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Brahui 

brahui
Welcome

Brahui (براہوی ) or Brahvi (براوِ), also known as Birahui, Brahuidi, Brahuigi, and Kur Galli, belongs to the Northern branch of the Dravidian language family. It is spoken by 4 million people in Pakistan, mostly in the south central regions of Quetta and Kalat, the Sindh province, and in the eastern half of Balochistan. It is also spoken in Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan. The total population of Brahui speakers is estimated at around 4.2 million people (Ethnologue).

An Balochistan mapinteresting feature of Brahui is that it is isolated from other Dravidian languages, all of which are spoken in the southern part of India. One theory regarding the isolation proposes that the Brahui people may have emigrated to the north of Pakistan around 1,000 years ago, while another theory suggests that the wide-spread Dravidian population of the Indian subcontinent was driven south by the invasion of Indo-Aryans which resulted in the Brahui people being cut off from the rest of the Dravidian-speaking population.

Status
Brahui is one of the 27 languages of Pakistan in danger of becoming extinct. It not used in education, and until recently it was not used in the mass media. A Brahui newspaper Haftaí Talár was introduced recently. It is printed in the newly-developed Roman orthography. Many Brahui speakers are bilingual in Brahui and Balochi, and a large number of them have switched to Balochi. Only about 1% of Brahui speakers are literate in their native language.

Dialects

According to Ethnologue, there are three primary regional dialects of Brahui. They are reported to be somewhat mutually intelligible. Most of the differences are phonological. There has been very little research on linguistic variation in Brahui.

  • Kalat (considered to be the standard dialect)
  • Jharawan
  • Sarawan
  • Structure

    The sound system, grammatical structure, and especially the lexicon of Brahui are heavily influenced by Balochi since the two languages have been in close contact since the 14th century.

    Sound system

    For the most part, the sound system of Brahui is similar to that of other Dravidian languages.

    Vowels
    Brahui has nine vowel phonemes, i.e., sounds that distinguish the meaning of words. All vowels can be either short or long (long vowels are indicated by a macron in the table below). Vowel length distinguishes word meaning. Some loanwords may also have nasalized vowels.

    Close
    i, ī
    u, ū
    Mid
    e, ē
    ō
    Open
    a, ā

     

    Consonants 
    Most consonants can be geminated (doubled). There are also a number of consonant clusters. Like other Dravidian languages, Brahui features retroflex consonants produced with the tongue touching the roof of the oral cavity behind the alveolar ridge. Sometimes, the tongue may be curled, so that its back touches the roof of the mouth.

    Postalveolar
    Stops voiceless
    p
    t
    k
    voiced
    b
    d
    g
    Fricatives voiceless
    f
    s
    voiced
    z
    Affricates voiceless
    c
    voiced
    Nasals
    m
    n
    Lateral
    l
    Trill
    r
    Semivowels
    j
    • /ʔ/ = glottal catch between the vowels in uh-oh
    • /ʈɖɳ/ = retroflex consonants which have no equivalents in English
    • /ʃ/ = sh in shop
    • /ʒ/ = s in measure
    • /c/ has no equivalent in English
    • /ɟ/ has no equivalent in English
    • /x/ = Scottish loch
    • /ɣ/ has no equivalent in English
    • /ɲ/ = n in canyon
    • /ŋ/ = ng in sing
    • /β/ has no equivalent in English; similar to Spanish v in saber ‘know’
    • /j// = y in year

     

    Stress
    Stress in Brahui distinguishes word meaning. It typically falls either on long or on short vowels if they are preceded by double consonants or consonant clusters.

    Grammar

    Brahui is an agglutinative language. Grammatical information is marked by means of suffixes added to word stems in a certain sequence.Prefixes can be found only in loanwords. It is a nominative-accusative language with an extremely extensive case system.

    Nouns and adjectives

    • Gender is is not marked morphologically.
    • There are two numbers: singular and plural. The latter is marked with – (ā)k in the nominative and -(ā)t in the plural.
    • There are ten oblique case endings. They are added to the nominative singular stem and to the plural stem + plural marker (ā)t.
      – Nominative
      – Genitive
      – Dative

      – Instrumental
      – Comitative
      – Ablative
      – Locative
      – Inessive (lative)
      – Adessive
      – Terminative
    • Adjectives have several forms: the long forms are used as modifiers, while the short form is used as a predicate (like Russian).

     

    Pronouns

    • There are two numbers: singular and plural.
    • Personal pronouns have three persons: first, second, third. They are declined in all cases.
    • Third person pronouns are marked for three degrees of proximity, i.e., distance from the speaker: proximal, intermediate, and remote.

     

    Verbs 

    • Verbs agree with their subjects in person and number.
    • Finite verbs are inflected for tense: present, past, and future; (past/preterit/pluperfect, present, future).
    • The present/future tense is formed by adding person and number endings to the base stem.
    • There are several forms of the past tense: simple past, past continuous, past perfective, past anterior. All have a special set of endings.
    • Verbs are marked for aspect: imperfective and perfective.
    • There are four moods: indicative, imperative, potential, and conditional.
    • The potential mood is not overtly marked, but the imperative and conditional moods both have a specific set of endings.
    • In the indicative mood verbs are marked for person (first, second, third), number (singular and plural), and tense.
    • There are two sets of verb forms: one set is used for positive forms, and another parallel set is used for negative verbs.
    • Negative conjugation has a set of specific markers which are added to the stem and followed by person/number endings.
    • There are two sets of participles, both of which have invariable forms.

     

    Word order
    The typical word order in Brahui is Subject-Object-Verb. Adjectives and adverbs precede the words they modify.

    Vocabulary


    Brahui has borrowed a large number of words from ArabicBalochiPersian, and Pashto. According to Bashir, words of Dravidian origin account for only 15% of Brahui’s lexicon, while 20% of Brahui’s lexicon comes from Balochi. For example, Brahui maan ‘bread’ and Balochi naan.

    Below are Brahui numerals 1-10 in the Latin script. Other than the first three numerals, all other numerals are the same as in Balochi.

    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    9
    10
    asi
    irā
    musi
    čār
    panč
    šaš
    haft
    haš
    dah

    Writing

    Unlike other Dravidian languages, Brahui has been unwritten. However, the Arabic script was used to write its rich folk literature. It is the only Dravidian language which is not written with a Brāhmī-based script. Most recently, a Roman-based orthography has been developed by the Brahui Language Board of the University of Balochistan in Quetta. The new Bráhuí Báşágal Roman orthography is given below (from Wikipedia).

    b
    p
    s
    y
    v
    x
    e
    z
    f
    m
    n
    l
    g
    c
    t
    r
    d
    h
    j
    k
    a
    i
    u

     

    Take a look at an article about soccer from a Brahui newspaper Haftaí Talár printed in the new orthography. You may be able to recognize some of the loanwords.

    BrahuiText

    Difficulty

    Language Difficulty
    questionHow difficult is it to learn Brahui?
    There is no data on the difficulty on Brahui for speakers of English.

    7 Responses to Brahui

    1. riaz ahmed

      i appreciate the work done on Brahui langauge but this work is very limited still a lot of work needs to be done on brahui. i suggest the the linguists should do research on phonology of brahui.

       
      • Irene Thompson

        Brahui is definitely a language in need of a lot of research and resources.

         
    2. Nasser Brohi

      British colonial bureaucrats in order to divide and rule the people in Balochistan fabricated the idea that Brahui people were of the Dravidian stock. Sometimes they said the Brahui people and sometimes they stressed that Brahui language was from the Dravidian language group and that the people were not of the Dravidian stock. The most prominent among them was Dennis Bray. His works show that he himself was not clear about his assertions, yet the people without going through his books started interpreting that Brahui people as well as their language were Dravidian. I would advise the people conducting research in this connection to refer to my book published in 1977 from Karachi in English with the title “Studies in Brahui History”. Nasser Brohi.

       
      • Irene Thompson

        Thank you for your comment. All major sources identify Brahui as belonging to the Dravidian language family.

         
    3. Nasser Brohi

      Irene Thompson has commented that all “major sources” identify Brahui as belonging to Dravidian language family, but “the major sources,” have not been identified. In fact, all the so-called “major sources,” have relied on the fabricated theories propagated by Sir Denis Bray. There is no iota of any connection of Brahui with the Dravidian stock or the language group. How one can justify the minority Brohi people living in Turkmenistan in Central Asia. It is a historical fact that the invading Aryans pushed the Dravidian people from Northern Indian plains deep into South India and not that some Dravidian groups migrated from South Asia to the Central Asian regions such as Turkmenistan or Iran and Afghanistan! It needs to be probed by research scholars. Nasser Brohi. March 24, 2016.

       

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