Tuesday January 21, 2020

In the realm of ignorance: Koshur the neglected language?

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photo source : www.koshur.org

By Shriya Katoch

  • Koshur is the language of Kashmir, which is at least 750 years old.
  • Though, recognized as one among the 22 scheduled languages of India, the language is slowly disappearing.

HISTORY

The Kashmiri language known as “koshur” has many influences associated with it. It is one of the oldest languages in the world, with Indo-Aryan roots and has a very rich history.
The language itself has elements of different languages, borrowing from Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, Russian, Persian, Punjabi, and even English.

Though its origin emerges from an ancient linguistic group of Dardi in the 8th and 9th century. According to European linguist G.T Venn, this time worn language has half of its words from Sanskrit, 33% from Tibetan, 10% Persian, 5% Hindi, and 2% from Dogri.

The Kashmiri language is the only Dardi language that has a literature of its own. In fact, Kashmiri literature dates back to about 750 years , this is equivalent to the age of modern English.

STRUCTURE

The Kashmiri language did not have its own script until the late 20th century. Three orthographical structures are set in place to write the Kashmiri language: the Sharada script, the Devangiri script, and the Peso Arabic script. After the 8th century AD the Kashmiri language was written in Sharada script, but this has been discontinued and has only been revisited by the Kashmiri Pandits during religious ceremonies.

In  modern times it is written in Peso -Arabic and Devangiri script. Through the times Kashmiri Peso Arabic script has been affiliated with the Muslim community, whereas the Devangiri script is associated with the Kashmiri Hindu community.

The reason why Koshur is different from other old Indo Aryan languages like Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, etc. is because it has retained its Aryan roots. Infact, some vocabulary features that Kashmiri preserves clearly date from the Vedic Sanskrit era and had already been lost even in Classical Sanskrit.

PRESENT SCENARIO

Even after surviving the test of time after 750 years,  Koshur is dying. The Koshur language is among the dying heritages of the world.

In a multilingual state like Kashmir, it is hard to make a language so time worn to survive. Though attempts have been made by the government.

Koshur has been declared as the official language of Jammu and Kashmir. It has also been included as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.

A group of writers in the Kashmir attempted to popularize the age old language to empty results. Finally, in 1980 government included Koshur in their academic syllabus and opened a Kashmiri department in Kashmir university, but all these attempts could not restore the tarnished language. Only the older population in Kashmir uses this language,with most youngsters using  more common languages like Urdu, Hindi or English.

As of November 2008 Kashmiri language has been made a compulsory subject in all schools in the valley up to the secondary level.

Despite all these attempts made by the government to restore the glory of this age old language, the attempts have been made way too late. The government needs to create a way in which  this centennial old language can be a common tongue in households.

Shriya Katoch multitasks as an Engineering student, an avid reader, a guitar player and a death note fan. Twitter: @katochshriya538

Next Story

Snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir to Help Bring Pollution Down in Neighbouring States

Lotus said early snowfall in happening for the second year in succession in Kashmir

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Snowfall, Jammu, Kashmir
The snowfall will peak in the night on November 7, MET said in a statement. Pixabay

Jammu and Kashmir is likely to receive snowfall in the next two days, which could help bring pollution down in neighbouring states.

“The snowfall accompanied by winds will bring down the particulate matter in the air to great extend,” Sonam Lotus, Director of the J&K Meteorological Department, told IANS.

“The active western disturbance and its interaction with cyclone MAHA, currently located in East Central Arabian Sea, is likely to cause moderate to heavy snowfall and rain in plains of J&K, and Ladakh during November 6-8. The snowfall will peak in the night on November 7,” MET said in a statement.

Lotus said early snowfall in happening for the second year in succession in Kashmir. “It’s good for agriculture, but could damage standing crops,” he said.

Snowfall, Jammu, Kashmir
“The snowfall accompanied by winds will bring down the particulate matter in the air to great extend,” Sonam Lotus, Director of the J&K Meteorological Department, told IANS. Wikimedia Commons

The MET has alerted the J&K administration about the likely disruption in road transport, especially through passes, like Zojilla, and on the Srinagar-Jammu-Leh-Manali Highway and Mughal road, due to landslides, low temperature and heavy snowfall.

The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is the main link between Kashmir and the rest of the country.

Last year, the highway remained blocked for several days, cutting Kashmir from rest of the country and causing shortage of essentials in the Valley. Normally, the government stocks up essential supplies ahead of the winter, especially for areas like Tangdhar, Gurez and Ladakh. Most of these areas remain disconnected due to heavy snowfall.

Last year also, Kashmir witnessed snowfall in November. Normally, snowfall begins after November on the upper reaches of Kashmir. The 40-day peak winter season called ‘Chila-e-Kalan’ begins from December 20. Snowfall during the period last longer and is a major source for drinking water in summers.

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The lack of adequate snowfall causes shortage of drinking water in Kashmir in some areas, especially those that are not connected to the drinking water system. (IANS)