Balti language

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Balti Bhotia
Native toPakistan, India
RegionBaltistan and small pockets in Ladakh, Karachi, Rawalpindi/Islamabad and Lahore
Native speakers
c.484,000 in Pakistan (2018)[1][2]
Tibetan script, Nastaliq script
Language codes
ISO 639-2sit
ISO 639-3bft

Balti (སྦལ་ཏི་སྐད།) or Bhotia is Tibetic language spoken in the Baltistan region of Gilgit Baltistan northeastern Pakistan and a few neighboring villages of the disputed territory of Indian-administered Kashmir.[3] The language is an archaic dialect of the Tibetan language, but many of the consonants of Classical Tibetan that are silent in most modern Tibetan dialects are pronounced in Balti.[4]

History & People[change | change source]

Greeks used the word Byaltae instead of Bal-ti, which in Tibetan means water gorge. The historian Ptolemy who was also a general in the army of Alexander the Great had named the region (Byaltae) in his book. Baltistan is the Persian translation of the native term Baltiyul meaning “The Homeland of Balti”. The people belonging to Balti nationality are settled on both banks of the river Indus from Turtuk (in the east) to Haramosh (in the west) and from Karakoram range (in the north) to Deosai plains (in the south). Majority of Balti language speakers are of Tibetan origin. However people from Indus Plains (Monpa's) and Central Asia (Horpa's) migrated to this area in different periods of ancient times, on account of different reasons and after merging in the prevailing Tibetan society, they also speak the Balti language, which is a branch of the ancient Tibetan language.[5] Small pockets of Brokskat, Purgi, Changthang and Ladakhi also exist in Baltistan.

The Balti people are a very forbearing, cheerful,brave and hospitable people. They ruled the area of Ladakh and Western Tibet under the Makpon reign (from 12th century to 1840 A.D.).

There are several Balti communities in Pakistan's urban areas farther south, that is in Lahore, Islamabad, in Karachi and other places.

Evolution[change | change source]

The Balti language has kept many honorific words like all other Tibetan dialects and many other languages. Below are a few examples:

Ordinary Balti Honorific Ladakhi Meaning
Ata Baba Aba Father
Ano/Amo Zizi Ama Mother
Kaka Kacho Acho Brother (elder)
Bustring Zung Nama Wife
Momo Jangmocho Ajang Maternal uncle
Nene Nenecho Ane Aunt
Bu Bucho Tugu Son
Fru Nono Boy
Apo Apocho Meme Grandfather
Api Apicho Abi Grandmother
Ashe Ashcho Singmo Sister (elder)
Zo bjes Zo Eat
Thung bjes Thung Drink
Ong Shokhs Yong Come
Zer Kasal-byung Zer Speak/Say
Ngid tong gZim tong Ngid tong Sleep (go to)
Lagpa Phyaq-laq/g Lagpa Hand/Arm
Khyang Yang/Yari-phyaqpo Khyorang You
Kanma gzok-po Leg

References[change | change source]

  1. e24
  2. "Preservation of the original Balti language". The Nation. 2023-11-24.
  3. " - Baltistani Bhotia of Pakistan". Retrieved 2023-11-24.[permanent dead link]
  4. Sprigg, R. K. (2013-07-04). Balti-English / English-Balti Dictionary. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-84517-8.
  5. Beyer, Stephan V. (1992-01-01). The Classical Tibetan Language. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-1099-8.

Other websites[change | change source]