The Beginning

In 1982, Australian linguist Greg Cooper went to the Kalasha Valleys, in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, to learn and research the Kalasha language. He was soon joined by American linguist Ron Trail, with the same interest, and together they analysed the sounds of the language, discovered its phonemes, and researched its lexicology, grammar and discourse. Greg began to develop a Persian-style alphabet and created Urdu-based fonts for Kalasha on computer. That script was chosen for its ease of literacy transfer with Urdu, the national language of Pakistan and the medium of education in the district. Roman script at that time seemed to connote imported foreign culture. Indeed, the Kalasha language informants, some of whom were already partially educated in Urdu, expressed a clear preference for the Urdu-based script.

In 1985, Greg married Elsa, an Australian teacher also trained in field linguistics, who quickly began to learn the Kalasha language and its Persian-style script, experiencing first-hand what it was like to learn to read as an adult.