Kalash language

Kalash language

nativename=Kalasha-mun, Kalasha-mandr
states= Pakistan
region=Pakistan: North-West Frontier Province
speakers=5,029 (2000) [SIL Ethnologue (2005)]
fam4=Chitrali languages

Kalash or Kalasha (also known as "Kalasha-mun") is an Indo-European language in the Indo-Iranian branch, further classified as a Dardic language in the Chitral Group. However, this Dardic classification is questionable because only 53% of the commonly used words in Kalash have cognates in Khowar language.Fact|date=May 2008. Georg Morgenstierne maintains that "The Kalash do not belong to the special Kafir branch of Indo-Iranian but speak a true Indo-Aryan language." [ G. Morgenstierne, The spring festival of the Kalash Kafirs. India Antiqua, Leiden 1947, p. 240 ] The Kalash language is phonologically atypical because it contrasts plain, long, nasal, and retroflex vowels as well as combinations of these (Heegård & Mørch 2004).

Kalash is spoken by the Kalasha people who reside in the remote valleys of Bumboret, Birir and Rumbur, which are west of Ayun, which is ten miles down the river from Chitral Town, high in the Hindu Kush mountains in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan. The Kalash have their own religion, with gods and goddesses, although it is estimated that half of the Kalash have converted to Islam. There are an estimated 6,000 speakers of Kalash, of which 3,000 still follow the Kalash religion and the other 3,000 have converted to Islam.

According to Badshah Munir Bukhari, one of the world's leading authorities on this subject, "Kalasha" is the ethnic name for the Nuristani inhabitants of a region southwest of the Kalash Valleys, in the Waygal and middle Pech Valleys of Afghanistan's Nuristan Province. The term "Kalasha" seems to have been adopted by the Kalasha speakers of Chitral from the Nuristanis of Waygal, who for a time expanded up to southern Chitral several centuries ago [http://users.sedona.net/~strand/Nuristani/Kalasha/kalasha.html] . However, there is no close connection between the Indo-Aryan language Kalasha-mun and the Nuristani language Kalasha-ala, which descend from different branches of the Indo-Iranian languages.

Of all the languages in the subcontinent, Kalash preserves its Old Indo-Aryan basis best, next to the western Dardic Khowar [ Georg Morgenstierne. Indo-Iranian Frontier Languages, Vol. IV: The Kalasha Language & Notes on Kalasha. Oslo 1973, p. 184, details pp. 195-237 ] . Some of the typical retentions of sounds and clusters (and meanings) are seen in the following list. However, note some common New Indo-Aryan and Dardic features as well. [Gérard Fussman: 1972 Atlas linguistique des parlers dardes et kafirs. Publications de l'École Française d'Extrême-Orient] .

[ R.T.Trail and G.R. Cooper, Kalasha Dictionary - with English and Urdu. National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Islamabad & Summer Institute of Linguistics, Dallas TX. 1999 ]

Meanwhile, the Kafiristan Kafiri over in Kafiristan were converted to Islam by King Abdul Rehman in 1895. They are now known as Nuristani.

History contains references to "Siah-Posh Kafirs". Timur fought with them. Babur advised not to tangle with them. Alexander the Great encountered them. Genghis Khan passed by them. However, there is a question whether these were the Red or the Black Kafirs, or both. It has been widely assumed that these were the Red Kafirs who were thought of as fierce and independent, as opposed to the Black Kafirs, who were somewhat subservient to the King of Chitral. On the other hand, the word "Siah-Posh Kafirs" translates to mean "Black Robed Kafirs", as the word "siah" means "black", so it seems possible that it was the Black and not the Red Kafirs who fought against and defeated Tamurlane.

The Norwegian Linguist [http://www.nb.no/baser/morgenstierne/nirmali/nirmali/Imra/Text/sacrifice/sacrifice29.html 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 Kalash, Palula, Dameli, Gawar-Bati, Nuristani, Yidgha, Burushaski, Gujar, Wakhi, Kyrgyz, Persian and Pashto. Since many of these languages have no written form, letters are usually written in Urdu or Persian (Dari).


* Bashir, Elena L. (1988) "Topics in Kalasha Syntax: An Areal and Typological Perspective". Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan.
* Cacopardo, Alberto M., and Augusto S. Cacopardo (2001) "Gates of Peristan: History, Religion, and Society in the Hindu Kush". Rome: Instituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente.
* Decker, Kendall D. (1992) Languages of Chitral http://www.ethnologue.com/show_work.asp?id=32850
* "Atlas Linguistique Des Parles Dardes Et Kafirs" by Gerard Fussman (two volumes). Maps showing distribution of words among people of Kafiristan.
* Heegård, Jan & Ida Elisabeth Mørch, 2004, "Retroflex vowels and other peculiarities in Kalasha sound system". In: Anju Saxena and Jadranka Gvozdanovic (eds.), Synchronic and Diachronic Aspects of Himalayan Linguistics, Selected Proceedings of the 7th Himalayan Languages Symposium held in Uppsala, Sweden. The Hague: Mouton.
* Jettmar, Karl (1985) Religions of the Hindu Kush ISBN 0-85668-163-6
* Kalasha. Retrieved July 19, 2006, from "Ethnologue: Languages of the World", fifteenth edition. SIL International. [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=kls Online version] .
* Morgenstierne, Georg (1926) Report on a Linguistic Mission to Afghanistan. Instituttet for Sammenlignende Kulturforskning, Serie C I-2. Oslo. ISBN 0-923891-09-9
* Georg Morgenstierne. Indo-Iranian Frontier Languages, Vol. IV: The Kalasha Language & Notes on Kalasha. Oslo1973
* The Kafirs of the Hindukush (1896) Sir George Scott Robertson.
* Strand, Richard F. (1973) "Notes on the Nûristânî and Dardic Languages." Journal of the American Oriental Society, 93.3: 297-305.
* Strand, Richard F. (2001) "The Tongues of Peristân," in "Gates of Peristan: History, Religion and Society in the Hindu Kush", by Alberto M. Cacopardo and Augusto S. Cacopardo, 251-259. Rome: Instituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente.
*Trail, Ronald L. and Gregory R. Cooper, compilers. "Kalasha dictionary—with English and Urdu." Studies in Languages of Northern Pakistan, 7 (1999). Islamabad: National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University and Summer Institute of Linguistics.

External links

* [http://users.sedona.net/~strand Richard Strand's Nuristan Site]
* [http://www.site-shara.net/ Reiko and Jun's Japanese Kalash Page]
* [http://www.lexicool.com/dlink.asp?ID=0FW3HU5663&L1=34&L2=44 Hindi/Urdu-English-Kalasha-Khowar-Nuristani-Pashtu Comparative Word List]
* [http://www.fli-online.org/documents/languages/kalasha/kalasha-dictionary.htm Frontier Language Institute] The Kalasha Dictionary
* [http://www.kalashapeople.org/ Kalasha People Online] A Kalasha Blog

The Languages Of Pakistan Badshah Munir Bukhari ISBN 1-897323-30-2.London

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