Kurdish Digital Workshop DAY 3: December 17, 2020
Lesson 1: Dr. Ibrahim Seydo Aydogan, “ Mediatives and Proper News Writing”
“We cannot be faulted for making grammar mistakes, or writing Kurdish under the influence of Turkish, because we’ve never received formal educational training in our mother tongue.” Dr. Ibrahim Seydo Aydogan. These are the wise words of Dr. Ibrahim, head of the Kurdish department, and associate professor at INALCO University in France.
It’s unfair to compare the grammar and linguistic structure of the Kurdish language with other languages that have been given time and attention for their development. As of today, the Kurdish language still falls short of having a complex set of grammar rules, Dr. Ibrahim says.
What makes developing a standard set of grammar rules for the Kurdish language even more difficult is the unique regional accents and dialects that cause chaos for a linguist. It may be that what is grammatically acceptable for one group of speakers, is not acceptable for another group of speakers of the same language. Dr. Ibrahim says it’s not appropriate to assert superiority in speaking over members of the same language.
However, Dr. Ibrahim argues that despite knowing this, a standardized set of grammar rules must be put into place for the Kurdish language. He provided various examples of the detriments of having no ‘set grammar structures’ on the development of the Kurdish language.
The first set of examples took us through the simplification of thought and literary language. Dr. Ibrahim argues that “complex sentences can and do exist in Kurdish. Our thoughts are complex, and so too can our language be complex.” Unfortunately, many notable Kurdish authors and writers have simplified their language fearing if they created literary work with complex grammar structures it would not be understood.
Dr. Ibrahim quoted Proust saying, “writing complex sentences lend to the development of a language and moves it forward.” If Kurdish authors and writers continue to avoid the use of complex sentence structures in their work, it holds the language back.
The second set of examples that Dr. Ibrahim provided was the use of conjunctions in creating complex sentences. He used the word ‘Ku’ from Kurdish, saying that he’d been criticized as pushing a French-language agenda on Kurdish by drawing a likeness from both.
His response was simple, “my mother – who’s taught me everything in Kurdish – does not know any French. She is not able to read and write in Kurdish, and so the grammar structure differences I observe from spoken and written Kurdish are solely observations from my life,” he concluded.
Finally, Dr. Ibrahim presented examples of sentences in written Kurdish using grammar rules from Turkish. With one particular sentence being so foreign to his Kurdish tongue, he stumbled while reading it and it became the perfect opportunity for him to stress just how difficult it is using another languages’ grammar rules with Kurdish.
As writers of the Kurdish language, the heavy burden falls on our shoulders to push the language towards further development. Complex sentences are not to be feared!
Lesson 2: Mesud Muhemmed, “Reporting in Conflict Zones”
Mesud Muhemmed has made a name for himself as a ‘conflict zone reporter’. His ambition and courage have taken him to several battlegrounds across Iraq and Syria. What drives his ambition? The words he lives by: “nothing in life is difficult. Remove anything that becomes an obstacle to reaching your goal and always keep your goals in front of you on sticky pads,” he says. Simple enough.
Reporting from conflict zones is not an easy feat by any stretch of the imagination, and without proper determination and preparation the safety and well-being of everyone is put into danger. “Prepare yourself for the worst possible scenario. Accept death as a possibility and embrace the fear,” says Mesud.
According to Mesud, any journalist that wants to report from conflict zones must have the following: the first being, a very clear intention to enter a conflict zone willingly knowing all the risks involved; the second, a purpose needs to be defined internally for the journalist; and lastly, the journalist must be properly prepared with a committed staff and proper personal protective equipment.
He recounts his past mistakes while first starting as a conflict zone reporter back in 2014 in the midst of the chaos of the war on ISIS. He says while he was in those conflict areas, he observed members of the international press and foreign agencies and their modus operandi – their way of operation. He says he made mental notes from these observations and was able to apply them to future excursions. “Learn from your colleagues,” he advises.
Mesud strongly emphasized the need for neutrality on the part of the conflict zone reporter. He listed numerous security forces he had the chance to travel with during his time reporting their victories and losses. “Just because I was under the security of a group that was completely against my political affiliation and ideology, didn’t mean I was in favor of their actions or beliefs. I am a reporter and I was reporting the news,” he says.
Mesud advises, “neutrality is important. You must remain civil with the group who holds your life in their grasp – regardless of your political affiliation.”
Once in the conflict zone, it’s the responsibility of the journalist to find and report the news from a unique perspective. “Divê nûçe bigihînî, ne bî nûçe – You have to report the news, not become the news story,” he says. Ask questions, start conversations with members of the security forces whose safety you’re under, and gather as much information as you can to create a news story.
The one point Mesud stressed repeatedly is to be safe and careful, and know that as the reporter you are responsible for the safety of your staff. “Be smart, have a map and know safe and strategic points, and know the exact areas to avoid,” he concludes.
Written by Veen Sulaivany with contributions from Defne Mercan Hocaoglu
Edited by Murat Bayram