GILGIT – In pursuit of his passion for the endangered mother languages of Pakistan, Rehmat Aziz Khan Chitrali, the man behind the first-ever Multilanguage Text Editor for 40 Arabic script languages has invented yet another text editor — a software that allows GB’s Burushaski language typing in 7 platforms i.e. Desktop, Windows, Virtual Keyboard Online, macOS, iPad, iPhone and Android mobile phone.
Rehmat Aziz Khan Chitrali is an eminent poet, writer, linguist, keyboard developer and researcher renowned not just in his native Chitral district but across the country for his immense work for the invention of keyboards for endangered mother languages, particularly languages of Pakistan.
Speaking to The Gilgit from Chitral via telephone, Khan said “he has invented a software that can be used to type Burushaski language in as many as 7 platforms, including Desktop, Windows, Virtual Keyboard Online, macOS, iPad, iPhone and Android mobile phone”.
Khan earlier developed a Multilanguage Text Editor for the endangered languages of Pakistan which can be used to type in as many as forty languages of Pakistan at a single platform.
This keyboard is designed by Rehmat Aziz Khan Chitrali Linguist and Researcher for the Burushaski language spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan of Northern Pakistan. Burushaski is a language isolate spoken by Burusho people who reside almost entirely in northern Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan,with a few hundred speakers in northern Jammu and Kashmir, India. In Pakistan, Burushaski is spoken by people in Hunza-Nagar District, northern Gilgit District, and in the Yasin and Ishkoman valleys of northern Ghizer District. Their native region is located in northern Gilgit–Baltistan and borders with Pamir corridor to the north. In India, Burushaski is spoken in Botraj Mohalla of the Hari Parbat region in Srinagar.
He said that, “for a long time, Burushaski language had no written alphabet, and now Alhamdulillah by using my keyboard the Burosho people are writing in their own mother language”.
He added that the Burushaski language needs eleven special phonemes (distinct units of sound) which are not in Urdu: represented in Burushaski writing as
In his message to the Burosho people he said that “Read Burushaski, Write Burushaski and Speak Burushaski and save your mother language”.
To realise his identity to the world he added that “My language is my identity; therefore, I am creating keyboards for mother languages of Pakistan”.
“Being a Linguist and keyboard developer I am in love with the languages of Pakistan, and this is a gift from me to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan”. said Khan, who hails from the remote area of Chitral. He believes that he is the first person in the world to create a Burushaski software which allows the typing in 7 platforms i.e. Desktop, Windows, Virtual Keyboard Online, macOS, iPad, iPhone and Android mobile phone. His Burushaski software can be accessed at https://keymanweb.com/#bsk,Keyboard_rac_burushaski
A life in invention
By the end of 2018 Khan has invented 50 keyboards for the Arabic script Pakistani languages.
He has also invented keyboard for Pahari-Potwari language spoken in Pakistan. A large part of Khan’s life has been devoted to development of linguistic keyboards in the endangered languages of Pakistan.
“I have completed more than 50 Pakistani languages keyboards(7 keyboards for each language) which can be used in Desktop, Windows, Virtual Keyboard Online, macOS, iPad, iPhone and Android mobile phone” he added.
Khan has also won many national and international awards and Gold Medals for his inventions i.e. Dr.A.Q.Khan Gold Medal, Pride of the nation Gold Medal, PBR Gold Medal, Invention Award, Innovative Initiative Award, International Innovation Award(Germany) and Honorary Degree of Associate Fellowship from Royal Commonwealth Society(RCS) Great Britain.
Khan who is the author of khowar language book on “Muhammad Peace Be Upon him” published in 2015 won Seerat-un-Nabi Award and “Sanad-e-Imtiaz” from Government of Pakistan and he has also translated a volume of Allama Iqbal’s works in Khowar Language which has earned him great respect among the poets and writers of Chitral.
Professor Dr.Elena Bashir, a renowned educationist and Linguist of the Michigan University, describes him as “I appreciate your continuing efforts to develop the habit of writing in Khowar, and to introduce Khowar to people who know Urdu but not Khowar. I have just read in the newspaper about your receiving the Awards and Gold Medals. Congratulations on this recognition for your ongoing work in documenting and promoting the languages of northern Pakistan”.
MVU(My Voice Unheard) an NGO recently acknowledges Khani’s efforts by giving him title of “Linguistic Mastermind”. BOLOJAWAN another NGO also acknowledges Khan’s linguistic services by giving him the title of “The Preserver of Pakistani Languages. At the risk of starting this piece with a cliche, there is no denying that Pakistan is blessed with talent. However, there are very few among these gifted people whose contributions are widely recognized and they are extended the love and appreciation that they truly deserve. Rahmat Aziz Chitrali is among the underappreciated talents in Pakistan, whose contribution needs to be brought in the limelight”.
Khan was subsequently given the title of “Pakistani Zabanoon ka rakhwala” (Preserver of Pakistani Languages) by the Jasarat Media Group for his Linguistic services to the endangered languages of Pakistan.