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Nuristani languages: Wikis


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The Nuristani languages are a third separate group of the Indo-Iranian language family,[1][2][3] and they are spoken primarily in eastern Afghanistan.



The Nuristani languages were not described in the literature until the 19th century. The older name for the region was Kafiristan and the languages were termed Kafiri or Kafiristani, but the terms have been replaced by the present ones since the conversion of the region to Islam in 1896.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 (1973, 1975). However, sometimes it is classified in the Dardic languages branch of the Indo-Aryan language family, while another theory characterized it as originally Iranian, but greatly influenced by the nearby Dardic languages. 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 of Pakistan.

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

The Norwegian linguist Georg Morgenstierne wrote that Chitral in Pakistan is the area of the greatest linguistic diversity in the world. Although Khowar is the predominant language of Chitral and northwestern Pakistan, 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 a modified Arabic alphabet.

Many Nursitani people now speak other languages, such as Persian and Pashto--two official languages of Afghanistan.

List of Nuristani languages



  1. ^ SIL Ethnologue [1]
  2. ^ Morgenstierne, G. Irano-Dardica. Wiesbaden 1973; Morgenstierne, G. Die Stellung der Kafirsprachen. In Irano-Dardica, 327-343. Wiesbaden, Reichert 1975
  3. ^ Strand, Richard F. (1973) "Notes on the Nûristânî and Dardic Languages." Journal of the American Oriental Society, 93.3: 297-305.

External links

See also



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