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Dr. Yahya wardak’s & Mr Zmarai Mohaqeq´s  interview with Voice of America (VOA – Ashna Radio)

interview with VOA (Ashna Radio in 2022

Dear listeners, Welcome. This is VOA’s (Voice of America) Ashna Radio.

Dear listeners! Today’s Situation program usually includes reports and interviews about the status of your home, village, region, and country. Today, a scientific meeting was held in Denmark on the importance and strength of the mother tongue. We would like to thank the participants of this meeting, Dr. Yahya Wardak and Zmarai Mohaqiq Sahib.

We are going to talk about family, international and regional issues which are affecting the lives of ordinary people.

authorities‘ answers to your questions and expert recommendations.

on-air (live) from Sunday to Thursday at 6:05 p.m. from Washington, D.C. (VOA).

Once again, greetings!

Dear listeners, welcome!

We have the Today and Situation program. Today we are talking about a topic that is a natural human right and is important to everyone in every society.

It is the mother tongue that human beings learn to speak and solve all their problems from beginning to end. Therefore, the importance of the mother tongue is very high, and the role of scholars and linguists is very important in, how to preserve the mother tongue, how to serve it, and how other people can understand its value?

These are the topics on which conferences are always held and discussed. In this series, the last time, an academic meeting was held in Denmark, many people participated in it.

To the extent that we have little information, not only Afghans but also foreigners have participated, spoken, and read scientific papers at this scientific conference. For the sake of understanding more in detail, what did these scholars say? We invited two guests.

One of the two people who attended the meeting is Dr. Yahya Wardak, and the other is Zmarai Mohaqiq. Let’s see if they come to the program or not.

Interviewer: Welcome, Mr. Yahya Wardak. Greetings!

Yahya Wardak: God bless you. Greetings to you! We are both sitting together behind the telephone!

Interviewer: Are you Dr. Yahya Wardak?

Yahya Wardak: Yes, I am Dr. Yahya Wardak.

Interviewer: Are you a doctor of medicine, or of language and politics?

Yahya Wardak: I am a doctor.

Interviewer: Good! So it is good to say that Yahya Wardak, our guest, has taken part in the conference (mother tongue conference). We are aware that many people at this meeting spoke about the importance of the mother tongue. Who were the other foreigners at this meeting? Did they talk about the importance of the mother tongue in general or…?

Yahya Wardak: Finn Tessen, a Norwegian professor of foreign languages, is a linguist who has learned about 25 languages ​​and is also an Iranian scholar. He (Finn Tessen) speaks fluent Persian and is fluent in Pashto. He can also speak Turkish, Hindi, and other languages. He came here to attend the meeting, and until a few years ago, he was also a language teacher at the University of Oslo. Another was Cornelia Lemon from Germany, who also has a project within the framework of the European Union on mother tongue and its identity with five other Afghan communities.

Interviewer: Good! So, these two people are foreigners?

Yahya Wardak: Yes!

Interviewer: You live in Denmark, right?

Yahya Wardak: No, Cornelia Lehmann and I came from Germany, and there are another three groups who came from Vienna and Austria.

Interviewer: Good!

Yahya Wardak: And a few others came from Sweden, such as Rasulzada Sahib, and came from Denmark.

Interviewer: Good! Thank you.

Now I would like to greet another brother, Zmarai Mohaqiq.

Mr. Mohaqiq Sahib, Hello, can you hear me?

Mr. Mohaqiq: Hello

Interviewer: Welcome to the program. The introduction has already been done, and the listeners know what topic we are talking about today (mother tongue, the importance of maintaining the mother tongue). The program you had today, was an academic meeting. In this program, where researchers and linguists have spoken and given opinions, both the guests shed some light on it.

Coming back to the topic (mother tongue) of this conference, what is the importance of the mother tongue, and why is it important?

Mohaqiq saheb, if you please!

Mr. Mohaqiq: Yes, yes! I should say that we had planned a program in December last year before this conference, but it was postponed because of Corona.

Interviewer: Yes!

We would have been meeting online at the time, and we didn’t succeed in doing that, physically (face-to-face), until finally in Bonn. Some time ago, we came together with all five unions and we met there. The Afghan Cultural Society is hosting and organising the event, which is the second gathering of people in Denmark in a week.

Interviewer: Good!

Mr. Mohaqiq: I want to talk a little bit more about this, but don’t I talk too much about language?

Interviewer: I say, talk about the importance of the mother tongue. What did you hear in this conference and what else did they say? It would be important to our listeners. Why is the mother tongue so important in the world?

Mr. Mohaqiq: yes! This is a very important question. My study was also about the importance of language, and why it is important for the world. We have examined the views of scholars on this subject, as Mandela emphasizes that „If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.“ If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart“. We have studied this subject with reference to other scholars, but I shared my natural experience with them, my friends from Denmark, the Netherlands, America, and all other places, who are learning different languages, including German. The thing is, they all got together at one time in Washington, and they had a lot of problems. They didn’t learn their mother tongue, one was fluent in Dutch and the other was fluent in German, since there was no practical understanding between these young people and their relatives. Here, I realized the importance of mother tongue and realized how important it is. Therefore, we have discussed the importance of the mother tongue in various fields.

Interviewer: Good. The mother tongue is important in this view. Is that so?

Mr. Mohaqiq: Yes, the other thing is that the scholars are also emphasizing this point. Statistics show that children who have not forgotten their mother tongue are more intelligent, have a better ability to learn other languages, and are also said to be better at math.

Interviewer: Yes, but what is the reason for this?

Mr. Mohaqiq, this is the result of scientific research and interviews.

Interviewer: means, there will be a scientific reason for this. Children who have learned their mother tongue are intelligent and capable. What will be the scientific reason for this?

Mr. Mohaqiq: Yes. In Sweden, an organization called IQB surveyed thousands of people and published the findings in newspapers. They have claimed this and have aired it on Denmark’s television, which is very important. But the thing is, our union’s cultural community has courses here. They have been doing this for 4 years at their own expense and initiative.

In some countries, financial support is also provided. For example, in some schools in Sweden, the mother tongue is in addition to the official language; if it is Persian or Pashto, it is taught and the teachers are paid for it. The same is true in Austria.

Interviewer: Good.

But our union in Denmark is doing this at its own expense and with financial support.

Interviewer: Good! Thank you very much.

Wardak Saheb, What would you say? What is your opinion? Why do you think the mother tongue is important? However, I would also like to ask, how to keep and preserve the mother tongue? There are many ways to keep it. In particular, in countries where there are wars, crises, and political and military evolutions, people move from place to place, and living conditions are such that they cannot learn their mother tongue as required. And such people Can’t read or write. What do you think about the solution?

Yahya Wardak: Yes! As stated; If one learns their mother tongue well, other languages ​​are well learned. Another thing is that when children grow up and reach puberty, they think about themselves, their family, and their place of origin (homeland) and pay attention to their identity. If they know their own language, culture, and country, and know where I or my parents come from has a very positive effect on them and on their personality building. Because here in these communities, sometimes German children say to our children, „You are not German.“ When our children come home and say, „We are Afghans.“ How can we be Afghanis while we do not know Afghanistan? Do you not know any Afghan languages ​​(Pashto, Dari, and other languages…)?

Interviewer: Or sometimes he says, „Why am I not in my homeland?“

Yahya Wardak: It has a positive effect on personality building. Another advantage is that once they have learned their language, it is worth a university degree. In the future when this person works in the same place, he will find twice as many good jobs, because he has learned another language and can work well with other people.

 Knowing the language of any country, one can do good business (import and export and other jobs) in that country, go to that country, work there, and there are many reasons why we should learn our mother tongue.

Coming to the second question, how can language be kept?

Interviewer: Yes, maintaining the mother tongue is important.

Yahya Wardak: There are many ways to save it. the most important way is for parents to speak with them in their mother tongue from the first or the first day of life together and to speak to the child in the mother tongue after the child is born. Unfortunately, in the West (I myself am in Germany) I find that many parents speak German with their children. Even Germans and other scholars say don’t do that! Even if the children are small, parents should speak to them in their own language, which is very effective and children can learn their mother tongue very easily and for free.  parents and siblings should speak with children in their mother tongue.

Another important point is that parents need to teach their children to read and write in addition to speaking abroad in the country because you and I in Afghanistan say that the literate is the one who can read and write, so learning the language means that the language must be read and written, and in the future, he/she can work and study with it.

 Their parents and the home environment, which is the primary school, as well as Afghan families living abroad, Afghan communities should also provide systematic courses for their children. We need to create standard and good-quality textbooks for these courses, which will be our next project. To provide good quality and standard teaching materials for these courses. So far there are different textbooks, chapters, and books in different countries, the quality of which is very variable. Some are good and some are not.

We talked about this at the conference, and the goal of our future joint efforts is to provide good quality textbooks, teaching materials, and topics for language learning.

Interviewer: Wardak Saheb, thank you very much! It became clear, how to preserve the language.

What is the importance of language preservation? I would like to ask Mohaqiq Saheb to give his opinion in this regard, who is responsible for parents and family, and society? Who can serve the mother tongue? In one country there will be different ethnic groups and different languages. This is another responsibility, but who has the second responsibility? And in the case of education that should be earned taught in their language, it is the right of all, as both Pashto and Dari are the official languages ​​in Afghanistan, in some places from the first to the fourth to the fifth-grade teaching and learning is in the mother tongue. in the language, the areas where all the subjects were in Pashto, one of the subjects of the students would be Dari, or also in the areas where all the subjects were in Dari, one subject would be Pashto. And that is what will be taught. On this basis, in our nation, students will be able to learn, read and write both languages ​​(Pashto and Dari). Who do you think is responsible after the family?

Mr. Mohaqiq: Yes, of course! Even after the family, all the open-minded people, who understand the importance of language, as we have said before about the importance of language; They have to look after the issue along with the families and some institutions have a responsibility to help the people in setting up the courses. This does not mean that the mother tongue should be kept alive. Rather, they should be assisted in literacy across the country.

So, the institutions and all the free-thinking youth, who are living in foreign countries, should pay serious attention to this point. Departed Mohammad Gul Mohammad, who said: „Learning another language is a great accomplishment and forgetting one’s own language is an imperfection.“ Therefore, they should always pay attention to their language learning. we already said that scholars are also emphasizing this point, that statistics have proved that we are owners of one language.

Interviewer: Apologies! Your main emphasis is on how Afghans living abroad should preserve their mother tongue. Some international organizations are also working on the protection and importance of language, which they have also emphasized, and another issue is that governments have a responsibility to make their people aware of which languages are important. What languages do they speak, how should they be maintained and what number of programs should be created for them?

Mr. Mohaqiq: We are gathered today, but this is one that is supported materially by the European Union. Who came here, these unions pay the expenses and are supported by them, why is that? In order to develop and expand these courses. Yesterday all the foreign guests from these unions visited the cultural courses in Denmark, looked at their books, we and they shared their experiences with each other and we insisted on having a definite teaching system. Because in one place where one number of books is read for learning Pashto and Dari, in other place is different in use.

Some of us have been criticized and there has been a lot of discussion on how to come up with a solution for these courses in the future. And how much financial support do all these things require from governments? So, some countries like Sweden, Austria etc … are working hard for this.

But in Denmark, unfortunately, this issue has not been taken into consideration, so the union wants to share its suggestions with the local authorities so that they can pay attention to this issue and make the process go ahead smoothly.

Interviewer: Thank you. Now, for languages, it is a matter of many indigenous languages that are almost destroyed, efforts are still being made to revive those languages, so keep the languages that are said to be spoken by the people. But it is very important to foster them as much as possible to develop them, but the method must be measured, how to develop the language? So now it is the world of the internet; 21st century here but there will be more tools and there will be more ways, I want to hear the opinion of Mr. Mohaqiq, what is your opinion? What will be the methods?

Mr. Mohaqiq: Yes, we are really aware of the use of these new methods and tools of the media. We are also focusing on these online meetings and these physical meetings, which we are not convinced that only these courses be created here, we also do online work for them. they also have online courses, how do we develop them? How do keep online teenagers, whose language is being forgotten and lost, alive? That is why we have a work and program agenda and we are always working on it and we have succeeded to a certain extent and we want to move forward.

Interviewer: Thank you.

Wardak Saheb! Now when it comes to the media, what is being written and said on Facebook and other social networks on the Internet in Pashto and Dari is often criticized, which has been affected by the 40-year war and changes have been made in the structure of these languages. Therefore, corrections should be made in these languages. what do you think? You say, all the books should be looked at and some kind of standard books should be written and the teaching materials and books should not be different, the lessons should be coherent. Who can do this?

Yahya Wardak: Yes! For the past 40 years of war and other reasons, Afghans have been dispersed in Afghanistan and other countries, but for other languages ​​there is a definite central scholarly authority in other countries, focusing on language, language development and works consistently. Unfortunately, there is not a single agency in Afghanistan that works continuously in these areas. Anyone who says anything or uses a new word, anyone who makes a linguistic rule (principle) everywhere, just uses the same, five people favor one, and five people favor another. So this expansion is mostly going in different directions. Therefore, there is a need for these Afghan scholars (although now distributed all over the world) to work together through the Internet and the media.

Interviewer: Thank you very much. This means it is the job of scholars and linguists to pay attention to this area and start working on it.

Good! Thank you both Yahya Wardak and Zmarai Mohaqiq for speaking on the importance, value, and protection of the mother tongue and for informing our listeners. God bless you both.

The program ended here.

Mr. Mohaqiq: Thank you too.

Interviewer: Thank you too. goodbye!

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