The Balochi language is spoken in many countries of the world and it has socio-linguistic contacts with the other native languages. In the modern times, Balochi is to contact with Persian, Arabic, Pashto, Turkmen, Sindhi, Punjabi, Saraiki (Lahinda), English and other European and African languages. At the same time, the Balochi language has been influenced on the one hand and on the other hand Balochi has influenced other languages and assimilated them within it. But Balochi has been largely influenced in Iran, Afghanistan, and in the Arab countries. In Pakistan and Turkmenistan the case is different. In many areas in Balochistan, the foreigners and other native speakers have changed their language into Balochi or bilingual.
The linguistic outcomes of language contact are determined in large part by the history of social relations among populations, including economic, political and demographic factors. The crucial point here, almost too obvious perhaps to merit stating, is that languages spoken by bilinguals are often altered such that ensuing changes differ from the results of internal processes of change within monolingual speech communities. In other words, languages spoken by bilinguals affect each other in a different ways. 1
Language contacts have, historically, taken place in large part under conditions of social inequality resulting from wars, conquests, colonialism, slavery, and migrations–forced and otherwise. Comparatively, benign contacts involving urbanization or trade as a contact stimulus are also documented, as are some situations of relative equality.
Language contacts have in some times and places been short-lived, with language loss and assimilation a relatively short-term result, whereas other historical situations have produced relative long-term stability and acceptance by the bi- or multilingual population.
Very broadly speaking, two major social processes have given rise to contact situations of interest to linguists: conquest and immigration. The imposition of a language of wider communication has occurred both as a result of conquest per se, and in the establishment of standard languages via institutions like universal elementary education, where local populations have been transformed into linguistic minorities in a broader political unit. In the case of a local linguistic group that has been conquered or surrounded by a larger group, slow language shift may mean many generations of bilinguals, providing ample opportunity for substratum influence to become established in the language towards which the community is shifting.
Historically, many conquered or colonized peoples, or those who have found themselves newly incorporated in a nation state, have felt the linguistic effects of these social changes only very slowly, giving rise to language contacts that have endured over decades, generations, or even centuries. These situations of stable bilingualism are perhaps the most likely of all to lead to what Weinreich called “integration”: the acceptance of structures due to interference as part of the receiving language, and even to structural convergence and the Sprachbund phenomenon recognized in many parts of the world.
With the obvious exemption of those situations where the death of an a language, language death is the conclusion of a process whereby a speech community moves from a primary use of one language to another in a process that is known as language shift.
Socio-linguistic contact and the Balochi Language:
In the modern times the Balochi language is in contact with different languages in different countries. As it is a natural phenomena that the languages which are in contact with other languages in the same country or state, occasionally enrich the languages vice versa, but sometimes there will be possibilities to lose their own identity. In case of the Balochi language, it is confronting a miserable situation in the countries where it is spoken. The ruling governments of different countries never proposed to teach, promote and preserve the Balochi language in their own countries, where the Balochi is spoken in a vast majority area.
This phenomena or policy of the governments has worsened the linguistic position of the Balochi language in different neighboring countries. In the past and even today, the situation is the same.
Socio-linguistic contact with the Sindhis:
In the modern times, 60 percent of the population of the Sindh Province is racially Baloch; out of which 40-45% Baloch speak their mother tongue. The Baloch settlement in the Province of Sindh is not new, but back dates to the Muslim era in Sindh. The Baloch people, according to some historians, were the key commanders in the Muslim army of Muhammad bin Qasim ( the Muslim commander and the nephew of Hajjaj bin Yousuf Athaqafi) when they attacked Sindh especially, the port of Debal to revenge the pirates who abducted some Muslim women and children. From that day, Baloch settled in the different parts of Sindh, which was then part of the Great Hindu Kingdom. 1٭
According to Dr. Shah Muhammad Marri, an eminent Baloch writer and historian, describes that the Baloch are one of the ancient settlers of the Sindh region. He opines that, the remnants of the Mehr Gahr Civilization show that the Baloch has been the part and parcel of this civilization, which has about 7000 years estimated history. 2٭
In Pakistan, the majority of the Baloch Population is living in the Province of Sindh and shares a good relation with Sindhis. The eminent tribes of the Sindh province are considered as Baloch.
The Shar Baloch is a sub-branch of the Jatoi tribe living in the different parts of Sindh, their women dress in Balochi embroidered garments, same to the Baloch of the different of parts of Balochistan. They have maintained their cultural norms and values, in their homes as well as in the public places. Men having traditional beards (as they had kept centuries before), but they speak the Sindhi language at home as well as in the market places.. The Kosh Baloch tribe is living at Gotki, their cultural norms and values, and psyche is totally Baloch, but they speak Sindhi at home as well as in public places. 3٭
Another well-known tribe which is known as Pitāfi, inhabiting at Ghotki and Sukkar, still preserves its language. Some of the people are in opinion that 50-60% masses of this tribe have preserved its language, but the remaining 40% speaks Saraiki (Lahinda), instead of Sindhi. Lund tribe also occupies a vast area of Sindh Province, and inhabiting different parts of it. This tribe has also preserved 50% of its language. Apart from this, a large number of Lunđ clan who are believed to be the primitive inhabitants of Yārā Lunđ Ghoţki, out of whom 50 percent of them speak Balochi and 50 percent has lost their language, who by now speak the Sindhi language. Whether, Legharis are residing in Sindh and Sindhi Speaking areas but mostly they speak Balochi and a small number of them speak Saraiki than that of Sindhi.
In 1843, when Charles Napier conquered Sind the Baloch tribe of Talpurs was ruling the whole Sindh area. The Talpurs had seized the powers from the Kalhoras in 1783. The court language of Sindh was Persian and somehow Sindhi.
In 1847, R. K Pringle, the Commissioner of Sindh, submitted a report on the language situation in Sindh to George Russell Clerk, Governor of Bombay, suggesting that education may be encouraged in the local language. He writes ” it may also be for consideration whether the vernacular language of the people may not with advantage be introduced in business; but I have not yet had and opportunity of ascertaining its capabilities for this purpose.”2
Most British officers favored the use of vernacular language at the lower levels and Sir George Clerk wrote to his minute of 24th April 1848.
“We should introduce the language of the country (namely, Sindhee) as the medium of official intercourse.
I do not see in what way our revenue and judicial officers (however their offices and courts may be constituted) can work effectually through a foreign medium of communication, such as Persian and English.”3
Here it is a sorry state that the ruling language and the language of a great number of people of Sindh was Balochi, but the British imperialists acted upon the policy of divide and rule. They wanted to root the Balochi language out from Sindh and destabilize the Baloch rule in the area. They intentionally were not in favor of the preservation and conservation of the Sindhi language, but they had their own interest behind this policy. Come what may, these steps destabilized the Balochi language in the market as well as in the courts and offices.
Before the formation of Pakistan in 1947, the circumstances were different than that are today. The Balochi language was playing a key role in different parts of Sindh and the Baloch were in touched with the Baloch population of Balochistan. But, when the Baloch areas were tri-furcated into Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan, it started deteriorating the condition of the Balochi language in Sindh as well as in Punjab.
In Karachi, which is the metropolitan and densely populated city of Pakistan, where different ethnic groups reside. The Baloch is considered to be the preliminary inhabitants of this city, and in the modern times the Baloch population occupies a large area and the population is estimated at above 2.5million in Karachi.
Before 1947, Karachi was the sole and only city where the majority of the population was Balochi speaking people, but after the foundation of Pakistan, a huge number of Indian Muhajireen (refugees now call themselves as Urdu speaking) were rehabilitated in Karachi city and its vicinity, and the Baloch population was converted in the minority. This process of mass migration through Baloch population never stopped and it is simultaneously under wary till today.
In the later years, Urdu was declared as the national language of Pakistan and it was implemented as the medium of education, communication and instruction throughout Pakistan.
This made the Muhajireen (refugees) stable, because they already had a language which was called Bihāri or Urdu. A catastrophic change begins in the social life of the Baloch of Karachi when Mahajirs started enjoying Urdu as market language as well as the language of communication. A Baloch has to contact with a Muhajir in everyday life and he has to speak in Urdu every first or second person. In this scenario, the Baloch of Karachi speak an Urdu-mixed Balochi language, where the influence of Urdu is lucid and apparent in Karachi.
The major reason of this is a large number of shifting of Muhajirs to the Baloch majority areas by the local government. Mass shifts laid a great impact over the Baloch because the Muhajirs were educated and they penetrated into the institutions of the Baloch areas of Karachi.
Lyari and Malir districts are the densely populated area of Karachi, where the Balochi language is still considered to be the market language, but the karachiites Baloch fear the huge mass flow of other communities especially the Muhajirs to the Baloch areas make the things from the Karachi city, as I mentioned earlier that the Baloch have a majority population in the remote or periphery of Sindh province and they constitute a major economic body.
The main Baloch tribes that compose a huge number of the population of the province of Sindh are as follows:
Ahmedani, Almani, Bijarani, Buledi, Bulfati, Bhurgari, Gabol, , Jakhrni, Jagirani, Jiskani, Jamali, Jamot, Jarwar, Jatoi, Khoso, Kalpar, Kalmati, Lashari, Leghari, Magsi, Marri, Mazari, Mirani, Nizaani, Nutkani, Qaisrani, Rind, Shar, Shirani, Sanjrani, Talpur, Umrani and Zardari.
The case is different in Balochistan where the socio-linguistic contact is with Pashtun, Sindhi and Brahui Baloch. The most considerable place where linguistically Baloch are in contact with other ethnic groups is Quetta. This time the population of Quetta city is at least 1.5 million. The ethnic majority of the population e.g. Sixty percent is Baloch but a huge number of Afghan Muhajireen (refugees) have come to settle in Quetta city. Baloch have a great relationship and social contact with local Pashtun.
The primary local inhabitants of the Quetta city are Kasai (Pashtun) and Shahwanis (Baloch). These two groups are living for centuries in Quetta and intermarried with each other. Ninety percent of the population of Quetta city is bi-lingual. Baloch can speak a fluent Pashto and Pashtun can speak a fluent Balochi, but neither Pashto has influenced Balochi nor has Balochi influenced Pashto. Even a single word of Pashto is not found in the Balochi language, and the same case is with Pashto. But another thing which is very interesting and discussable is that the Afghan Muhajireen (refugees) who migrated from Afghanistan and settled at Nokundi, Taftan and Noshki, intermixed with the Baloch, hundred percent of settled Pashtun speak fluent Balochi and a huge number of them has lost their language, and now part of the Baloch community. They have also adopted the Baloch culture and norms, customs and values. Some of them consider themselves as Baloch. Bareech, a leading clan of the Pashtun ethnic group scattered in different area of Noshki, speak a meager Pashto but fluent in Brahui and Balochi. At present they are living at Killi Gharīb ābād, Killī Mēngal, Killi Faqīrān and Badini Karēz and outskirts of Noshki town. 4٭ They have intermarried with the majority Balochi speaking people and in the modern times, they share an enormous business in the Noshki town. In the areas of Nokundi, Taftan, and Chagai Balochi has no threat in nearby Pashto language, but the annals show that the Pashto language has been influenced a lot.
Socio-linguistic Contact in Iranian Balochistan:
Languages in contact can affect each other in different ways. Much depends on the relative status of the languages. Two or more languages of more or less equal status may be spoken side by side and mutually affect each other in terms of structure and lexicon without eradicating either one or the other language. This is called adstrate influence.
Another setting is when a dominant language, e.g. the language of a conquering group or the political elite, exercises influence on a dominated language, e.g. the language of a minority group.
This type of influence is often called superstrate. Sometimes this term also implies that the final outcome of language contact is that the prestigious language is abandoned by the conquerors in favor of the local language, which, however, has been considerably influenced by that language. Such an outcome is more likely when a small number of conquerors seize political power in an area where a language other than their own is spoken, e.g. At the Norman conquest of Britain.4
Since education is in Persian, it considerably strengthens the Persian influence. This, together with the immigration of Persian speakers to Sarawan in the past centuries, has made this dialect a very interesting object for studying linguistic contact.
During the Qajars in Iran, the Qajari King Reza Shah Pahlavi followed his ruthless and cruel policies over the Baloch people of Iran. He was against the autonomy of the Baloch people, and wanted the crushed down them by hook or by crook. For heavy mass destruction he used the Baloch Sardars against their own people. 5٭ In 1928, Raza shah sent his army to Balochistan to bring the whole region under his direct control. 5
During his assault over the different part of Kirman, Sistan and Balochistan he crushed the Baloch, and the Baloch were dispersed. A phase of socio-linguistic change begins, when the Persian speaking people are stimulated to live in the Baloch areas.
In September 1936, by a decision of the ministers’ council, the name of the capital of Iranian Balochistan was changed from Duzzāp to Zāhidān. The Iranian government encouraged people to migrate thereby providing public services and giving them land free of charge under the condition that it would be used for the construction of houses, shops or other businesses. By allocating more public services, the Iranian government encouraged civil employees to live in Zahedan and trading and business activities grew in the region. The state’s investment in civil development encouraged more of Sistan and Balochistan’s population to shift to Zahedan and population had grown to 17,495 in 1956 and 38,976 in 1966.6
The second city of Iranian Balochistan was affected, is Pahra. In 1935, the name of Pahra was changed to Iranshahr by the ministers’ council decision and thousand of masses from different parts of Iran were shifted to Pahra (Iranshahr).7
The population of this city was doubled. The third effected city of the Iranian Balochistan is Chahbār (Chābhār), which is known to be one of the famous coastal cities, a harbor and strategically important point for trade to the Indian sub-continent as well as to the Arab and African countries. Since the 1970s, the strategic location of the Chabahar, Gulf has received attention again in connection with intensifying trade towards the Indian Ocean (Planning Organization 1988: 26-36). Basically, this city has been a Baloch populated city since the beginning, but the so-called Iranian socioeconomic development laid a great impact over the local population socially, culturally and linguistically. 6٭
The huge number of mass shifting laid a great impact on the language and population of the Baloch people. Before the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi, the total population of the Iranian Balochistan and Sistan was Balochi speaking and the sole and only language was Balochi.
In different cities of Iranian Balochistan the outsiders were assimilated by the huge population of the Baloch people. For example, in Zahedan, Pahra, Zabol and other cities which share borders to the Persian speaking people, totally assimilated the incomers. But simultaneous mass shifting changed the Baloch population from 1936 till now.
This time, in Zahedan, the official statistics show that the population is, 37 percent Sistan, 32 percent Baloch and the remaining other 22 percent are from other Iranian provinces, like, Birjand, Kirman, Yazd and Azerbaijan. In Chabahar the population of the Balochi speaking people is 54 percent and Sistanis are 9 percent. In Iranshahr the vast majority is of the population is Balochi speaking. 8
In Sarawan the case is totally different than that of other parts of Sistan and Balochistan. According to Adam Nadir Baranzahi “ central Sarawani is especially fascinating from a contact linguistic point of view, since it seems to have been in contact with Persian longer, and influenced by Persian more most other Balochi dialects spoken in Iran…. However in more recent times, especially after the establishment of direct rule from Tehran in Balochistan (1928), Persian has more and more started to take on the role of a language of high prestige, and is definitely the language associated with modern education. It is possible that longer and more intense contacts in Sarawan between Balochi and Persian, due to a longer tradition of education there than in many other parts of Balochistan has also played a part in the Persian structural and lexical influence on Central Sarawani.9
But on the other hand Nadir Baranzehi shows a different picture of this scenario and says that “it is quite possible that some or most of the speakers of central Sarawani originally were speakers of a dialect of Persian and belonged to the immigrant Afghans, Tajiks, Sistanis and Persians and that they, after settling in Balochistan, switch to speaking Balochi but retained some grammatical features of their original language as substrate phenomena. Thus, in pre-modern times, when the Baloch tribesmen were politically dominant in Balochistan, Balochi was the prestigious language which the immigrants acquired after settling in Sarawan. But, it is quite clear, that today the substrate effects of Persian on central Sarawani, as well as on the other Balochi dialects in Iran is heavy. 10
The simultaneous mass shifting and penetration of Persians towards the Baloch region, made a huge linguistic change. The Persian language was declared as the official and national language of Iran and other languages were restricted to read, write and speak in public places as well as in offices. Jobs were created for those people who were qualified in Persian. Television and Radio Programs were appreciated in the Persian language and the curriculum of different subject was made in Persian.
According to Carina Jahani “it is quite obvious that the national language, Persian, is the socially and culturally dominant language, and that Balochi is the low-status vernacular. However, this has not always been the case, and the example of Sarawan proves that clearly. Within this area one or two centuries ago, Baloch tribesmen of high status in the local society lived side by side with immigrant peasants of Afghan or other Persian-speaking origins, who had come to Sarawan more recently than the Baloch.”7٭
Moosa Mahmoodzahi has described the main influencing linguistic factors over the Balochi language in Iran in a clear and apparent way. He writes that “the huge impact of Persian in Iranian Balochistan was the continued electrification of the province, which, although it had already started, was speeded up and almost totally completed soon after the Islamic revolution. With electricity, TV spread all over the province. Television has been a major breakthrough in the introduction of Persian in Balochistan, far more powerful than radio. By watching Persian programs at an early age, often even before going to school, the children get acquainted with this language and learn to pronounce it with a Tehrani accent. Another reason is this that they were introduced to Persian at school generally by local teachers. 11
The second reason he asserts that “the spread of the official administrative system, invariably carried out in Persian, has caused an influx of administrators, many of them Zaboli or other Persian speaking persons with a certain local connection originating from Birjand, Bam, Jiroft or Jask, into all parts of Balochistan. This has also brought about an increase in the number of intermarriages between the Baloch and Persian speakers. He adds that new industries have been established in the in the province by Persian speakers, employing both local Baloch and Persians moving into the region and their language of business administration , of course, is
Socio-linguistic Contact of Baloch areas in Afghanistan:
In Afghanistan, Balochi is the principal language of the Nīmrūz province. There are also colonies of Balochi speakers scattered throughout the western part of the country, as far north as the Soviet frontier; but Balochi is the principal local language only from Čaḵānsūr southward. It extends past Zaranj, the provincial capital, along the Helmand valley eastward to about 64° east longitude, and southward of the river to the Pakistan frontier in
A common Afghan vocabulary exists for everyday topics only found to a small extent. Border field—there is commonly in etiquette, religion, but only because there is little outside contact.
In the area of communication, modern mass media, education, migrations and non-traditional professions are widely dominated by common vocabulary.
Similarities subsist between Balochi and other languages, copying Persian patterns since Persian has been held in high regard for a long time. However, there is little Pashto influence, but this is changing due to business. 8٭
Before 1978, there was no written material in Balochi of Afghanistan, Dari was the official language. After the 1978 revolution, the Soviets streamlined ethnic identity that had been outlawed from 1973-1978. In the 1980’s Russians influenced language education and policy. Over 1992, there is a return to the status of an almost unwritten language. As for the development of an alphabet for Balochi, this is similar to other Afghan languages—a national alphabet exists, but not another foreign dialect of Balochi. In writing, the alphabet is also different because of limits on availability of symbols available in pre-computer printing facilities. 9٭
According to Lutz, the Balochi of Afghanistan, linguistic contact with Persian, Pashto and of course Brahui is most important. Most of the languages of Afghanistan share a common vocabulary of economics, politics and religion. Pashto has an insignificant influence over the Balochi which is limited to lexical copies and which does not include structural reproductions. Although on a higher political level the Baloch of Afghanistan never tired of underlining their fraternal links with the Pashtun, on the local level of Nimroz some tenses in the social relations between the Baloch and Pashtun may have created psychological impediments and may have influenced the prestige of the Pashtun. When quite a number of Pashtun settled in Afghani Sistan they thereby displaced Baloch from that region. 14
This displacement of the Baloch ethnic group in Afghanistan enhanced the gap between the Pashtun and the Baloch in Afghanistan and they were compelled to make their relations stronger with the Persians. It’s very interesting to note that they have intermarried with the Persian and prefer to live with the Persian communities in Afghanistan.
Socio-Linguistic contact of Baloch in Turkmenistan:
The Baloch are a people which have a strong sense of unity, sharing a common origin, history, language, traditions and The Baloch occupies a vast area of the state of Turkmenistan, named as Mari Vilayat or Marv.
It is reported that the Baloch have migrated from Afghanistan and Iran to Turkmenistan in the early years of the twentieth century. They become united under the hegemony of a Baloch leader named Kareem Khan. At present, the Baloch of Turkmenistan lives mainly in the districts of Bayram Ali and Iolotan of the region of Mari (Mariyskiy Velayat). There are in 1997 probably approximately 38000-40000 Baloch in Turkmenistan, although some give a higher estimate of around 50000 or even more. The very strong loyalty among the Baloch to their mother tongue is quite noteworthy, and can at least to a certain degree be explained by the rural way of life. 16
The position of the Baloch people is very worse and miserable in Turkmenistan in comparison with the others. Not very much has been done to study their language and culture. The disintegration of the USSR had brought more losses for the Baloch of Turkmenistan, because the USSR had provided them some opportunities in education, science and culture. The Balochi language is not so influenced by the Turkmen language, a small number of words of Russian and Turkmen language have penetrated into the Balochi Language, but it is a rare case. No one has counted up that how many Russian and Turkmen words have been borrowed, because there are no dictionaries or recorded data on this. A few number of Arabic and Persian words are seen in the Balochi of
As it has been mentioned that on the one hand Balochi of Turkmenistan has borrowed a few words, but on the other hand it has influenced the newcomers to the Balochi speaking areas of Turkmenistan. People who came to inhabit on the Balochi speaking areas are Bareech, Malik (basically Punjabi speaking) and Persian, who now-a-days speak the Balochi language. Besides, other ethnic groups who are living within the Baloch community in Mari Velayat understand and speak Balochi before going to school, even a few numbers of the Turkmen who are living in the Baloch areas, speak Balochi well.
It is a good sign for the Baloch of Turkmenistan, but is difficult to decide that at the current age of modern technology, where the official and national language of Turkmenistan, and the language of education as well as the language of business and communication is Turkmen how can the Baloch sustain their language in future. Balochi is neither the language of education nor the language of communication. It’s just considered a regional language, which is limited in the area of Mari Vilayat. Balochi is neither taught in schools nor appreciated to be produced literary material or curriculum for the nursery students by Balochi speaking students in schools. In this condition, the Balochi language is confronting a lot of problems and it will take catastrophic mode to the Balochi language.
The socio-linguistic contact of Baloch are as we know with Turkmen people who speak the language of government where it is considered the official and national language, without which no job, no business or no communication is possible. It’s a good sign for the Baloch of Turkmenistan that they have preserved their language in preliminary level, but there are some reservations for the Balochi language in the future, because Baloch are moving towards big cities of Turkmenistan for jobs, business and higher education, where they confront the market as well as the national language. Another reason which will threaten the Balochi language in the future is intermarriage. Many of the Baloch educated persons who work in the government institutes; army, police and the administration have married to Turkmen women and their children hardly speak Balochi, they consider Turkmen as their mother tongue.
The biggest reason is that, the Balochs of Turkmenistan are illiterate and there is no choice for them to get through in different institutions and to lead their national identification.
In different parts of the world, especially in Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and in the Gulf countries where the Baloch are Bi or tri-lingual and they have the socio-linguistic contact directly and indirectly with the other dominant as well as official languages. In Iran the situation is very deteriorating for the Balochi language, where no one is allowed to even do debates or discussion in Balochi. No newspaper is being issued with the support of the Government of Iran and no academies of the preservation of the Balochi language. The Balochi language is not taught in the schools and colleges. This alarming situation is endangering the Balochi language in Iran and if pre-cautionary actions were not taken to preserve and promote the Balochi language it would imperil the existence of the Balochi language in Iran.
In Afghanistan and Turkmenistan the position of the Balochi language is same, where the socio-linguistic contact of the Baloch with the other official and national languages, put it into the danger. In Afghanistan, the official languages (Pashto and Dari Persian) are the language of communication and education. The Baloch of Afghanistan have a direct contact with the speakers of the two major languages in every sphere of life. According to estimation approximately thirty percent of the Baloch of Afghanistan speaks Persian.