Khowar language

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Khowar
Native to Pakistan Chitral, Pakistan
Native speakers 400,000  (date missing)
Language family
Language codes
ISO 639-2 ine
ISO 639-3 khw

Khowar (کھوار), also known as Chitrali, is a Dardic language spoken by 453,765 people in Chitral in Northwest Pakistan, in Yasin Valley and Gupis in neighboring Gilgit, and in parts of Upper Swat. It is spoken as a second language in the rest of Gilgit and Hunza. There are believed to be small numbers of Khowar speakers in Afghanistan, China, Tajikistan and Istanbul.

Khowar has been influenced by Iranian languages to a greater degree than other Dardic languages and has less Sanskritic elements than Shina or the Kohistani languages. Colonel Biddulph (Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh) was amongst the first westerners to study Khowar and claimed that further research would prove Khowar to be equally derived from Zend (Avestan, Old Persian) and Sanskrit.

The Norwegian Linguist Georg Morgenstierne wrote that Chitral is the area of the greatest linguistic diversity in the world. Although Khowar is the predominant language of Chitral, more than ten other languages are spoken here. These include Kalasha-mun, Palula, Dameli, Gawar-Bati, Nuristani, Yidgha, Burushahski, Gujar, Wakhi, Kyrgyz, Persian and Pashto. Since many of these languages have no written form, letters are usually written in Urdu.

Written Khowar[change | change source]

Khowar has been written in the Arabic Nasta'liq script since the early twentieth century, prior to that the administrative and literary language of the region was Persian and works such as poetry and songs in Khowar were passed down in oral tradition. Today Urdu and English are the official languages and the only major literary usage of Khowar is in writing poetry. Khowar has also been written in the Roman script since the 1960s. Badshah Munir Bukhari and Rahmat Aziz Chitrali worked on the language and its family.

Notable personalities[change | change source]

Literary Associations of Khowar Language[change | change source]

  • Khowar Academy
  • Anjuman-e-Tarraqui-e-Khowar

References[change | change source]

  • Bashir, Elena (2001) Spatial Representation in Khowar. Proceedings of the 36th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.
  • L’Homme, Erik (1999) Parlons Khowar. Langue et culture de l’ancien royaume de Chitral au Pakistan. Paris: L’Harmattan
  • Morgenstierne, Georg (1936) Iranian Elements in Khowar. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. VIII, London.
  • Morgenstierne, Georg (1947) Some Features of Khowar Morphology. Norsk Tidsskrift for Sprogvidenskap, Vol. XIV, Oslo.
  • Morgenstierne, Georg (1957) Sanskritic Words in Khowar. Felicitation Volume Presented to S.K. Belvalkar. Benares. 84-98 [Reprinted in Morgenstierne (1973): Irano-Dardica, 267-72]

Further reading[change | change source]

  • Aziz Chitrali, Rahmat, 1996. Guldasta-e-Rahmat Khowar (Chitrali) Humorous Poetry, Published by Khowar Academy (A Litrary Association for the promotion of Chitrali languages)