Sunday, 25 March 2012

Saraiki Language

Spoken in               :       Pakistan , Afghanistan

Native speakers   :       13.8 million  (2000)

Language family   :       Indo-European:
                                           North-Western Zone

Writing system:            Persian alphabet, Laṇḍā scripts particularly Gurumukhi, 
                                          Devanagari script, Langdi script

Saraiki (Persian script: سرائیکی), transliterated as Sirāikī and sometimes spelled Seraiki and Saraiki, is a standardized written language of Pakistan belonging to the Indo-Aryan (Indic) languages. It is a language spoken in the heart of Pakistan. Saraiki is based on a group of vernacular, historically unwritten dialects spoken by over 14 million people across the southern most half of Punjab Province, the adjacent border region of Sindh Province, and the northwest of Punjab Province, southern districts of Dera Ismail Khan and Tank of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province as well as by nearly 70,000 emigrants and their descendants in India. The development of the standard written language, a process which began after the founding of Pakistan in 1947, has been driven by a regionalist political movement. It is to be considered that this is the movement for a separate ethnic identity only and Saraikis are considered as Pakistani nationalists due to their geographic position within Pakistan. The national census of Pakistan has tabulated the prevalence of Saraiki speakers since 1981.Saraiki is the fourth most widely spoken language in Pakistan, behind Punjabi, Pashto, and Sindhi; and within Punjab Province it is one of the two major languages.

The standard English language spelling of the name (at least de facto) is "Saraiki". However, into the new millennium, "Saraiki", "Seraiki", and "Siraiki" have all been used in academia and among promoters of Sairaiki ethnic consciousness. The language name (in whichever of these spellings) was adopted in the 1960s by regional social and political leaders. An organization namely "Saraiki Academy" was founded in Multan on 6 April 1962, under the Presidentship of Mir Hassaan-ul-Haidri who was replaced by Makhdoom Sajjad Hussain Qureshi, which gave the name of universal application to the language.

Historically, the speakers of dialects now recognized as belonging to Saraiki did not hold the belief that they constituted a cohesive language community or a distinct ethnicity. This consciousness developed among local elites in the years after the founding of Pakistan in 1947 in response to the social and political upheaval caused by the mass immigration of Urdu speaking refugee Muslims from India. Traditionally, the dialects were designated by any of a number of areal or demographic names (see table below), e.g. "Multani" for the dialect spoken around Multan, which has been the largest city in the "Saraiki" speaking area for centuries. The name "Saraiki" (or variant spellings) was formally adopted in the 1960s by regional social and political leaders who undertook to promote Saraiki ethnic consciousness and to develop the vernaculars into a standardized written language. The word "Sarāiki" originated from the word سوویرا "Sauvira"[1], a state name in old India. By adding adjectival suffix "-ki" to the word "Sauvirā" it became "Sauvirāki". The consonant 'v' with its neighboring vowels was dropped for simplification and hence the name became "Sarāiki". Although George Abraham Grierson[2] reported that "Sirāiki" (that was the spelling he used) is from a Sindhi word sirō, meaning 'of the north, northern', Shackle asserts that this etymology is unverified.
The standard Roman script spelling of the Saraiki language name (at least de facto) is "Saraiki"; this is the spelling used in universities of Pakistan (the Islamia University of Bahawalpur, department of Saraiki established in 1989, Bahauddin Zakariya University, in Multan, department of Saraiki established in 2006, and Allama Iqbal Open University, in Islamabad, department of Pakistani languages established in 1998), and by the district governments of Bahawalpur and Multan, as well as by the federal institutions of the Government of Pakistan like Population Census Organization and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation. Two of the native scripts, Gurmukhi and Devanagari, use the 'a' spelling (or rather, its native equivalent), which indicates that the vowel of the first syllable is a short /a/. In the Gurmukhi and Devanagari spellings given above, this is manifested by the lack of any vowel diacritic[3]. As is standard for native Indo-Aryan orthographies, the absence of any diacritic over a consonant indicates that a short /a/ is spoken after that consonant.


[1] Sauvira was a kingdom mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. According to the epic,  Jayadratha was the king of Sindhus, Sauviras and Sivis. Probably Sauvira and Sivi were two kingdoms close to the Sindhu kingdom and Jayadratha conquered them. Jayadratha was an ally of Duryodhana and husband of Duryodhana's sister Dussala. The kingdom of Sauvira was also mentioned to be not very far away from Dwaraka and Anarta kingdoms. According to Bhagwat Puran Sauviras were once connected with Abhira tribe.
According to some texts, Sauvira was south of Sindhu in the delta of the Indus river; while later historians (Al-Beruni) considered Sauvira to represent southwest Punjab, including Multan, Mithankot and adjacent areas at the region of the confluence of Indus river with other rivers of Punjab. Sauvira is presumed to be derived from two words: Su (great or good) or Sau (one hundred) and Veer (brave or wise).

[2] Sir George Abraham Grierson OM KCIE (7 January 1851, Glenageary, County Dublin, Ireland – 9 March 1941, Camberley, Surrey, England, United Kingdom) was born to a prominent Dublin family in 1851. His father and grandfather, both also named George, were well-known printers and publishers.

[3] A diacritic ( /daɪ.əˈkrɪtɨk/; also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign from ancient Greek διά (dia, through) and κρίνω (krinein, to separate)) is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. The term derives from the Greek διακριτικός (diakritikós, "distinguishing"). Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is only an adjective. Some diacritical marks, such as the acute ( ´ ) and grave ( ` ) are often called accents. Diacritical marks may appear above or below a letter, or in some other position such as within the letter or between two letters.

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