Orthography Conference

Kalasha Orthography Conference, December 2000

With great energy and enthusiasm, Anna provided the impetus for the next crucial stage. Her encouragement and urging led the Coopers to convene a conference in Islamabad in December 2001, to present both Arabic and Roman orthographies alternatively, from an objective linguistic point of view, to a representative delegation of Kalasha teachers, students, elders and other interested individuals (21 in all). On New Year's Eve the vote was cast a second time, with Roman script resulting as the unanimous choice again, so 1 January 2001 dawned with the official birth of a written medium for the Kalasha language. The rest of the conference was devoted to the practical implementation of this script and alphabet, and the establishment of orthographic conventions.

In 2003, after considerable adaptation from the original Urdu-script edition, the Kalasha Alphabet book was published in a new Roman-script edition (Kal'as'a Alibe), sponsored by the Mesogaia Foundation in Athens. Many people have contributed in many ways to make this unique foundational book a reality.

We acknowledge the inestimable value of the Kalasha oral traditions and literature. These cannot be, and should not be, entirely replaced by written form. The Kalasha alphabet will help to document them, not to replace them.

To all those who have contributed their expertise, their funds, their time, their talents, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your generous commitment to this vision.

The original Persian-script alphabet and books are still available for any Kalasha-speaking communities who, in future, may prefer to use them.

Now that the Kalasha people have a way of writing their own, delightful language, we sincerely hope that this edition of the alphabet book will serve the current 5 Kalasha schools well, and that the very fast-growing number of literate Kalasha men and women will, in the not-too-distant future, be writing and publishing their own books themselves.

May they make many beautiful, noble books together.

Elsa and Greg Cooper