Khowar language

Khowar language
Spoken in Pakistan, China, Afghanistan
Region South Asia
Native speakers 400,000  (date missing)
Language family
Writing system Khowar alphabet (Nastaʿlīq script), see other less-used writing systems below
Official status
Official language in  Pakistan
Regulated by Khowar Academy, (Pakistan); Literary Association for Promotion of Khowar language, Chitral (Pakistan)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 khw
Linguasphere 59-AAB-aa

For the ethnic group, see under Chitrali people.

Khowar (کھوار), also known as Chitrali, is a Dardic language spoken by 400,000 people in Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in the Ghizer district of Gilgit-Baltistan (including the Yasin Valley, Phandar Ishkoman and Gupis), and in parts of Upper Swat. Speakers of Khowar have also migrated heavily to Pakistan's major urban centres with Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, having sizeable populations. 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. John Biddulph (Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh) was among 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-mondr, Palula, Dameli, Gawar-Bati, Nuristani, Yidgha, Burushaski, Gujarati,[citation needed] Wakhi, Kyrgyz, Persian and Pashto. Since many of these languages have no written form, letters are usually written in Urdu, Pakistan's national language.


Written Khowar

Khowar has been written in the 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 poetry composition. Khowar has also been written in the Roman script since the 1960s. Badshah Munir Bukhari and the Director Khowar Academy, Rehmat Aziz Chitrali worked on the language and its family.


  • Bashir, Elena (2001) Spatial Representation in Khowar. Proceedings of the 36th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.
  • Decker, D. Kendall (1992). Languages of Chitral. ISBN 969-8023-15-1. 
  • 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.
  • Badshah munir Bukhari (2001) Khowar language. University publisher. Pakistan
  • 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]
  • Mohammad Ismail Sloan (1981) Khowar-English Dictionary. Peshawar. ISBN 0-923891-15-3.
  • The Comparative study of Urdu and Khowar. Badshah Munir Bukhari National Language Authority Pakistan 2003.
  • Decker, Kendall D. (1992). Languages of Chitral (Sociolinguistic Survey of Northern Pakistan, 5). National Institute of Pakistani Studies, 257 pp. ISBN 9698023151.

Further reading

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

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Khowar — Parlée au  Pakistan Région Chitral Nombre de locuteurs 200 000 Classification par famille …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Khowar — Gesprochen in Pakistan: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Distrikt Chitral), Gilgit Baltistan (Distrikt Gilgit) Sprecher 250.000 Linguistische Klassifikation Indoeuropäische Sprachen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Khowar — [kō′wär΄] n. an Indo Iranian language of NW Pakistan …   English World dictionary

  • Khowar — noun Etymology: Khowar khowàr, from khów, people and area of Chitral, Pakistan Date: 1882 an Indo Aryan language of northwest Pakistan …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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