Frame 4d. A study of urban versus rural language codes in Balochistan

Aim 1

Prof. Carina Jahani, Uppsala University, Dept. of Linguistics and Philology; Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz, Dept. of Linguistics and Philology; Dr. Serge Axenov, St. Petersburg. Consultant: Dr. Agnes Korn, University of Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.

The aim of the project is to:

•study written and spoken Balochi both in urban and rural frameworks
•describe important structural and lexical differences between spoken Balochi in rural and urban settings
•describe important structural and lexical differences between oral Balochi literature (rural setting) and written Balochi literature (from urban centres), particularly syntactic differences.
•study the structure of factual prose in comparison with written literature

Benefit of achieved aim

•A clearer picture of different types of language (spoken, oral literary, written literary).
•A better understanding of linguistic change in the urbanization process
•A clearer picture of what registers of language a complex syntactic structure is to be found.
During the study we also hope to get a better understanding of mechanisms that promote urbanization in Balochistan, such as drought, environmental changes, promotion of a more urban way of life by means of TV and Internet, education, changes in infrastructure etc.

Scope of study
The chronology of the study is difficult to pinpoint. Folktales have been told from time immemorial but we will work on tales that have been gathered during the past 50 years. We assume, though, that they are at least several hundred years old. The written literature is contemporary. Urbanisation is taking place in Balochistan right at present. The spoken language is also contemporary, but also here we must observe that we are working both with rural informants (with no knowledge of reading and writing) and with urban informants (1st or 2nd generation educated). Geography is Balochi speaking areas of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Intellectual background – previous research
The project draws on theoretical suggestions about oral and written language by Walter Ong,(1982) discussed and criticized by Bo Utas (2006). Ong holds that there is a fundamental difference between the “oral” and the “literate” mind. Utas, however, finds that such a conclusion is hard to draw on the basis of oral versus written literature in Iranian languages, and that both oral and written literature reflect normalized language. Our attempt will here be to provide a case study of oral and written as well as spoken (both rural and urban) language. In this way, we hope to be able to contribute to the discussion referred to above.

Oral data (dialogue, non-literary narration, oral literature) will be taken down to writing and analysed
Written data (oral literature already existing in written form and written literature as well as factual prose) will be analysed
The different types of language will be compared and conclusions will be drawn

As for material on Balochi, a considerable amount of research and compilation of oral literature has been done by e.g. M. Longworth Dames, I. I. Zarubin, Josef Elfenbein, Behrooz Barjasteh, Serge Axenov, and Baloch culturally active persons.

Balochi written literature is available mostly from Pakistan. We have a good selection of books and journals at our disposal in Uppsala. We also have numerous recordings of speech (partly recorded also in written form, partly not) both from educated and uneducated speakers.

Expected results
A chapter to be included in the book The Urban Mind. Cultural and Environmental Dynamics.

What the actual result of the research will be is still unknown. A hypothesis is that oral literature will have a position between non-literary narration and written literature, e.g. syntactic structures somewhat similar to written literature, but a vocabulary closer to the spoken language. Another hypothesis is that there will be a considerable difference in the influence from the national language on the spoken language of literate and illiterate informants.