Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dipping into Potwari literacy practices

Potwaris, if they are literate at all--and I don't know the percentages, but it is a lot of them who are literate--are literate in Urdu. Almost no-one, by contrast, uses Potwari for reading and writing much at all. Literacy means Urdu.

Since we're being nurtured into Potwari practices, that includes--at the right time and in the right functions--being nurtured into Potwari literacy practices, i.e., their practices of reading and writing Urdu. Keeping the time dimension in view, it wouldn't make any sense to worry about this in Phase 1. If Potwaris were literate in Potwari then, as you know, we'd just learn the names of the letters, Dirty-Dozen style, in Phase 1. We say that the letters, like bottles and axes and pillows, are pieces of life in a literate languacultural word, piece of life with names (such as a, b, c...). But it turns out, it is Urdu letters that are pieces of Potwari life.

Since we already know some Urdu, though, there is nothing wrong with learning the names of the Urdu letters in Potwari. This was mainly for Angela. She learned to recognise the letters, in their word medial forms. It is a frustration for her, anyway, that she can't read Urdu. And since that is a Potwari practice, why not start taking it on? She has got her start on that now, in Potwari supercharged participation sessions, recognising how important Urdu letters and Urdu written texts are in Potwari life.