Sociolinguistic Profile of Kashmiri
research on the linguistic aspects of the Kashmiri language is very inadequate
and fragmentary; therefore, a clear sociolinguistic profile of the language has
not emerged as yet. There are several reasons for this lack of research on
Kashmiri. Consider the following 1 observation (Kachru, 1969) ,
The last two decades, especially
after 1955, have been of substantial linguistic activity on the Indian
sub-continent. A large number of Indic languages have been analyzed for the
first time, and new analyses of many languages have been worked out following
contemporary linguistic models. By and large, this linguistic interest has
left Kashmiri and other Dardic languages untouched. There are two main reasons
for this neglect of the Dardic languages. First, politically, the task is
difficult since the Dardic language area spreads over three political
boundaries and involves three countries (i.e. Afghanistan, sections of the
western part of Pakistan, and the northern part of India). Second,
geographically, the terrain is not easily accessible. Thus there continues to
be a great shortage of reliable and detailed linguistic literature on the
Dardic language family.
In the following pages, some basic
information is presented which should be of interest as a background for the
study of Kashmiri, to someone who is studying the language.
At present, the area-defined
varieties of Kashmiri are very tentatively classified; and, for most of these,
we do not have any descriptions or lexicons available (see Grierson,1915; and
The Kashmiri language and its
dialects are spoken by 1,959,115 people in the Valley of Kashmir and surrounding
areas. The language area covers approximately 10,000 square miles in the Jammu
and Kashmir State.  The natives of Kashmir call their land
and their language .
In Hindi-Urdu the terms
are used for the language.
The question of the linguistic
origin of Kashmiri, and its relation,on the one hand, to the Dardic group of
languages and, on the other hand to the Indo-Aryan group of languages, continues
to be discussed. The question was originally raised in a serious sense by
Grierson.  He claimed that, linguistically, Kashmiri holds a peculiar
position because it has some formal features which show its Dardic
characteristics and many other features which it shares with the Indo-Aryan
languages. There are basically the following two views on the origin of
Kashmiri. The first view is that Kashmiri developed like other Indo-Aryan
languages, (e.g., Hindi and Punjabi) out of the Indo-European family of
languages and thus, may be considered a branch of Indo-Aryan. Chatterjee argues
... Kashmiri, in spite of a Dardic
substratum in it people and its speech, became a part of the Sanskritic
culture-world of India. The Indo-Aryan Prakrits and Apabhramsa from the
Midland and from Northern Panjab profoundly modified the Dardic bases of
Kashmiri, so that one might say that the Kashmiri language is a result of a
very large over-laying of a Dardic base with Indo-Aryan elements. 
The second view is that Kashmiri
belongs to a separate group--within the Indo-Aryan branch of
Indo-European--called the Dardic (or the ) group of languages, the other
two members of the group being Indo-Aryan and Iranian. Grierson suggests
languages, which include the Shina-Khowar group, occupy a position
intermediate between the Sanskritic languages of India proper and Eranian
languages farther to their west. They thus possess many features that are
common to them and to the Sanskritic languages. But they also possess features
peculiar to themselves, and others in which they agree rather with languages
of the Eranian family.... That language [Kashmiri] possesses nearly all the
features that are peculiar to ,
and also those in which
agrees with Eranian. 
Three language groups are included in
the Dardic family: the Kafiri Group, the Khowar Group, and the Dard
Group. It is rather difficult to give the exact number of speakers of these
three groups because political and geographical factors have made it impossible
to secure any reliable figures. Often the number of speakers and the name
of a language varies from study to study. Traditionally, the above three groups
have further been sub-classified according to the languages and/or dialects in
each group. In three available studies , one finds extreme differences and
confusions in both the names and number of languages listed under these three
groups. These lists, according to Morgenstiern , are partially correct.
Morgenstiern has also pointed out other inconsistencies pertaining to the names
of languages and/or dialects as they appear in these studies.
Table Showing the
Speakers of Dardic Languages 
|Language (or Group)
||Number of Speakers
Out of the languages of the Dardic
Group, Kashmiri came under the direct influence of Sanskrit and later Prakrits,
and much later under Persian and Arabic.
There has been no serious dialect
research on Kashmiri. The outdated and rather tentative dialect classification
of Kashmiri by Grierson continues to be used in current literature. Adopting the
same framework, the dialects of Kashmiri may be grouped along two dimensions:
(a) those dialects which are area-defined, and (b) those dialects which are
defined in terms of the user.
The list of area-defined dialects
given in Grierson and in the Census of India 1961 are not identical. In
the latter, the following dialects are listed: Bunjwali (550); Kishtwari
(11,633); Poguli (9,508); Shiraji-Kashmiri (19,978); Kaghani (152); and
Kohistani (81). Grierson, on the other hand, claims that Kashmiri has
"only one true dialect--Kashtawari" and "a number of mixed
dialects such as Poguli, Siraji of Doda and Rambani .... Farther east, over the
greater part of the Riasi District of the State, there are more of these mixed
dialects, about which nothing certain is known, except that the mixture is
rather between Kashmiri and the Chibhali form of Lahanda." 
There has been no
linguistically-oriented field work on the dialects of Kashmiri. The above
classifications, determined by both Grierson and the Census of India, 1961, seem
to be arbitrary and subjective. Perhaps further investigation may show that
Kashtawari is the only dialect of Kashmiri,as is claimed by Grierson, and that
the other varieties are (a) those based on the variations of village speech, (b)
those based on Sanskrit and Persian/Arabic influences, and (c) those based on
professions and occupations of speakers. In some studies, the above (b) have
been termed the religious dialects of Kashmiri (i.e., Hindu Kashmiri and Muslim
In current literature, the
following are generally treated as the area-defined dialects of Kashmiri:
1. Kashtawari :
This is spoken in the Valley of Kashtawar which lies on the southeast of
Kashmir, on the upper Chinab River. It shows the deep influence of the Pahari
and the Lahanda dialects, and is written in the Takri characters.
In the literature, the Kashmiri Speech
Community has traditionally been divided into the following area-defined
2. Poguli : This is spoken in the
valleys of Pogul, Paristan and Sar. These valleys lie to the west of Kashtawar
and to the south of the Pir Pantsal (Panchal) range. Bailey has used the
cover-term Poguli for the language of this area. It is mixed with the Pahari
and Lahanda dialects.
3. Siraji : This is spoken in the
town of Doda on the River Chinab. Whether or not it is a dialect of Kashmiri
is still debated. Grierson thinks that it can, with almost "equal
correctness, be classed as a dialect of Kashmiri... because it possesses
certain Dardic characteristics which are absent in Western Pahari. 
4. Rambani : This is spoken in a small area
that lies between Srinagar and Jammu. It is a mixture of Siraji and Dogri, and
shares features with both Kashmiri and Dogri.
(in the southern and southeastern region),
On the basis of this grouping,
it is believed that the Kashmiri spoken in the mara:z
area is highly Sanskritized and the variety spoken in the kamra:z
area has had a deep Dardic influence. Note that further research on the dialect
situation of Kashmiri may show that, in addition to village dialects (and
perhaps religious dialects), Kashtawari is the only dialect of Kashmiri outside
of the valley, and that the other dialects discussed above are only partially
influenced by Kashmiri, since they are spoken in transition zones.
(b) kamra:z (in
the northern and northwestern region), and
(c) yamra:z (in
Srinagar and some of its surrounding areas).
In earlier and current literature,
it has been claimed that in terms of the users there are two dialects of
Kashmiri: Hindu Kashmiri, and Muslim Kashmiri  The evidence
presented for this religious dichotomy is that Hindu Kashmiri has borrowings
from Sanskrit sources, and Muslim Kashimri has borrowings from Persian (and
Arabic) sources. It turns out that the situation is not as clear cut as has been
presented by Grierson and Zinda Koul 'Masterji', for example. The religious
dichotomy applies, to some extent, to Srinagar Kashmiri, but it presents an
erroneous picture of the overall dialect situation of the language. We shall,
therefore, use rather neutral terms, i.e., Sanskritized Kashmiri (SK) and
Persianized Kashmiri (PK).
The differences at the
phonetic/phonological levels between the two communities may be explained in
terms of distribution and frequency of certain phonemes. The sub-system of
borrowed phonological features also is shared by the educated speakers of the
two communities (e.g., /f/ and /q/). The other differences are mainly lexical
and, in a very few cases, morphological. Lexically, SK has borrowed from
Sanskrit sources and PK from Persian and Arabic sources. This aspect of
Kashmiri, however, needs further research.
In village Kashmiri, the
religion-marking phonetic/phonological and morphological features merge into
one, though in Srinagar Kashmiri, as stated earlier, they mark the two
communities as separate. In recent years, with the spread of education, the
religious differences have been slowly disappearing. In earlier studies, the
observations made on the religious dialects of Kashmiri are mainly based on
lexical evidence, and whatever phonetic/phonblogical evidence is presented
is from Srinagar Kashmiri. Consider, for example, the sound alternations in the
The following variations are,
essentially, the substitution of different phonemes in individual lexical items.
It seems that the two communities share one overall phonological system; In
alternates with [r] in the speech of Muslims. This feature is again shared by
both communities in village Kashmiri, (e.g., PK ;
Note also, among others, the following differences:
The lexical variation between SK and
PK is based on the sources of lexical items. In SK there is a high frequency of
Sanskrit items, while in PK there are Persian and Arabic borrowings. On the
other hand, a number of registers (e.g., legal or business) have a high
frequency of Persio-Arabic borrowings that are shared by both the communities.
Note that the dichotomy of SK and PK does not always hold with reference to the
use of Sanskritized words by the Hindus and Persianized words by the Muslims.
There are several examples where Muslims use SK and Hindus use PK, for example,
'moon' has a high frequency among Muslims. Consider the following two sets of
The Persianized forms of these are
The morphological differences are of
two types: those which differ in the source (see above), and those which show
the presence of an item in one community which is now absent in the speech of
the other community.
Note, for example, that in PK
has been preserved as a conjunction, but in SK it is fast disappearing, at least
in Srinagar SK. In Srinagar agar
is used more frequently (this is a loan from Hindi-Urdu, Punjabi). This also
applies to the item
'I did not go there for this reason.') which is restricted to PK. The use of the
following declensions is also restricted to Muslims in Srinagar Kashmiri,
although it is shared by both communities in the villages:
It is customary to consider
Kashmiri, as spoken in Srinagar, as the standard form of the language. The
attitude-denoting such terms as
'village Kashmiri' and
'city Kashmiri' are frequently used to mark speakers. The administrative
and educational uses of Kashmiri are still very restricted. Therefore, the
process of standardization is very slow. In recent years, especially since 1947,
Kashmiri has been used for various forms of creative writing. This has helped in
developing various literary styles.
Systems of Kashmiri
The aim of this manual is not to
introduce a learner to the writing system of Kashmiri. We have, therefore, used
a modified version of the Roman script, with some diacritical marks added. There
were several reasons for this decision. The main reason is that there is
no uniformity in the use of scripts for Kashmiri. In recent years, Kashmiri has
been written in more than one script. The reasons for this lack of uniformity
are both socio-religious and political. The following scripts are used for
Kashmiri and some of its dialects.
Developed around the 10th century,
this is the oldest script known to Kashmiris. It is now used for restricted
purposes by a small group among the Kashmiri Pandit community (e.g., for
religious purposes or horoscope writing). In formation, the symbols are
different from the Devanagari symbols and every letter of the alphabet has a
This was used by Kashmiri Hindus
for writing Kashmiri literature until 1947, and is still in use today. It was
made popular particularly by Zinda Koul 'Masterji' and S. K. Toshkhani.
This cuts across religious
boundaries and is now used by both the Pandits and the Muslims. It has also been
recognized as the official script for Kashmiri by the Jammu and Kashmir
This, too, has been used by a very
small number of Kashmiris (see J. L. Kaul, Kashmiri Lyrics).
This is used in the Kashtawar area
In the Dardic group, Kashmiri is
the only language which has a literary tradition. The earliest literary text of
Kashmiri has been placed between 1200 and 1500 A.D. The tradition of literary
writing, however, was not continuous, and there have been many significant
interruptions. We may divide the history of Kashmiri literature, on the basis of
the language features and content of the texts, into the following tentative
periods: the Early Period (up to 1500 A.D.), the Early Middle Period (1500 to
1800 A.D.), the Late Middle Period (up to 1900 A.D.), the Modern Period
(1900-1946), the Contemporary Period (1947- ).
a work on Tantric worship, is considered to be the first extant
manuscript written in the Sharda script (cf. 5.0.). Little is known about its
author Sitikanta Acharya. Grierson assigns it to the 15th century, but Chatterji
and some other scholars  are of the opinion that it was composed around the
13th century. Another work, Chumma-Sampradaya, is comprised of
seventy-four verses belongs to the same period. The development of prose forms
of literature (e.g., novels, short stories, drama) is very recent in Kashmiri.
In this book we have written brief notes on five poets of Kashmiri. These
include two poetesses, Lal Ded and Habba
Khatun, and three poets, Zinda Koul 'Masterji',
Gulam Ahmad 'Mahjoor', and Dina
Nath 'Nadim'. We have also included some of their poems (see Lessons
46 through 50).
In general, the languages of the
Dardic-group show a large number of lexical items which have been preserved from
Vedic Sanskrit and which are rarely found in other Indian languages. The
Kashmiri language and literature had two major influences. First, the earliest
phase of Kashmiri shows the impact of Sanskrit on Kashmiri. The second phase
began after the invasions of the Muslims and the large scale conversion to
Islam. This phase led to Persian (and Arabic) influences. The impact of the West
on Kashmiri literature is recent.
In the current language planning of
does not play an importatnt role. Kashmir is the only State of India in which a
non-native language was introduced as the state language after the Independence.
Thus, Kashmiri, which is the first language of 1,959,115 speakers, is not now in
the language planning of the state. Though Kashmiri is the medium of instruction
in the primary schools, the teachers have inadequate teaching materials and no
motivation for teaching their own language. In this connection, the following
observation continues to be true (see Kachru, 1969).
The University of Jammu and Kashmir
has so far shown no interest in research in Kashmiri and/or other Dardic
languages. One can count many reasons for this attitude (e.g., political,
educational), but the main reason is the language-attitude of Kashmiris toward
their own language. This attitude has developed over hundreds of years under
varied foreign political and cultural domination and, in spite of the recent
cultural upsurge, the attitude toward the language has not changed. Perhaps this
is why the Government and other educational institutions  do not seriously
their academic domain.
Braj B. Kachru, "Kashmiri and Other Dardic Languages" in Current
Trends in Linguistics, Vol. 5, ed. Thomas A. Sebeok (The Hague: Mouton ,
1969), p. 284.
Registrar-General and Census Commissioner of India, Census of India,
Vol. 1, Part 2, Language Tables (Delhi: 1965).
In English a number of spellings have been used in literature for
transliterating the word Kashmiri, e.g., Kaschemiri, Cashmiri, Cashmeeree,
For arguments in favor and against these two views, cf. G.A. Grierson, The
Linguistic Survey of India, Vol. 8, Part 2, p. 235 and pp. 241-253;
Sunitikumar Chatterji, Indo-Aryan and Hindi, 2nd edition (Calcutta:
1960), pp. 130-131; Languages and Literatures of Modern India
(Calcutta: 1963, pp. 33-34; M.S. Namus, “Origin of Shina Language" in Pakistani
Linguistics 1962, Lahore, pp. 55-60; Census of India 1961, pp. ccii-cciii;
Braj B. Kachru, op. cit.
Sunitikamar Chatterji, Languages and Literatures of Modern India
(Calcutta: 1963)., p. 256.
G.A. Grierson, "The Linguistic Classification of Kashmiri", Indian
Antiquary, XLIV, (1915).
For sub-classifications of languages/dialects under these three groups see:
"The Dardic branch or sub-branch of Indo-European" in the supplement
"Languages of the World: Indo-European Fascicle One" of Anthropological
Linguistics, Vol. 7, No. 8, Nov. 1965, pp. 284-294; Grierson, G.A., Linguistic
Survey of India,Vol. 8, Part 2, p. 2; A. Mitra, Census of India,
1961, Vol. 1, an introductory note on classification by R.C. Nigam, Registrar
General, India, (Delhi: 1964), pp. ccii, cciii, ccxxxiv, 216, and 401. The
following review article based on the available published literature, presents
the same sub-classification as given in the above studies: Braj B. Kachru,
"Kashmiri and Other Dardic Languages", in Current Trends in
Linguistics, Vol. 5, pp. 284-306. It seems that if Morgenstiern's
observation is correct, then all the above mentioned studies are misleading.
Kachru (op. cit.) has referred to this confusion in the
available literature on the Dardic languages in his study. Note the following:
"We do not have reliable figures even about the number of speakers of
these languages. What is worse, in the available studies, there is no
uniformity about the number and names of languages which are included under
the Dardic group . (Ibid.,p. 286)
The following are some of the
important studies on the Dardic group of languages (mainly on the Kafiri and
S.A. Burnes "On the Siah-Posh
Kafirs: with Specimens of their language and costume" , Journal of the
Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. 7, (1838); G. Morgenstierne,
"Indo-European K in Kafiri", NTS, Vol. 13 (1945);
"The Personal Pronouns first and second plural in the Dardic and Kafir
Languages", IL, Vol. V (1953); Ernest Trumpp, "On the
Language of the So-called Kafirs of the Indian Caucasus", JRAS,
Vol. 29 (1862), (also cf. ZDMG, Vol. 20, 1868).
G. Morgenstierne, "Some
Features of Khowar Morphology", NTS, Vol 24 (1947); "Sanskrit
Words in Khowar", in Felicitation Volume Presented to Professor Sripad
Krishna Belvalkar , ed. S. Radhakrishnan, et. al. (Benaras: 1957); D.J.T.
O'Brien, Grammar and Vocabulary of the Khowar Dialect (Chitrali), with
Introductory Sketch of country and People (Lahore: 1895).
See also footnote 9 for Shina.
In a personal communication dated June 1, 1970, Georg Morgenstierne, makes the
following points about the classification of the Dardic group of languages:
a) Wai-ala is
identical with Waigali of which Zhonjigali is a sub-dialect;
b) Prasun is another name for Wasi-veri;
c) the correct form [of Ashkund] is
d) Dameli [not mentioned in any of the
lists in above mentioned studies (see fn. 7)] "might possibly be
included" among the languages in the Kafir group;
e) "Gowar-bati, Pashai and Tirahi
are not Kafir languages, and Lagman, Deghani (for Dehgani) are neither
alternative names for Pashai as a whole, nor well-chosen names for the most
important dialects of this extremely split-up language";
f) Bashkarik belongs (together with
Torwali and other dialects) to the Kohistani group, "at any rate in the
generally accepted meaning of this term";
g) Gujuri is not a Kafiri nor even a
Dardic language; under Shina the archaic Phalura (in Chitral) should be
In addition to this he has also
made certain points about the Khowar group. This communication of
Morgenstierne makes it clearer that we still do not have even a definitive or
reliable classification of these languages. The three studies mentioned in fn.
7 are therefore to be taken as very tentative and in many cases misleading and
Cf. The Census of India, 1961 (Delhi: 1964), pp. ccii-cciii. Note that
the Census Report makes it clear that "...the Kafir and Khowar groups of
speakers have their main concentration outside the Indian territory ...".
Linguistic Survey of India, Vol. 8, Part 2, p. 233.
Ibid., p. 433.
Braj B. Kachru, op. cit.
Sunitikumar Chatterji, Languages and Literatures of Modern India
(Calcutta: 1963), pp. 258-259.
Kachru, op. cit., p. 300.