Linguistic Studies in Kashmir – Part 2

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Sociolinguistic Research

Very limited sociolinguistic work has been conducted in Kashmiri thus far. To begin with, Grierson (1911) and Kachru (1969) have listed certain linguistic characteristics of the speech of  Hindus and Muslims. Whereas, Grierson uses  Hinud and Mulsim Kashmiri to distinguish these two varieties, Kachru prefers to use Sanskritised and Persianised Kashmiri for these varieties, respectivel. The so-called varieties are not exclusively Hindu and Muslim, but are important from the point of view of registers and diglossia.

1The first-ever sociolinguistic survey, conducted by Koul and Schmidt (1983), studies the language use and language preference of native speakers of Kashmiri.  It reveals the use of Kashmiri in social domains and preference for its use in education and administration at lower levels.

MK Koul (1986) has studied sociolinguistic variations of Kashmiri spoken in Sopore. Kantroo (1985) has studied variation of Kashmiri by certain minority communities and occupational groups. Mahfooza Jan (1993) has studied dialects spoken by certain professional groups. Koul (1994,1995) in his two papers has analyzed personal names, surnames and nicknames in Kashmiri.

Kak (1995) and Kak and Agnihotri (1997) have worked on Kashmiri-English code mixing. Apart from dealing with the acceptability at different levels, they also discuss the validity of certain constraints in Kashmir-English code mixing. Kak and Wali (2005) further study the notion and validity of base language in Kashmiri-English code mixing.

Koul (1998) has studied language maintenance and language loss of Kashmiri migrant children in Jammu and Delhi. The study reveals loss of Kashmiri in formal domains and its maintenance in certain restricted social domains. There is comparatively more loss of the language preference in education in India (2001) shows preference for the use Kashmiri as a subject and as medium of education at the elementary level in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmiri is primarily used in restricted social domains and about 70% of parents prefer to talk to their children in Kashmir at home. Adil Kak (2002) has also conducted a survey for the language maintenance and shift of Kashmiri in Srinagar. There is a wide scope for serious sociolinguistic research in Kashmiri and for its planning in education, administration and mass media.


Lexicographical works in Kashmiri fall under different categories : vocabularies, glossaries and dictionaries. It is believed that Sonti Pandit (1859) prepared a Kashmiri-Persian dictionary in 1859, which is not available now. Ishar kaul (1883) made a first serious attempt to prepare a Kashmiri-Sanskrit dictionary but could not compile it before his death. Grierson (1916-1932) compiled ‘A Dictionary of Kashmiri Language” in four volumes partly from materials left by Ishar Kaul. This is the first comprehensive Kashmiri-English dictionary aviliable. The Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages has prepared a monolingual dictionary  “Kashir Dictionary” (1972-79) in eight volumes, and a bilingual “Urdu-kashmiri Farhang” (1967-80) in nine volumes. Rattan Lal Shant prepared a Hindi-kashmiri dictionary which was published by Central Hindi Directorate (CHD) in 1980.

Several vocabularies have been prepared as a part of grammars and instructional materials. Handoo and Handoo (1975) have prepared a Hindi-Kashmiri common vocabulary. A Kashmiri-English Glossary prepared by Kaul in 1976 was published as Kashmiri-English Dictionary for Second Language Learners in itsrevised version in 2000 by the Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL). Koul and Talashi have prepared a Punjabi-Kashmiri Dictionary (1999). Jawahir Lal Tickoo (2006) published a Kashmiri-English Dictionary. It has about 15,000 entries in Perso-Arabic and Devanagari scripts.

Knowels prepared ‘A Dictionary of Kashmiri Proverbs and Saying” as early as in 1885. Koul (1992, 2006) prepared A Dictionary of Kashmiri Proverbs, which provides Kashmiri proverbs with their literal translations, and idiomatic equivalents or explanations in English.

Instructional Materials

Kachru (1973) prepared a course in spoken Kashmiri for the learning of Kashmiri as a second / foreign language. Koul (1987, 2006) prepared Spoken Kashmiri: A language Course as a self-instructional course. Teaching of Kashmiri as a second language to in-service teachers commenced at the Northern Regional Language Centre of the CIIL in 1971. The CIIL has published quite a few instructional materials, which include a Kashmiri Phonetic Reader by Jawahar Lal Handoo (1973), An Intensive Course in Kashmiri by Omkar N Koul (1985), Kashir Kitab: Level I by  RK Bhat, Kashir Kitab-Level II and a Kashmiri Pictorial Glossary by SN Raina, Intermediate Course Reader in Kashmiri by Koul (1995), Tests of Language Proficiency: Kashmiri by  Koul, Raina and MK Koul (2000), and A Handbook of Audio-Cassette Course in Kashmiri (with three audio cassettes) by RK Bhatt (2002). RK Bhat has also edited a Kashmiri Primer and a Kashmiri Reader using Devanagari script published by Sampretic (2003). Bhat (2007) has prepared A Course in Kashmiri  Language in Devanagari script.

The above survey brings out clearly that though linguistics research in Kashmiri began about a hundred and fifty years ago in different fields, there has been significant  interest in the areas of grammars and grammatical studies, preparation of dictionaries and other pedagogical materials in Kashmiri in recent years. There are still a few important areas in which no adequate work has been done so far. This includes work in the area of computational linguistics and application of information technology.

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”