III Language Variation

In the literature available on Kashmiri (Grierson 1919, Kachru 1969) including the census reports, following regional dialects of Kashmiri spoken outside the valley of Kashmir have been listed: Kashtawari, Poguli, Rambani, Siraji and Kohistani. Out of these dialects indicated above, Rambani, Siraji do not share any of the typical linguistic characteristics with Kashmiri. Rambani and Siraji are closely related dialects which share some features such as the semantic dimensions of the pronominal system, some morphology and a substantial portion of their vocabulary (mostly borrowed from common sources) with Kashmiri. The term Kohistani has no precise linguistic significance. It probably refers to languages of the Shina group. It cannot be therefore recognized as a dialect of Kashmiri. This leaves out Kashtawari and Poguli, probably the only two regional dialects of Kashmiri, spoken outside the valley of Kashmir.

Poguli is spoken in the Pogul and Paristan valleys bordered on the east by Kashtawari, on the south by Rambani and Siraji, and on the west by mixed dialects of Lahanda and Pahari. The speakers of Poguli are found mainly in the south, south east and south west of Banihal. Poguli shares many linguistic features including 70% vocabulary with Kashmiri. Literate Poguli speakers of Pogul and Paristan valleys speak standard Kashmiri as well.

Kashtawari is spoken in the Kashtawar valley, lying to the south east of Kashmir. It is bordered on the south by Bhadarwahi, on the west by Chibbali and Punchi, and on the east by the Tibetan speaking region of Zanskar. According to Grierson (1919:233), Kashtawari is one true dialect of Kashmiri. It shares most linguistic features of standard Kashmiri but retains some archaic features which have disappeared from the latter. It shares about 80% vocabulary with Kashmiri (Koul and Schmidt 1984).

No detailed sociolinguistic research work has been conducted to study different speech variations of Kashmiri spoken by different communities and speakers who belong to different professions and occupations. In some earlier works beginning with Griersons works, (1919:234) distinction has been pointed out in the speech variations of Hindus and Muslims-two major communities who speak Kashmiri natively. Kachru (1969) has used the terms Sanskritized Kashmiri and Persianized Kashmiri to denote the two style differences on the grounds of some variation in pronunciation, morphology and vocabulary used by Hindus and Muslims repectively.


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