Jammu and Kashmir Burushaski: language, language contact, and change
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The region stretching along the Kashmir province of the state of Jammu & Kashmir in India and the Northern Areas region of Pakistan is home to great ethnolinguistic diversity. The impetus for conducting a study on the Burushaski language in the valley of Kashmir came from the realization that the community, although invisible (roughly 300 speakers) within the broad Kashmiri society (over 4 million speakers), has succeeded in maintaining a separate identity – social and linguistic. Having lived in Srinagar for over a century, Jammu & Kashmir Burushos have very well stood the pressures of linguistic assimilation and language loss. No study has been carried on the language of the Jammu & Kashmir Burushos so far. This study provides a structural description of Jammu & Kashmir Burushaski - an undocumented variety of Burushaski, and analyzes the various forms of linguistic interference since its split from the parent dialects in Pakistan. It covers the various linguistic consequences of contact such as: borrowing, innovation, and simplification of linguistic features characterizing Jammu & Kashmir Burushaski. Changes are studied at lexical, phonological, and morpho-syntactic level. My synchronic description of the grammar is concerned with the structural properties of the language. Grammatical description is preceded by an introduction of various speech forms in context which emphasizes the importance of a discourse-centered approach followed in this study. My approach to the study of contact-induced change is based on an analytical framework following Thomason & Kaufman (1988) and Thomason (2001). The study also discusses some theoretical implications of the research outcomes. It presents a unique situation in which linguistic outcomes of contact are reflected via a complex interplay of various factors involving simultaneous contact with two languages viz., Kashmiri and Urdu, each affecting the language in a specific way – lexical borrowing from Urdu and structural borrowing from Kashmiri. This is explained in terms of two important factors: (i) language ideology in terms of a “native language” versus an “extra-native MATRIX”, and (ii) within the non-native matrix, a hierarchy of social prestige associated with each of the two non-native languages.