Not to be confused with the Siraiki dialect of Sindhi
Saraiki is to a high degree mutually intelligible with Standard Punjabi
and shares with it a large portion of its vocabulary and morphology
. At the same time in its phonology
it is radically different
(particularly in the lack of tones, the preservation of the voiced aspirates and the development of implosive consonants), and has important grammatical features in common with the Sindhi language
spoken to the south.
The Saraiki language identity arose in the 1960s, encompassing more narrow local earlier identities (like Multani or Riasati),
and distinguishing itself from broader ones like that of Punjabi.
The present extent of the meaning of Sirāikī
is a recent development, and the term most probably gained its currency during the nationalist movement of the 1960s.
It has been in use for much longer in Sindh
to refer to the speech of the immigrants from the north, principally Siraiki-speaking Baloch tribes
who settled there between the 16th and the 19th centuries. In this context, the term can most plausibly be explained as originally having had the meaning "the language of the north", from the Sindhi
This name can ambiguously refer to the northern dialects of Sindhi, but these are nowadays more commonly known as "Siroli"
An alternative hypothesis is that Sarākī
originated in the word sauvīrā
, or Sauvira
an ancient kingdom which was also mentioned in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata
Currently, the most common rendering of the name is Saraiki
have also been used in academia until recently. Precise spelling aside, the name was first adopted in the 1960s by regional social and political leaders.
Classification and related languages
In 1919, Grierson
maintained that the dialects of what is now the southwest of Punjab Province in Pakistan constitute a dialect cluster, which he designated "Southern Lahnda
" within a putative "Lahnda language". Subsequent Indo-Aryanist linguists have confirmed the reality of this dialect cluster, even while rejecting the name "Southern Lahnda" along with the entity "Lahnda" itself.
Grierson also maintained that "Lahnda" was his novel designation for various dialects up to then called "Western Punjabi", spoken north, west, and south of Lahore
. The local dialect of Lahore is the Majhi dialect
, which has long been the basis of standard literary Punjabi.
However, outside of Indo-Aryanist circles, the concept of "Lahnda" is still found in compilations of the world's languages (e.g. Ethnologue
The following dialects have been tentatively proposed for Saraiki:
The historical inventory of names for the dialects now called Saraiki is a confusion of overlapping or conflicting ethnic, local, and regional designations. One historical name for Saraiki, Jaṭki, means "of the Jaṭṭs
", a northern South Asian
ethnic group; but Jaṭṭs speak the Indo-Aryan dialect of whatever region they live in.
Only a small minority of Saraiki speakers are Jaṭṭs, and not all Saraiki speaking Jaṭṭs necessarily speak the same dialect of Saraiki. However, these people usually call their traditions as well as language as Jataki
. Conversely, several Saraiki dialects have multiple names corresponding to different locales or demographic groups. The name "Derawali
" is used to refer to the local dialects of both Dera Ghazi Khan
and Dera Ismail Khan
, but "Ḍerawali" in the former is the Multani dialect and "Derawali" in the latter is the Thaḷi dialect.
When consulting sources before 2000, it is important to know that Pakistani administrative boundaries have been altered frequently. Provinces in Pakistan are divided into districts
, and sources on "Saraiki" often describe the territory of a dialect or dialect group according to the districts. Since the founding of Pakistan in 1947, several of these districts have been subdivided, some multiple times.
Status of language or dialect
In the context of South Asia, the choice between the appellations "language" and "dialect"
is a difficult one, and any distinction made using these terms is obscured by their ambiguity.
In a sense both Siraiki and Standard Panjabi are "dialects" of a "Greater Punjabi" macrolanguage.
Saraiki was considered a dialect of Punjabi
by most British colonial
and is still seen as such by many Punjabis
Saraikis, however, consider it a language in its own right
and see the use of the term "dialect" as stigmatising
A language movement was started in the 1960s to standardise a script and promote the language.
The national census of Pakistan
has tabulated the prevalence of Saraiki speakers since 1981.
Dr. Ashu Lal, A Saraiki poet and intellectual
Saraiki is primarily spoken in the south-western part of the province of Punjab
. To the west, it is set off from the Pashto
- and Balochi
-speaking areas by the Suleiman Range
, while to the south-east the Thar desert
divides it from the Marwari language
. Its other boundaries are less well-defined: Punjabi
is spoken to the east; Sindhi
is found to the south, after the border with Sindh province
; to the north, the southern edge of the Salt Range
is the rough divide with the northern varieties of Lahnda.
Today, 25.9 million people from North Sindh, South Punjab, South Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Eastern Balochistan province speak Saraiki.
The first national census of Pakistan to gather data on the prevalence of Saraiki was the census of 1981.
In that year, the percentage of respondents nationwide reporting Saraiki as their native language was 9.83. In the census of 1998, it was 10.53 out of a national population of 132 million, for a figure of 13.9 million Saraiki speakers resident in Pakistan. Also according to the 1998 census, 12.8 million of those, or 92%, lived in the province of Punjab.
As of 2011 census of India, Saraiki is spoken by 109,000 people in India.
According to the Indian national census of 2001, it is spoken in urban areas throughout northwest and north central India, mainly by the descendants of migrants from western Punjab after the independence
in 1947.[better source needed]
Some of these speakers went to Andhra Pradesh
and settled there before the independence movement because of their pastoral and nomadic way of life, and these are Muslims.
56,000 persons report their dialect as Mūltānī and 12,000 individuals report their dialect as Bahāwalpurī.
Saraiki's consonant inventory is similar to that of neighbouring Sindhi
It includes phonemically
distinctive implosive consonants
, which are unusual among the Indo-European languages. In Christopher Shackle's analysis, Saraiki distinguishes up to 48 consonants and 9 monophthong
vowels /ɪ ʊ ə/ tend to be shorter than the "peripheral" vowels /i ɛ a o u/.
The central vowel /
is more open
than the corresponding vowel in neighbouring varieties. Vowel nasalisation
is distinctive: /'ʈuɾẽ/ 'may you go' vs. /'ʈuɾe/ 'may he go'.
Before /ɦ/, the contrast between /a/ and /ə/ is neutralised.
There is a high number of vowel sequences, some of which can be analysed as diphthongs
Saraiki possesses a large inventory of consonants
In its stop consonants
, Saraiki has the typical for Indo-Aryan four-fold contrast between voiced
, and aspirated
and unaspirated. In parallel to Sindhi
it has additionally developed a set of implosives
, so that for each place of articulation there are up to five contrasting stops, for example: voiceless /tʃala/ 'custom' ∼ aspirated /tʃʰala/ 'blister' ∼ implosive /ʄala/ 'cobweb' ∼ voiced /dʒala/ 'niche' ∼ voiced aspirate /dʒʰəɠ/ 'foam'.
There are five contrasting places of articulation for the stops: velar
. The dentals / t tʰ d dʰ/ are articulated with the blade of the tongue
against the surface behind the teeth. The retroflex stops are post-alveolar
, the articulator being the tip of the tongue
or sometimes the underside
There is no dental implosive, partly due to the lesser retroflexion with which the retroflex implosive
/ᶑ/ is pronounced. The palatal stops are here somewhat arbitrarily represented with [tʃ] and [dʒ].[e]
In casual speech some of the stops, especially /k/, /g/ and /dʒ/, are frequently rendered as fricatives
– respectively [x], [ɣ] and [z].
Of the nasals
, only /n/ and /m/ are found at the start of a word, but in other phonetic environments there is a full set of contrasts in the place of articulation: /ŋ ɲ ɳ n m/. The retroflex ɳ
is a realised as a true nasal only if adjacent to a retroflex stop, elsewhere it is a nasalised retroflex flap
The contrasts /ŋ/ ∼ /ŋɡ/, and /ɲ/ ∼ /ɲdʒ/ are weak; the single nasal is more common in southern varieties, and the nasal + stop cluster is prevalent in central dialects. Three nasals /ŋ n m/ have aspirated counterparts /ŋʰ nʰ mʰ/.
The realisation of the alveolar tap
/ɾ/ varies with the phonetic environment. It is trilled
if geminated to /ɾɾ/ and weakly trilled if preceded by /t/ or /d/. It contrasts with the retroflex flap
/ɽ/ (/taɾ/ 'wire' ∼ /taɽ/ 'watching'), except in the variety spoken by Hindus.
The fricatives /f v/ are labio-dental
. The glottal fricative
/ɦ/ is voiced and affects the voice quality of a preceding vowel.
Phonotactics and stress
There are no tones
All consonants except /h j ɳ ɽ/ can be geminated
("doubled"). Geminates occur only after stressed centralised vowels,
and are phonetically realised much less markedly than in the rest of the Punjabi area.
syllable is distinguished primarily by its length
: if the vowel is peripheral /i ɛ a o u/ then it is lengthened, and if it is a "centralised vowel" (/ɪ ʊ ə/) then the consonant following it is geminated. Stress normally falls on the first syllable of a word. The stress will, however, fall on the second syllable of a two-syllable word if the vowel in the first syllable is centralised, and the second syllable contains either a diphthong, or a peripheral vowel followed by a consonant, for example /dɪɾ'kʰan/ 'carpenter'. Three-syllable words are stressed on the second syllable if the first syllable contains a centralised vowel, and the second syllable has either a peripheral vowel, or a centralised vowel + geminate, for example /tʃʊ'həttəɾ/ 'seventy-four'. There are exceptions to these rules and they account for minimal pairs like /it'la/ 'informing' and /'itla/ 'so much'.
" /ᶑ/ is articulated with the tip
or the underside
of the tongue, further forward in the mouth than the plain retroflex stops. It has been described as post-alveolar
. Bahl (1936
, p. 30) reports that this sound is unique in Indo-Aryan and that speakers of Multani take pride in its distinctiveness. The plain voiced /ɖ/ and the implosive /ᶑ/ are mostly in complementary distribution
although there are a few minimal pairs, like /ɖakʈəɾ/ 'doctor' ∼ /ᶑak/ 'mail'.
The retroflex implosive alternates with the plain voiced dental stop /d/ in the genitive postposition
/suffix /da/, which takes the form of /ᶑa/ when combined with 1st or 2nd person pronouns: /meᶑa/ 'my', /teᶑa/ 'your'.
A dental implosive
(/ɗ̪/) is found in the northeastern Jhangi dialect
, which is characterised by a lack of phonemic contrast between implosives and plain stops,
and a preference for implosives even in words where Saraiki has a plain stop.
The dental implosive in Jhangi is articulated with the tongue completely covering the upper teeth.
It is not present in Saraiki, although Bahl (1936
, p. 29) contends that it should be reconstructed
for the earlier language. Its absence has been attributed to structural factors: the forward articulation of /ʄ/ and the lesser retroflexion of /ᶑ/.
Aspirated (breathy voiced
) implosives occur word-initially, where they contrast with aspirated plain stops: /ɓʰɛ(h)/
'sit' ~ /bʰɛ/
The aspiration is not phonemic
it is phonetically realised on the whole syllable,
and results from an underlying /h/ that follows the vowel, thus [ɓʰɛh] is phonemically /ɓɛh/.
The historical origin of the Saraiki implosives has been on the whole[g]
the same as in Sindhi. Their source has generally been the older language's series of plain voiced stops, thus Sanskritjanayati
> Saraiki ʄəɲən
'be born'. New plain voiced stops have in turn arisen out of certain consonants and consonant clusters (for example, yava
'barley'), or have been introduced in loanwords from Sanskrit
'bus'). The following table illustrates some of the major developments:
Within South Asia, implosives were first described for Sindhi
by Stake in 1855. Later authors have noted their existence in Multani and have variously called them "recursives" or "injectives", while Grierson
incorrectly treated them as "double consonants".
Historically, traders or bookkeepers wrote in a script known as kiṛakkī
, although use of this script has been significantly reduced in recent times.
Likewise, a script related to the Landa scripts
family, known as Multani
, was previously used to write Saraiki. A preliminary proposal to encode the Multani script in ISO/IEC 10646 was submitted in 2011.
Saraiki Unicode has been approved in 2005.
The Khojiki script
has also been in use, whereas Devanagari
are not employed anymore.[better source needed]
Here is an example of Saraiki poetry by Khwaja Ghulam Farid
: اپڑیں ملک کوں آپ وسا توں ۔ پٹ انگریزی تھانے
The Department of Saraiki, Islamia University
, Bahawalpur was established in 1989
and the Department of Saraiki, Bahauddin Zakariya University
was established in 2006. Saraiki is taught as a subject in schools and colleges at higher secondary, intermediate and degree level. The Allama Iqbal Open University at Islamabad,
and the Al-Khair University at Bhimbir have Pakistani Linguistics Departments. They offer M.Phil. and Ph.D in Saraiki. The Associated Press of Pakistan has launched a Saraiki version of its site, as well.
Arts and literature
Khawaja Ghulam Farid
(1845–1901; his famous collection is Deewan-e-Farid
) and Sachal Sar Mast
(1739–1829) are the most celebrated Sufi poets in Saraiki and their poems known as Kafi
are still famous.
The beloved's intense glances call for blood
The dark hair wildly flows The Kohl of the eyes is fiercely black
And slays the lovers with no excuse
My appearance in ruins, I sit and wait
While the beloved has settled in Malheer I feel the sting of the cruel dart
My heart the, abode of pain and grief A life of tears, I have led Farid
— one of Khwaja Ghulam Farid's poems (translated)
, Khuda Janey
, Shakir Diyan Ghazlan
, Peelay Patr
, Munafqan Tu Khuda Bachaway
, and Shakir De Dohray
are his famous books) is a very well recognized modern poet.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday said southern Punjab is rich in cultural heritage which needs to be promoted for next generations. In a message on the launch of Saraiki channel by Pakistan Television (PTV) in Multan
, Prime Minister Gilani said the step would help promote the rich heritage of 'Saraiki Belt'.
These are not dedicated Saraiki channels but play most programmes in Saraiki.
- ^ Saraiki is the spelling used in universities of Pakistan (the Islamia University of Bahawalpur, department of Saraiki established in 1989,Bahauddin Zakariya University, in Multan, department of Saraiki established in 2006, and Allama Iqbal Open University, in Islamabad, department of Pakistani languages established in 1998), and by the district governments of Bahawalpur and Multan, as well as by the federal institutions of the Government of Pakistan like Population Census Organization and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation.
- ^ This eastern group figures in Wagha's scheme. In its place Shackle's classification has Jhangi and Shahpuri as separate branches.
- ^ The terms "centralised" and "peripheral" are used in Shackle 1976 and Shackle 2003.
- ^ The symbols used follow Shackle (2003). Shackle (1976) has ʌ for ə and æ for ɛ.
- ^ They are transcribed as such by Awan, Baseer & Sheeraz (2012, p. 127). Latif (2003, p. 91) reports that these consonants have similar spectrograms to those of Urdu. Shackle (1976, p. 22) has them as pre-palatal. None of these sources discuss the issue at length.
- ^ Bahl (1936, p. 28) describes its place of articulation as almost identical to the ⟨d'⟩ [ɟ] of Czech.
- ^ Saraiki differs for example in the presence of geminated implosives, or the treatment of Sanskrit vy-, whose Saraiki reflex /ɓ/ contrasts with the Sindhi /w/.(Bahl 1936, pp. 57–64)
- ^ Sanskrit words are transliterated using IAST. An asterisk * denotes an unattested but reconstructed form.
- ^ The practice is traced back to Juke's 1900 dictionary. The modern standard was agreed upon in 1979 (Wagha 1997, pp. 240–41).
- ^ a b c "Saraiki". Ethnologue.
- ^ Rahman 1995, p. 16; Shackle 2014b
- ^ Shackle 1977, pp. 388–89; Rahman 1995, pp. 2–3
- ^ Rahman 1995, pp. 7–8; Shackle 1977, p. 386
- ^ Rahman 1995, p. 4; Shackle 1976, p. 2; Shackle 1977, p. 388
- ^ a b "The Islamia University of Bahawalpur Pakistan - Department". iub.edu.pk.
- ^ a b "Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan". bzu.edu.pk.
- ^ a b "Department Detail". aiou.edu.pk.
- ^ "History of Bahawalpur". bahawalpur.gov.pk. Archived from the original on 11 June 2012.
- ^ "Introduction -City District Government Multan". multan.gov.pk.
- ^ Population by Mother Tongue Archived 12 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, website of the Population Census organization of Pakistan
- ^ Saraiki News Bulletins Archived 6 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine, website of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation
- ^ Masica 1991, pp. 18–20.
- ^ This is the grouping in Wagha (1997, pp. 229–31), which largely coincides with that in Shackle (1976, pp. 5–8).
- ^ See Masica 1991, pp. 23–27. For a brief discussion of the case of Saraiki, see Wagha (1997, pp. 225–26).
- ^ Rahman 1995, p. 16: "the Punjabis claim that Siraiki is a dialect of Punjabi, whereas the Siraikis call it a language in its own right."
- ^ Shackle 1976, pp. 1–2.
- ^ Pakistan census 1998
- ^ Venkatesh, Karthik (24 June 2017). "A language buried by Partition". livemint.com.
- ^ "Kahan se aa gai (کہاں سے کہاں آ گئے)". Retrieved 8 April 2012.
- ^ "Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues – 2001". Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
- ^ Shackle 1976, pp. 12–13.
- ^ Shackle 1976, p. 18–19.
- ^ Shackle 1976, pp. 20–23, 27.
- ^ Shackle 1976, pp. 31–33.
- ^ Shackle 1976, p. 28–29.
- ^ Shackle 1976, pp. 22–23.
- ^ a b Shackle 2003, pp. 590–91.
- ^ a b Shackle 1976, pp. 20–21.
- ^ Wagha 1997, pp. 234–35.
- ^ Bahl 1936, pp. 77–78.
- ^ Bahl 1936, pp. 39–40.
- ^ Bahl 1936, pp. 57–64.
- ^ Shackle 2003, pp. 598–99.
- ^ Wagha 1997, pp. 239–40.
- ^ "Preliminary Proposal to Encode the Multani Script in ISO/IEC 10646" (PDF).
- ^ "Associated Press Of Pakistan ( Pakistan's Premier NEWS Agency ) - Saraiki". app.com.pk.
- ^ "Shakir Shujabadi".
- ^ uploader. "Associated Press Of Pakistan ( Pakistan's Premier NEWS Agency ) - PTV's Saraiki channel to promote area's culture: PM". app.com.pk. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013.
Bahl, Parmanand (1936). Étude de phonetique historique et experimentale des consonnes injectives du Multani, dialecte panjabi occidental. Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve.
Dani, A.H. (1981). "Sindhu – Sauvira : A glimpse into the early history of Sind". In Khuhro, Hamida (ed.). Sind through the centuries : proceedings of an international seminar held in Karachi in Spring 1975
. Karachi: Oxford University Press. pp. 35–42. ISBN 978-0-19-577250-0
(1976). The Siraiki language of central Pakistan : a reference grammar
. London: School of Oriental and African Studies.
—— (2003). "Panjabi". In Cardona, George; Jain, Dhanesh (eds.). The Indo-Aryan languages
. Routledge language family series. Y. London: Routledge. pp. 581–621. ISBN 978-0-7007-1130-7
—— (2007). "Pakistan". In Simpson, Andrew (ed.). Language and national identity in Asia
. Oxford linguistics Y. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-922648-1
Last edited on 3 May 2021, at 20:32
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