Created Kashmiri-English dictionary online all for the love of reviving Kashur her mother tongue. But why?
"People think that their native language does not help them in their academics, and the lack of Urdu and English language skills leads to unemployment in future, which is not correct. Research has proven that mother tongue not only develops a child’s personal and social identity, it also helps them enhance their critical thinking and literacy skills. Learning the mother tongue also helps in acquiring a better understanding of the curriculum. From a linguistic point of view, all languages are equal. “I believe it is wrong to judge the value of one against another.” says Asiya Hassan, the saviour of "Kāshur", Kashmir's native language.
Kāshur is Kashmir's language that has been facing neglect by Kashmiris themselves. Kashmiris can speak Käshur but cannot read or write the language. Kāshur's existence has been withering and a few language lovers are making efforts to bring Kāshur back to life. 29-year-old Asiya Hassan's story throws light on various attempts people like her have been making to serve the local language. Asiya is trying to ensure that Kashmiris get connected to their mother tongue and develop LSRW skills. She says, any learning - be it other languages or academic subjects - starts with learning the mother tongue.
Asiya Hassan was born in Pampore. She lives in Malaysia. She works as a Graphic Designer who is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Business Administration in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Encounter with the Problem:
More than a decade ago, when Asiya was teaching Kāshur to her nephew who was born and raised out of Kashmir, she happened to search for the online resources that could help him understand the language better. It came as a shock to Asiya when she did not find any. "I found out that the information about our language on the internet is quite limited. I could barely find any good, complete sources.", she recollected. This Kashmiri graphic designer wanted to do something about it. She wanted to create content online, make it creative and available for the people looking for online Kāshur language resources. Though she hasn't consulted any language experts, she took the help of Kashmiri dictionary, academic books and other resources. She started with designing and printing flashcards for her nephew and went on to create an Instagram page in the year 2017. This page started at a basic level whose followers have been slowly increasing with various interactive learning activities aimed at promoting the mother tongue happening on the platform. She recently started a website called www.kashmiridictionary.org using the official script along with Roman transliteration, English translation, audio and word examples, the first-ever audio-visual online Kashmiri to English dictionary.
Grateful For the Support:
Asiya extends her gratefulness to everyone who has been of great support throughout her journey that's going to continue on a shoreless path forever. She starts with her family and acknowledges the support of the web developer, Mudasir Ali (@mudasirali). "It would not have been possible without his support. He has done a commendable job,” she says. She also extends her gratitude to Zubair Lone (@zubairlone), Mohammad Faysal (@aatishechinar) and Imran Qazi for their invaluable support, and guidance.
Asiya says that she has been receiving positive feedback for her work. She mentioned the comments of an instagrammer @ihsernanah who wrote, “Learning to read a language I can already speak is weirdly fun”. "It is an interesting comment. The user has a point. We know how to speak Kashmiri but when it comes to writing it, we are largely unaware and clueless," says Asiya.
Another Instagram user @arshanqazi wrote, “Thank you for existing on Instagram as a page.”
"I am glad to learn that people are appreciating my work and it means a lot to me", says Asiya with gleeful eyes. She says that she is grateful to the over 13,000 Kashmiri Dictionary followers for their immense support and love. "They all make me feel that this is the right thing to do and so, I stay motivated to come up with the best I can.", says Asiya. With this initiative of Asiya, many people started getting influenced and have set to create similar pages to promote the language.
Asiya says that the existence of mother tongues has to be preserved. Something that starts from home should be carried forward by schools. The teaching of Kashmiri in the schools, she says, should be increased by including cultural activities in the curriculum. She urges everyone to take pride in mother tongue and work collaboratively towards its enhancement. She says that while having been able to converse fluently in English and Urdu is appreciated, the young generation should also know that learning the mother tongue keeps them connected to their roots.
The change should start from somewhere. Reformation and revitalization should begin with someone. That someone is ready to go to any extent in order to protect her mother tongue from losing her identity.
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