Palula language

Palula (also spelt Phalura, Palola, Phalulo) and also known as Ashreti (Aćharêtâʹ) or Dangarikwar (the name used by Khowar speakers), is a Dardic language spoken by approximately 10,000 people in the valleys of Ashret and Biori, as well as in the village of Puri (also Purigal) in the Shishi valley and at least by a portion of the population in the village Kalkatak, in the Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It is closely related to the Sawi language of Afghanistan and to Kalkoti, which is spoken in Dir District. The area where Palula is spoken includes 35°28′N 71°53′E / 35.467°N 71.883°E / 35.467; 71.883.

Native speakers
10,000 (2008)[1]
The population of Ashret and Biori Valleys is almost completely monolingual (2008)[1]
Palula alphabet (Nastaʿlīq script), see other less-used writing systems below
Official status
Official language in
No official status
Language codes
ISO 639-3phl
Map of the region in Pakistan where the Palula language is spoken

In some of the smaller villages, Palula has either ceased to be spoken (in the village Ghos, situated near Drosh) or its speakers are largely shifting (as in Puri and Kalkatak) to the more widely spoken Khowar language. However, in the main Palula settlements in the Biori and Ashret valleys, it is a strong, vibrant and growing language, as the population in those areas increases and it is still with a few exceptions the mother tongue of almost all people.

Palula is pronounced as /paːluːláː/, with three long vowels and a rising pitch on the final syllable.

Study and classificationEdit

The Palula language has been documented by George Morgenstierne (1926, 1941), Kendall Decker (1992), Henrik Liljegren (2008, 2009, 2010), and Henrik Liljegren & Naseem Haider (2009, 2011).

It is classified as a Dardic language, but this is more of a geographical classification than a linguistic one.



Palula vowel chart, from Liljegren & Haider (2009:383)

The following table sets out the vowels of Palula.[3][4]

Front Central Back
Close i iː u uː
Mid e eː o oː
Open a aː

Nasalization is found; however, it typically limited to vowels preceding sibilants and nasals and word finally.


The consonant inventory of Palula is shown in the chart below.[5] The phonemic status of the voiceless aspirate and breathy voiced series are debatable. The breathy voiced series is generally considered lexical—a cluster of a consonant + /h/.[4][6] Neither voiceless aspiration nor breathy voicing co-occur with /s ʂ ʃ ɳ ɽ/ or /x ɣ (f?)/ in a syllable onset.[7]

Labial Coronal Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal voiced m n ɳ
breathy voiced
Stop voiceless p t ʈ k (q [x])
voiced b d ɖ ɡ
aspirated ʈʰ
breathy voiced ɖʱ ɡʱ
Affricate plain ts
aspirated tsʰ tʂʰ tɕʰ
Fricative voiceless f s ʂ ɕ x h
voiced z ʐ ʑ ɣ
Lateral voiced l
breathy voiced
Rhotic voiced ɾ ɽ
breathy voiced ɾʱ
Semivowel voiced j w
breathy voiced


Like many Dardic languages, Palula shows either tone or, as in Palula, a pitch accent.[8] Words may have only one accented mora, which is associated with high pitch; the remaining mora have a default or low pitch.[9]


In 2004, Anjuman-e-taraqqi-e-Palula, the Society for the promotion of Palula, was founded by people in the Palula community to promote the continued use of their language and to encourage research and documentation of their language, history and culture. After the establishment of a written form of the language, the society is now engaged in producing literature and educational material in Palula. In 2006, Palula Alifbe (Palula alphabet book) and Palula Shiluka (Palula stories) were jointly published by the Anjuman-e-taraqqi-e-Palula and the Frontier Language Institute in Peshawar.[citation needed]

In 2008, a mother-tongue based educational programme was launched by a local school management committee in Ashret and a first batch of Palula children could start learning to read and write in their own language. Since 2010, two schools operate within this programme in Ashret, using a curriculum developed by the community itself with assistance from the Forum for Language Initiatives (a regional language resource centre based in Islamabad).[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Palula at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Palula". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Liljegren (2008), p. 64.
  4. ^ a b Edelman (1983), p. 263.
  5. ^ Liljegren (2008), p. 58.
  6. ^ Liljegren (2008), p. 71.
  7. ^ Liljegren (2008), p. 72.
  8. ^ Baart (2003), pp. 3, 6.
  9. ^ Liljegren (2008), p. 74–76.


External linksEdit