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Director Burushaski Research Academy Pakistan Burushaski language is considered to be a unique and among the most ancient languages of the world, Despite new breakthroughs in ethnographic sciences, Burushaski defies classification and still remains a Language Isolate. (Dana, 1959) Presently it is spoken by the people living in three different valleys of Northern Areas of Pakistan: Hunza, Yasin and Nagar; and in parts of Kashmir India where a migrated minority resides. Two main dialects of Burushaski are spoken in the Hunza valley and the Yasin Valley. The former is divided into two closely related sub-dialects of Hunza and Nagar. Most of the languages spoken in Northern Areas of Pakistan i.e. Mina, Kuwar, etc have their roots in Dardi& languages (Laic, 2001) while Burushaski, together with Basque, Finnish and about a dozen other languages of the world, has been classified as a language isolate. The fact that its mother language has been lost and its sister languages have vanished make Burushaski an exceptionally unique part of the human heritage After centuries of isolation, the society where this language was preserved is increasingly exposed to outside pressures and influences. With the opening of the area through the Karakoram Highway and other external influences, the language and culture face new challenges. Economic migration, increased awareness and influx of various cultures through travel and tourism have brought an immense cultural change. This economic ascendancy and cultural dominance has become a threat to Burushaski language. Since the phenomena of economic growth and cultural influx invariably go hand in hand, below I have narrated facts and examples, which cover both aspects simultaneously In spite of the fact that the native inhabitants speak Burushaski as a means of communication, its inclusion in the school syllabus as a language is still missing, Urdu, being the national language, is the language of instruction and now with a flourishing tourism industry English has become another important language for the local people. Economic gains through trade have also encouraged the locals to learn and speak Chinese Turkish of the China border. Moreover, the political structure of the area necessitates the presence of army and government officials from the southern parts of the country, which entails the presence of other regional languages, which are mostly Pashtu or Punjabi.
In this unending influx of other languages, Burusho have unconsciously started to drop their own ancient words and to use Urdu words instead. Due to the external influences, more than half the present-day Burushaski vocabulary is of Urdu, Khwar and Shina origin. In addition, over thirty thousand Burusho presently live in different cities of Pakistan for educational or economic purposes, whose environment forces them to use different languages. They have failed to retain Burushaski in their homes, and as a result a considerable number of these families, particularly children do not speak their mother tongue. All of these factors call for extraordinary measures to preserve and safeguard a language that not only represents the identity of a group of people but has scientific and heritage value globally. The economic progress of Northern Areas of Pakistan during the past three decades has been unparalleled in hundreds of years of it history. The opening of Karakoram Highway has accelerated the pace of economic development to its unbelievable zenith. The deserts are populated, barren lands cultivated, number of educational and health institutions keep increasing banks, micro-nuance institutions, village organizations etc., have multiplied to take advantage of the economic opportunities available in the area. With. the opening of the china border trade activities between the two countries have been enhanced considerably. Goods that were scarce or not available have flowed from southern part of the country in an unlimited quantity destroying the local culture of labour and hard work of producing certain things locally. The heavy investments by NGOs, especially AKRSP etc., to supplement the government's efforts for economic development have proved very successful. Through the formation of Town Committees and Village Organizations people are mobilized and energized to concentrate their efforts to get the best results. The society, which until recently was managing through a barter system, suddenly transformed into a money economy, where all kinds of goods are sold and bought. Such a sudden transformation come with the price the Burushos had to pay for this economic growth, which was conditioned by cultural dominance of southern part of the country in particular. The foreign culture and ideas are imported unconsciously and absorbed and have become part of their thinking discriminating against their own culture and values. This sudden pace of development has caused many traditional values and standards to disappear. Socially and morally the society is going through tremendous pressure and a great transition. The old values are abolished and new ones have not been formed yet. In this liquid state of affairs, where diverse forces are trying to
mould the society, like religious and cultural values and traditions, the Burushaski language is also at stake. Allamah Nasir Hunzai, the first poet of Burushaski language and linguist of the area, has suggested eight different categories in which traditional Burushaski vocabulary exists. These are Agriculture, Cattle, Professions, Life Style (including housing, food, clothes etc), Sports, Prey, National Celebrations and miscellaneous. All eight categories of vocabulary are going through incredible pressure and it needs a very conscious effort to retain the remaining vocabulary, most of it is already either forgotten or replaced by Urdu language. This paper is an effort to highlight the factors that have directly influenced the language, particularly its vocabulary. It also mentions some anchors, which are protecting it. The paper also calls for urgent measures to save this very precious and unique language. We begin by focusing on a few of the above categories of language to highlight the irreversible loss of vocabulary. Houses The economic progress has seen a great change in the life style of Burushos i.e. houses, clothes, food etc. The traditional Burusho house ha is a single room multipurpose houses which could accommodate large families. They are built of mud and stone, which protect the inmates in the different seasons. It has two raised platforms man for men and women of family to sit and sleep. In the middle, there is a fireplace, (shi) and a kitchen for the winter. It has four or five pillars each one with a beautiful name reflecting a specific purpose. The big boxes containing flour stocks and dried fruits are located in a corner of the house. The different parts of the house represent different values. The most important pillar (shri dako) literally means the biggest or most important pillar. This pillar is designated for the elders of the family or important guests. A particular portion of the house was reserved to keep shoes or to accommodate people of low cast in the past. The master of house would stand there in the presence of guests to show his humility. The house also has a ceiling ventilator (sagam) and traditionally Burusho believed that the souls of their forefathers observed their families through (sagam) at night, thus a particular code of conduct was adopted to make them The whole family used to sit together during the long winter nights telling stories and eating dried fruits from their own farms, This tradition was known as gars ce hurutas, which had a lot of charm and attraction, Women spun wool and some cracked nuts with two stones during those long family gatherings. All oral stories
famous today, were familiar to all the families because they were told and retold. That was a popular way to transfer the oral traditions. This was also an opportunity to transfer and inculcate certain religious and cultural values to the younger members of the family. This quality family time was dearly cherished by the Burusho. It is reflected through certain proverbs like “amiiran male mast mii gariban hale mast” meaning "let the wealthy be intoxicated with their wealth, we the poor are intoxicated by our house (ha)". All the abovementioned activities, social attitudes and cultural values were nurtured because of that traditional style of the house. With economic progress and cultural dominance many have abandoned their traditional houses happily and have instead built houses according to urban patterns. Even if a traditional house exists, it is no more than a big storeroom. Those who have migrated to other cities are compelled to live in urban style houses that impose a new set of values. In both cases many of Burushaski words have been dropped from their daily vocabulary and will ultimately be forgotten. Apart from loss of vocabulary it has also damaged the beautiful concept of respect and distinct place of the elderly and guests. This has directly affected their mindset about the norms of res pect and humility. The youth today sleeping in their own individual bedrooms will never experience that life, love, emotional contentment, wholeness, sense of belonging and warmth their elders did by living together under one roof, nor will they know the particular vocabulary which is associated with ha. The family time (gari ce hurutas) has also been discarded. People are watching all kinds of programmes on uncensored TV channels and cable net while the young minds are not yet sophisticated or perceptive. The culture propagated through different channels is thought to be the popular culture and local culture is looked down on as an inferior culture. The power of media is affecting minds and modifying behaviour. Similarly the traditional fireplace, stoves etc., are being replaced with modem gas and electric stoves and heaters. It has affected the use of related vocabulary as well as made it impossible to understand all the similes, proverbs and metaphors of language related to fire and traditional ways of cooking and heating. There is a great portion of vocabulary and beautiful proverbs related to traditional ha (house) and things used in it, which are no longer in use. The absence of traditional ha or not using it has created a vacuum socially, emotionally and physically that is being filled by certain appropriate or inappropriate things from other cultures. The traditional ha was not just a four-
walled room, rather it was a concept generating values of life and determining people's behaviour. Food The rapid change and economic interests have influenced the diet pattern and certain activities related to food production and consumption. Some of the crops and fruits, which were previously sown and grown for family use have changed into cash crops and are sold straight away. Previously, most of the fresh fruits like apricots, Russian olives, apples, peaches, pears and grapes were consumed fresh. Surplus production of apricots was dried and stored for winter consumption. Other fruits like apple, grapes, peach, a special variety of peach (lutku) and plums were also dried and stored. Apples were dried and ground into powder (bastaw). This was used for cold drinks (two spoons full in a glass of water) in summer instead of manufactured powder drinks like Tang, etc. Less ripe fresh apples and pears were put into wheat straw (khurk) in traditional store (cikis) and kept for six months from September till March. The elder women took out a few of them and give them to all family members during the long winter nights and spring starvation time. Fresh mulberries were dried and stored again for winter consumption. A paste of all dry nuts and mulberry mix (sultan qooq), was prepared traditionally which was considered to be full of energy and was eaten to develop immunity against severe cold. It was specifically prepared for pregnant women and women who had just delivered babies. All these activities were related to their social life also and certain procedures of drying fruits, squeezing oil, the equipment used were well known to each family. Now all the apricot trees are contracted in advance with merchants coming from North West Frontier Province in exchange for cash. People sell traditional healthy fruits to merchants from the southern part of the country and get cash to buy goods. This cash is, mostly spent unwisely on drinking, smoking, etc.
Mulberries are no longer grown and the existing trees are dying; the new generation does not even have the concept of dried mulberries. All nuts like walnuts, apricot nuts were shelled by women during the long winter nights and were stored. There is not enough dried fruit available to a family now to continue this activity. All the fruit trees, especially apple and apricots are handled by men for their marketing and women have lost that traditional role and involvement in fruit production, as a result they have also lost interest in such activities. Picking apricots, drying, cracking nuts and storing was all in women's control previously, and they were responsible to divide them among all stakeholders like children, elders, pregnant and new mothers, visitors or relatives. At present people are happy and contented to buy cakes, shakes, cola drinks, and ice creams for the money their trees earn for them. Consequently, the youth in most cases is least interested in production and consumption of fresh fruits. They are mostly concerned about cash for cigarettes, jeans, tea bags, spicy food and fast food. It is hard to find traditional storerooms in the newly constructed houses, which previously were a necessary part of a house to preserve fresh fruits for six months. This change has affected the relevant vocabulary and verbal expressions concerning the fruits and their related activities. Wheat, barley, buckwheat and peas were grown for whole year consumption. Whole production was stored in a wooden box (sager) and was in the control of women to make it last for the whole year, since there was no external source to obtain wheat. People have now given up sowing wheat, barley, buck wheat, etc, Lorimer (1979) mentions seven different kinds of wheat being sown in this area, each with a different name. A particular kind (quhai) was only sown by the kings and no one else was allowed to grow it. Wheat is replaced by cash crops like potatoes and fodder. It is hardly surprising that even the locally based educated group does not know the names of different kinds of wheat. Maize is grown as a cash crop. Few plots of wheat are seen and the major portion of land is used for growing fodder and potatoes. Together with fruit and crops all other traditional dishes made by local wheat, barely, berries, kernels like gumaldi, diramsuro, chap suro, baline camik, fel ce fago, baye galetc
(Hunzai, 1991) are almost forgotten; the new generation may not even know their names and even if they do, they would have no idea as to what kind of meal that was. Poultry farms have been introduced as a major source of income and the poultry breed comes from the southern part of the country. It has brought a set of values and vocabulary that is getting more popular as a replacement of the original words. The customary juice made with dried apricots (baler ce dawdo) which was consumed in breakfast has been replaced by tea. All traditional nourishing food supplements like sultan gooq, etc are abandoned and the majority of population today does not even know their names. Chicken burger and pizza are getting more popular instead. Goods coming from other cities look attractive to local people and have reduced the value of local production. This attitude has damaged a greater part of the vocabulary and its use.
Dressing The dressing code has also been affected greatly with development. People prefer to dress up in an urban style and, to a great extent, have left out the traditional attire. The traditional cap, which the women of the area have worn for hundreds of years, is disappearing fast. The young girls do not find it comfortable to continue this tradition. They want to appear like urban women. Those who do wish to continue it fear comments and the ridicule of other people. They cannot take pride in their own culture and are impressed by imported cultures. Old jewellery is an object of the past and is rarely seen; samples of it have lately become showpieces to be sold at antique shops with English names. This is just another technique to attract tourists, which undermines the preservation of the culture or the beautiful name it originally had. Needless is to say that with change in dressing style the whole cultural context and related vocabulary has been lost.
Equipment Fruits and vegetables like apricot, spinach, which were previously dried and stored for winter, are now, being sold in market immediately. Previously Burushos had no choice but to collect all extra fruit and preserve it and save it for winter in which they feared facing food shortage. Thus, all those words used for the drying, preserving and the equipment used for that procedure are disappearing fast. They are inevitably replaced by modern equipment available in the market. Most of the young people of the area do not even know the traditional equipment and its use. To make diluted curd diltar, there were specific traditional methods, which have been replaced by machines now. Earlier methods included leather bag, tarin, a long wooden pan, etc. They would beat the curd in a long wooden pan with a long wooden spoon or shake the tarin violently to get diltar, now they simply do it with machines. The kernels of apricots were broken on stones; they were then squeezed in traditional pots in a specific way to get oil. All these methods have been replaced by modem equipment, and as a result, the old equipment is disappearing and all the related vocabulary too. Similarly, clothes were washed by hand often near hot springs in some of the villages. Here women would get together, have fun, wash their clothes, bathe and boil eggs and potatoes in boiling water to eat after they had finished their chores. Since clothes are now being washed in machines at home, all the related vocabulary is in danger. Similarly, mobile phones have affected letter writing or visiting people to convey some important messages. It has also reduced family gatherings and social interaction, traditional indoor games etc. Previously wheat and barely was being ground in a traditional mill which is now being done with machines. Also the seed was separated from hay by a traditional way, which is now done through threshers. Overall traditional equipment redundant and have led the related vocabulary to be irreversibly lost
Migration Economic opportunities have encouraged local people to move to various parts of the country and abroad where they have settled now among the majority of people speaking a different language. Here they are obviously adopting consciously and absorbing unconsciously, the cultural and moral behaviour from their surroundings. Being apologetic about their traditions, they shun their traditions rather quickly and behave like other people thinking that would increase their acceptance in the new society. Moreover, the whole set of that natural environment, vegetation, cattle breeding is missing in the urban setting, which never allows them to learn about those activities. They dominantly speak different regional or the national language of Pakistan. The youth in such migrant families in most of the cases do not even know their mother tongue. Even if they know it a little they feel ashamed to speak their own language. The cultural, lingual, social and ethnic identities have eroded so easily in pursuing economic interests that they may fail to associate themselves with the area, its culture and language in the foreseeable future. Traditional Festivals Historically there were a number of festivals celebrated by Burusho like thurnusalin, (burning statue of a tyrant king) bophaw, (seed sowing) ginai (harvesting), etc. Each event had a history, significance, a meaning and a way to make preparations for and to celebrate it. (Hunzai, 2004). There were certain mental concepts and vocabulary attached to it which may be lost with the lessening of the significance of these celebrations. Traditionally weddings, different religious and social occasions were celebrated with great fervor and dedication. Now many such programmes are held in hotels, almost completely sweeping away the cultural context these occasions traditionally had.
Women Related Vocabulary Since the role and interests of women have changed drastically, many of the particular games, activities, social gatherings, etc., have also changed. Symbolic language like muring dukhatila, shi se nibo, gapal mukhuljibi, which was used to tell family members that a girl or a woman of the house was going through a menstrual cycle seems to be no more a part of the vocabulary. Similarly words representing different stages of pregnancy, pre and post delivery factors, specific illnesses of women are surprisingly replaced by English words and even old women seem to be taking pride in using those terms rather than their own traditional vocabulary. Women traditionally used the most beautiful part of the language the language of love and affection, sweet expressions of language, (uyam baas), ( Hu a i , 2003) and phatic phrases (sapicin), the beautiffil praying expressions (Tiffou, 1993). The stormy wave of social and economic change has occupied people mentally, as well as changed their mindset because of which their vocabulary is becoming void of these beautiful expressions. Traditionally women would address each other as sakar mama, (sweet mother) sakar asagun (sweet nephew/niece), etc. The beautiful prayers offered for those who served any communal or national cause constituted the most touching part of the language: chabaye bo gumanis, (may you become like a millet seed, may your off spring be numerous!), chis bone daman rizaa! (May the Lord of mountain pastures be pleased! A prayer used by shepherds mostly) are some of the beautiful examples. Anchors In this extremely chaotic state of affairs there are anchors, which are offering help to the ship of Burushaski to keep sailing, such as Burushaski Devotional Poetry, Burushaski Research Academy and Radio Programmes in Burushaski. The Burushaski devotional poetry has played a very significant role in retaining its important vocabulary. People remember these poems by heart and recite them extensively, which binds them to a particular kind of vocabulary. Many poets of the area are struggling to retain the vocabulary by devotional and other kinds of poetry. Burushaski Research Academy has been founded by the first (sufi ) poet of Burushaski language and the scholar of the area also known as Father of Burushaski Allamah Nasir Hunzai. The Academy has published some valuable literature on Burushaski Grammar, trained people at grass root level to teach the language, organizes occasional cultural cum literary programmes for the people of the area and for
Burusho inhabitants of urban centres. The Academy has also published the first Burushaski Urdu Dictionary in affiliation with the University of Karachi. The Burushaski Radio Programmes and different artists of the area have also played a crucial part in preserving the language. Measures Required Despite sporadic efforts to preserve the language, the ground reality is that Burushaski vocabulary is being replaced fast by Urdu or English or other regional languages. Some words are lost, some are dropped contentedly and other new words are being imposed genuinely as people have no choice but to use them. There is an urgent need to create awareness among Burusho youth especially about the beauty of their own culture and suggest ways and means of how they could compatible manner with the changing times. It appears that the Burusho have allowed themselves to be swept up by the wave of change moving at a stormy speed, they have made no effort to stop themselves and reflect upon what is happening to their culture and language. They have become apologetic in their attitude about their traditional ways of living and feel that they have to behave differently to be accepted by the mainstream. The strong sense of owning their culture and taking pride in it has to be inculcated through positive literature, cultural shows, training women and youth Leitner (1985) believes that the customs and the historical and other associations of a race are the basis of the so-called rules of grammar. The loss of these customs could therefore lead to an irretrievable loss. He also calls the destroying of a language by foreign intervention as an act of barbarism. To preserve a language like Burushaski, which is an extremely precious heritage of human history requires immediate attention. This according to Hunzai (1998) is such an old language that it has some words of Hebrew in it like iilikinas (worshipping). This is an enormous challenge, which needs a lot of trained human resource, material resources, initiation and will. Local and indigenous associations are struggling against great odds. Many foreign researchers are aware in an academic sense, ' but the actual change can only be the one that takes place in
the land of burushahski speaking people . this paper has tried to demonstrate the interlinks ed nature of cultural and linguistic change brought about by economic and cultural dominance issues. It is clear that in order to minimize the negative impact of such rapid change there needs to be a strong cooperative effort on the part of the community assisted by academia, civil society organizations, NGOs and local and national government agencies.. References Dani, A. H. (2001). History of Northern Areas of Pakistan (Upto 2000 AD). Lahore: Sang-Meel Publications Hunzai, N. (2005). Burushaski Jawhir Paray. Karachi: Burushaski Research Academy in association with Bureau of Composition, Compilation and Translation, University of Karachi, Academy of Letters Sindh Pakistan. Hunzai, N. (2003) Shimol Bok. Karachi: Burushaski Research Academy in association with Bureau of Composition, Compilation and Translation, University of Karachi Letiner, G. W. (1989, reprint, 1985). Dartistan in 1866, 1886 and 1893 The Hunza and Nagar Handbook. Karachi : Indus Publications. Hunzai, N. (n.d.) Buruso Birkis. Hunzo – Giilt Karaaci:Burusaski Risarc Ekadami. Hunzai, N. (n.d.). Dekaran. Burusaski Research Papers Karachi :Burusaski Research Academy Lorimer, D. L. R. (1979), Materialien Zur Ethnographie Von Dardistan (Pakistan). Graz!Austria: Akademische Druck - u. Verlagsanstalt. Tiffou, E., Morin, Y. Ch., Berger, H., Lorimer, D. L. R. & Hunzai, N. (1993). Hunza Proverbs. Calgary. Alberta: University of Calgary Press.
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