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 Khowar Language

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. Colonel Biddulph (Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh) was amongst 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-mun, 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, Pakistan's national language.

According to Chitrali linguist Rehmat Aziz Khowar is closely related to language of Kalash Valleys such as Kalasha. It has influences on other languages in Pakistan, including Urdu and Pashto.
According to Rehmat Aziz Chitrali’s research before the 19th century, Khowar was an unwritten language. At the time princely state of Chitral, the official written language was Persian, although Khowar was still spoken from Arandu to Yarkhun valley and Ghizer Valley of Nothern Pakistan. During an interview to Akbar Ali Qazi a Ismaili religious scholor, Rehmat Aziz Chitrali said that ‘’British linguists and political historians wrote form with the Latin script, but following the independence of Pakistan, Chitrali scholars adopted Urdu Arabic script’’. The first humorous collection of poetry in Khowar, Guldasta-e-Rahmat (گلدستہء رحمت) by Rehmat Aziz Chitrali was published in 1996 and incorporated the Urdu Arabic Script. Rehmat Aziz also wrote a comprehensive guidance on the usage of Urdu Arabic script and standardized it as the Khowar Orthography. He has created Khowar alphabets and Romanized Khowar alphabets . This earned Rehmat Aziz the title of 'the Father of Khowar'. Rachitrali's alphabets are widely used in Perso-Arabic Script and Roman script. In Pakistan, however, Khowar is written in a modified Arabic script based on what is used for Urdu but the foreigners are using Rehmat Aziz’s Khowar Romanized script in their articles.

Written Khowar
Khowar has been written in the Arabic 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 1960's. Badshah Munir Bukhari and the Director Khowar Academy, Rehmat Aziz Chitrali worked on the language and its family.



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