Brahui language

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Region Balochistan, Afghanistan
Ethnicity Brahui
Native speakers
4 million  (2011)[1]
Perso-Arabic script, Latin script
Official status
Regulated by Brahui Language Board (Pakistan)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 brh
Glottolog brah1256[2]
Brahui (far upper left) is geographically isolated from all other Dravidian languages.[3]

Brahui[4] /brəˈhi/[5] (Brahui: براہوئی) is a Dravidian language spoken by the Brahui people in the central Balochistan region of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and by expatriate Brahui communities in Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, and Iran. It is isolated from the nearest Dravidian-speaking neighbour population of South India by a distance of more than 1,500 kilometres (930 mi).[3] Kalat and Mastung districts of Balochistan are predominantly Brahui-speaking.


Brahui is spoken in the central part of Pakistani Balochistan, mainly in Kalat and Mastung districts but also in smaller numbers in neighboring districts, as well as in Afghanistan and Iran which border Pakistani Balochistan; however, many members of the ethnic group no longer speak Brahui.[3] The 2013 edition of Ethnologue reports that there are some 4.2 million speakers; 4 million live in Pakistan, mainly in the province of Balochistan.[1]


Brahui belongs, with Kurukh (Oraon) and Malto, to the northern subfamily of the Dravidian family of languages. It has been influenced by the Iranian languages spoken in the area, especially Balochi.[6][page needed]


Kalat, Jhalawan, and Sarawan, with Kalat as the standard dialect.[1]


Brahui is the only Dravidian language which has not been written in a Brahmi-based script in the recent past; instead, it is written in the Arabic script. More recently, a Roman-based orthography named Brolikva which is short form of Brahui Roman Likvar has been developed by the Brahui Language Board of the University of Balochistan in Quetta, and adopted by Talár.

Below is the new promoted Bráhuí Báşágal Brolikva orthography:[4]

b á p í s y ş v x e z ź ģ f ú m n l g c t ŧ r ŕ d o đ h j k a i u ń ļ


According to a 2009 UNESCO report, Brahui is one of the 27 languages of Pakistan that are facing the danger of extinction. They classify it in "unsafe" status, the least endangered level out of the five levels of concern (Unsafe, Definitely Endangered, Severely Endangered, Critically Endangered, and Extinct).[7]


Haftaí Talár (Talar) recently became the first ever daily newspaper in Brahui language. It uses the new Roman orthography, and is "an attempt to standardize and develop Brahui language to meet the requirements of modern political, social and scientific discourse."[8]


There is no consensus as to whether Brahui is a relatively recent language introduced into Balochistan or remnant of an older widespread Dravidian language family. Some scholars see it as a recent migrant language to its present region. They postulate, that Brahui could only have migrated to Balochistan from central India after 1000 CE. The absence of any older Iranian (Avestan) loanwords in Brahui supports this hypothesis. The main Iranian contributor to Brahui vocabulary, Balochi, is a Northwestern Iranian language, and moved to the area from the west only around 1000 CE.[9] One scholar places the migration аs late as the 13th or 14th century.[10]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Brahui at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Brahui". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ a b c Parkin 1989, p. 37
  4. ^ a b Bráhuí Báşágal, Quetta: Brahui Language Board, University of Balochistan, April 2009, retrieved 2010-06-29 
  5. ^ "Brahui". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. 
  6. ^ Emeneau 1962
  7. ^ Moseley 2009
  8. ^ Haftaí Talár, Talár Publications, retrieved 2010-06-29 
  9. ^ Witzel 1998, p. 1, which cites Elfenbein 1987
  10. ^ Sergent 1997, pp. 129–130


External links[edit]