Pothohari dialect

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Potwari language)
Jump to: navigation, search
Potwari, Potowari
Native to Pakistan
Region Pothohar region, Azad Kashmir and Poonch (Jammu and Kashmir)
Native speakers
(no estimate available)[1]
2.5 million (2007) including Dhundi-Kairali, Chibhali, & Punchhi, but perhaps not 1.04 million Mirpuri
Language codes
ISO 639-3 phr (includes other dialects)
Glottolog paha1251  (Pahari Potwari)[2]
mirp1238  (Mirpur Panjabi)[3]
Punjabi–Lahnda dialects. Pothohari is center-north.
Further information: Punjabi dialects

Pothohari (پوٹھوہاری), Pahari-Potowari, or Potwari is a dialect of Western Punjabi (Lahnda)[4] spoken by inhabitants of the Pothohar Plateau in northern Punjab and in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan and Poonch of Jammu and Kashmir. Pothohari has influences from Dardic languages such as Kashmiri.

Potohar scenery with pahar backdrop


Since Sindhi, Punjabi, Urdu/Hindi are spoken in a region that has witnessed significant ethnic and identity conflict, all have been exposed to the dialect versus language question. Each of these languages possesses a central standard on which its literature is based, and from which there are multiple dialectal variations.[5]

It had been historically classified as dialect of Punjabi. In 1920’s Garrison in his Linguist Survey of India classified into Northern cluster of Western Punjabi (Lahnda). Recently Potowari is standardized as language contrasting the view of being a dialect of Punjabi, However this standardization is controversial to date. The development of the standard written language began after the founding of Pakistan in 1947.[6]:838 The national census of Pakistan has tabulated the prevalence of Potowari speakers since 1981.[7]:46


Punjabi Mirpuri is spoken across the northern areas of the Punjab through to Mirpur district in Azad Kashmir. It is given prominence by the large numbers of people who are resident in the United Kingdom who originate from this area of Pakistan.


Vowels:[citation needed]

/i/ /u/
/ɪ/ /ʊ/
/ɛ/ /ə/ /ɔ/
/æ/ /ɑ/

There are also nasal vowels.

As with other Indic languages, aspirated consonants are distinctive. For example, tu and thu have different meanings ('you' and 'from', respectively).

Modern Pothohari arts[edit]

Pothohari has a rich tradition of sung poetry recital accompanied by Sitar, Tabla, Harmonium and Dholak, these poems are called Sher and are often highly lyrical and somewhat humorous and secular in nature, although there are plenty of religious sher. Please see below in the references section for a famous Potohari sher, 'Saif-ul-Malook'

Written Pothohari[edit]

Written Pothohari is based on a variety of standard dialects of northern Lahnda as written by Sir George Grierson in his Linguistic Survey of India. It is widely spoken in the northern parts of Pakistan and in Kashmir; significant places are Rawalpindi and Mirpur. It is semi-officially written and Perso-Arabic standardised orthography is utilised.[citation needed] Speakers literate in Urdu often write mostly in Perso-Arabic style and do not sometimes regard Pothohari as a literary language. When in some cases Pothohari is written, the Perso-Arabic orthography is utilised or it is written in Roman Pothohari, which is used for the writing of Urdu in Roman script. This is largely the case in the UK where a large percentage of Pahari-Potohari speakers reside, who are found to constitute the majority of the expatriate Pakistani (from the Potohar plateau e.g. Gujar Khan, Rawalpindi, Kahuta etc.) and Jammu & Kashmiri communities. Pahari-Potohari is widely spoken and is used in many traditional poems due to its richness, the most famous of which is by the poet Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, whose poetry is still performed and enjoyed to this present day in Punjab region and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Pothohari is a unique dialect that has some resemblance and close relations to Punjabi, but has Pashto inflections to the soundings of the words.

It is not the case that Pothohari has never been written; during the Buddhist reign Pothohari was written using the Laṇḍā script which evolved from the Sharada script. Sharada was invented in the Buddhist university of the same name located in the Neelam Valley in modern-day Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Presently, the Perso-Arabic script is standard and has been since the Mughal rule. Pothohari has a rich oral tradition, which has been passed down from generation to generation and is used in many famous poems. This is by and large due to the rampant illiteracy in the communities that use Pothohari as their dialect, which may be due to labour trends/tradition, personal choice or lack of facilities and establishments in the past.


  1. ^ Pothohari at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Pahari Potwari". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Mirpur Panjabi". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  4. ^ Colin P. Masica, 1991, The Indo-Aryan Languages
  5. ^ Bailey, Rev. T. Grahame. 1904. Panjabi Grammar. Lahore: Punjab Government Press.
  6. ^ Rahman, Tariq. 1997. Language and Ethnicity in Pakistan. Asian Survey, 1997 Sep., 37(9):833-839.
  7. ^ Javaid, Umbreen. 2004. Saraiki political movement: its impact in south Punjab. Journal of Research (Humanities), 40(2): 55–65. Lahore: Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of the Punjab. (This PDF contains multiple articles from the same issue.)

External links[edit]