Ingrid Piller, Professor of Applied Linguistics at Macquarie University, has a post on Language on the Move (a sociolinguistics research site created by her and Kimie Takahashi) about an interesting situation in Australia, the attempt to create an official language out of the dialect of Persian spoken by the Hazara of central Afghanistan (many of whom have emigrated to Australia). She begins with this attention-getting paragraph:
An objection that is commonly raised against Esperanto and other auxiliary languages is that they are “invented.” Somehow, being “invented” is assumed to give Esperanto a shady character: it’s just not natural. The problem with this view is that – in being invented – Esperanto is not unique. And I don’t just mean that there is also Klingon and Volapük. In fact, each and every language with a name is an invention. We may not always be able to identify the inventors – in fact the trick of the inventors of English, Chinese, German, Spanish and all the others – has been not to let themselves be identified as language inventors. Instead, they pose as teachers, priests, bureaucrats, academics, poets or scientists. The invention of major national languages such as these gets obscured by time (although Standard German with its origins in the 19th century is not much older than Esperanto), and it is a rare opportunity to see a language invented before our own eyes.
She goes on to say that Hazaragi “is currently being invented in Australia and linguists from around the world might wish to pay close attention how this process unfolds.” It seems the process is somewhat skewed:
Again, the process of invention is dissimulated: the language spoken in the mythical place of origin, Hazaristan (incidentally, there is also a little identity war going on over whether that region should be called “Hazarajat” or “Hazaristan,” the latter supposedly being “more modern”) is normalised whereas language use that shows traces of the influence by other locations, particularly cities, is penalized, presumably because someone got it into their head that such influence is “incorrect.”
This particular invention – Hazaragi as the language of rural Hazaristan – is rather baffling: from an Australian perspective, the language spoken by “an average Hazara person living in Hazaristan” is entirely irrelevant because even if such persons were to exist in Afghanistan, they do not in Australia.
She concludes: “Hazaragi has always been a contact variety – its main claim to distinction from Persian is the relatively higher number of Mongol loan words – and, in all likelihood, will continue to be a contact variety for a long time to come. It’s hard to see how inventing boundaries and a standard for this variety will do any good to anyone.” That sounds reasonable to me, but of course all I know about the situation is what she’s told me.