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Report on a dialect survey mission to Dir Kohistan

Report on a dialect survey mission to Dir Kohistan


Compiled by:  Muhammad Zaman

Researchers:  Muhammad Zaman and Shamshi Khan

Date. October 12 -18, 2002.


On 12th of October we started our journey from Kalam. On the same day in Mingora we purchased some stationary and other materials for our week long journey. At 9 o’clock in the evening we reached to Dir city and stay at a hotel.

Next day on 13th we started up towards Dir Kohistan and at 12:30 we reached Rajkot. There we had our lunch and prayers and after that we distributed (“Chunjaa”) books to a few friends there. Especially to Amanullah and Kher Muhammad Khan. With the help of our friends we got to know about the area, their language and their geographical situation. But unfortunately only Mr. Kher Muhammad can speak his own language but not Mr. Amanullah. That evening we recorded word lists, phrases and a story from Mr. Muhammad Naeem, a native speaker of the Rajkoti dialect. He is in his sixties and belongs to the Lau Domor tribe.

The same night we recorded the same with Mr. Kher Muhammad Khan, but we were unlucky because he could not tell a story in his own language. They told us that in Rajkot more than 80 percent of the people speak Pashto as their first language and only 10 to 20 percent of the people can speak their own language. The reason was this that the people married women from Pashto speaking areas and they speak Pashto with each other and their children. Most of the people feel it a shame to speak their own language.

Next morning we recorded an interview with Malak Gulrang Shah. He is in his sixties and belongs to the BadurSor tribe. He was the only person in Rajkot we found that can speak his language well. He said that he is speaking his own language with his family, instead of Pashto. Surprisingly they use the sound x instead of kh. This dialect is same like Dashwa in Kalam. And the same Akhar Khel people live in both areas.

The next day on 14th of October we went to Jiar (Biar), where we met some of our old friends who had participated in our workshop in May 2001 in Khalkot. We distributed books among them and the same night we got to learn about their language and other matters. This community speaks their own dialect and they are proud of it. Almost all the Jiarosh speak the language like Kalamis and Thilis.

On 15th we collected a lot of information about their tribes and population figures. We saw the surrounding areas and met a lot of elders and language lovers. There, our main informant was Mr. Azizur Rehman, who is a counsellor in the local government and our old friend.

In the afternoon we went to Piod (Birikot) and met old friends like Azam Khan and poet Mr. Akbar Khan Majrooh. We give them Chunjaa books and the same night we got information about their tribes. But I was shocked that those people do not speak their own language; rather they speak Pashto. Only hardly 15 to 20 percent of the people speak their own language and the rests speak Pashto. This was the same case like in Rajkot. The Bira Khel tribe is one of the oldest tribes of our Gawri community. According to the local beliefs this tribe descended from Bira, and Bira was the son of the great king, Raja Gira. Bira came here after their defeat at the hands of the army of Mehmood of Ghazna. But now those Bira Khel do not speak their own language.

16th and 17th we spent at Khalkot, which is the most educated area in Dir Kohistan. There we spent two nights and met many old friends. We went to the house of Mr. Farid Khan, the newly elected MPA. We recorded tapes with Jehanzeb and Gul Bahadar. And then on next day we recorded the tape with Mr. Jamrali Khan. There I observed that 70 percent of the people speak the Khalkoti [góedijaa] language and 30 percent (the Daraaki people) speak the Gawri language. We distributed many books amongst the participants of our last year’s workshop. Then we handed over some 102 Gawri books to Mr. Jehanzeb who is a shopkeeper. He will sell those books for KCS.

In Khalkot people told us that they are called Goediji by the Daraki people of Khalkot, which they think is because they came from Gualdai, a valley near to Rajkot where they said that their brothers live. They told us too that there is a place called GumaaDanD which is situated to the west of Sheringal; there their brothers live too.

One of my friends, Mr. Sharfuddin, who is a teacher and also a dispenser told me that one day he went to a place called Ashret in Chitral District. There he asked for water from a shopkeeper. The shopkeeper told his son shidal wi aThaa. He said, “I was surprised because this is approximately the same in our language.” Then he got more information there about that language and now they claim that those are also their brothers.

On the 17th we went to Lamuti where we met Mr. Said Zameen Akhtar Gawri and then we went to Thal, where we collected the information about their tribes. Thal is a backward area in Dir Kohistan and with the least educated population. We spent the night there.

On 18th we started on our journey towards Dir. But we faced to much trouble in finding conveyance throughout the way to Dir and then to Mingora. We spent the night at Mingora and the next day we went to Kalam.

Conclusion: In my opinion the dialect of Rajkot is similar to the Dashwa language of the Akhar Khel in Kalam valley and 90 percent similar to the Kalami language. The Khalkoti (Goedijaa) is also very near to Gawri, may be something like 80 to 85 percent. The total population of Khalkot is 9000, and seventy percent of the people speak Goedijaa and thirty percent speak Daraaki. When we were listening to their conversation we could understand them very clearly. This means that they are not near to Shina, but they are near to Gawri.

© 2003Muhammad Zaman Sagar
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Last updated January 10, 2003