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Spoken in Pakistan
Total speakers 8,600 (1990)
Language family Indo-European
Official status
Official language in none
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 none
ISO 639-2 none
ISO 639-3 phl
Indic script
This page contains Indic text. Without rendering support you may see irregular vowel positioning and a lack of conjuncts. More...

Palula (also spelled Phalura, Palola, Phalulo), Ashreti, or Dangarikwar (the name used by Khowar speakers), is a language spoken by approximately 10,000 people in the valleys of Ashret and Biori, as well as in the village Puri (also Purigal) in the Shishi valley, and at least by a portion of the population in the village Kalkatak, in the Chitral District of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. A related variety of this language is spoken in the village Sau in Afghanistan, and another closely related variety in the village Khalkot in Dir District. Palula is pronounced as /paaluulaá/, with three long vowels and a rising pitch on the final syllable.

The people of Ashret are important because they are strategically located at the main gate to Chitral. All persons entering Chitral through Lowari Top, the 10,230 feet (3,120 m) high pass which connects Chitral to Dir and the rest of Pakistan, must pass the customs checkpost at Ashret.

The area where Palula is spoken includes 35°28′N 71°53′E / 35.467°N 71.883°E / 35.467; 71.883

Tradition has it that the people of Ashret are originally from Chilas in the Indus River Valley. The Mehtar or ruler of Chitral appointed them as the guardians of the gate to Chitral at Ashret. The tradition that the people of Ashret originally come from Chilas is supported by locally recorded genealogies as well as independent historical records, from Chitral as well as the Indus valley. There is no date to this story, but it appears to have happened 250-500 years ago. The present people of Chilas speak the related Shina language. Any connection they may have with the people of Ashret has been lost.

The Palula language has been documented by George Morgenstierne (1926), Kendall Decker (1992), and Henrik Liljegren (2008). It is classified as a Dardic Language but this is more of a geographical classification than a linguistic one.

In some of the smaller villages, Palula has either ceased to be spoken (in the village Ghos, situated near Drosh) or its speakers are largely shifting (as in Puri and Kalkatak) to the more widely spoken Khowar language. However, in the main Palula settlements in the Biori and Ashret valleys, it is a strong, vibrant and growing language, as the population in those areas increases, and it is still with a few exceptions the mother tongue of almost all people.

In 2004, Anjuman-e-taraqqi-e-Palula, the Society for the promotion of Palula, was founded by people in the Palula community to promote the continued use of their language and to encourage research and documentation of their language, history and culture. After the establishment of a written form of the language, the society is now in the process of producing some literature and literacy-material in Palula. In 2006, Palula Alifbe (Palula alphabet book) and Palula Shiluka (Palula stories) were jointly published by the Anjuman and the Frontier Language Institute in Peshawar.

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 or Persian.


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