We are pleased to award the Protecting minority languages in Afghanistan project £65,381

In this project, minority languages in Afghanistan will be preserved and protected through the documentation of folktales, rites of passage, music, and traditional beliefs.  

Minority languages in Afghanistan

Minority languages in Afghanistan are at risk of being permanently lost. The Nuristani language and culture was severely at risk during the Taliban reign and the marginalised community continues to be deeply affected by conflict.

The promotion of Pashtun language above others has led to decreased use of minority languages, such as Nuristani. In the three Nuristani ethnic groups, children use the mother tongue at home but are not encouraged to use it outside. 

In addition, oral, musical and dance traditions, ancient wood and iron working skills and costumes are all classic Nuristani culture which have been lost due to modernisation and shame associated with their pre-Islamic history. 

Capturing local traditions once shared in minority languages 

In this project, oral literature will be recorded from older community members in the remote districts of Mondul and Duab, compiled in Kabul and transcribed into Western Wata. Women’s stories, cultural practices and records of rites of passage will be collected in the Nuristani diaspora in Kabul. 

In addition, traditional music bands from the Nuristani districts will perform and record Eastern Kata/Kom, Womai and Western Kata songs with rabob and flute. An enthomusicologist will interview the band members and study, interpret and explain the musical forms, documenting them for publication. 

Other activities include the organisation of a cultural event in Kabul, and educational activities including seminars in Nuristani language for young people, and extra-curricular tuition for failing Nuristani children. 

About SIL International

SIL International is a faith-based nonprofit organization committed to serving language communities worldwide as they build capacity for sustainable language development. SIL does this primarily through research, translation, training and materials development. SIL works alongside ethnolinguistic communities and their partners as they discover how language development addresses the challenging areas of their daily lives—social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual.


Project partners

  • Greenlight Development Consultants (GDC)
  • Procomm