BALTI LANGUAGE

By on May 9, 2014
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The Balti Language is based on Tibetan and had its own alphabets, which in course of time, became extinct due to the conversion of Baltistan to Islam and spread of Persian script in the land subsequently. The change of religion etc; went a long way in introducing some changes in the language. In this connection Vine’s account may be reproduced usefully. He says, “The language of  Little Tibet differs considerably from that of Ladak. Arabic letters are often used in their names, and more Arabic words than Persian; but not much of ;either, and still less of Turki; and Ladaki and a Balti, meeting from the distant verge of their respective countries, would have some little difficulty in understanding each other. In the language of Tibet, generally, there are thirty simple litters, out of which fifteen different sets are formed, which may be used with a prefix of some other letter, as the aspirate, for instance, is prefix to any vowel. The word RGylfo, already mentioned, has a prefix of the letter R, which is rapidly sounded as if it were part of the G. In this manner are formed two hundred and nine combinations of letters.” a

Fosco Maraini writes about Balti language:

“In the second half of the first millennium after Christ Baltistan passed under Tibetan rule. Little is know of this period. But it must have been a long and important one bringing an appreciably superior civilization to be backward people; no less was necessary if the original Balti language was to be ousted by that of the Rulers. Balti as spoken today is archaic form of Tibetan, the words being still pronounced as in Tibet itself, they are now-a-days only written Rice, for instance, is in Balti  ‘Bras’, and in the Tibetan scriopt it is written as ‘Bras’. But the pronunciation of Lhasa has been capable of some strange evolutions, and  today Lhasa knows rice as “Dren’. The third person of the present indicative of the verb ‘to be is in Balti ‘Yod’. It is written ‘Yod’ but in Tibet the pronunciation  has evolved to ‘Yo’. Hundreds of such examples come to mind.Balti grammar and syntax too reveal archaic features,.

“It stand to reason that the Balti spoken today is not just an archai Tibetan. It is also a bastard Tibetan. Tibet’s cultural ascendancy must have come to an end altogether with the little country’s conversion from Buddhism to Islam. From then onwards there will have been an influx of fresh linguistic elements brought by the new faith itself and by fresh cultural affiliations with lands before remote.

The Imperial Gazetteer of India also mentions that the language of the people is Tibetan with a small admixture of Persian and Arabic.Franke also writes that ”I am told, the Baltis make use of a particular kind of script which runs from right to left …..Professors A. Fischer and Hultzeh tell it is not based on any form of Arabic character rather resembles the Indian form of script ..

The script referred to above that runs from right to left has not been seen by anybody. In fact the Balti script was written from left to right. Today, ‘Qasaida’ ‘Marsias etc. are put down in Persian script, despite the fact that there are many words which cannot correctly be written in it. ‘Harta’ or ‘Ta’but the correct pronunciation lies between the two. Similarly the word ‘Rana’ has created a problem for writing it in Persian script,’Rana’,means a meadow and it can either be written as ‘Rana’, Ranga’or’Rama’but none of them is the correct one. For the very reason the ‘Rama’in Astore has created confusion in as much as to outsiders and even to Astoris it has become inexplicable. The word is a Balti one which cannot correctly be written either in Urdu or in English. Following are f few alphabets of Balti Language.

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