FV: Quando era pequena, lembro-me perfeitamente de imaginar a Galiza como uma terra muito misteriosa, envolta em brumas e névoas densas. Era, de facto, só imaginação, porque a primeira vez que pisei solo galego tinha já 17 anos. Antes de ir viver para a Galiza, aos 23, tinha andado muito por Compostela, sobretudo tocando na rua e, portanto, quando cheguei de malas feitas para ficar, sabia já bastante. Da Galiza trouxe o sabor da “retranca” (que nunca cheguei a dominar, logo talvez nunca tenha sido verdadeiramente galega), a capacidade de avaliar pessoas com grande acerto na primeira impressão (isto aprendi-o na Casa das Crechas), a compreensão do que é ter uma cultura e uma língua mortificadas pelo poder, a sensação claustrofóbica e viciante que é viver em Santiago D.C. e grande admiração por essa minoria do povo galego que teima em preservar o que é seu com excelentes iniciativas sociais e culturais.
When you came to Galicia, what did you know about us and what did you go with?
When I was little, I remember perfectly that I used to imagine Galicia as a very mysterious land, enshrouded in fog and thick clouds. Actually it was just imagination, because the first time I stepped on Galician soil was when I was 17 years old. Before going to live there when I was 23, I had walked a lot through Compostela, especially at the street-level and so when I came with my bags to stay, I already knew a lot. From Galicia, I brought back the taste of the 'retranca' (Galician sense of humour, irony) which I never a managed to get a hold of, maybe I was never a real Galician. And the ability to evaluate people very well in the first impression, this I learned at the Casa das Crechas (a bar in Compostela), the understanding of what it means to have a culture and a language that is oppressed by the powers that be, the claustrophobic and intoxicating sensation of living in Santiago de Compostela, and a grand admiration for that minority of the Galician people who obstinately preserves what is theirs with excellent social and cultural initiatives.
The Galician group that she mentions and formed a part of is called Liñaceira and they performed traditional Galician and Portuguese music. The first song is Galician, but the second La Çarandilheira is neither in Galician nor Portuguese, it is in the Astur-Leonese language spoken in Portugal, Mirandese.
Sohrab Sepehri was a modern Iranian poet. Modernist Iranian poets dispensed with the metrical systems of classical Persian poetry and wrote in free verse. This is a poem of his called واحه ای در لحظه 'Oasis in a moment'. The following is my reasonably literal translation of the poem. When I say literal, I mean I try not to add in anything that is not in the text, I try to keep to the text, even if the result is not aesthetically pleasing.
به سراغ من اگر میآیید، پشت هیچستانم. پشت هیچستان جایی است.
پشت هیچستان رگهای هوا، پر قاصدهایی است که خبر میآرند، از گل واشده دورترین بوته خاک.
روی شنها هم، نقشهای سم اسبان سواران ظریفی است که صبح به سر تپه معراج شقایق رفتند.
پشت هیچستان، چتر خواهش باز است: تا نسیم عطشی در بن برگی بدود، زنگ باران به صدا میآید.
آدم اینجا تنهاست و در این تنهایی، سایه نارونی تا ابدیت جاری است.
به سراغ من اگر میآیید، نرم و آهسته بیایید، مبادا که ترک بردارد چینی نازک تنهایی من.
If you come to call on me I am beyond nowhereland Beyond nowhereland, there is a place Beyond nowhereland, the veins of the air are full of dandelions They bear news of a blossoming flower of the furthest bush on earth
The sand too, it bears the the hoofprints of graceful horsemen In the morning they went up the hill of the ascension of the poppy
Beyond nowhereland, the umbrella of desire is open, so that a breeze of thirst might run through the bottom of a leaf. The bell of rain rings
Man is lonely here And in this loneliness, the shadow of an elm runs on until eternity
If you come to call on me, Come soft and slow, lest you crack The fragile china of my loneliness
Nowhereland - I translated هیچستان as nowhereland, because it is an unusual choice of words in Persian. Nowhere is an ordinary word in English, whereas هیچستان is not in Persian. Literally it is هیچ 'no' + ستان 'place, country', like in Afghanistan.
Dandelions - Sepehri actually says قاصد /qāsed/, which means messenger (any kind of messenger), but he seems to mean dandelions قاصدک /qāsedak/. True to its name, the qāsedak is said to be a qāsed, because it is the bearers of good news.
Ascension - Sepehri uses the word معراج, which is not a common word. It means ascension, most notably the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad on his winged steed.
Perhaps it is a deliberate reference.
The Prophet went to the furthest mosque which in Arabic is مسجدالاقصی, literally the 'Furthest Mosque'. In Persian دورترین مسجد. And Sepehri talks about a blossoming bud of the furthest bush on earth از گل واشده دورترین بوته خاک.
Deia l'amic a son amat: - Tu est tot, e per tot, e en tot, e ab tot. Tu vull tot, per ço que haja e sia tot mi. Respòs l'amat: - No em pots haver tot sens que tu no sies de mi. E dix l'amic: - Hages-me tot, e jo tu tot. Respòs l'amat: - Què haurà ton fill, ton frare e ton pare? Dix l'amic: - Tu est tal tot, que pots abundar a ésser tot de cascú qui es dóna a tu tot.
The Friend said to his Beloved
You are all, and for all, and in all, and with all. I want you all, so that I can have all of me and be all of me.
The Beloved replied
You cannot have all of me, without being of me.
And the Friend said
Have me all, and I all of you
The Beloved replied
What then will your son, your brother and your father have of you?
The Friend said:
Such is your allness, that you suffice to be the all of everyone who gives all of themselves to you.
Eguzkiak urtzen du han goian gailurretako elurra uharka da jausten ibarrera geldigaitza den oldarra.
The sun melts up high The snow on the heights It rushes down in a flood to the valley An unstoppable assault
Gure baita datza eguzkia iluna eta izotza urratu dezakeen argia urtuko duen bihotza.
Within us resides the sun A light that can break A heart that can melt Darkness and snow
Bihotza bezain bero zabalik besoak eta eskuak gorririk ikus dezagun egia argiz beterik burua.
Wide open, so warm like the heart Arms and hands Let us see the terrible truth With the head full of light
Bakoitzak urraturik berea denon artean geurea etengabe gabiltza zabaltzen gizatasunari bidea.
Each one, clearing their own (path) Between all of us, (doing) our own thing We go ceaselessly, widening The path for humanity.
Inon ez inor menpekorikan nor bere buruaren jabe herri guztiok bat eginikan ez gabiltza gerorik gabe.
No one, anywhere, subject to another Each, master of themself All nations, united We are not without a future
Batek goserikan diraueno ez gara gu asetuko beste bat loturik deino ez gara libre izango.
So long as one person is hungry We will not be satiated So long as one person is bound We will not be free.
This last verse was quoted in a speech, at the protest in Donostia on the 19th of October, against the prison sentences handed down against the Catalan politicians and activists. 40,000 Basques (and me too) marched in the streets of Donostia to protest, with the words 'Erreferenduma ez da delitua' prominently showcased. The Catalan singer, Lluis Llach was there as well. He sang - and the crowd as well - a Basque version of l'Estaca.