Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

A soldier from Ceredigion learns Afghan language

Cpl Taff Edwards
Cpl 'Taff' Edwards will start a second tour of duty in Afghanistan in April

A Welsh soldier has learned one of the languages spoken in Afghanistan so he can help train men serving in the Afghan National Army.

Cpl "Taff" Edwards, 28, trained for 15 months to speak Dari in the UK before he was used as an interpreter.

The Welsh speaker from Aberporth, in Ceredigion, is in the Territorial Army, but he has signed a three-year contract to serve in the Army full-time.

Cpl Edwards has just completed his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The soldier does not have a background in languages, but he wanted to serve in the field and decided to start learning a third.

The need for reliable Dari speakers has increased as British soldiers train men in Afghan National Army to take control of their own country.

War zone

Cpl Edwards trained at the Defence School of Languages where both Dari and another Afghan language, Pashto, are taught.

"It was the language training that attracted me to the job and the guaranteed opportunity to come out to theatre," he said.

"I wanted a useful skill I could add to the cause so languages seemed the ideal way to do it.

"I don't really have a background in languages but I do speak both Welsh and English and I did French A-level and that allowed me to apply to the course straight off."

Cpl Edwards underwent intensive training to prepare him for the demands of being a linguist in a war zone, and he said it was difficult to pick up.

"The training involved a lot of classroom time. All the teachers were trying their utmost but it is a very difficult language to learn," he added.

"One of the reasons is that nothing is produced in the language - there is no Dari dictionary, there is no literature. These guys have been fighting for so long, producing books and things hasn't been high on their list of priorities.

"So all the resources that we try and find all come from Iran as Parsi is very similar, but it is not exactly the same."

Cpl Edwards now hopes to study Pashto.

However, before he gets the chance to pick up a new language he is set to spend further time improving his Dari in the UK before returning for a second six-month tour to Afghanistan in April.

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