Linguistic Studies in Kashmir – Part 1

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Linguistic studies of Kashmir, comprising of grammars, grammatical studies, lexicography, phonology, etc., began in the middle of the 19th century. The grammatical literature includes a variety  of materials written in the form of brief notes, articles, monographs, dissertations, and independent grammatical sketches and grammars. The lexicographical works include different types of vocabularies, glossaries and dictionaries. The linguistic studies available can be classified in the area of genealogical classification and dialect surveys, grammars and grammatical studies, phonetics and phonology, lexicography, sociolinguistics and instructional materials


1The genealogical classification of Kashmiri began with Grierson (1906), placing it in the Dardic group of Aryan languages. Morgenstierne (1961) classifies it among Indo-Aryan languages and is followed  by all other in this regard. The classification is reviewed by Braj B. Kachru ( A Reference Grammar of Kashmiri -1969) and Ishvar Koul and Schmidt (1984). In more recent work, Afaq Aziz (1994) presents a comparative study of various languages of the Dardic group, with special reference to Kashmiri, Shina, and Kohistani. Koul (1994, 2000) refers to previos stand on the subject. Masica (1991) refers to linguistic characteristics of Kashmiri as compared to other Indo-Aryan languages.

Phonetics and Phonology

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Sharda Script

Kashmiri has a peculiar phonetic and phonological characteristics, such as the high central and mid vowels, dental affricates, palatalization, vowel harmony rules, etc., which it does not share with other Indi-Aryan languages. The description of Kashmiri phonetics and phonology, or of issues related to some of its special characteristics, is available in G.A. Grierson (1904, A Standard Manual of the Kashmiri Language:2 1911, The Linguistic Survery of India Vol.VII,Part II – 1919), Bailey (1937), Firth (1939), Morgenstierne (1964), Sar (1970,1977), Handoo (1973), Zakharyin (1974), Koul (1977, 1985, 1987), Roop Krishen Bhat (1987) and Wali and Koul (1997, 2006). These works present briefly the principal phonological characteristics of Kashmiri.


There has been very significant research in the area of Kashmiri grammar. Kashmiri is Verb 2 language. This is the feature, which it shares with german, Dutch ad Icelandic Grammatical works on Kashmiri began as early as mi 19th Century, with Edgworth (1841) and Leech (1944) followed by a complete grammatical description of the language in Koul’ monumental work Kashmirshabdamritam, written in Sanskrit in 1879, edited by George A Grierson, and published by Royal Asiatic Society fo Bengal in 1889. Grierson calls it ‘an excellent grammar of Kashmiri’ and based quite a few of his works onit. Grierson published his Standard manual of Kashmiri Language in 1911, and also provided a sketch of Kashmiri Grammar in his Linguistic Survey of India (1919: Vol. 8, Part-2), also published papers by Burkhard (1887-1889) in his Essay on Kashmiri Language (1899). Some other grammatical descriptions by European scholars continued till the middle of the 20th Century.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 10.35.52 pmThough the tradition of presenting grammatical sketches and descriptions continued till midway through the 20th century, serious works on the subject commenced from the early sixties following the models of grammars prepared in other Indian languages. Trisal’s doctoral dissertation (1964) is the first descriptive grammar of Kashmiri written in Hindi. Kachru provides the first detailed grammatical description of Kashmiri in his A Reference Grammar of Kashmiri (1969). His other work, An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri (1973), prepared for teaching and learning of Kashmiri as a second / foreign language provides notes on Kashmiri grammar and culture. He has also dealt with certain grammatical aspects of the Kashmiri language in his other papers. Kachru’s work stimulated a great interest in the study of various aspects of Kashmiri grammar, including both morphology and syntax.

Koul (1977) deals with various syntactic aspects following new theoretical development. A few doctoral dissertations have dealt with morphology and syntax in detail. Bhat 91980) provides a detailed description of phonology and morphology; Sar (1981) describes verbal morphology; Andrabi (1984) discusses syntactic aspects of reference and co-reference in Kashmiri; Vijay Kaul (1988, published in 2006) deals with compound verbs in Kashmir. Peter Edwin Hook and Omkar Koul jointly worked on various syntactic aspects like word order, pronominal suffixes, transitivity, causatives, modal verbs, etc. Koul and Hook (1984) present certain important grammatical aspects of Kashmiri contributed by various scholars.

The period after 1990 is very significant for the study of various grammatical aspects and for the preparation  of grammars dealing in detail with morphology, syntax and semantics. Scholars in India and abroad and also in collaboration have prepared some significant research works, available in the form of dissertations, paper and books. Most of the dissertations deal with different syntactic aspects of Kashmiri. Asha Tickoo (1990) deals with word order in Kashmiri; Rakesh Bhatt (Verb Movement and the Syntax of Kashmiri -1994, published in 2000) deals with word order and case in Kashmir; Achla Raina (1993) deals with certain syntactic aspects of Kashmiri using and S-Selection approach to grammar; Estella Del Bon (2001) deals with critic’s in Kashmiri.

KLWali and Koul (1997), in their Kashmiri: A descriptive-Cognitive Grammar, provided a detailed description of Kashmiri grammar covering morphology and syntax. This book, widely referred to, has stimulated a number of linguists to take further research in Kashmiri. Topics in Kashmiri Linguistic, edited by Koul and Wali (2002) is a collection of research papers devoted to syntax contributed by Peter Hook, Askhok Koul, Omkar N. Koul, Achla M. Raina, Estella del Bon and Kashi Wali. Koul (2005) in his Studies in Kashmir Linguistic provides a description of various linguistic and sociolinguistic aspects of Kashmiri. Kashmiri: A Study in Comparative Indo-Aryan by Hook and Koul has 20 chapters devoted to various aspects of grammar. The Modern Kashmiri Grammar of Koul and Wali (2006) is pedagogically oriented for teaching / learning Kashmiri as a second language. Hook and Koul (2006) discuss valiancy sets in Kashmiri.

There are very few grammars and grammatical studies written in Kashmiri. Naji Munawar and Shfi Shauq (1976), and Nishant Ansari (1976) provide a very brief description of traditional grammatical terms in Kashmir. Their main  contribution has been in introducing Kashmiri terms for traditional grammatical terms used in Urdu. Aadil Kak and Ratan Talashi (Kaashir Zabaan: Akh Graamrii Vyetshnay {The Kashmiri language: A Grammatical Analysis} -2002) present the first description of the grammatical aspects o Kashmiri, and Afaq’s (2005) grammar  (Vistasta kashmiri Grammar) is the first pedagogically oriented grammar written in Kashmiri.


About the author
Dr Krishan Lal KallaProfessor Dr. Krishan Lal Kalla (Pandit) has to his credit several books such as “Lalla Rookh, Glorious Heritage”, “Eminent Personalities of Kashmir” among his other works. A Gold Medalist Professor Kalla was associated with University of Jammu & Kashmir and Higher Education Department of vaious Colleges of the Jammu & Kashmir State. He also did research on Indo-logical topics at Sharada Peeth Reseach Institution, Karan Nagar, Srinagar under Dr. R.K. Kaw.

Information Courtesy: Gulshan Books. From the pages of “Kashmir Heritage”