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Prof. Braj B. Kachru
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An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Preface


 
READ  ME  FIRST THE SOUNDS OF KASHMIRI

In writing a pedagogically-oriented manual for learning a language, it is claimed that an author generally has a specific type of consumer in mind. These consumers are defined, for example, according to their age group or first language identification, or in terms of their goals for specialization in a particular second language. If one is guided by the latter category in planning a textbook, such a textbook is termed a "register-oriented" textbook. However, the producer of pedagogically-oriented materials soon learns that a pedagogue's partiality for particular types of language learning materials is a very personal matter. It is like one's preference for a particular vintage of wine or a pinch of special spice in a curry. Perhaps that explains why there still is no agreement on a theory of materials production. This may also be the reason that there is not a generally acceptable theory of mother-tongue or second language teaching. It is, therefore, not surprising that even now the following words of Henry Sweet, written in 1899, continue to be true:

In fact, things are altogether unsettled both as regards methods and textbooks.  This is a good sign: it gives a promise of survival of the fittest. Anything is better than artificial uniformity enforced from without. (The Practical Study of Languages: A Guide for Teachers and Learners, [London, Dent, 1899], p. 3)
There are innumerable manuals and textbooks for teaching of western languages (e.g., English), yet, the urge to produce more -- both for the western and non-western consumer -- is unlimited. One reason for this ever increasing production of textbooks is that every intelligent teacher and student has his own ideas of what makes an ideal textbook. (If there is a general agreement on a textbook, that is an accomplishment for the author.) Thus, the field of textbook writing continues to be very individualistic. 

The tentative and exaggerated nature of contemporary theories, methods and techniques of textbook writing has not helped the situation. It seems to us that the primary reason for this state of the art is that we still have not gained meaningful answers to the basic theoretical and applied questions which are relevant to the textbook writing. For example, there are such questions as: What are the processes which are involved in the first (or second) language acquisition? or, What are the theoretical prerequisites for producing a satisfactory textbook for various types of learners? 

We started with the above digression in order to point out that this manual has been produced for that consumer who is primarily interested in learning the Kashmiri language as a tool of cultural interaction in typically Kashmiri situations. The age group, the individuals specialization, or the learner's particular first language, did not play a serious role in the planning. The book is, however, written for the non-Kashmiris who are not familiar with either the Kashmiri language or the distinct culture of the Kashmiris. 

In teaching the western languages, a teacher and a learner has, at least, a wide choice in selection of the materials, since the tradition of the textbook writing in these languages is very old. The situation in the teaching materials for the non-western languages, especially those of South Asia, is very discouraging, in terms of both their quality and their availability. Among the non-western languages, Kashmiri presents a unique problem: there are practically no teaching materials available for this language. This manual is, therefore, the first attempt to initiate pedagogical material for it. 

This book has been written with a very modest goal in mind: that of presenting the language materials for Kashmiri in Kashmiri cultural settings. We have not attempted to present a new approach to the teaching of a non-western language, far from it. If any such approach emerges out of this book, that is unintentional. The general organization of this book has been discussed in the section entitled "Notes on the plan of this manual." 

The lack of any previous tradition of pedagogical materials for Kashmiri--for learning it as a first or second language--has made the author's job particularly difficult. In Kashmir where Kashmiri is natively spoken by about two million people, Kashmiri has not attained any serious status in the educational system of the state. It is the only state in India in which a non-native language has been recognized by the legislature of the state as the state language. 

This manual may be used either for classroom teaching or for those wanting a self-instructional course. In the bibliography we have included a list of the supplementary materials which a teacher and/or a learner might find useful. An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri has developed out of an ongoing research project on the Kashmiri language at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We are circulating this preliminary edition to interested scholars in Kashmir and elsewhere, with the hope that their comments will help us in revising it in order to provide a better manual in the future. These materials have all the limitations and inadequacies which such language materials have that have not been tried for a prolonged period in the actual classroom situation. We propose to use this manual at the University of Illinois in a course entitled "Introduction to Kashmiri" to be offered in the Summer 1973. We will be pleased if this manual initiates interest in the teaching and research in Kashmiri in Kashmir and elsewhere; subhastu te panthanah santu.

BRAJ B. KACHRU
Urbana, Illinois
June, 1973


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