Khowar English Dictionary by Mohammad Ismail Sloan


Khowar English Dictionary

Khowar English Dictionary by Mohammad Ismail Sloan


by Mohammad Ismail Sloan, 160 pp., $19.95

Khowar is spoken by approximately 250,000 native speakers in Chitral, which is in the far North West corner of Pakistan. It is also spoken in parts of Gilgit, including Gupis, Ghizar and Yasin. Khowar is classed as an Indo-European language of the Dardic Group. Apart from being an Indo-European language, Khowar is vastly different from any other major language in the area.

Khowar is believed to be an old language. It is believed that the modern day Chitralis are the descendants of some of the earliest Indo-European invaders of the Indian Sub-Continent. Nearly 4,000 years ago, the present day Chitralis took a wrong left turn at Jalalabad, went up the Kunar River and got stuck in the high isolated mountain valley of Chitral.

Khowar has 42 phonemes. Several of these are not found in any other language of the region. The letters /t/, /th/, /d/, /l/, /sh/, /ch/, /chh/, and /j/ all have two different forms, one retroflexed and the other dential-veolar non-retroflexed. Every Chitrali who learned the language on his mother's knee can readily distinguish these forms, whereas others can never learn them, regardless of how long they have lived in Chitral.

Khowar does not have a written form in common use. Several attempts have been made to introduce a Urdu or Roman based writing script into Khowar, but these have never gained widespread acceptance. As a result, the author developed his own Roman based writing system for the purpose of publishing this first ever dictionary of nearly 5,000 Khowar words.

Khowar is spoken in Northern Pakistan and is the predominant language of Chitral. It is also spoken in Gilgit and Upper Swat. There are reports of Khowar speakers in Tajikistan. The total estimated number of Khowar speakers is 300,000. Chitral has been in the news lately because of the reports that Osama bin Laden is hiding here. We do not believe that he is here, but as long as you think so, it is great for business. Many of us will hire ourselves out as guides, to help you search for Osama, for a good price of course This dictionary was originally published in the tribal area of Pakistan in 1981. It received a tremendous amount of publicity, of the negative kind, because of the explicit terms that were not commonly found in the dictionaries of Pakistan at that time. At least that made it probably the best known dictionary of a minority language ever published.

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