Local languages in the Northern Areas, Gilgit-Baltistan

Date: 2022-08-16 Posted by: Abdul Ghafar Keywords: Languages in Gilgit-Baltistan, Languages in Pakistan, Local Languages

There are many beautiful valleys in the Northern Areas, where people love to spend their holidays due to the pleasant and healthy weather. Gilgit-Baltistan, also known as Northern Areas, has diversified cultures, tribes, sects, and peoples. There are more than 50 different languages and dialects spoken in the various valleys of the Northern Areas. Most of the languages are only spoken by specific people in the limited geographical area of Gilgit-Baltistan. Local people treat you with more hospitality and love if someone can speak the local language. Here I want to introduce the main languages spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Shina Language

It belongs to the group of Indo-Aryan language and is spoken by the Shina people. The Shina is the major ethnic groups living in the Gilgit-Baltistan and Indus Kohistan areas. It is one of the main languages spoken in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. More than 1.1 million people Shina language speakers live in Pakistan and India. It is a language spoken in the Upper Neelum Valley in Azad Kashmir in Pakistan, Kargil in Ladakh district in Indian-occupied Kashmir. It is also spoken in Hunza, Ghizer, Gilgit, Diamer, and Astore in Gilgit-Baltistan. It has no proper writing system yet.

Khowar Language

Khowar is primarily spoken in Chitral, Gupis-Yasin, and Ghizer districts. A small group of people in Upper Swat also speaks the Khowar language. It also originates from Indo-Aryan languages. It is a minor language of Pakistan that is spoken by a small group of people in the Chitral and Ghizer district only. It was also known as the Chitrali language in British time. The Kalasha people also speak Khowar as their second language after the Kalasha language. It is known as the Kashkar language by Pashtuns and Badkhshanis. In Gupis-Yasin valley, this language is known as Arniya by Shina language speakers. Khowar language is related to the Sanskrit language, as it has many words related to the Sanskrit language.

Balti Language

Balti belongs to the group of the Sino-Tibetan language and is spoken by the Balti people. The Balti is the major ethnic groups living in Baltistan. It is also spoken in the district of Leh and Kargil in the Ladakh region by a small group of people in Indian-occupied Jumma & Kashmir. It is mostly spoken in the Skardu, Ghanche, Shigar, Kharmang, and Roundu districts of Gilgit Baltistan. It is derived language from the standard Tibetan language. Nearly more than four lakh people speak the Balti language. It has four dialects spoken in different regions of Balti people. Eastern dialect in Nubra Valley in Ladakh, the Central dialect in Khaplu valley, the Western dialect in Skardu, Shigar, and Roundo, and the Southern dialect in Kharmang and Kargil in Ladakh.

Burushaski Language

Burushaski belongs to a family of isolated languages and is spoken by the Burusho people. They live in Northern Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, and some of these people also live in the Northern Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. In Gilgit-In GilgBaltistan, Burushaski speakers live in Hunza, Nagar, Gilgit, Yasin Valley, and Ishkoman valley. It is the most spoken language rather than a written language, as there is not much development in the phonology of the Burushaski language.

Domaaki Language

Dommaki, also known as Domma, is spoken by a few hundred people only in Gilgit-Baltistan. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan language group. It is the traditional language of the small ethnic group of peoples living in Nagar and Hunza Valleys. It is the most endangered language in the World as only 350 people speak the Domaaki language living in Nagar and Hunza only.

Ladakhi Language

Ladakhi is a Tibetan language and belongs to the Sino-Tibetan group of languages. It is spoken in the Leh district of Ladakh, Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. It is also spoken by the people living near the Line of Control in Baltistan near Leh district of Ladakh.

Purgi Language

Purgi is a southern Tibetan language and is spoken by the Purigpa people in Baltistan region of Pakistan and Ladakh in Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir. It is spoken only by a small group living in these regions. It belongs to the Sino-Tibetan group of languages.

Wakhi Language

Wakhi belongs to the Indo-European language and is spoken in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, China, and Pakistan. Wakhi speakers are inhabitants of the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Gorno-Badakhshan of Tajikistan, and the Xinjiang region of Western China. They are also known as the Wakhi people. In Gilgit-Baltistan, the Wakhi speakers live in Hunza, Gojal, Yasin, Gupis, and Ishkoman. Hunza Valley has a large number of Wakhi speakers in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. It is also the most spoken language but without any developed written system.

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