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Defense Language Institute question

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21 messages over 3 pages: 1 2
Silvance
Diglot
Groupie
United States
Joined 3682 days ago

57 posts - 80 votes 
Speaks: English*, Pashto
Studies: Dari

 
 Message 17 of 21
09 February 2014 at 5:22am | IP Logged 
I notice that list puts Arabic as harder than Pashto. Is this because of the vast dialectical differences in the various forms of Arabic, or is it based on Modern Standard Arabic exclusively? The one thing that I find that makes Pashto harder is the lack of universally accepted grammar rules. While there are rules, the vast majority of Pashto speakers are illiterate and not schooled in the language, and the way it is spoken is in no way similar to the way an educated Pashto speaMer would speak. Most educated people in Afghanistan speak Dari instead anyway.
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yantai_scot
Senior Member
United KingdomRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2990 days ago

157 posts - 214 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German

 
 Message 18 of 21
13 February 2014 at 8:22pm | IP Logged 
Silvance, thanks for letting us know you're doing so well. I've only just discovered
the DFLI and would love to go but I'm not American and too old and mad now for the UK's
equivalent. I was directed to this thread by Luke and have found it fascinating! I'm
very jealous. Your information on how your success on the course really depends on your
own hard work is inspiring.

Couple of questions: Can an illiterate farmer understand a more educated speaker and
vice versa? If you knew then what you know now about Pashto as a language would it have
been on your wish list? If you stay in for the long haul and are sent to train in
another language, do you get one that's geographically related e.g. Farsi or Arabic or
could it be anything?

Do post some more as time allows.
1 person has voted this message useful



Silvance
Diglot
Groupie
United States
Joined 3682 days ago

57 posts - 80 votes 
Speaks: English*, Pashto
Studies: Dari

 
 Message 19 of 21
14 February 2014 at 4:55pm | IP Logged 
An illiterate farmer will be able to understand you, but you may not be able to fully understand him. When listening to him, you might have to stop and say "What is (phrase), is it the same as (other phrase)?" And typically they will understand and tell you that yes, it is the same. Once you get in super rural areas, the things get dicey. Especially when you start seeing Pashto being mixed with more regional languages like Beluchi.

A person can reenlist with another language if they can get it on their contract, but it really depends on their branch of service. Air Force will have the easiest time getting another language. Marines will almost never get it. If you're an officer and are getting stationed somewhere for an extended period, you can get sent here to learn the language for your new station. It's why only officers are in the Japanese course. Some courses, like Arabic, have advanced courses or other dialects they will let you come back for, and other courses have a "conversion course" where they teach you a very similar language in maybe two months after you've completed the initial language, so like Farsi and then 6 weeks of Dari or Indonesian and then 6 weeks of Malaysian.
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Raincrowlee
Tetraglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4890 days ago

621 posts - 808 votes 
Speaks: English*, Mandarin, Korean, French
Studies: Indonesian, Japanese

 
 Message 20 of 21
15 February 2014 at 4:35am | IP Logged 
Silvance wrote:
I notice that list puts Arabic as harder than Pashto. Is this because of the vast dialectical differences in the various forms of Arabic, or is it based on Modern Standard Arabic exclusively? The one thing that I find that makes Pashto harder is the lack of universally accepted grammar rules. While there are rules, the vast majority of Pashto speakers are illiterate and not schooled in the language, and the way it is spoken is in no way similar to the way an educated Pashto speaMer would speak. Most educated people in Afghanistan speak Dari instead anyway.


I've heard rumor that they've talked about making Pashto a Cat IV language. I'm pretty sure the language categories just come from their experience in teaching the languages and seeing how long it takes for students to get the language, and that's not a hard and fast rule. I've heard that the Spanish program was extended from 6 months to 8 or 9 because it had such a high failure rate. There was also a rumor that Korean would have been extended but the military couldn't get Congressional approval for the increased budgeting.

I'm pretty sure they didn't teach Pashto at DLI before we got involved in Afghanistan, so they don't have that long of a track record with it.

Edited by Raincrowlee on 15 February 2014 at 4:36am

1 person has voted this message useful



Silvance
Diglot
Groupie
United States
Joined 3682 days ago

57 posts - 80 votes 
Speaks: English*, Pashto
Studies: Dari

 
 Message 21 of 21
15 February 2014 at 6:34pm | IP Logged 
Pashto is relatively new. My teaching team leader has been there since they started the program, back in 2003 or so, and then they had no textbooks or learning materials aside from authentic sources like newspapers and BBC. They say they're gonna make Farsi a Cat IV language as well, but for both it'll probably take 5 more years or so minimum. The only course that remains at 6 months is French, as for some reason they decided it was easier enough than Spanish for them to not increase the time required.

Right now the highest fail rate of any course is the Arabic - Iraqi dialect course. It's the same length as Modern Standard Arabic, but since it's both MSA and the Iraqi dialect, it's much harder. The pass rate is 15%. Surprisingly, the Levantine dialect course has a far higher pass rate, at around 70%. I don't know enough about arabic dialects to explain this, but it is interesting.


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