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BASIC SPOKEN

The Significance of Mother-Tongue: Kashmir

We are all blessed to be living in the arms of our Kashmir, letting Koshur (Kashmiri Language) drench us with its ancient richness. Despite the fact that some children still learn and speak their mother tongue, as the generation is moving ahead and away from the language, Koshur has begun to blur its presence. Therefore, it is significant for natives as well as Kashmiris living away from the valley to enrich the childhood of their children with their home language and maybe then, the language will survive the hits of contemporariness.

I believe, people will agree with me about the necessity of knowing and learning one’s own mother- tongue. To be able to speak the native language is a blessing, it connects individuals to their history, ancestors, and land. It keeps the belongingness to one’s own home intact and connects the heart of people easily. It is always easy to identify with someone who speaks the same language as you, no matter what the place, profession or religion!

 

Meet thoughtful writer & mother, Zarka Batool

If we adults, together, decisively begin our work in the direction of teaching our children, first, the importance of the mother tongue, second, the language itself, Koshur will rejuvenate with time. Zarka Batool, an inspiration, is an apt example of a Kashmiri residing outside of India and yet wanting to adhere her children to their roots.

Zarka Batool is a Kashmiri, born and brought up in Downtown Srinagar, Kashmir, who has been living in England for past 15 years now. Batool works as a part-time doctor and lives with her husband, three kids (boys) in a happy domestic life. Her enthusiasm towards life is evident in her recognition as a writer of a children’s book called “Basic Spoken Kashmiri”.

 

Zarka Batool, Basic Kashmiri, spoken kashmirir, koshur

 

About the Book

“Basic Spoken Kashmiri” is a compiled vocabulary of words along with illustrations, made with beautiful colors. The book is specifically meant for children to learn the basic grammatical rules and words for forming simple sentences in Kashmiri. The book illustrates all the necessary items from the daily life, explained through a picture and then expressed in both Koshur and English for reference.

 

Zarka Batool, Basic Kashmiri, spoken kashmirir, koshur

 

Zarka Batool, Basic Kashmiri, spoken kashmirir, koshur

 

The inspiration behind the book

When asked about the source of inspiration to write the book, Batool answered, “After 14 years of moving my jaw in a different fashion trying to speak English with my kids, I wondered- is this what my future generations will speak?” She initially wrote a few pages for her own boys, and gradually decided to write a whole book for the other Kashmiri children around the globe. She believes that as the book has helped her own children, it will help many others as well. In this good faith, Zarka Batool has given us what should have been present from long before.

 

We are thankful to Batool for her loving & great gift to Kashmiri children as well as parents. All of us need to instill in us the importance of our language and understand that we are solely responsible for the future of Koshur. If we pass it on to our children, they will pass it on to there and the culture will survive. There are various platforms like television, school, internet, etc., for them to learn other languages but there is only parents and guides like Batool’s “Basic Spoken Kashmir” and great linguist and researcher Braj Bihari Kachru’s An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri”.

Note: You can buy Batools’s book at Amazon. 

Braj Bihari Kachru, Linguist, Kashmiri Linguist

Remembering the Great Kashmiri Professor Braj Bihari Kachru

When we talk about the youth of Kashmir, their achievements and fame; we can’t leave behind the source of inspirations that guides them. It is the mixture of tradition and individual talent that propagates ones insight. We are all aware of our heroes like Sonam Wangchuk (Engineer, Innovator etc.), Zinda Kaul (Poet, Writer and Teacher), Anupam Kher (Actor & Chairman of FTII), Professor Amitabh Mattoo (writer- on international relations), Ustad Allarakha Qureshi (tabla player), etc. It’s time to remember and honor one of the most precious gem of the Valley, Professor and Linguist Braj Bihari Kachru.

Personal Life and childhood memories 

Braj Kachru’s father, Damodar Das Kachru, was an educator and much respected in the neighbourhood. He was lovingly called Lala Sahab. But, Kachru’s mother didn’t live much longer to see her son succeed as she died when he was only five years old. Born in 1932, Braj, was greatly influenced by his father’s status in society. He learned to be humble
and patient from him. Also, he had the opportunity to surround himself with the company of the famous Kashmiri writer and poet Zinda Kaul, who was very good friends with his father. Hence, Kachru was inspired by his elders and acquaintances, as the youth today is inspired by him!

Kachru’s Life as A Scholar
Kachru was Professor of Linguistics, Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Center for Advanced Study Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana. The achievements of Kachru are enormous. He has authored and edited around twenty-five books. As a Linguistic professor, Kachru has studied and researched in the field of World Englishes,
including Asian, and one of his most influential research is based in the study of Kashmiri Language. His book “An Introduction to spoken Kashmiri” stands evident of his association and belonging to his motherland.

 

Koshur. Kashmiri Language, Kashmiri

 

Kachru has pioneered the study of “Koshur” (Kashmiri Language) and dedicated his pedagogy of spoken Kashmiri to his linguistic inclination. His work acts as a metaphorical support to the valley’s dying mother tongue. This article is an ode to the incredible Professor Kachru his indelible impression and charismatic raconteur. He was also a kind and caring mentor, a warm and supporting colleague, an imaginative institution builder and a confident, fearless, visionary intellectual. Even after his tragic demise in 2016, we as Kashmiris feel proud about his omniscient presence in our lives through his works. May his soul rest in peace!