Brief descriptions of the Languages spoken in Chitral

There are 12 languages are spoken in various parts of Chitral Valley. Some of these languages are indigenous to the valley while the speakers of others emigrated to the valley from neighbouring areas and counties. Most of these languages are highly endangered because of lack of documentation.  Below are the brief descriptions of the languages.  


Dameli (ISO 639-3: dml) is spoken in several isolated villages in a side valley called Damel in southern Chitral. The Alternate names used for the languages are Damia, Damiabaasha and Gidoj. The language is classified into Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan group of languages. Dameli has been substantially influenced by Pashto and Nuristani Language. The Population of Dameli speakers are nearby 6000 and the number is increasing.  


Gawar-bati(ISO 639-3: gwt) language belong to  Indo-Aryan group of languages. The other names used for the language are Kohistani, Narsati and Arandui. Gawar-bati speakers live along the Kunar River, predominantly along the Pak-Afghan border area. In Chitral a main village of Gawar-bati language speakers is Arandu. Most of villages of this languages speakers are laying across the boarder in the Kunar province of Afghanistan.  The total estimated user of the language in both countries 9,960. The number is decreasing and the speakers are switching to Pashto language.


Gojri is a vast spread language of this sub-continent and also found in Afghanistan. The language is classified into Indo-Aryan in the Indo-European family. In Chitral Gojri language is spoken in more than a dozen villages mostly in southern part. The largest number of Gojri speakers lives in Nagar village of Chitral with 75 homes belonging to this community. Other villages of Chitral where Gojars are found are situated in Shishikoh valley.  They arrived in Chitral earlier than the beginning of nineteenth century. The exact number of Gojir speakers live in Chitral is not known but their pollution is to be believed a few thousands.


The Kalasha (ISO 639-3: kls) language  also named Kalashamon and  Kalash. It is spoken in three Kalash valleys named Birir, Rumbur, Bumburet.   All these three  valleys are situated nearby to one another in the  south of Chitral. The language is equally understood in each valley with slight variances. The number of Kalasha Speakers are 5,000 and the number is decreasing sharply. Kalasha people are shifting to Khowar language.


The Khowar (ISO 639-3: khw) speaking people are the largest group in Chital. It is also called Qashqari by Pashtoon speakers . This language is also classified into Indo-Aryan in the Indo-European family. In addition to Chitral, the language is also spoken in Gilgit-Baltistan and Swat valley. The estimated number of Khowar Speakers in all region is around half million. Khowar is a literate language, with books, magazines, radio programmes and audio/ video documentations.


Kirghiz(ISO 639-3: kir) is a Turkic language in the Altaic family of languages. It widely spoken language with speaker in China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Some reports reflected that there are few Kirghiz families  living in the Baroghil area extreme north to  Chitral.  Historically these people came 1940 from Andijan in the Kirgiskaya Republic fleeing the invasion of Soviet Union. The great thing about Kirghiz community in Chitral is that they love their language and pass on to their younger generations that’s why the language has not been affected so for. Those children who are born to mixed parents also learn the language. 

Kamviri-Kataviri (Shekhani)

The Kati (ISO 639-3: bsh) and Kamviri (Kamviri xvi]) Language speakers have emmigrated to Chitral in various time from Nuristan Valley in Afghanistan. Kati is different from Kamviri but the two are significantly mutually intelligible. The speakers of both the languages in Chitral like to call their languages as Shekhani. Some of them also prefer to call their language Nooristani. In Afghanistan, Kamviri is spoken in Southern Bashgal Valley while the two varieties of Kataviri are spoken in the Nooristan region and Bashgal valley of eastern Nooristan.  In Chitral the villagers of the language speakers are Shekhandeh (Bomburat), Goboor, Badogal, Langurbat. Some families also live in Urtsun


A dialect of Dari (Persian) in Afghanistan is spoken in upper Shishikoh valley in the village of Madaglasht 30 kilometres north of Drosh. This community has been present in Chitral for over 200 years and they are migrated from Afghanistan to the area.  According to the linguists, Madaglashti is same as Dari (Farsi) but the speakers of this language insist on this title. The number of Madaklashti speakers are around 3000.




Palula (ISO 639-3: phl) language belong to Indo-European, Indo-Iranian families of languages. It is also called Phalura and Dangarik War. In Chitral the language  is spoken in Southern part in  Ashret and Biori valleys as well as in the villages of  Kalkatak and Purigal. Some Speaker also live  in Dir Kohistan. The number of Palula Speaker are 10,000.


Sariquli (ISO 639-3: srh) is another language spoken in Baroghil in the extreme north of Chitral in boarder of Wakhan corrido in the same area of Chitral, where Kirghiz and Wakhi languages are found. Sariquli is a Pamir language in the Iranian branch of the Indo-European family. In 1948 some Sariquli people came in Chitral  from China and settled here. Nowadays there number are 70 speakers of the language in Broghil.  The majority of Sariquli speakers live in the far western end of the Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region of China. Sariquli language is on the verge of extinction in Chitral for being surrounded by Wakhi and Khowar languages and young people, born to mixed parents don’t learn it. Only adults are using Sariquli language while speaking to each other.     


Wakhi (ISO 639-3: wbl) belong to  Indo-European, Iranian family of languages. The language is spoken in Tajikistan, Kyrghistan,  China and Pakistan. The name Wakhi is derived from Wakhan, the name of the narrow corridor of Badakhshan province in Afghanistan which separates Pakistan from Tajikistan.  Some families of Wakhi live in Broghil in extreme north of Chitral. In Pakistan majority of this language speakers live in Gilgit-Baltistan. Total speaker of this language in all countries are 58,000.


The Yidgha (ISO 639-3: ydg) language is among the 23 languages of Pakistan which have been declared endangered by UNESCO.  The language is also called Lutkuhwar or Yudga and is spoken in the Lutkoh Valley, about 46 km west of Chitral. The Yidgha people originally migrated to this area from the Munjan valley in Afghanistan about 500 years ago.  The Number of Yidgha speakers are 6,150. Yidgha is moving closer to extinction every day. More and more people are switching to using Khowar, and in some villages, Yidgha is no longer being passed on to the next generation.

Urchuniwar (A dialect of Kalasha)

Urtsun is a valley, situated up in the hilly area of southern Chitral where Kalasha people used to live in the past. Urtsuniwar / Urchuniwar is not different from Kalasha language. The language has just been renamed by the speakers who have converted to Islam. This renaming has given a new life to the language which is tagged a language of Kafirs, pagans and abandoned by those who quit their religion. More than two thousand people speak this language. There  is 70 % similarity between Urchuni War and Kalasha