Kashmiri language

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कॉशुर, كأشُر
Pronunciation [kəːʃur]
Native to Jammu and Kashmir,[1] Azad Kashmir
Region Kashmir valley, Chenab valley
Ethnicity Kashmiris
Native speakers
6.8 million (2011 census)[2]
  • Kashtawari (standard)
  • Poguli
Perso-Arabic script (contemporary),[3]
Devanagari (contemporary),[3]
Sharada script (ancient/liturgical)[3]
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1 ks
ISO 639-2 kas
ISO 639-3 kas
Glottolog kash1277[5]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Kashmiri (/kæʃˈmɪəri/)[6] (कॉशुर, کأشُر), or Koshur (pronounced kọ̄šur or kạ̄šur[7]) is a language from the Dardic subgroup[8] of Indo-Aryan languages and it is spoken primarily in the Kashmir Valley and Chenab Valley of Jammu and Kashmir.[9][10][11]

There are over 6 million Kashmiri speakers in Jammu and Kashmir and among the Kashmiri diaspora in other states of India,[7][12] and about 130,000 in the Neelam Valley and Leepa Valley of Azad Kashmir, Pakistan.[13]

The Kashmiri language is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India,[14] and is a part of the eighth Schedule in the constitution of the Jammu and Kashmir. Along with other regional languages mentioned in the Sixth Schedule, as well as Hindi and Urdu, the Kashmiri language is to be developed in the state.[15] Most Kashmiri speakers use Urdu or English as a second language.[1] Since November 2008, the Kashmiri language has been made a compulsory subject in all government schools in the Valley up to secondary level.[16]


In 1919 George Abraham Grierson wrote that “Kashmiri is the only one of the Dardic languages that has a literature”. Kashmiri literature dates back to over 750 years, this is, more-or-less, the age of many a modern literature including modern English.[citation needed]


Kashmiri, like German and Old English and unlike other Indo-Aryan languages, has V2 word order.[17]

There are four cases in Kashmiri: nominative, genitive, and two oblique cases: the ergative and the dative case.[18]

There are two genders: masculine and feminine, and nouns are inflected based on gender and word endings.[19]


There are minor differences between the Kashmiri spoken by Hindus and Muslims.[20] For 'fire', a traditional Hindu will use the word agun while a Muslim more often will use the Arabic word nar.[21]

Preservation of old Indo-Aryan vocabulary[edit]

Kashmiri retains several features of Old Indo-Aryan that have been lost in other modern Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi-Urdu, Punjabi and Sindhi.[22] Some vocabulary features that Kashmiri preserves clearly date from the Vedic Sanskrit era and had already been lost even in Classical Sanskrit. This includes the word-form yodvai (meaning if), which is mainly found in Vedic Sanskrit texts. Classical Sanskrit and modern Indo-Aryan use instead the word yadi.[22]

First person pronoun[edit]

Both the Indo-Aryan and Iranian branches of the Indo-Iranian family have demonstrated a strong tendency to eliminate the distinctive first person pronoun ("I") used in the nominative (subject) case. The Indo-European root for this is reconstructed as *eǵHom, which is preserved in Sanskrit as aham and in Avestan Persian as azam. This contrasts with the m- form ("me", "my") that is used for the accusative, genitive, dative, ablative cases. Sanskrit and Avestan both used forms such as ma(-m). However, in languages such as Modern Persian, Baluchi, Hindi and Punjabi, the distinct nominative form has been entirely lost and replaced with m- in words such as ma-n and mai. However, Kashmiri belongs to a relatively small set that preserves the distinction. 'I' is ba/bi/bo in various Kashmiri dialects, distinct from the other me terms. 'Mine' is myoon in Kashmiri. Other Indo-Aryan languages that preserve this feature include Dogri (aun vs me-), Gujarati (hu-n vs ma-ri), Konkani (hā̃v vs mhazo), and Braj (hau-M vs mai-M). The Iranian Pashto preserves it too (za vs. maa).[23]


Kashmiri has the following vowel phonemes:[24]


  Front Central Back
High i ɨ ɨː u
Mid e ə əː o
Low a ɔ ɔː


Bilabial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Alveolo
Velar Glottal
Nasal m
Stop /
plain p b ts ʈ ɖ k ɡ
aspirated t̪ʰ tsʰ ʈʰ tʃʰ
Fricative s z ʃ h
Approximant j w


Kashmiri, as also the other Dardic languages, shows important divergences from the Indo-Aryan mainstream. One is the partial maintenance of the three sibilant consonants s ṣ ś of the Old Indo-Aryan period. For another example, the prefixing form of the number 'two', which is found in Sanskrit as dvi-, has developed into ba-/bi- in most other Indo-Aryan languages, but du- in Kashmiri (preserving the original dental stop d). Seventy-two is dusatath in Kashmiri, bahattar in Hindi-Urdu and Punjabi, and dvisaptati in Sanskrit.[22]

Certain features in Kashmiri even appear to stem from Indo-Aryan even predating the Vedic period. For instance, there was an /s/ > /h/ consonant shift in some words that had already occurred with Vedic Sanskrit (this tendency is even stronger in the Iranian branch of Indo-Iranian), yet is lacking in Kashmiri equivalents. The word rahit in Vedic Sanskrit and modern Hindi-Urdu (meaning 'excluding' or 'without') corresponds to rost in Kashmiri. Similarly, sahit (meaning 'including' or 'with') corresponds to sost in Kashmiri.[22]

Writing system[edit]

There are three orthographical systems used to write the Kashmiri language: the Sharada script, the Devanagari script and the Perso-Arabic script. The Roman script is also sometimes informally used to write Kashmiri, especially online.[3]

The Kashmiri language is traditionally written in the Sharada script after the 8th Century A.D.[25] This script however, is not in common use today, except for religious ceremonies of the Kashmiri Pandits.[26]

Today it is written in Perso-Arabic and Devanagari scripts (with some modifications).[27] Among languages written in the Perso-Arabic script, Kashmiri is one of the very few which regularly indicates all vowel sounds.[28] The Kashmiri Perso-Arabic script has come to be associated with Kashmiri Muslims, while the Kashmiri Devanagari script has come to be associated with the Kashmiri Hindu community.[29][30]

Perso-Arabic alphabet[edit]


Name Transliteration IPA Isolated glyph
بے be b /b/ ب
پے pe p /p/ پ
تے te t /t̪/ ت
ٹے ṭe /ʈ/ ٹ
ثے se s /s/ ث
جیم jīm j /d͡ʒ/ ج
چے če č /t͡ʃ/ چ
بڑی حے baṛī he h /h/ ح
خے khe kh /kʰ/ خ
دال dāl d /d̪/ د
ڈال ḍāl /ɖ/ ڈ
ذال zāl z /z/ ذ
رے re r /r/ ر
ڑے ṛe /ɽ/ ڑ
زے ze z /z/ ز
ژے ce c /t͡s/ ژ
سین sīn s /s/ س
شین šīn š /ʃ/ ش
صواد swād s /s/ ص
ضواد zwād z /z/ ض
طوئے toʾe t /t̪/ ط
ظوئے zoʾe z /z/ ظ
عین ain ’, – /ʔ, ∅/ ع
غین gain g /g/ غ
فے fe f /f, pʰ/ ف
بڑی قاف baṛī kāf k /k/ ق
كاف kāf k /k/ ک
گاف gāf g /ɡ/ گ
لام lām l /l/ ل
میم mīm m /m/ م
نون nūn n, ̃ /n, ̃/ ن
واؤ wāʾo -v /-w/ و
هے he h /h/ ھ
بڑی یے baṛī ye y /j/ ے
چھوٹی یے choṭī ye -y- /ʲ/ ؠ

The digraphs of Aspirated consonant are as follow.

Digraph Transcription IPA
پھ ph [pʰ]
تھ th [t̪ʰ]
ٹھ ṭh [ʈʰ]
چھ čh [t͡ʃʰ]
ژھ ch [t͡sʰ]
کھ kh [kʰ]


Transliteration IPA Initial & combined glyph
a /a/ اَ,بَ
ā /aː/ آ,با
ạ (ö) /ə/ أ,بٔ
ạ̄ (ȫ) /əː/ ٲ,بٲ
i /i/ اِ,بِ
ī /iː/ ايٖ,بيٖ
u',ü /ɨ/ إ,بٕ
ū',ǖ /ɨː/ ٳ,بٳ
u /u/ اُ,بُ
ū /uː/ اوٗ,بوٗ
o /o/ اۆ,بۆ
ō /oː/ او,بو
/ɔ/ اۄ,بۄ
ọ̄ /ɔː/ اۄآ,بۄآ
e /e/ اێ,بێ
ē /eː/ اي,بي



Letter च़ छ़ ज़
IPA [k] [kʰ] [g] [t͡ʃ] [t͡ʃʰ] [d͡ʒ] [t͡s] [t͡sʰ] [z] [ʈ] [ʈʰ] [ɖ] [t] [tʰ] [d] [n] [p] [pʰ] [b] [m] [j] [l] [w] [ʃ] [s] [h]
Transliteration k kh g č čh j c ch z ṭh t th d n p ph b m y l w š s h


There have been two Unicode proposals (L2/09-369 and L2/08-250) for Devanagari Kashmiri vowels with different vowel characters, ordering and vowel mark characters. The latest proposal (L2/09-369) is tabulated below.

Letter अॅ ए' अ' आ' उ' ऊ' ओ'
IPA [a] [aː] [ɔ] [ɔː] [e] [eː] [ə] [əː] [i] [iː] [ɨ] [ɨː] [u] [uː] [o] [oː] [◌̃]
Transliteration[31] a ā ọ̄ e ē ö ȫ i ī ü ǖ u ū o ō ̃
Vowel mark indicated on consonant k का कॅ कॉ कॆ के कऺ कऻ कि की कॖ कॗ कु कू कॊ को कं

The earlier proposal (L2/08-250) is tabulated below.

Letter अॅ -व
IPA [a] [aː] [ə] [əː] [ɨ] [ɨː] [i] [iː] [u] [uː] [e] [eː] [əi] [o] [oː] [əu] [ɔ] [◌̃]
Transliteration a ā ö ȫ ü ǖ i ī u ū e ē ai o ō au ̃
Vowel mark indicated on consonant k का कॅ कॉ कॖ कॗ कि की कु कू कॆ के कै कॊ को कौ क्व or कव कं

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Kashmiri: A language of India". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  2. ^ "Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c d Sociolinguistics. Mouton de Gruyter. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  4. ^ "Kashmiri: A language of India". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  5. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kashmiri". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  6. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student's Handbook, Edinburgh
  7. ^ a b "Kashmiri". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-02-26. 
  8. ^ "Kashmiri language". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  9. ^ "Koshur: An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri". Kashmir News Network: Language Section (koshur.org). Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  10. ^ "Kashmiri Literature". Kashmir Sabha, Kolkata. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2007. 
  11. ^ S. S. Toshkhani. "Kashmiri Language: Roots, Evolution and Affinity". Kashmiri Overseas Association, Inc. (KOA). Archived from the original on 21 April 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2007. 
  12. ^ Abstract of speakers’ strength of languages and mother tongues – 2001 Archived 6 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Census of India (retrieved 17 March 2008). The precise figures from the 2001 census are 5,362,349 for Kashmiri as a "mother tongue" and 5,527,698 for Kashmiri as a "language" (which includes closely related smaller dialects/languages).
  13. ^ Shakil, Mohsin (2012). "Languages of Erstwhile State of Jammu Kashmir (A Preliminary Study)". 
  14. ^ "Scheduled Languages of India". Central Institute of Indian Languages. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  15. ^ "The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (India)" (PDF). General Administrative Department of the Government of Jammu & Kashmir (India). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 May 2012. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  16. ^ "Kashmiri made compulsory subject in schools". One India. Retrieved 2016-01-01. 
  17. ^ Concerning V2 order in Kashmiri, see Hook (1976:133ff).
  18. ^ Edelman (1983). The Dardic and Nuristani Languages. 
  19. ^ Koul, Omkar N. (2005). Spoken Kashmiri: A Language Course (2 ed.). Delhi: Indian Institute of Language Studies. 
  20. ^ Keith Brown, Sarah Ogilvie, Concise encyclopedia of languages of the world, Elsevier, 2008, ISBN 978-0-08-087774-7, ... Kashmiri occupies a special position in the Dardic group, being probably the only dardic language that has a written literature dating back to the early 13th century ... 
  21. ^ Krishna, Gopi (1967). Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man. Boston: Shambhala. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-57062-280-9. 
  22. ^ a b c d K.L. Kalla, The Literary Heritage of Kashmir, Mittal Publications, ... Kashmiri alone of all the modern Indian languages preserves the dvi (Kashmiri du) of Sanskrit, in numbers such as dusatath (Sanskrit dvisaptati), dunamat (Sanskrit dvanavatih) ... the latter (Yodvai) is archaic and is to be come across mainly in the Vedas ... 
  23. ^ John D. Bengtson, Harold Crane Fleming, In hot pursuit of language in prehistory: essays in the four fields of anthropology, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2008, ISBN 978-90-272-3252-6, ... However, Gujarati as well as a Dardic language like Kashmiri still preserve the root alternation between subject and non-subject forms (but they replaced the derivative of the Sanskrit subject form ahám by new forms) ... 
  24. ^ "Koshur: Spoken Kashmiri: A Language Course: Transcription". Retrieved 21 May 2014. 
  25. ^ "Sarada". Lawrence. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  26. ^ "The Sharada Script: Origin and Development". Kashmiri Overseas Association. Archived from the original on 7 January 2010. Retrieved 7 July 2009. 
  27. ^ "Kashmiri (कॉशुर / كٲشُر)". Omniglot. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  28. ^ Daniels & Bright (1996). The World's Writing Systems. pp. 753–754. 
  29. ^ "Valley divide impacts Kashmiri, Pandit youth switch to Devnagari". Indian Express. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  30. ^ "Devnagari Script for Kashmiri: A Study in its Necessity, Feasibility and Practicality". Kashmiri Overseas Association. Archived from the original on 3 January 2009. Retrieved 7 July 2009. 
  31. ^ The central vowels are typically transcribed ⟨ạ⟩ and ⟨u’⟩ when transliterating Arabic script, ⟨ö⟩ and ⟨ü⟩ when transliterating Nagari.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chapter on Indo-Persian Literature in Kashmir in "The Rise, Growth And Decline Of Indo-Persian Literature" by R. M. Chopra, 2012, published by Iran Culture House, New Delhi. 2nd Edition 2013.
  • Koul, Omkar N & Kashi Wali Modern Kashmiri Grammar Hyattsville, Dunwoody Press, 2006.

External links[edit]