A Dari Language Lesson: Buzkashi – بزکشی

I learned to speak Dari, the Afghan dialect of Farsi or Persian, as a teenager. It is the only language I have learned that doesn’t seem to require constant maintenance in order for me to use it. That said, I do try to find ways to use it from time to time, and to continue to learn when I can.

Here is one activity that I do. I used to try this with news reports, but found these to use a very formal manner of speaking. I was happy to discover Tolo’s Toot channel on YouTube for some great content that is both culturally informative and uses a more colloquial manner of speaking.

Here is an example of a clip, and how I used it to study.

To start with I watched this clip with a notebook at hand. I understood most of the content, but as I watched I wrote down 9 or 10 words that I didn’t know for sure. I then looked these up at the end.

Most of these I was able to work out from the context and then double-check afterwords using google translate. For example:

زین (zeen) – saddle
شغل (shughl) – job or occupation
بیننده (binanda) – viewer

While the google translate app isn’t always the most accurate, I really appreciate features such as the handwriting option where I can write out words with my finger and view potential or predicted words, or the speaking option where I can speak a word in Farsi and then see possible translations in English.

I wasn’t able to find everything however, which goes to show that the internet can never fully replace a real live teacher.

I am guessing that “choti” means braid, but could not translate this via google. I had not previously heard the expression: یا برد یا باخت, یا ابی یا لالمی (ya burd ya bakht, ya awi ya lalmi). I think this translates along the lines of “win or lose, irrigated (land) or rainfed (land),” but I certainly don’t know for sure!

If you are a Dari speaker and you know this expression, let me know in the comments.

After looking up the words, I watched it again to check that the words that I translated still made sense in the context in which they were used.

Beginners could use this same video in other ways, not least of which to develop an ear for the sound of the language. I would recommend listening and trying to pick out a few words or phrases (no more than a dozen or so) that seem to be repeated several times and then trying to look these up.

More advanced learners could try transcribing and then translating sections of the video. The comments below the video in YouTube could also be used for reading practice.

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