Khowar language

"Khowar" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Kovar.
"Chitrali language" redirects here. For other uses, see Chitrali language (disambiguation).
Native to Pakistan
Region Chitral District
Ethnicity Kho people
Native speakers
290,000 (2004)[1]
Khowar alphabet (Arabic script)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 khw
Glottolog khow1242[2]
Linguasphere 59-AAB-aa
Khowar letter jeem

Khowar, also known as Chitrali, Qashqari and Arniya, is an Indo-Aryan language of the Dardic branch.[3]

"Kho" means the people of Chitral, "War" means language. It is spoken by the Kho people in Chitral district, Ghizer district of Gilgit-Baltistan (including the Yasin Valley, Golaghmuli Valley, Phandar Ishkoman and Gupis), and in parts of Upper Swat. Speakers of Khowar have also migrated heavily to Pakistan's major urban centres with Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, having significant populations. It is spoken as a second language in the rest of Gilgit and Hunza. There are believed to be small numbers of Khowar speakers in Afghanistan, China, Tajikistan and Istanbul.

Khowar is the predominant language of Chitral, and one of the 14 designated regional languages there.


The native name of the language is Khō-wār,[4] meaning "language" (wār) of the Kho people. During the British Raj it was known to the English as Chitrālī (a derived adjective from the name of the Chitral region) or Qāshqārī.[4] Among the Pathans and Badakshis it is known as Kashkār.[5] Another name, used by Leitner in 1880, is Arnyiá[6] or Arniya, derived from the Shina language name for the part of the Yasin where Khowar is spoken.[4]


Khowar has a variety of dialects, which may vary phonemically.[7] The following tables lay out the basic phonology of Khowar.[8][9]


Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a

Khowar may also have nasalized vowels and a series of long vowels /aː/, /eː/, /iː/, /oː/, and /uː/. Sources are inconsistent on whether length is phonemic, with one author stating "vowel-length is observed mainly as a substitute one. The vowel-length of phonological value is noted far more rarely."[7] Unlike the neighboring and related Kalasha language, Khowar does not have retroflex vowels.[8]


Labial Coronal Retroflex Palatal Velar Post-
Nasal m n
Stop voiceless p t ʈ k (q)
voiced b d ɖ g
aspirated ʈʰ
Affricate voiceless ts ʈʂ
voiced dz ɖʐ
aspirated tsʰ (?) ʈʂʰ tʃʰ
Fricative voiceless f s ʂ ʃ x h
voiced z ʐ ʒ ɣ
Approximant l(ʲ) k j w
Rhotic ɾ

The phonemic status of /tsʰ/ is unclear in the sources


Khowar, like many Dardic languages, has either phonemic tone or stress distinctions.[10]

Writing system

Since the early twentieth century Khowar has been written in the Khowar alphabet, which is based on the Urdu alphabet and uses the Nasta'liq script. Prior to that, the language was carried on through oral tradition. Today Urdu and English are the official languages and the only major literary usage of Khowar is in both poetry and prose composition. Khowar has also been occasionally written in a version of the Roman script called Roman Khowar since the 1960s.

Comparative Vocabulary

The names of the days of the week, in Khowar, are compared with their equivalents in Shina, Sanskrit, and English. (It should be noted however that all the Khowar names except for that of 'Friday' are taken from the Dari Persian language; compare the name for 'Monday' with the Persian name of the city Dushambe.)

English Shina Sanskrit Khowar
Sunday Adit Aditya vara yak shambey
Monday Tsunduro Som vara du shambey
Tuesday Ungaroo Mangala vara sey shambey
Wednesday Bodo Budha vara char shambey
Thursday Bressput Brhashpati vara panch shambey
Friday Shooker Shukra vara Adina
Saturday Shimshere Sanischa vara shambey


Khowar media

Television channels

TV Channel Genre Founded Official Website
Khyber News TV (خیبر نیوز ٹیلی ویژن)News and current affairs
AVT Khyber TV (اے وی ٹی خیبر) Entertainment
K2 TV (کے ٹو) Entertainment, news and current affairs


These are not dedicated Khowar channels but play most programmes in Khowar.

Radio Channel Genre Founded Official Website
Radio Pakistan ChitralEntertainment
Radio Pakistan PeshawarEntertainment
Radio Pakistan GilgitEntertainment


Newspaper City(ies) Founded Official Website
Chitral Vision (چترال وژن) Karachi, Chitral, Pakistan    
Chitral Today

See also


  1. Khowar at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Khowar". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. 1 2 3 Grierson, George A. (1919). Linguistic Survey of India. Volume VIII , Part 2, Indo-Aryan family. North-western group. Specimens of the Dardic or Piśācha languages (including Kāshmiri). Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, India. p. 133.
  5. O'Brien, Donatus James Thomond (1895). Grammar and vocabulary of the K̲h̲owâr dialect (Chitrâli). Lahore: Civil and military gazette press. p. i.
  6. Leitner, Gottlieb William (1880). Kafiristan. Section 1: the Bashgeli Kafirs and their language. Lahore: Dilbagroy. p. 43. Retrieved 2016-06-06.
  7. 1 2 Edelman, D. I. (1983). The Dardic and Nuristani Languages. Moscow: Institut vostokovedenii︠a︡ (Akademii︠a︡ nauk SSSR). p. 210.
  8. 1 2 Bashir, Elena L. (1988), "Topics in Kalasha Syntax: An areal and typological perspective" (PDF), Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan: 37–40
  9. Bashir, Elena L., Maula Nigah and Rahmat Karim Baig, A Digital Khowar-English Dictionary with Audio
  10. Baart, Joan L. G. (2003), Tonal features in languages of northern Pakistan (PDF), National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University and Summer Institute of Linguistics, pp. 3, 6

Additional references

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Khowar language.
Khowar language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.