A blog to recommend

A friend of mine, Rémy LeBeau (unfortunately, it seems that’s not the name in his papers) apart from the very promising-but-hibernated blog on Pashto runs a blog which is generally worth reading.

One of his last entries, on the language situation in Afghanistan as well as disproportionate focus of Western academia on Iranian (actually Tehrani) Persian which in practice translates to neglect other varieties, deserves a particular attention, just as the article which prompted it (also on the language issue in Afghanistan but from the perspective of an US officer). Why? Because what they say rings true, and is quite rarely said.

My two cents:  On one hand, given the disparity between Iran and Afghanistan in population, economic potential, literacy levels and emigration patterns, it is no wonder most departments of Persian Language and Culture focus on Iran and Iranian Persian. Quite similar argument can be made for Dari vs. Pashto. However, the dangers of looking at people  only through the lenses of their neighbours’ language need to be stressed.

An astray thought: Poles should know about it well. For obvious reasons, most scholars of Slavic languages and cultures worldwide (and especially in the West) start their journey with Russian (I personally would recommend Russian over Polish to any foreign learner who has no special reasons/prior preference), and in the process, many of them acquire through a kind of osmosis, internalise  and  hold as their own, the Russian views on Eastern European history, politics and culture, many of which (the views) smell to us as neo-imperialist and plain dangerous. Sorry for that digression, I guess the bottom line is: if you want to learn about the Pashtuns, ask them themselves, not people they have had a troubled realationship with.

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