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The texts were prepared as finished stories in time for the First Kalasha Orthography Conference. (It was really more like a workshop). We prepared them in both Roman script and Urdu-style script, with illustrations, as draft booklets, planning for one ‘story’ per book. We wanted to give them an idea of how the two scripts would finally look, and give them experience reading the texts, to see how the scripts worked for them.

During our two weeks there prior to the conference I did check the stories with several Kalasha men who were staying in Islamabad for the conference. We did a little editing, so that all the men there agreed that the language was suitable for younger children, and the grammar was natural and undiluted with Urdu or Khowar. (Unfortunately I am pretty sure a few ‘borrowed’ words have slipped in anyway.) Some illustrations were drawn by Taj Khan (Bumburet) and Sarawat Shah (Rumbur).

Siu (bridge) by Sarawat


Siu (bridge) by Sarawat

Once the Script was chosen it was only a matter of waiting to see if the orthography was going to “work” well. After 2000 we spent some years emailing back and forth with various Kalasha people, and generally practising both writing and reading the script. There wasn’t a lot to read of course, so it was slow at first, which allowed details to be ironed out. The orthography worked well in email, and soon we had finalised the general spelling issues, and the diacritics too.

The alphabet book was being taught by a very enthusiastic and capable new Kalasha reader, Talim Khan. He urged us that it was time for further texts, and that our set of structured primers was needed.  Due to the urgency, we took a look at the texts we had gathered over the years and decided. The conversation stories would be the most suitable text we could publish, and the quickest, considering the urgency to have something to read in Kalasha.

So now it has been done!  Talim Khan carried the 400 newly printed copies all the way from Islamabad to the valleys. He has given Kal’as’a Mashkulgi to 40 students in the Greek-founded school in Kraka’. They were delighted with them. Talim Khan says that the fourth graders who received them could read them straight away! This is a testimony to his good teaching, and also to the success of the orthography.