a group of languages spoken in the neighborhood regions of northeastern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. The number of speakers is approximately 3 million (1967, estimate). They are intermediate between the Iranian and Indic languages; they belong to the Indo-Iranian group.
The Dard languages are divided into three subgroups whose best-known lanaguages are Kashmiri, Shina, and the Kohistani language group (eastern subgroup); Kho-war, Kalasha, Pashai, Tirahi, Gawar-bati, and Wotapuri (central subgroup); and Ashkund. Prasun, Waigali, Kati, and Dameli (western subgroup, often called Kafiri). Only Kashmiri has a writing system. Phonetically, the languages have rich consonant systems, which include a series of aspirated (except four languages of the western subgroup), retroflex and, in some languages, palatalized and labialized consonants. The morphology is characterized by a large number of postpositions and a generally weak system of cases (ranging from zero to four). There is a well-developed system of pronominal enclitics, which in some languages are used only with nouns and in other languages with nouns and verbs. The vigesimal numeral system is used for counting. In syntax, the languages use various types of ergative constructions.
REFERENCESEdel’man, D. 1. Dardskie iazyki. Moscow, 1965.
Grierson, G. A. Linguistic Survey of India, vol. 8, part 2. Calcutta, 1919.
Morgenstjerne, G. Indo-Iranian Frontier Languages, vol. 3, part 1, Oslo, 1967; part 2, Oslo. 1944; part 3, Oslo, 1956.
D. I. EDEL’MAN