Central Hindi Institute's initiative in preserving Shina Language - the mother of Dardic languages spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan of Ladakh & JK

    25-Jul-2020
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Shina, the mother of Dardic languages is primarily spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan, Dah Hanu, Gurais and Dras in India. Researchers suggests that the focus on speakers of indigenous languages is necessary in order to save them from language shift and language loss eventually resulting in loss of culture.
 - Aayushi Rajpurohit 

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With the number of people speaking native languages receding at an alarming pace, languages like Shina are feared to be endangered anytime soon. The population of the areas of Kashmir, Gurez, Kargil and Ladakh have been restive for the last few decades and have been prey to the pursuit of forced assimilation and agenda of Islamisation.
 
Native languages: Stigma than cultural Capital?
 
A plethora of research suggests that a sense of shame can be witnessed in the native people considering their language. It is seen as a marker of being uncivilised and lower class. Meanwhile, English and Urdu make them feel civilised. The attitude towards their own language is observed to be more stigma than cultural capital. Factors like Shina neither being a part of the school curriculum nor spoken by those at the helm of affairs have contributed to this gloomy situation. The agenda of Islamisation pushed by self-serving overseers has cultivated and promoted this mindset that condemns the use of native languages eventually giving birth to this milieu of cultural shame.
 
Linguistic importance can be hardly overlooked.
 
Divergent views on the origin of Shina prevail in the society. While local researchers assert that it came into existence thousands of years ago into the region from down south, raw carvings found all across the region support the claim making it sufficiently inferable that the Shina language has survived and developed over a period of 3000-5000 years. Archaeological evidence in the area makes it plausible that it might be an offshoot of Sanskrit. Interestingly, Shina is known to be a sister language to Sanskrit.
 
Shina, the mother of Dardic languages is primarily spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan, Dah Hanu, Gurais and Dras in India. Dialects of Shina include Gilgiti, Bagroti, Bunji, Drasi, Gurezi, Dareli and Chilasi. Unfortunately, these languages exist only in spoken form without any proper orthography. Popular opinion amongst researchers suggests that the focus on speakers of indigenous languages is necessary in order to save them from language shift and language loss eventually resulting in loss of culture.
 

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Initiative of the Central Institute of Hindi
 
Taking note of the prevailing situation, the Central Institute of Hindi has done a commendable job to preserve Shina, the language that has connected Jammu and Kashmir to PoK since time immemorial. Under their ‘Project for development of Dictionaries- Hindi folk dictionary Project’, the Central Institute of Hindi has compiled and published Shina words, meanings and usages in book form. Language experts from Kargil were invited to facilitate and expedite the process.
 
Intending to capture, preserve and incorporate the cultural and linguistic heritage of India, the institute also prepares instructional material for the States of Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Sikkim. A year ago, a compilation of essentials of the Balti language was also published. As a part of its Hindi Folk Dictionary Project, the Central Institute of Hindi has taken up the task of compiling and publishing essentials and dictionaries of 80 languages of which Hindi-Mizo, Hindi-Garo, Hindi- Jaintia, Hindi-Bodo will be a part.