Nuristani languages

Nuristani languages

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The Nuristani languages are one of the three groups within the Indo-Iranian language family
Indo-Iranian languages
The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It consists of three language groups: the Indo-Aryan, Iranian and Nuristani...

, alongside the much larger Indo-Aryan
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

 and Iranian
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

 groups. They are spoken primarily in eastern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. Many Nuristani languages are subject–object–verb (SOV) like most of the Indo-iranian languages adjacent to it (such as other Indo-Aryan
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

 and Iranian
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

) and many other languages in Asia, distinct from Dardic for the apparent V2 verb order
V2 word order
In syntax, verb-second word order is the rule in some languages that the second constituent of declarative main clauses is always a verb, while this is not necessarily the case in other types of clauses.- V2 effect :...

 which is notably used in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, Old English and Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

. The languages were often confused with each other before concluding a third branch in Indo-Iranian, and also accounting many Burushaski loanwords present in Dardic.

Languages

  • Askunu
    Askunu language
    Askunu is a language of Afghanistan spoken by the Askunu, Sanu, and Gramsana people in the region of Pech Valley around Wama, northwest of Asadabad in Kunar province...

     (Ashkun) 2,000 speakers
  • Kamkata-viri
    Kamkata-viri language
    Kamkata-viri, the largest Nuristani language, contains the main dialects Kata-vari, Kamviri and Mumviri. Kata-vari and Kamviri are often defined as two separate languages, but according to linguist they form one language....

     (Bashgali, includes the dialect
    Dialect
    The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

    s Kata-vari
    Kata-vari
    Kata-vari is a dialect of the Kamkata-viri language spoken by the Kata in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The most used alternative names are Kati, Kativiri or Bashgali, which derive from Khowar....

    , Kamviri
    Kamviri
    Kamviri is a dialect of the Kamkata-viri language spoken by 5,500 of the Kom people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are slight dialectal differences of the Kamviri speakers of Pakistan...

     & Mumviri
    Mumviri
    Mumviri is a dialect of the Kamkata-viri Nuristani language spoken by perhaps 1,500 of the Mumo people of Afghanistan. There are only slight differences to the Kata-vari, Mumviri has Kamviri phonetic features. The most used alternative name is Bashgali, which derive from Khowar.Mumviri is spoken...

    ) 24,200 speakers
  • Vasi-vari
    Vasi-vari language
    Vasi-vari is a language spoken by the Vasi in a few villages in the Prasun Valley in Afghanistan. The most used alternative names are Prasuni or Prasun, which derive from Pashto....

     (Prasuni) 2,000 speakers
  • Tregami
    Tregami language
    Tregami, Trigami or Gambiri is a language spoken by the Tregami people in the villages of Gambir and Katar in the Watapur District of Kunar Province in Afghanistan....

     (Gambiri) 1,000 speakers
  • Waigali (Kalasha-ala) 2,000 speakers

History


The Nuristani languages were not described in the literature until the 19th century. The older name for the region was Kafiristan
Kafiristan
Kāfiristān or Kāfirstān was a historic name of Nurestan , a province in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, prior to 1896. This historic region lies on, and mainly comprises, basins of the rivers Alingar, Pech , Landai Sin, and Kunar, and the intervening mountain ranges...

 and the languages were termed Kafir
Kafir
Kafir is an Arabic term used in a Islamic doctrinal sense, usually translated as "unbeliever" or "disbeliever"...

i or Kafiristani, but the terms have been replaced by the present ones since the conversion of the region to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 in 1896.

Nuristani languages are generally regarded as an independent group, as one of the three sub-groups of Indo-Iranian, following the studies of Georg Morgenstierne
Georg Morgenstierne
Georg Morgenstierne was a Norwegian professor of linguistics with the University of Oslo . He specialized in Indo-Iranian languages.- Studies :...

 (1973, 1975). However, sometimes it is classified in the Dardic languages
Dardic languages
The Dardic languages are a sub-group of the Indo-Aryan languages spoken in northern Pakistan, eastern Afghanistan, and the Indian region of Jammu and Kashmir...

 branch of the Indo-Iranian language family, while another theory characterized it as originally Iranian
Eastern Iranian languages
The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages emerging in Middle Iranian times .The Avestan language is often classified as early Eastern Iranian. The largest living Eastern Iranian language is Pashto, with some 50 million speakers between the Hindu Kush mountains in...

, but greatly influenced by the nearby Dardic languages
Dardic languages
The Dardic languages are a sub-group of the Indo-Aryan languages spoken in northern Pakistan, eastern Afghanistan, and the Indian region of Jammu and Kashmir...

. In any event, it would seem they arrived in their present homeland at a very early date, and unlike the Indo-Aryans, never entered the western Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 of greater India.

The languages are spoken by tribal peoples in an extremely isolated mountainous region of the Hindukush, one that has never been subject to any real central authority in modern times. This area is located along the northeastern border of Afghanistan and adjacent portions of the northwest of present-day Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. These languages have not received the attention Western linguists like to give them. Considering the very small number of peoples estimated to speak them, they must be considered endangered languages.

There are five Nuristani languages, each spoken in several dialects. Major dialects include Kata-vari, Kamviri, and Vai-ala. Most of the Nuristanis in Pakistan speak Kamviri. These are influenced by, and sometimes classified as, Dardic languages
Dardic languages
The Dardic languages are a sub-group of the Indo-Aryan languages spoken in northern Pakistan, eastern Afghanistan, and the Indian region of Jammu and Kashmir...

; but this is more of a geographical classification than a linguistic one.

The Norwegian linguist Georg Morgenstierne
Georg Morgenstierne
Georg Morgenstierne was a Norwegian professor of linguistics with the University of Oslo . He specialized in Indo-Iranian languages.- Studies :...

 wrote that Chitral
Chitral District
Chitral is a district in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan that contains the town of Chitral. It has an area of 14,850 km² and a population of 318,689 at the 1998 Census, which had subsequently risen to about 378,000 people by 2004. It has one of the highest mountains of the world,...

 in Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 is the area of the greatest linguistic diversity in the world. Although Khowar
Khowar language
For the ethnic group, see under Chitrali people.Khowar , 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 , and in parts of Upper Swat...

 is the predominant language of Chitral and northwestern Pakistan, more than ten other languages are spoken here. These include Kalasha-mun
Kalasha-mun language
Kalasha is an Indo-European language in the Indo-Iranian branch spoken by the Kalash people, further classified as a Dardic language in the Chitral Group...

, Palula
Palula
Palula , Ashreti, or Dangarikwar , is a language spoken by approximately 10,000 people in the valleys of Ashret and Biori, as well as in the village Puri in the Shishi valley, and at least by a portion of the population in the village Kalkatak, in the Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa...

, Dameli, Gawar-Bati
Gawar-Bati language
Gawar-Bati is known in Chitral as Aranduyiwar, because it is spoken in Village Arandu, which is the last village in the bottom of Chitral and is across the Kunar River from Berkot in Afghanistan. Chitral keeps a military base in Arandu to guard against an attack by Afghanistan.There are 9,000...

, Nuristani, Yidgha
Yidgha
The Yidgha language is a Pamir language spoken in the Upper Lutkuh Valley of Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa west of Garam Chashma in Pakistan...

, Burushaski
Burushaski language
The Burushaski or Burushko language , is a language isolate . It is spoken by some 87,000 Burusho people in the Hunza, Nagar, Yasin, and Ishkoman valleys, and some parts of the Gilgit valley, in Gilgit–Baltistan in Pakistan and by about 300 Burusho people in Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, India...

, Gujar
Gujjar
The Gurjar are an ethnic group in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Alternative spellings include Gurjara, Gujar, Gurjjara and Gūrjara. The spelling Gurjara or Gurjar is preferable to the rest....

, Wakhi
Wakhi language
Wakhi is an Indo-European language in the branch of Eastern Iranian language family and is intimately related to other Southeastern Iranian languages in the Pamir languages group.-Classification and Distribution:...

, Kyrgyz
Kyrgyz language
Kyrgyz or Kirgiz, also Kirghiz, Kyrghiz, Qyrghiz is a Turkic language and, together with Russian, an official language of Kyrgyzstan...

, Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 and Pashto
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

. Since many of these languages have no written form, letters are usually written in a modified Arabic alphabet
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

.

Many Nursitani people now speak other languages, such as Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 and Pashto--two official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

s of Afghanistan & Chitrali in Pakistan.

Literature

  • Richard F. Strand, "NURESTÂNI LANGUAGES" in Encyclopaedia Iranica http://www.iranica.com/articles/nurestani-languages
  • Decker, Kendall D. (1992) Languages of Chitral. Sociolinguistic Survey of Northern Pakistan, 5. Islamabad: National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University and Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  • Morgenstierne, Georg (1926) Report on a Linguistic Mission to Afghanistan. Instituttet for Sammenlignende Kulturforskning
    Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture
    The Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture is a humanities research institute based in Oslo, Norway.It was established in 1922 by Fredrik Stang. An independent institute, its task is to sponsor research mainly in the fields of comparative linguistics, folklore, religion, ethnology,...

    , Serie C I-2. Oslo. ISBN 0-923891-09-9
  • Jettmar, Karl (1985) Religions of the Hindu Kush ISBN 0-85668-163-6
  • J. P. Mallory, In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth, Thames and Hudson, 1989.
  • James P. Mallory & Douglas Q. Adams, "Indo-Iranian Languages", Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture
    Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture
    The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture is an encyclopedia of Indo-European studies and the Proto-Indo-Europeans. The encyclopedia was edited by J. P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams and published in 1997 by Fitzroy Dearborn...

    , Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.
  • SIL
    SIL International
    SIL International is a U.S.-based, worldwide, Christian non-profit organization, whose main purpose is to study, develop and document languages, especially those that are lesser-known, in order to expand linguistic knowledge, promote literacy, translate the Christian Bible into local languages,...

     Ethnologue
    Ethnologue
    Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web and print publication of SIL International , a Christian linguistic service organization, which studies lesser-known languages, to provide the speakers with Bibles in their native language and support their efforts in language development.The Ethnologue...

     http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=90795

External links


See also

  • Dardic languages
    Dardic languages
    The Dardic languages are a sub-group of the Indo-Aryan languages spoken in northern Pakistan, eastern Afghanistan, and the Indian region of Jammu and Kashmir...

  • Pamir languages
    Pamir languages
    The Pamir languages are a group of the Eastern Iranian languages, spoken by numerous people in the Pamir Mountains, primarily along the Panj River and its tributaries. This includes the Badakhshan Province of northeastern Afghanistan and the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province of eastern Tajikistan...

  • Kalasha-mun language
    Kalasha-mun language
    Kalasha is an Indo-European language in the Indo-Iranian branch spoken by the Kalash people, further classified as a Dardic language in the Chitral Group...

  • Garhwali
    Garhwali
    The Garhwali language is a Central Pahari language belonging to the Northern Zone of Indo-Aryan languages. It is primarily spoken by the Garhwali people who are from the north-western Garhwal Division of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand in the Indian Himalayas.The Central Pahari...

  • Nuristani people
  • Nuristan Province