Globalization and small languages
Globalization has brought with it one big disadvantage: it has endangered small languages and dialects all over the world.
It is said that many of the over 6,000 small languages and dialects in the world are dying out or fast making way to big
languages who are becoming ubiquitous through powerful media of mass communication.
If unity in diversity is anything of value,
According to Norwegian linguist Georg Morgenstierne, who spent a long time in Chitral in the 1920s and 1930s, Chitral
possessed the highest linguistic diversity in the world. The reason for this is obvious. The 14,800-square-km district
consists of high mountains interspaced by isolated valleys where small communities have lived for centuries free from outside
Khowar, a Dardic language of Indo-Aryan group, is the mother tongue of the population in Chitral.
Other indigenous languages of the area are Phalura, Gujari, Dameli, Gawar-Bati, Nuristani, Kalasha, Yidgha, Wakhi and
Finally, there is the newly arrived language of Munji. This is a language similar to Yidgha which was spoken in the Munjan
Valley in Badakhshan in
Lastly, Urdu being the national language is used for all written communications especially since almost all of the other
languages have no written form. This makes a grand total of 14 languages spoken in Chitral.
Some of these languages are in danger of dying out within the next few generations. This is especially true of Phalura, also
known as Ashretiwar, whose speakers now want their children to convert to Khowar.
The language in greatest danger of dying out is Kalasha because there are only 3,000 Kalash speakers left and, more
importantly, when a Kalash converts to Islam, he customarily starts speaking Khowar instead of Kalasha.
Among the ten languages indigenous to Chitral, little is known about Wakhi, except that it is believed to be an archaic
variety of Persian, perhaps similar to that spoken in
Wakhi is spoken by only a few families in the
This is also the area where
former Soviet Republic of Kirgizskaya. There are also said to be a few speakers of the Sarikoli language in that area. Sarikoli is
Although some of the other languages are decreasing in importance, or are dying out completely, Khowar is increasing in
importance for several reasons: The local population itself is increasing, people of the area who stop speaking their own
language generally convert to Khowar and the Afghan refugees who have lived in Chitral since 1979 raised new families
there and they and their children have learned to speak Khowar.
Finally, the alternatives of Pashtu and Urdu are unacceptable.
Pashtu is a difficult and complex language which not many want to learn unless they must. Moreover, Pathans are not well liked and are known for engaging in endless blood feuds and for fighting and killing each other. Urdu is primarily a written language and a lingua franca. Few families speak Urdu in their homes, even in lower
Tags: Khowar Language , Chitral
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