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Number of Speakers: 2.2 million (Gordon 2005)
Key Dialects: The three primary dialects of Brahui are Kalat, Jharawan, and Sarawan. Kalat Brahui is the standard dialect.
Geographical Center: South central Pakistan
Brahui, also known as Brahuidi, Birahui, Brahuigi, and Kur Galli, is spoken by a total of 2.2 million speakers primarily in Pakistan. Within the country, it is spoken by two million people in the south central regions of Quetta and Kalat, within the Sind province, and in the eastern half of the province of Balochistan. Outside Pakistan, Brahui is spoken in Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan. Most speakers of Brahui are bilingual, additionally speaking the Western dialect of Baluchi.
Variation within the three primary dialects of Brahui is mainly phonological/morphological. The three dialects are reported to enjoy a modest degree of mutual intelligibility, however, very little rigorous research has been devoted to adequately addressing the issue of variation within the dialects of the language.
In recent years, a roman orthography has been adopted.
The Brahui sound inventory consists of five vowels and twenty-seven consonants, depending on the analysis. Four diphthongs are attested and vowel length is contrastive. Brahui is a stress language. Stress typically falls on long vowels or short vowels preceded either by geminates (double consonants) or consonant clusters. The Brahui vocabulary is comprised of numerous borrowings, the majority of which come from Arabic, Baluchi, Persian, and Pashto.
Brahui has a complex agglutinative morphological system in which grammatical information is encoded word-internally by means of affixation. All affixation is suffixal – prefixes are unattested in native words. Gender is not marked morphologically. Brahui is a nominative-accusative language and its case system is extensive. Twelve morphological cases are attested: nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, ablative, locative, instrumental, vocative, comitative, lative, adessive, and terminative. Finite verbs are inflected for tense (past/preterit/pluperfect, present, future), aspect (perfect, imperfect), voice (active, passive), mood (indicative, interrogative, imperative, conditional, potential), person (first, second, third), and number (singular, plural). Verbs agree with their subjects in person and number, but not with their objects (either direct or indirect).
Syntactically, Brahui is an SOV language. Adjectives and adverbs precede the expressions they modify. Both prepositions and postpositions exist, although as a class they are few in number. Most (if not all) of the prepositions are borrowings. A limited number of postpositions may also be used as prepositions. The use of conjunctions and other conjunctive words is relatively rare in the language.
ROLE IN SOCIETY
Brahui does not have official status in Pakistan. It does not serve as a lingua franca for any other Pakistani language and is not used in mass media/communication. Literacy rates are low.
Brahui is the earliest offshoot of Dravidian and its speakers have remained in their present location for several thousands of years (Andronov 2001). At the time of the Dravidian migration (roughly 3-4,000 BC) when other tribes moved south and southeast, the Brahuis remained in place, thus breaking with their kinsfolk. The Brahuis were subject to numerous waves of foreign invaders who influenced various aspects of their culture, such as language and religion. Over the last few centuries, the survival of the Brahui ethnicity became jeopardized. Many members began renouncing their language and culture, identifying instead with the nearby Baluchi. However, after 1947, political changes in Pakistan stimulated the resurgence of the Brahui language and culture
Andronov, Mikhail S. 1980. The Brahui Language. Moscow: Nauka Publishing House.
Andronov, Mikhail S. 2001. A Grammar of the Brahui Language in Comparative Treatment. Muenchen: Lincom Europa.
Bray, Denys de S. 1977. The Brahui Language. Quetta: Brahui Academy.
Emeneau, M.B. 1962. Brahui and Dravidian Comparative Grammar. University of California Publications in Linguistics Volume 27. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Editor). 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth Edition. Dallas: SIL International.
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