Mother Tongue Literacy

Anglicized Orthography for Kh̃owar Language of the Northern Pakistan

December 30, 2018

Kh̃owar can bee termed as the Persian of the Northern Pakistan. It belongs to the Dardic group within Indo-Aryan languages family and is spoken by a significant number of people mainly in the districts of Chitral and Ghizer in addition to a significant number of the community in Gilgit as well as in a district within Eastern Afghanistan.
Like the other four indigenous languages of the region (excluding D̃uaaki), Kh̃owar has remained the ruling language in Chitral and Yasin in historical context. In Ghizer, among all other small languages, this language has its strong influence and preferred by them.
Literacy at mass level in Kh̃owar is seen mainly in Arabicized orthography, although in Ghizer district a strong group has even reached to the court of law to resist imposition of the Arabicized writing system of Chitral. Contribution to the written Kh̃owar could be evidenced from Chitral than Ghizer, although poets at various scales are seen contributing towards oral literature development from both indigenous districts of Ghizer and Chitral.
However, taken into accounts thee need for an alternative but more effective writing system for the young and coming generations, I propose an Anglicized orthography that has no issue at all in capturing the overall sounds of this sweet language. The target groups of Anglicized orthography ar certainly the students at all levels, the young and upcoming generations, the general mass and semi-literate people and those who are non-native like to learn Kh̃owar. I trust it will bee beneficial to them. I however hope the respective readers would provide their great inputs and suggestions for the improvement, if any they deem befitting.

Main Vowels

1. A: Adina (Friday), arqa (back), asqār (lung), awa (i)
2. E:
3. I: Istari (star), ishpashur (father-in-law), ishperi (white), ispa (our)
4. O: oc̃h (green), oc̃hi (meadow), oshoy (was)
5. U: ut̃ (camel), ugh (water), unu (chin), us̃ht̃uristay (fled; ran away)

6. B: bech (aunt), brar (brother), bac̃hol (calf), birmokh (walnut)
7. C: ciq (small), ciq nan (younger aunt), ciq shangur (small intestine), ciq tat(paternal younger uncle), ceqi (childhood)

8. Ch: Charshambe (Wednesday), chamot̃ (finger), chikãr (name of a plant)
9. Ch̃: ch̃anni (baby goat), ch̃ayush (kettle), ch̃aghch̃in (ugly)
10. C̃h: c̃harwelo (village headman), c̃haw (noodle), c̃hawr (a kind of thick broom in Khowar), c̃hetur (field/farmland)
11. D: droc̃h (grapes), dughur (nail), dunn (teeth), dur (home)
13. D̃: d̃aq (boy), d̃ék (leg), d̃od̃i (Adam’s Apple), d̃awd̃aw (soup)
14. G: gamburi (flower), gerdan (neck), gãz (grass), gol (ravine)
15. Gh: ghech (eye), ghirwalókh (peach), ghari (pastures), ghóli (rabbit)
16. H: hãrdi (heart), host (hand), hes (he/she ), het (they) him (snow)
17. J: jam (well/ok), jan (dear, soul), jamãr (son-in-law), jigãr (liver)
18. K: kicha (how), kãr (ear), kan (tree), kelli (female-sheep)
19. Kh:khur (and), khalta (pouch), khatãn (traditional Khowar house),
20. Kh̃:kh̃am (palate), kh̃apãl (head/skull), kh̃ãr (farmyard), kh̃ayranu (baby donkey)
21. L: ligini (tongue), lishu (cow), lot̃oro chamot̃ (thumb),loh (fox)
22. M:ma (my), maci (fish), mrac̃h (mulberry), mosh (husband), mik (maternal uncle)
23. N:nan (mother), nó (no), nishe (sit), naskãar (nose), nay (belly button)
24. P:pit̃ek (scarf), pingah (tomorrow), palókh (apple), pāz (chest)
25. Ph:phann (palm), phórdu (plant), phur (hair), phatuk (eyelash), phonik dance)
26. Q: qahar (anger), qastan (intentionally), qush (woolen quilt)
27. R: rajuli (a type of wild flower), rés̃hu (ox), rojayu (daughter-in-law)
28. S: saruzg (juniper), sayurj (eagle/hawk), sawz (green), sin (river)
29. Sh: shangur (intestine), shapĩr (wolf), shoro (autumn), shunn (lip)
30. S̃h:s̃ha (black), s̃hayoz (glacier), s̃hongu (bull)
31. T: tat (father), téli (willow), terek (poplar tree) tonus̃hu (ibex)
32. T̃: t̃ong (pear), t̃unn (pillar), t̃ek (cooking place in the traditional Kh̃owar house)
33. V: vezen (yesterday), veshuru (over confident),varzidini (cushion), Verchik (Burushaski speaker), verku (lamb)
34. W: waw (grandma), wanj (adze), warc (easy), wakht (time)
35. Y: Yekshambe (Sunday), yurj (falcon), yomun (winter), yoz (ice; yaz in Wakhi is for glacier)
36. Z: zemin (earth/land), zannu (knee), zarballi (yellow rose)
37. Zh: zhuli (apricot), zhaw (son), zhur (daughter)
38. Z̃h: z̃hoc̃h (implicated knot of threads; also z̃hoc̃h means a confused or passive person), z̃henz̃her (chain), z̃hogh (weak)

My sincere gratitude goes to Niyat Wali, serving Professional Development Center (North) of the Aga Khan University, Karachi who generously shared the Kh̃owar vocabularies with me during a long interview with him in 2014. In addition I’m also indebted to Jamil Hussain Kakakhel of Gulaghmuli (Ghizer District of Gilgit-Baltistan Region) who is an outstanding student of Karakoram International University (Gilgit) for his kind critical review and correction of this Anglicized Kh̃owar Alphabet so enthusiastically. I hope this small contribution will provide an opportunity for the native speakers as well as non-natives (interested in learning Kh̃owar) to look into the new approach of reading and writing this fascinating and sweet language.

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