Edward Zellem's Abstract About Afghanistan Proverbs Accepted

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Captain Edward Zellem, a U.S. Navy Captain in the U.S. Navy, recently had an abstract accepted for the 7th Annual 7th Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Proverbs.

Zellem has been in the news lately for his work in Afghanistan, specifically his collection, translation, and presentation of Afghan proverbs in order to bridge cultures. The colloquium is part of the International Association of Paremiology, which is a nonprofit institution dedicated to the international scientific study of worldwide proverbs. Zellem is also a member of the association.

Zellem commented about his plans surrounding the colloquium. He said:

"I plan to come back from Portugal in November with a whole platoon of Proverbs experts from around the world, including Central and South Asia. I want to show them that the cutting-edge work of Film Annex and The Afghan Development Project can create new models for what I call'Inbound Paremiology' and 'Sustainable Paremiology' that can benefit not only the academic sector, but also the business and philanthropic sectors."

This year’s colloquium will occur Nov. 3 – 10 in Portugal, where the association is based. The title of Zellem’s abstract is “Crowdsourcing Afghan Proverbs: Exploring the Paremiological Minimum Using 21st Century Social Media.” The presentation pulls on Zellem’s “Proverbs Project” from when he was deployed in Afghanistan in 2010-2011. Zellem had collected Afghan proverbs in order to show how they demonstrate a common humanity, and to share the proverb’s deep meanings, lyricism, and richness with the rest of the world.

From this experience, Zellem authored two bilingual collections of Afghan proverbs, "Afghan Proverbs Illustrated" and "Zarbul Masalha: 151 Afghan Dari Proverbs." Dari is one of the main languages of Afghanistan. After the success from the books, people began requesting copies printed in Pashto, the other major language in the country, because of the significant ethnolinguistic differences between the two languages concerning the proverb translations. This has resulted in a second round of proverb acquisition called “The Pashto Proverbs Project.

According to his abstract, Zellem will “explore the methodology, techniques, challenges and opportunities of ‘crowdsourcing’ paremiography in developing countries by using the Internet and mobile phones.” Companies likeFilm Annex and Afghan Citadel Software Company have helped to broaden crowdsourcing and ease of access to information because of Internet pools constructed throughout Afghanistan. The companies then use these classrooms to teach students and specifically women how to use financial and social media platforms. The more people who gain access to computers and mobile phones, the more Zellem is able to access domestic proverbs.

This video represents Film Annex President/Founder Francesco Rulli's vision of a new and improved Herat combined with the spoken word poetry that was composed of Afghan proverbs by Edward Zellem.


By presenting a series of images from the city of Herat in Afghanistan and New York, the video shows many differences and similarities between the two landscapes. As you keep watching, the architecture of these two cities on the opposite sides of the world merge into one.

Seek knowledge from cradle to grave. 
Ze gahwaara taa guhr, daanesh bejoye.

Mother shakes the cradle with one hand and the world with the other hand.
Maadar ba yak dast gahwaara wa ba dast-e degar jahaan-ra takaan mey-dehad.

You to me, me to you.
Tu ba ma, ma ba tu.

Respect to others is respect to yourself.
Ehteraam ba digaraan, ehteraam ba khod ast.

Eat well, dress well, life is short.
Khoob be-push, khoob bukhor, zendagee ko-tah ast.

A sword wound will heal, but not a wound form words.
Zakhme shamsher jour mey-sha, zakhme zabaan na.

Different heads, different dreams
Har kalaa, ber khiyal.

Everyone should be looked at with the same eye.
Hama-raa ba yak chashm negaah kuneed.

The world is alive with hope.
Doon-ya baa omeed zenda ast.

Visit the Women's Annex Corporate page and the Women's Annex Web TVfor more information. 

Music by Mpex - iPhado

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About the author


Michael Sweeney is focused on the Bitcoin and Digital Currency efforts of Carousel 51, LLC.

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