Burushaski

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Burushaski

 

the language of the Burishki; an unwritten, genetically isolated language, spoken in the high-mountain regions of Hunza and Nagar in extreme northwestern Pakistan. Burushaski is spoken by approximately 40, 000 people (1963 estimate). Two dialects are distinguished—Burushaski and Vershikvar.

The phonetic system of Burushaski includes ten vowels (opposed in quality and length) and 36 consonants (including retroflexes and voiceless aspirates). It has phonological tones. The simple noun morphology is in contrast to the complex verb morphology. Nominal parts of speech are not clearly delimited. Declension is represented by two cases, nominative and ergative-oblique, which are concretized by postpositions. A number of nouns occur only with possessive prefixes indicating person, number, and class of the possessor (a-rin, “my hand”; mu-rin, “her hand”) according to four classes: males, females, animals and some objects, and other objects and concepts. The verb has two temporal stems to which are added prefixal, suffixal, and infixal markers of person, number, and class (of the subject and of the direct and indirect objects): gu-yec-am, “I saw you”; mu-yec-uman, “they saw her.” Both nominative and ergative sentence constructions are used. The vocabulary contains many loanwords from the Dardic languages and Urdu, which contributed quite a number of Persianisms and Arabisms.

REFERENCES

Zarubin, I. I. Vershikskoe narechie kandzhutskogo iazyka. Leningrad, 1927.
Klimov, G. A., and D. I. Edel’man. lazyk burushaski. Moscow, 1970.
Lorimer, D. L. R. The Burushaski Language, vols. 1-3. Oslo, 1935-38.

D. I. EDEL’MAN