Mother Tongue Literacy

Anglicized Written System for D̃umaaki Language of the Northern Pakistan

December 30, 2018

D̃umaaki [D̃umãki] is one of the most endangered languages of Pakistan which is spoken by a few thousands of people in Gilgit-Baltistan Region and more specifically in Hunza valley . Although, this language community lives in different valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan Region, they have lost their enriched mother tongue in the face of severe social discrimation and marginalization by the so-called upper classes with their higher languages as D̃umaaki is considered as the language of D̃om community (the traditional engineers, artisans and musicians).
D̃umaaki broadly belongs to the Indic within Indo-Aryan languages family. However, in the Northern Pakistan, this language community could be seen living side by side with their Dardic cousins like S̃hina and Kh̃owar as well as Burushaski and Wakhi Pamiri communities.Although, in other districts of Gilgit-Baltistan Region D̃umaaki language could be seen extinct, in the settlements like Mominabad and S̃his̃hkat̃ in Hunza and Bed̃ishall of Nagar, their presence could be evidenced in slight manner with little pride and confidence.
More and more sensitization compaigns continues for preservation of D̃umaaki and many non-native speakers from abroad and at home have been trying to conduct studies on this language. However, yet less native reesearchers and proactive native civil society organizations could be observed taking up the preservation and promotion ventures with a high pride and to continue effectively to pass on this old aged language tradition to the respective young and coming generations.
One of the young researchers can be witnessed as Islamuddin who contributed a bit during his Masters thesis from Karakoram International University in 2014, although other university students are also seen taking interest to stud and safeguard D̃umaaki. More and more native speakers are seen preferring English and Urdu (in addition with Burushaski) in their localities.
Keeping in view such phenomenon, Anglicized writing system of D̃umaaki could be evidenced highly invaluable and effective for the mother-tongue literacy. In this regard, here I’m going to offer the words of D̃umaaki language on Anglicized orthography to know to what extent it has its intimate relationship, similarities and differences with other languages within its cultural environment as well as how it captures thee sounds so effectively. . Additionally, Anglicized D̃umaaki is so easy to be read, written and understood.
The D̃umaaki vowel Sounds
There are five main vowel sounds in D̃umaki language and mostly they are observed to share with the indigenous languages of Northern Pakistan. The vowel letters are highly friendly and fair for the learners to learn as they are fixed for the respective vowel sounds and other sounds cannot be anticipated as in English, French and Russian the vowel letters sometimes pushes the learners towards complexities.
For instance, “A” would always be “a” as it sounds in “arm”; or as “a” in “car” and never “a” in care.”
“E” will always be “e” in “egg” or “exit”,or “edge” and never “e” in “English.”
“I” will always be “I” in “ink”, “in”, “input” or “inn” and never as “I” in “idol”, “idle”, or “idea.”
“O” will always be “o” in “orange”, “old” and “or” and can never be “o” in “color”, “conquer”, “come”, and so on.
“U” will always be “u” in “put” and could never be pronounced like “u” in “but.”
Examples of D̃umaki Vowels and Words Formation
It should be noted that the D̃umaki words are followed by English meanings or explanation in the parenthesis).
1. A: Ac̃hi (eye), appu (ahead), aw (come), anna (in), awa (yes)
2. E: Ek (one), ep (hey), eyan (he in accusative form), eyas (along with it or him or her), eyashu (he)
3. I: Iyashu (she, inkar (refuse),
4. O: och (today), oqo (ghost), opo (fat), olom (catch quickly),
5. U: Uyoq (comb nicely one’s hair),

Consonant Sounds
6. B: It’s the same letter sound as in English. Examples: Bakkire (goats), bobot (boiling of curry), boboq (shin)
7. C: It is not the same sound as in English but rather sounds like German “c” in cehn” (in ten; or in more general way “c” has the sound like “ts” as in “Tsar” or “Czar” in Russian). Besides this sound is also found in Russian, Greek, Italian and many other languages also including aboriginal languages. “C” sound is also found in other indigenous languages of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. Examples: Camika (as cimik in Wakhi made out of qurut), Coq (to search out), caq (take out lice from one’s hair), ciq (bleeding or droplets)
8. Ch: it’s the same sound of and should always be pronounced like English “ch” in “Chair”, “cheese”, or “charm.”; But it should be noted that unlike English “ch” can never be pronounced as “k” as in “Chemistry”; or “chord.” In the same manner, “ch” cannot be pronounced as “sh” as sometimes it can be witnessed in English (coming from French) to pronounce like “sh” as in “nish.” Examples: Chap (hide), chaboq (matchs), char (grass), chorit̃o (thief), chaq (to chew), charap (to cut)
9. C̃h: it’s the retroflex sound of “ch” and can be found within the indigenous languages of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral Region; as well as in Chinese and Russian. Examples: C̃hop (jump), c̃ham (dig), c̃h̃ng (opening the door slowly), c̃honc̃h (moon).
10. C̃h̃: It’s the same sound as “c̃h”,but has a more hissing stress sound and makes it a distinctive phoneme before the native speakers. Examples: C̃h̃ec̃h (field), c̃h̃ar (galloping).
11. D: It’s the soft sound of English “d” and should not be perceived as English or German “d” sound. It’s rather the same sound as is found and pronounced the in the same way in French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and the like. Examples: Dapuski (to kick), dalbut̃ (floating), danna (teeth), don (tooth), dunna (to hang)
12. D̃: It has the same sound as English or german “d” in “dog” or Deutsch.” Examples: D̃umaki (Dumaki language), d̃adong (drum), d̃aamal (damal), dẽyyi (run away), d̃or (the V shape box for whaet within a watermill); and d̃od̃o (throat).
13. F: It’s the same as in English. Examples: Fas̃h (to explore or search), far (turn about), fãr ho (look at me; or return and go),
14. G: It should never be named as “ji” rather is “g” or “gi.” “G” is always fixed for “g” in “gall”, “give”, “get””,”got”, or “gum.” It should be noted that “g” should never be pronounced like “ji” as is occasionally found in English in the case of “ge” in “geo” or “age”, “edge”, or others. Examples: Goli (bread), geyyi (she went), giyya (he went), girminayyi (write), girayi (beg), gor (house), garong (marriages), gar (marriage)
15. Gh: it’s the same sound as “gh” of “Ghulam” in Urdu or Persian; or “r” of German in “reise” and “parler” in French.
16. H: It’s the same English sound as in “hen”,” hall”, and should always be pronounced and could never be kept silent like English as “h” is silent in the case of “honour” or “hour.” Examples: Halong (to jump during dancing), halkis̃h (stomach), hot (hand), Hunz̃wa (Hunza)
17. J: It’s the same as in English. Examples: Jibong (telling a lie), jaram (collaps), jam (face), jurka (storm)
18. J̃: It’s a retroflex sound of regular “j” and is found in almost all the indigenous languages of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. J̃aq (squeeze the cloth during washing),j̃awo (nephew), j̃akhun (donkey)
19. K: It’s the same as in English. Examples: Karat̃ (break), karãt̃ (to drill), kako (elder brother), kaki (elder sister)
20. L: It’s the same as in English. Examples: Lom (catch or hold), loy (fox), loyyi (red), loya (morning), lam (flare)
21. M: It’s the same as in English. Examples: Mãya (mother), mappa (with me), manish (man), makule (beads hanging in neck), moq (smile)
22. N: It’s the same as in English. Examples: Nawra (nail), nom (name), na (no)
23. P: It’s the same as in English. Examples: Paruch (listen), pari (fairy), pat̃t̃a (leaves), piyya (father), po (foot).
24. Q: It’s the same as in Arabic or Turkic languages. It should be noted that in English, “q” has come from Arabic via Greek to Latin and cannot be pronounced like Arabic “q” rather is perceived as “k.”. Examples: Qarap (bended back during old stages of a person), qarang (the voice of opening the door swiftly), qarabat (gallop of horse behind each other), qurut (qurut), qarqamuch (hen), qogqurochu (rooster)
25. R: It’s the same as in English. Examples: Rabong (beans), rong (colour), ram (to fall)
26. S: It’s the same as in English. Examples: Somo (friend), so )sleep), sanna )gem stones), son (gold).
27. Sh: It’s the same as in English. Examples: Shen (garden), shara (deer), sharan (roof), shaq (basket of bread), shoroq (extreme riping of fruits),
28. S̃h: It’s a retroflex sound and found similar within the indigenous languages of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral Region. Examples: S̃h s̃harong (mehndi), s̃has̃har (breathing out fastly), s̃hoq (to slip in water).
29. T: It’s the softer sound of English “t.” It should not be pronounced like English or German “t” but rather is the same sound of “t” in French, Spanish, Italian, Greek and Russian. Examples: To (sun), taq (breakage), traq (turn on the button of light), trama (a huge size of plate),
30. T̃: It’s the same regular “t” or German sound as in tomato, tin, and the like. Examples: T̃ut̃ang (dark),t̃opt̃op (drops of rains), t̃am (close),
31. T̃h̃: It’s the same retroflex “t̃” but with more hissing and stressed phoneme before the native speakers. Examples: T̃h̃ar (breakage of welding or falling down), t̃h̃ot̃ (pitk̃horm),
32. Y: It’s the same as in English. Examples: Yoqa (beautiful), yopus̃h (broom), ya (don’t), yol (shade), yole (entire year),
33. Z̃: It’s the voiced form of “c” and is not commonly found in English, although one of the words could be witnessed as “adz.” Examples: Z̃arap (to pinch), z̃aram (pẽdar ) in Wakhi for making butter milk) z̃al (flirt),

I’m so grateful to all the D̃umaki respondents of Hunza valley in the Northern Pakistan who generously shared the words with me in interviews during my anthropological fieldwork in different periods after 2010. It should be noted that this sound system description for D̃umaki needs to be improved further .

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