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Oormuri, Urmuri, Ormur, Ormui, Bargista, Baraks, Baraki
Native toPakistan, Afghanistan
RegionWaziristan, Kaniguram, Logar
Native speakers
6,000 (2004)[1]
Arabic (Naskh variant)
Language codes
ISO 639-3oru

Ormuri (Persian: زبان ارموری also known as Oormuri, Urmuri, Ormur, Ormui, Bargista, Baraks, and Baraki) is a language spoken in Waziristan. It is primarily spoken in the town of Kaniguram in South Waziristan, Pakistan by the Burki people. It is also spoken by a small group of people in Baraki Barak in Logar, Afghanistan. The language belongs to the Eastern-Iranian language group. The extremely small number of speakers makes Ormuri an endangered language that is considered to be in a "threatened" state.

Ormuri is notable for its unusual sound inventory, which includes a voiceless alveolar trill that does not exist in the surrounding Pashto. Ormuri also has voiceless and voiced alveolo-palatal fricatives (the voiceless being contrastive with the more common voiceless palato-alveolar fricative), which also exist in the Waziristani dialect of Pashto, but could have been adopted from Ormuri due to its close proximity.[3]


Ormuri is classified under the Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Eastern Iranian, Southeastern Iranian, and Ormuri-Parachi language groups [4][5]

Language status[edit]

According to the Endangered Languages Project, the language of Ormuri is highly threatened. The language is used for face-to-face communication, however it is losing users.[4][6]


The Ormuri language is used by the Ormur/Baraki tribe in parts of the Kaniguram Valley in Waziristan, Pakistan. The language is also used in a small part of Logar Province, Afghanistan.[7] Zoroastrian Traces along the Upper Amu Darya (Oxus)]. D. A. Scott, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, No. 2 (1984), pp. 217-228, Published by Cambridge University Press</ref>

Ormuri tribe[edit]

An alternate name used by the Ormur people is Baraki. It is believed that there were eight to ten thousand families in the Logar area at the beginning of the 19th century and approximately four to five hundred families in Kaniguram at the beginning of the 20th century. The Ormur tribe does not occupy an ethnically homogeneous territory. In Afghanistan, the Ormur people live in mixed communities with both Tajiks and Pashtun. Whereas, in Pakistan, the Ormur people live only with the Pashtuns.[6]

Early history of the tribe can be traced in Herodotus' book. The Persian Emperor Darius Hystaspes; Governor of Egypt conquered the Greek colonies of Barca and Cyrene in Libya and took them to Egypt on their return from expedition. At this time, the King returned from his Scythian campaign to his capital, Susa. The Barakis were given a village in Bactria to live in, later named Barke. After two thousand three hundred and fifty years, the village was still inhabited in 1891 within the same territory.[3]

Ormuri language[edit]

The name 'Ormur' (orməṛ) is originally derived from Pashto (meaning fire). The first man to have made mention of the Baraki language was Babar, in his book Baburnama. Ormuri, also called Birki at the time was one of the eleven to twelve tongues that were observed by Babar while in the region of Kabul. It is known that many of the Ormuri speakers are at least bilingual or trilingual, speaking other tribal languages such as Pashto, Persian, Dari, or Kaboli [3]

Pir Roshan (Bayazid Khan) was one of the first known Pashto prose writers and composers of Pashto alphabets who used several Ormuri words in his book "Khairul-Bayan." A few of the words that were used within his book were Nalattti (Pigs), Nmandzak of Mazdak (Mosque), Teshtan (Owner), Burghu (flout), Haramunai (ill-born), etc.

Geographic distribution[edit]

Ormuri is spoken primarily in the town of Kaniguram in South Waziristan, Pakistan. A small population also speaks it in the town of Baraki Barak in Logar Province, Afghanistan.[3] The language is sustained by nearly fifty adherents in Afghanistan and around five to six thousand speakers in Pakistan [6]

Districts of Logar province. This image does not include Azra district, located to the east of Khoshi and Mohammad Agha districts.
North (purple) and South (blue) Waziristan and surrounding Federally Administered Tribal Areas and provinces


There are two dialects of Ormuri; one is spoken in Kaniguram, Waziristan, which is the more archaic dialect, and the other one in Baraki-Barak, Logar. The Kaniguram dialect is not understood in Baraki-Barak. The linguist Georg Morgenstierne wrote:

While Kaniguram has borrowed freely from Waziri Pashto, the vocabulary of Logar has been influenced by other Pashto dialects, and, to a still greater extent, by Persian.[8]

The dialect of Kaniguram is currently strong, spoken by a relatively prosperous community of Ormur in an isolated part of the rugged Waziristan hills. However, the position of the dialect of Baraki Barak is not strong. Morgenstierne wrote he was told that:

Ormuri was no longer spoken in Baraki Barak, the ancient headquarters of the Ormur tribe. Even a man said to be from this village denied the existence of any other language than Persian and Pashto in his native place.[8]

Language structure[edit]


Lexical differences[edit]

Table 1: Lexical differences in Ormuri
Logar Kaniguram
'blind' kor ond
'soft' narm noř
'fox' roba rawas
'flea' kayk řak
'shepherd' čopan šwān
'comb' šåná šak(k)
'place' jåy jikak
'to fly' parók buryék


Differences in phonetic forms[edit]

Table 2: Differences in the phonetic form of vowels in Ormuri
Logar Kaniguram
'to go' tsok tsek, tsyek
'one' še sa
'house' ner nar
'dry' wuk wyok
'water' wok wak
'to sit' nóstok nástak


The vowel system of Ormuri is characterized as heterogenous. The language consists of a subsystem of vowels that found native within Ormuri vocabulary, as well as a subsystem of vowels that is considered "borrowed vocabulary." The differences seen between the Logar and Kaniguram dialects are mainly based on the quality of vowels instead of the quantity.

The system is based on six phonemes: i, e, a, å, o, u.

Table 3: Differences in the phonetic form of consonants in Ormuri
Logar Kaniguram
'one' še sa
'three' šo ři
'six' xo ša
'above' pa-bega pa-beža
'snow' ɣoš ɣoř


The consonant system varies slightly between both the dialects of Kaniguram and Logar. The Logar native consonant system contains 25 phonemes, while the Kaniguram system has 27.

Syllabic Patterns[edit]

Proper Ormuri words will have the following syllabic patterns: V, VC, CV, CCV, (C)VCC, CVC, CCVC, CCVCC. Both dialects from Kaniguram and Logar have similar syllabic structure.


  • a- this
  • un/wun- so much
  • pe- father
  • gri- mountain
  • åxt- eight
  • måx- we
  • spok- dog
  • breš- burn
  • broxt- burned
  • wroxt- beard

At the end of certain words CC occurs as spirant/sonant + occlusive. When separating most words into syllables, a medial CC will be divided:

  • al-gox-tok- to fall
  • kir-ží- hen
  • er-zåk- to come


The language has undergone extensive change in comparison to its ancestral self. For nominal morphology (nouns, adjectives, and pronouns), aspects of the Kaniguram dialect of grammatical gender has completely been lost in the Logar. In terms of the verbal morphology, there is a greater variety of conjugations of modal and tense-aspect forms based on the present-tense stem. There is also a distinction made between masculine and feminine words based on the past-tense system. Finally, there is a greater number of distinctions between within the system of tense-aspect forms and there are different types of ergative constructions.

There is a developed system of noun and verb inflections. Nominal parts of speech contains: Three numbers (singular, dual, and plural), three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter), and the verb has two vices (active and middle). There is the elimination of the category of case (loss in nouns, adjectives, numerals, and certain pronouns). There is also a complete loss of the category of gender, varying on the dialect (Complete loss in Logar and rudimentary masculine and feminine forms remain in Kaniguram). In Logar most original Ormuri nouns and adjectives have a simple stem ending in a consonant and a few nouns end in unstressed (or rarely stressed) -a or -i. Whereas in Kaniguram, the stem usually ends in a consonant, but both nouns and adjectives may end in -a or -i.[6]


"Log." will represent examples from the Ormuri dialect of Logar and "Kan." will be used to signify the Kaniguram dialect of Ormuri

  • Log.: afo kåbol-ki altsok → "He went off to Kabul"
  • Log.: a-saṛay dzok šuk → "(This) man has been beaten"
  • Log.: xodåay-an bad-e badtarin såton → "O God, keep us from misfortune" (literal translation: "From the very worst")


  • Kan.: a-nar by pa mun ǰoṛawak sa → "The house is being built by me"
  • Kan.: sabā su az kābul-ki tsom → "Tomorrow I shall probably go to Kabul"
  • Kan.: tsami a-dāru irwar! → "Bring my eye drops"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ormuri at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ormuri". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c d "Dying Languages; Special Focus on Ormuri". Originally published in Pakistan Journal of Public Administration; Volume 6. No. 2 in December 2001. Khyber.ORG.
  4. ^ a b Endangered Languages Project
  5. ^ Ethnologue
  6. ^ a b c d e f g V.A., Efimov (2011) [1986 original Russian edition]. The Ormuri Language in Past and Present. Translated by Baart, Joan L.G. Islamabad: Forum for Language Initiatives. ISBN 978-969-9437-02-1.
  7. ^ Scott, D. A. (1984). "Zoroastrian Traces along the Upper Amu Darya (Oxus)". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (2): 217–228. JSTOR 25211708.
  8. ^ a b Daniel G. Hallberg (1992) Pashto, Waneci, Ormuri (Sociolinguistic Survey of Northern Pakistan, 4). National Institute of Pakistani Studies, 176 pp. ISBN 969-8023-14-3.

External links[edit]