Influence of Turkish on Khowar language

By Mohammad Ilyas Khwaja  (Goldur, Chitral)

Khowar language has been grouped as Indo-Aryan language upon resemblance of Khowar words with those of the Indo-Aryan languages, especially the presence of abundance of pure Sanskrit words or almost similar sounding words in the language.

As I have seen it, Khowar language though is saturated with Sanskrit wordings but the most important feature of the language that is the root verb and its system of usage in tenses and possession totally resembles with the Turkic language system beside inclusion of a lot of Turkish/Mongol words in the language.

Why is that so is still a question to be answered that we shall discuss further ahead. First we take an example of the basic verb formation(ضمیر).

Many though not all Khowar base verbs resemble with Turkic languages, but the pattern of usage fully resembles with the Turkic Language system.
Alik (to take) Aloman (I take) Aletam (I brought/took) Altiastam (I had taken) Alom (I will take)
Almak (to take) Alman (I take) Aldim ( I took) Almishtim (I had taken) Alacakim (I will take)
Pacheyk (to cook) Pacheman (I cook) Pachetam (I cooked) Pachestam (I had cooked) Pacheym ( I will cook)
Pishirmak (to cook) Pishirman (I cook) Pishirdim (I cooked) Pishirmishtim (I had cooked) pishirajakim ( I shall cook)
Some Turkic base verb words that totally fall in Khowar Language or almost resembl them are as follow;
Khowar Turkish Meaning
Oreyk Uyumak to sleep
Jibik Yemek to eat
Kosik Koshamak to walk/to run
xingeyk Chekmak to pull
goreyk gormak to watch sharply
bik bitmak to have/done
obrik olmak to die
botik baghlamak to tie

Other Turkic/Mongol Words in Khowar language
Khowar Turkic Meanings
Gol Gol stream/river
Kay Kai/ka woman/female
Qush qaush meeting
Kuluchi Kuluchka chicken/hen
Budalak Budala He man/idiot
Mayakh Maya yeast
Pin Chin sharp
Toroq(kahak) tovuq big hen/hen
Asaqal Aq saqalli White bearded/elder
Khashuk qashuq spoon
Bodol budur strong built/dwarf
Khudai Khudai God Almighty
Korum korumu work/duty
Arqa arka back
Khapusi qabus nightmare
Kicha qanchi how/how much
Dada dada father
Nan nana/anna mother
Kutu kutu small room/box
Chumur temur iron
Patigan patligan brinjal
Trup trup carrot/turnip
Qab qab plate
Shiyeli Chroili beautiful
Now we shall come to the debate that why Khowar Language is marked as an Indo Aryan Language. Many many pure Sanskrit words and some slightlymodified words totally fill the language. Though Persian words also exist and have made a good room in the language but the typical Khowar Non-Persian words are either purely Sanskrit or some slightly altered form, rest even that of Prakrit or of Indian origin. I present some wordsso that to have a glimpse of the factor;
Khowar Sanskrit meaning
ashru ashru tears
gram gram village
shyal shyal jackal
matsi matsi fish
istri istri female/girl
kumoru kumari girl
sin sin river
kirmi kirmi insect
thul thul fat
dok dok mound
mul mula root
kar karna ear
niskar niska nose
prash prasta back
deek daha to suck
hosik hasti to laugh
poshik pashiti to seen
xonik xina to know
kheneyk khenati to dig
deyk dadati to run
dorik darati to stand
petsik sapati to leave off
botik badhati to tie
boshik varsha/barsha rainfall
him hima snow
chhucho shushka dry
duderi dura far
lavat lavana salt/salty
yor surya sun
ei-phat alpha some
no na not
ka ka who
mosh manusha human
tat tat fat her/elder
hardi hride heart
kanchani kanchani whore
Other words either derived from Sanskrik/Indian origin
Khowar Indo translation
khot ghata cloud
gutch goth corner
tuk tuk a bit
maska maska butter
klok kr’uk hen on eggs
Persian language has also a major influence on Khowar language. It has provided the language a vast glossary. Persian had been the official language of the state of Chitral form some centuries under its Islamized status till till the state was abolished in 1969. Certainly Persian has a great influence on Khowar Language and a bulk of Persian either original or corrupt words exist in the language. Corruption of the Persian words are mainly because of the mis-pronunciation of the Badakhshi peoplein the near nieghborhood. Names of the days of week are as in original Persian and many more likely words are there, strange to see that some old Persian Words also exist in Khowar Language that remain not in use in the Persian languages now spoken around. We shall look into fewer common used words among them.
Khowar Old/New Persian Translation
piyala piyala cup
thasht tasht flat dish
kasa kasa bowl
sardavai sardaba water tank
oogh av/ab water
bogho birav go
nishe nishin sit
stor stor horse
ulagh ulagh mule
kushik kushtan kill/slaughter
deh deh village
dosh dosh yesterday/last night
kaush kafash shoes
Now the point that is needed to be discussed is that how Khowar language has gotten its basic linguistic feature as that of Turkish. For that we shall look into history. In Kafir period that lasted upto 16/17th century three waves of military intrusions were made in the area. First, the Mongols in 13th century who have been heard of taking the central fort of kafirs into siege in present Kosht area that lasted for more than a month and the Mongols retreated without success. Yarkhun valley however remained under Mongol rule for a long period not specified. Second attack was that of Amir Taimur some time before his death. This time their attack was on Bashgal Valley and the entrance was made from Badakhshan. His army was taken in a hard beset by Kafir Archers and he being a man of literature had writers as companions who have described the best archery skill of the Kafirs. Amir Taimur with his powerful army subdued the Kafirs who asked him to leave learned Muslims among them to convert them to Islam and teach them religion. The Kafirs being rough in social matters killed all the Islamic scholars upon the departure of the strong Muslim King. The third wave of attack was made by Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar the Mughal King of India. His campaign against Yousufzai Afghans made his armies penetrate upto present Upper Dir area and his historians say that the area Baraul was captured from the Kafirs. His armies almost touched the present boundary of Chitral. When they saw the ones ahead to meet them in battle and the terrain, they returned saying that the region further ahead belongs to the King of Kashghar. By then or some time after that the ruling or the main section of Kafir tribes was converted to Islam. It was then a slow and natural process that continues till date. Then Muslim rulers of Chitral named Raees were in a loose subjection bondage with the Amir of Kashghar. How long remained the period of Raees rulers is also not properly defined. Before Raees were Sumaleks as rulers of Chitral. Sumaleks were probably allover Kafirs. Raees Muslim rulers also practiced some Kafir customs beside Islam as they did not use to bury their dead instead put them in shelves made in a trench under the ground. Their envoys regularly visited Kashghar and carried yearly tributary yearly while Kashghar rulers provided their assistance in turn. When Katoor took over the power from Raees perhaps in later 17th or in the beginning of 18th century they ceased the subjugation link with Kashghar and no more assistance sought from there. Now there are two probabilities for Khowar language of having a Turkic base.
1. If it is a very old language then it might have derived its form from the Budha/Manchurian rule of the north they were themselves and their allies were Turkic people.
2. If it is not so old then it might have gotten the pattern from being linked with Kashghar in post Kafir Raees period.

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