The regions of Jammu and Kashmir have a population of close to 13 million people.l Yet, the speakers of Srinagar Burushaski are fewer than 400. This number is skewed across the national border, where, in Pakistan, the number of speakers in the Hunza, Nagar, and Yasin valleys (Gilgit-Baltistan) is suggestedly 100,000 people.

Sadaf Munshi (University of North Texas) has engaged in scholarly work on Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Kashmiri, and Romani or “Gypsy” languages, as well as on Burushaski. In her work on the Kashmir Valley, she first met  resistance from the community, who were suspicious of her efforts to decode the language. Yet Munshi has since published a description of Burushaski spoken in Srinagar and is continuing her valuable work.

Bunshi initially has worked on the Srinagar community known as “Bota Rajas,” and determined that the community employed the Burushaski language isolate mainly used in Pakistan’s Hunza, Nagar and Yasin valleys. It is widely believed that a majority of the Burushaski-speaking community in Srinagar have descended from Raja Azur Khan, the crown prince of the Gilgit Agency in the 19th century.

In the early 1980s, the number of Burushaski speakers in Pakistan was assumed to approximate 60,000, which, according to ethnologue, rose to approximately 100,000 in 2004. The now significant number of members of this community has brought about several tensions and sociolinguistic dynamics.

For example, labguage change is always looming, in that the multilingualism of the region and community is politically charged at times, and speakers respective to any one language strand lobby for the priority of their language or language variety. Such has been the case with Kashmiri, Urdu and English, which all influence Burushaski, as do other languages such as Shina and Khowar.

The language has a number of dialects: Nagar (“Khajuna” (pej.), Nagir), Hunza (Kunjut), Yasin (Werchikwar). Yasin is geographically separated from other dialects, where the lexical similarity is 91%–94% between Nagar and Hunza dialects, 67%–72% between Yasin and Hunza, and 66%–71% between Yasin and Nagar.

It is noteworthy to mention that the University of Northern Texas contains a large searchable digital corpus of Burushaski Language Resource, in the form of narratives, spoken interactions between people and other dicumented language and social and cultural practices.

The Gardiol

Watch documentaries from the Burusashki community.

Information About Burushaski Language in Srinagar India With Muhammad Ibrahim in 2019.


Burushaski, the Unique language of Gilgit Baltistan from BBC News in 2017.