Dameli language

Native to Pakistan
Region Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Native speakers
5,000 (2001)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 dml
Glottolog dame1241[2]

Dameli is a language spoken by approximately 5,000 people in the Domel Valley, in the Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

The Domel or Damel Valley is about ten miles south of Drosh on the East Side of the Chitral or Kunar river, on the road from the Mirkhani Fort to the pass of Arandu.

Emil Perder's 2013 dissertation, A Grammatical Description of Dameli, based on the author's field work, is the first comprehensive description of the Dameli language. Before Perder's work, the main source of information on Dameli was an article by Georg Morgenstierne, published in 1942: "Notes on Dameli: A Kafir-Dardic Language of the Chitral". A sociolinguistic survey written by Kendall Decker (1992) contains a chapter on Dameli.

The language is classified as a Dardic language but this is more of a geographical classification than a linguistic one. The Dardic languages have been historically seen as Indo-Iranian, but today they are placed within Indo-Aryan following Morgenstierne's work.[3]

Dameli is still the main language in the villages where it is spoken, and is regularly learned by children. Most of the men speak Pashto as a second language, and some also speak Khowar and Urdu but there are no signs of massive language change.

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, and Pashto. Since many of these languages have no written form, letters are usually written in Urdu.


The following tables set out the phonology of the Dameli Language.[4]


Labial Coronal Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ɳ (ŋ)
Stop voiceless p t ʈ k (q)
voiced b d ɖ ɡ
aspirated ʈʰ
Affricate plain ts
aspirated tsʰ tʂʰ tʃʰ
Fricative voiceless ɳ ʂ ʃ x h
voiced ʐ ʒ ɣ
Approximant l j w
Rhotic r rʲ ~ ç (?)

See also


  1. Dameli at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Dameli". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Bashir, Elena (2007). Jain, Danesh; Cardona, George, eds. The Indo-Aryan languages. p. 905. ISBN 978-0415772945. 'Dardic' is a geographic cover term for those Northwest Indo-Aryan languages which [..] developed new characteristics different from the IA languages of the Indo-Gangetic plain. Although the Dardic and Nuristani (previously 'Kafiri') languages were formerly grouped together, Morgenstierne (1965) has established that the Dardic languages are Indo-Aryan, and that the Nuristani languages constitute a separate subgroup of Indo-Iranian.
  4. Edelman, D. I. (1983). The Dardic and Nuristani Languages. Moscow: Institut vostokovedenii︠a︡ (Akademii︠a︡ nauk SSSR). p. 129.

Further reading

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