Songs of revitalization

CHITRAL: FLI has taken another step towards revitalizing Yadgha, a severely endangered language of Chitral, by producing songs to attract the youth of the community.

“There has been no tradition of singing in our language as Yadgha used to be considered a religious language after being associated with the great saint, Pir Nasir Khusro,” says Alaudin Haidery, a Yadgha language poet at the launching ceremony of Yadgha songs at the Public Library in Chitral.

The language’s inaugural song, produced in collaboration with FLI, was unveiled as part of a seminar organized by FLI at on May 5, 2024.

FLI gathered a few Yadgha language poets and facilitated them in writing lyrics for the language’s first-ever songs, which were to be produced in a studio.

Out of seven lyrics, four were selected, along with a singer who also happened to be a poet. The consensus was that the initial song should focus on the community and language to attract the younger generation, emphasizing the importance of uniqueness and inclusivity.

Haidery, the first poet of the language, penned the lyrics which were then approved by other elders of the community. The song, starting with “Yadgha,” was designated as the title track of the album. Three more songs in the Yadgha language are in the final stages of production and will be shared soon.

Yadgha is spoken in the Lotkuh valley of Chitral, connected with Zebak, Afghanistan, through the Durah pass, about 1,480 meters above sea level. The Yadgha people migrated to this area from the Munjan valley of Afghanistan about 500 years ago.

With an estimated 6,000 Yadgha speakers, they are a minority in the predominantly Khowar-speaking region. Yadgha faces the threat of extinction as more people switch to using Khowar, and in some villages, Yadgha is no longer being passed down to the next generation.

FLI has been striving to prevent the language’s extinction. Previously, it implemented a year-long project on Yadgha, training a few people from the community in language documentation, providing a writing system for the language, and offering preliminary documentation.

FLI has also supported the ‘Pathak’ festival of the Yadgha community annually and organized ‘Writer’s Workshops’ for the community’s youth. An Android keyboard has also been developed for Yadgha language speakers.

As the latest step in revitalization, four songs in the language have been produced, with the hope that the community’s youth will reconnect with their native tradition and embrace their culture and language.


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