|Kalash language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
|Native to||Pakistan (Chitral District)|
|Region||Chitral: Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa|
|Native speakers||5,030 (2000)
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Kalasha (also known as Kalasha-mondr) is an Indo-European language in the Indo-Aryan branch spoken by the Kalash people, further classified as a Dardic language in the Chitral Group. Georg Morgenstierne maintains that "The Kalasha do not belong to the special Kafir branch of Indo-Iranian but speak a true Indo-Aryan language." The Kalasha language is phonologically atypical because it contrasts plain, long, nasal, and retroflex vowels as well as combinations of these (Heegård & Mørch 2004). According to the Chitrali researcher Rehmat Aziz Chitrali, the correct name of the language is Kalasha.
Kalasha is spoken by the Kalasha people who reside in the remote valleys of Bumburet, Birir and Rumbur, which are west of Ayun, which is ten miles down the river from Chitral Town, high in the Hindu Kush mountains in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The Kalasha have their own religion, with gods and goddesses, although it is estimated that half of the Kalasha have converted to Islam. There are an estimated 6,000 speakers of Kalasha, of which 3,000 still follow the Kalasha religion and the other 3,000 have converted to Islam.
According to Badshah Munir Bukhari, one of the world's leading authorities on this subject, "Kalasha" is also the ethnic name for the Nuristani inhabitants of a region southwest of the Kalasha Valleys, in the Waygal and middle Pech Valleys of Afghanistan's Nuristan Province. The term "Kalasha" seems to have been adopted by the Kalasha speakers of Chitral from the Nuristanis of Waygal, who for a time expanded up to southern Chitral several centuries ago. However, there is no close connection between the Indo-Aryan language Kalasha-mun and the Nuristani language Kalasha-ala, which descend from different branches of the Indo-Iranian languages.
Until the latter 20th century, Kalasha was an undocumented language. More recently, through the work of a Greek NGO and local Kalasha elders seeking to preserve their oral traditions, a new Kalasha alphabet has been created. Working in close collaboration with various international researchers and linguists, Kalasha linguist Taj Khan Kalash organized first "Kalasha Orthography Conference" in Islamabad Pakistan. Having moved to Thessaloniki, Greece, to study linguistics in the Aristotle University, he and the Greek NGO Mesogaia took on the task of compiling the script and creating The Alphabet Book, a primer used to teach the alphabet to the Kalasha children. In 2004 he was able to raise funds to publish first alphabet book of Kalasha language based on Roman script designed by an Australian linguist, Gregory R. Cooper.
Of all the languages in the subcontinent, Kalasha is likely the most conservative, along with the nearby western Dardic language Khowar. In a few cases, Kalasha is even more conservative than Khowar, e.g. in retaining voiced aspirate consonants, which have disappeared from most other Dardic languages.
Some of the typical retentions of sounds and clusters (and meanings) are seen in the following list. However, note some common New Indo-Aryan and Dardic features as well.
|English||Kalasha||Old Indo-Aryan||New Indo-Aryan|
|bone||athi, aṭhí||asthi||Hindi -; Nepali ā̃ṭh ‘the ribs'|
|urine||mutra, mútra||mūtra||H. mūt|
|village||grom||grama||H. gā̃u;Sanskrit gramam|
|rope||rajuk, raĵhú-k||rajju||H. lej, lejur|
|smoke||thum||dhūma||H. dhūā̃, dhuwā̃|
|meat||mos||maṃsa||H. mā̃s, mās, māsā|
|dog||shua, śõ.'a||śvan||H. -; Sinhal. suvan|
|ant||pililak,pilílak||pipīla, pippīlika||H. pipṛā|
|son||put, putr||putra||H. pūt|
|long||driga, dríga||dīrgha||H. dīha|
|eight||asht, aṣṭ||aṣṭā||H. āṭh|
|broken||china, čhína||chinna||H. chīn-nā 'to snatch';|
|kill||nash||nash, naś, naśyati||H. nā̆s-nā ‘to be lost'|
- Preservation of intervocalic /m/ (reduced to a nasalized /w/ or /v/ in late MIA elsewhere), e.g. Kal. grom, Kho. gram "village" < OIA grāma
- Non-deletion of intervocalic /t/, preserved as /l/ or /w/ in Kalasha, /r/ in Khowar (deleted in middle MIA elsewhere), e.g. Kho. brār "brother" < OIA bhrātṛ; Kal. ʃau < *ʃal, Kho. ʃor "hundred" < OIA śata
- Preservation of the distinction between all three OIA sibilants (dental /s/, palatal /ś/, retroflex /ṣ/); in most of the subcontinent, these three had already merged before 200 BC (early MIA)
- Preservation of sibilant + consonant, stop + /r/ clusters (lost by early MIA in most other places):
- Kal. aṣṭ, Kho. oṣṭ "eight" < OIA aṣṭā; Kal. hast, Kho. host "hand" < OIA hasta; Kal. istam "bunch" < OIA stamba; Kho. istōr "pack horse" < OIA sthōra; Kho. isnār "bathed" < OIA snāta; Kal. Kho. iskow "peg" < OIA *skabha; Kho. iśper "white" < OIA śvēta; Kal. isprɛs, Kho. iśpreṣi "mother-in-law" < OIA śvaśru; Kal. piṣṭ "back" < OIA pṛṣṭha; Kho. aśrū "tear" < OIA aśru.
- Kho. kren- "buy" < OIA krīṇ-; Kal. grom, Kho. grom "village" < OIA grāma; Kal. gŕä "neck" < OIA grīva; Kho. griṣp "summer" < OIA grīṣma
- Preservation of /ts/ in Kalasha (reinterpreted as a single phoneme)
- Direct preservation of many OIA case endings as so-called "layer 1" case endings (as opposed to newer "layer 2" case endings, typically tacked onto a layer-1 oblique case):
- Oblique (agentive?): Pl. Kal. -en, -an, Kho. -an, -an
- Genitive: Kal. -as (sg.), -an (pl.); Kho. -o (sg.), -an, -ān (pl.)
- Dative: Kho. -a < OIA dative -āya, elsewhere lost already in late OIA
- Instrumental: Kal. -an, Kho. -en < OIA -ēna
- Ablative: Kal. -ou, -ani, Kho. -ār
- Preservation of more than one verbal conjugation (e.g. Kho. mār-īm "I kill" vs. bri-um "I die")
- Preservation of OIA distinction between "primary" (non-past) and "secondary" (past) endings and of a past-tense "augment" in a-, both lost entirely elsewhere: Kal. pim "I drink", apis "I drank"; kārim "I do", akārim "I did"
- Preservation of a verbal preterite tense (see examples above), with normal nominative/accusative marking and normal verbal agreement, as opposed to the ergative-type past tenses with nominal-type agreement elsewhere in NIA (originally based on a participial passive construction)
History contains references to "Siah-Posh Kafirs". Timur fought with them. Babur advised not to tangle with them. Alexander the Great encountered them. Genghis Khan passed by them. However, there is a question whether these were the Red or the Black Kafirs, or both. It has been widely assumed that these were the Red Kafirs who were thought of as fierce and independent, as opposed to the Black Kafirs, who were somewhat subservient to the King of Chitral. On the other hand, the word "Siah-Posh Kafirs" means "Black Robed Kafirs", as "siah" means "black"; so it seems possible that it was the Black and not the Red Kafirs who fought against and defeated Tamurlane.
- Kalasha at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
- Khowar Academy
- G. Morgenstierne, The spring festival of the Kalasha Kafirs. India Antiqua, Leiden 1947, p. 240
- The indo aryan languages by colin p masica page 431
- Kalasha Orthography Conference 2000
- Georg Morgenstierne. Indo-Iranian Frontier Languages, Vol. IV: The Kalasha Language & Notes on Kalasha. Oslo 1973, p. 184, details pp. 195-237
- Gérard Fussman: 1972 Atlas linguistique des parlers dardes et kafirs. Publications de l'École Française d'Extrême-Orient
- R.T.Trail and G.R. Cooper, Kalasha Dictionary – with English and Urdu. National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Islamabad & Summer Institute of Linguistics, Dallas TX. 1999
- Bashir, Elena L. (1988) Topics in Kalasha Syntax: An Areal and Typological Perspective. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan.
- Cacopardo, Alberto M., and Augusto S. Cacopardo (2001) Gates of Peristan: History, Religion, and Society in the Hindu Kush. Rome: Instituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente.
- Decker, Kendall D. (1992). Languages of Chitral (Sociolinguistic Survey of Northern Pakistan, 5). National Institute of Pakistani Studies, 257 pp. ISBN 969-8023-15-1.
- "Atlas Linguistique Des Parles Dardes Et Kafirs" by Gerard Fussman (two volumes). Maps showing distribution of words among people of Kafiristan.
- Heegård, Jan & Ida Elisabeth Mørch, 2004, "Retroflex vowels and other peculiarities in Kalasha sound system". In: Anju Saxena and Jadranka Gvozdanovic (eds.), Synchronic and Diachronic Aspects of Himalayan Linguistics, Selected Proceedings of the 7th Himalayan Languages Symposium held in Uppsala, Sweden. The Hague: Mouton.
- Jettmar, Karl (1985) Religions of the Hindu Kush ISBN 0-85668-163-6
- Kalasha. Retrieved July 19, 2006, from Ethnologue: Languages of the World, fifteenth edition. SIL International. Online version.
- Kochetov, Alexei; Arsenault, Paul (2008), Retroflex harmony in Kalasha: Agreement or spreading?, NELS 39, Cornell University
- Morgenstierne, Georg (1926) Report on a Linguistic Mission to Afghanistan. Instituttet for Sammenlignende Kulturforskning, Serie C I-2. Oslo. ISBN 0-923891-09-9
- Georg Morgenstierne. Indo-Iranian Frontier Languages, Vol. IV: The Kalasha Language & Notes on Kalasha. Oslo1973
- The Kafirs of the Hindukush (1896) Sir George Scott Robertson.
- Strand, Richard F. (1973) "Notes on the Nûristânî and Dardic Languages." Journal of the American Oriental Society, 93.3: 297-305.
- Strand, Richard F. (2001) "The Tongues of Peristân," in Gates of Peristan: History, Religion and Society in the Hindu Kush, by Alberto M. Cacopardo and Augusto S. Cacopardo, 251-259. Rome: Instituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente.
- Trail, Ronald L. and Gregory R. Cooper, compilers. Kalasha dictionary—with English and Urdu. Studies in Languages of Northern Pakistan, 7 (1999). Islamabad: National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University and Summer Institute of Linguistics. ISBN 969-8023-09-7.
- Richard Strand's Nuristan Site
- Reiko and Jun's Japanese Kalasha Page
- Hindi/Urdu-English-Kalasha-Khowar-Nuristani-Pashtu Comparative Word List
- Frontier Language Institute The Kalasha Dictionary
- Georg Morgenstierne multimedia database
- Kalasha People Online A Kalasha Blog