FLI started the standardization work for the languages spoken in its target area (Northern Pakistan) with initiation of steps to standardize the spelling system of Khowar language. The three-day workshop, jointly held with the Mother tongue Initiative for Education and Research (MIER) and the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Khowar (ATK) took off in Chitral town today taking up the introduction of spell checking on digital devices for the language. Availability of spellchecker to the writers of the language will facilitate writing of Khowar language on digital devices providing consistency in the writing system and unified orthography. Some known Khowar writers, researchers and activists named Prof Mumtaz Hussain, Javed Iqbal, Afsar Ali Khan and Farid Ahmad Raza were among those attending the activity. FLI is being represented by its executive director, Fakhruddin Akhunzada in the event.
The lesser known languages of the region face issues like chaotic spelling system where the writers find no standardized phrasing to follow while writing their manuscripts which hinders the evolution of writing system by confusing the readers and new writers. To make the writing system orderly, reaching an agreement on a unified writing system is of high importance which will lay foundation of a smooth evolution. For the purpose the on-going initiative has been started. During this first step, around twenty thousand words of Khowar have been collected from various printed/ published materials which will be standardized to be used in future on digital devices. Later on, the inflicted form of the words will be added and the number of words will be raised to forty thousands.
The Khowar Language was first used to write a century ago, and so far, hundreds of books and journals have been published in language. The language is also part of government school curriculum and is taught up to the grade 5 in government schools in the province. More than half a million people speak Khowar in Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan and Swat as their native language.