), 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.
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.