This new project is an initiative by Silk Road Centre to mobilize the small community of 400 people in Pakistan’s Hunza valley to revive their ancient language. They have stopped using their own language in private and public domains because of stigma attached to it. Once spoken in many villages, this Old Indic language is dying. The project will collect words and develop learning materials to teach the language to younger generations. The community elders will support organizing teaching and learning activities.
The community in northern Pakistan’s Mominabad village is knowingly switching over to other languages of the area because of ‘culture-shame’ about their language. Low status of their language and profession as musicians and artisans, is the community’s biggest reason to avoid using it in public. Because of its name, Domaaki, the community perceives it as inferior. It literally means the language of low-castes. In the absence of serious language revival efforts, we are working to revive it.
The Silk Road Centre has already achieved some success by motivating the community to work towards language revival. The community has renamed the language as Dawoodi and formed a language protection committee. The project will further the work by collecting words and stories in Dawoodi and developing language learning materials. These materials include a Dawoodi dictionary and primer. The project will organize teaching and learning activities to teach the language to the youth of Mominabad.
This pioneering initiative will not only raise the status of the language but will also revive its use among the last 400 speakers of the highly talented Mominabad community. Language learning materials produced through the project will enable future generations to continue to use the language with pride in their identity. Our initiative will be the first and foremost step to stop further loss of oral literature, sayings, proverbs, riddles and beautiful songs in Dawoodi.