Posts Tagged ‘Dari’

An Afghan recruit studies literacy course material *

Afghan soldiers with literacy instruction materials **

In Afghanistan, NATO and Afghan Security Forces face ruthless and determined insurgents.

But they also face an almost unbelievable lack of literacy

As Col William Gerhard of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) points out, soldiers must be able to shoot, move, and communicate.  But in Afghanistan, these necessities are made even more difficult because only 14 percent of new recruits can read or write.  In fact, many cannot identify the letters in their name nor the serial number of their weapon…

But NTM-A is working to change that.  Their Afghan National Security Forces literacy program enables more effective training, serves as an important recruiting tool, and helps install the rule of law while reducing the impact of corruption.

Eventually, NTM-A hopes to raise the Afghan National Army and Police forces to full functional literacy, at the third-grade level.  But there’s a long, long way to go…

Bottom line:  Here are some Dari Flashcards we used in Afghanistan.  Imagine not being able to read either side of the card…

* Photo by TSgt Adrienne Brammer, USAF, from flickr
** Photo by SSgt Rachel Martinez, USAF, from flickr


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High five

High fives in Kunar*

Soap bubbles

Bubbles in Kabul**

One of my most popular posts is one from a while back on Dari Phrases You Need to Know.   In case it’s not obvious, this is the sequel:  Ten phrases that can take you beyond the “minimum essential” and into the “nice to know”…

  1. Mushkelnest – No problem.
  2. Qabelishnest – You’re welcome.
  3. Zhwan! – Energy/life.  Soldiers will often say this after being recognized for exceptional performance.  I asked a terp what it meant the other day, and he struggled a little, as it doesn’t really have an exact English translation.  A different terp though, who can speak Dari, English, and Army explained, “It means ‘Hoo-ah!'”
  4. Drust – OK.
  5. Ba’le – Yes.  And its counterpart…
    Ne – No.
  6. Khub’ast – Cool (lit., “good is”).  You can make it a little stronger too, as…
    Besyar khub! – Very good!
  7. Booga booga booga – Say it, say it, say it.  Kind of an all-purpose phrase, it’s sometimes used like, “Blah blah blah…” but more often as the Dari equivalent of, “You go, girl!”
  8. Chitur hasti? How are you?  This is the informal version, used between friends (the formal version is in my previous post).
    Khub hastam – I’m good.
    Chuma chitur hasti? And you?
  9. Zenda bashi – Take care (lit., “health always”).
  10. Yak team wahed – One team together.  I love this phrase because it speaks volumes about the challenge of serving here in Afghanistan.  We have to build enduring National Security Forces in a country that, until we got here, didn’t even have a word for Team (Americans are known for being fiercely independent, but geesh, we’ve got nothing on the Afghans…).  After 50,000 years of history though, the Afghans finally have a word for Team:  team.  Almost without exception, Afghans are quick to pick up the good ideas the Coalition has to offer.  And teamwork is certainly one of our better ones!

Bottom line:  Language matters.  Give some Dari a try!

* Photo by SSG Gary A. Witte, US Army, from Soldiers Media Center on flikr.
** Photo by Stephon M. Sterns.

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On patrol, shohna ba shohna...*

Marine and Boy

On patrol, shoulder to shoulder...**

There’s an old saw that if you know three languages, you’re trilingual, if you know two, you’re bilingual, and if you know one, you’re American.  Most Afghans know a BUNCH…everyone knows Dari and  Pashto, and many also know Tajik, Uzbek, Russian, and English. 

As a Coalition advisor in Kabul, I’ve found even a little Dari goes a LONG way.  Here’s my take on the absolute least you need to know… 

  1. Kumak! Help!  Because you just never know when you might need it…
  2. Salaam aalaikum – Peace be upon you, the standard greeting in most Islamic countries.
    Wa’alaikum salaam – And peace be upon you, the standard response.
  3. Soub baKhayr – Good morning.
  4. Lutfan – Please.
  5. Tashakur – Thank you.
  6. Chitur hasten? How are you?  There’s a casual version, but this is the formal one, best for the first time you meet someone and to show respect for older or senior-ranking Afghans.  They’ll let you know when they’re comfortable shifting to more informal language…
    Man Khub hastam – I’m good.
    Chuma chitur hasten? And you?
  7. Me baKhshi – Excuse me (to an individual).
  8. Tabrik basha! Congratulations!  The perfect phrase for a graduation ceremony
  9. Khoda hafiz – May God protect you, my favorite way to say “farewell”.
  10. Shohna ba Shohna – Shoulder to Shoulder…this is the NTM-A motto and it really speaks to our relationship with the Afghan National Security Forces.  There’s a wide range of ANA and ANP capabilities: Some have to lean on us like a person with an injured leg; some can walk with us, side by side; and some are sprinting alongside us.  But in all cases, we’re at close ranks, shoulder to shoulder…moving forward against the insurgency and towards Afghanistan’s future.

Bottom line:  Learning some Dari won’t magically fix everything that’s messed up in Afghanistan.  But it will help. 

* Photo by Cpl Artur Shvartsberg, USMC, from Defense Imagery.
** Photo by LCpl Jeremy Harris, USMC, from Defense Imagery

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