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If you are wondering about the major languages spoken in Jammu & Kashmir then you are in the right place.

We have about 22 major scheduled languages in India, approximately 1500 other languages, and at least 19,500 mother tongues. So, not just India as a whole is very diverse but every state and every union territory has a very diverse and rich culture and history when it comes to languages.

If we specifically talk about Jammu & Kashmir then several languages are spoken in this region. Even as you descend from the north to the south, you will find a drastic difference in the languages that are spoken in different parts of this union territory. And even though certain languages are a dialect of some mainstream languages, over the years, these dialects have evolved into languages of their own.

While several different languages are spoken in Jammu & Kashmir, there are 5 official languages of the union territory. A bill that was passed in 2020 has given the 5 languages namely- Kashmiri, Hindi, Dogri, English, and Urdu an official status.

Now, without any further ado, let us delve into our article right away and take a look at the major languages spoken in Jammu & Kashmir.

Languages Spoken in Kashmir and Jammu

1. Kashmiri Language

One of the 22 scheduled languages of India, “Kashmiri” is the most common language that is spoken in the region of J&K. Approximately 6.8 million people speak this language and the majority of its speakers are located in the Kashmir Valley, and the Chenab Valley. It is also spoken in the Neelum Valley in the Azad Kashmir part of Pakistan.

And for the first time, in 2020, the Kashmiri language became the official language of the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir. Kashmiri is also one of the Dardic languages, along with Shina and Khowar.

While the language is Dardic in origin, Kashmiri has predominantly become Indo-Aryan in character. This language spoken in Kashmir has a mixed vocabulary, with words inspired by Sanskrit, Persio-Arabic, as well as Dardic languages.

Sharada, Devanagari, and Persio-Arabic are the three different scripts that are used to write the Kashmiri language. While the Kashmiri Hindus are said to have written this language in the Sharada script in the olden times, they have now shifted to the Devanagari script. On the other hand, the Kashmiri Muslims use the Persio-Arabic script called Nastaliq. Nastaliq, along with some additional diacritical marks, is recognized as the official script for this language by the Jammu & Kashmir government.

“Kishtwari” and “Poguli” are two of the major dialects of the Kashmiri language. Also, the Kashmiri language that is spoken by the Kashmiri Pandits is slightly different than that spoken by the Kashmiri Muslims. Not just the vocabulary but the pronunciation slightly differs too.

2. Dogri

This language is spoken by nearly 3 to 5 million people. It is also an Indo-Aryan language that is mainly spoken in the Jammu region of Jammu & Kashmir. 

Dogri is one of the western Pahari languages, this language is tonal- a trait, also common to the Punjabi and other western Pahari languages. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and this language received its official status in the year 2003. The script used for writing this language was called the Dogri script or Dogra Akkhar. However, the Devanagari script is now majorly used for writing the same. 

Dogri is known to have descended from the Sanskrit language and its vocabulary has also been influenced by other languages, such as Persian and English. The word ‘Dogri’ is known to have originated from the word ‘Duggar’ which means ‘two troughs’.

The language is also spoken in Himachal Pradesh, northern Punjab, and a few other parts of Jammu & Kashmir. Dogri speakers are usually referred to as ‘Dogras’.

It can be called the second most spoken language in the territory of Jammu & Kashmir, after the Kashmiri language. Approximately, 80% of Jammu’s population speaks the Dogri language.

In 1969, this language was recognized as an ‘independent modern literary language’ by the General Council of the Sahitya Academy, Delhi. 

If we talk about modern literature, the Dogri language, apart from Kashmiri, is the only language that has a considerable literary corpus. 

3. Gojri

Also known as Gujari, Gojari, or Gujri is another language spoken in Kashmir. The Jammu & Kashmir government has recognized this language and included it in the sixth schedule of the state constitution. 

Gujari language has a huge folklore that includes folktales, ballads, and songs. Several books have been published in this language. 

After Kashmiri, Dogri, and Western Pahari, Gujari is the biggest linguistic group. This language is spoken in scattered communities across the union territory. 

This western Indo-Aryan language is related to the Rajasthani language. While the speakers of this language do not form a majority in any large area, this language is spoken in the Kashmir valley, Pir Panjal region as well as some other parts of Jammu & Kashmir.

The Gojri or Gujari language is primarily spoken by the Bakerwals and Gujjars. It originates from Indo-Aryan native areas and is spoken by The Gurjars and other tribes of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. It is mainly spoken in Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, and other parts of India. 

According to research, about 10.41% of the population of Jammu & Kashmir speaks the Gojri language. Several organizations and institutions in J&K work for the development of this language and to keep its literary activity going. All India Radio and Doordarshan Kendra also run various programs that are in the Gujari language along with Radio Kashmir Jammu, Srinagar, and Poonch air Gujari language programs as well as news bulletins across Jammu & Kashmir.

4. Urdu

The next language spoken in Kashmir is Urdu language. It is one of the 5 official languages and among the major languages spoken in Jammu & Kashmir and also one of the officially recognized languages of India.

It is an Indo-Aryan language that is widely spoken and understood across the Kashmir valley. Urdu was recognized as the official language of Jammu & Kashmir in the year 1889. Before this time, Persian was the official language spoken in Kashmir for about three centuries. Maharana Pratap Singh who was the third ruler of the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir had replaced Persian with Urdu as J&K’s official language during his reign.

Urdu also shares a common Indo-Aryan vocabulary base, syntax, and phonology with the Hindi language. 

According to a 2011 census, around 90% of people in J&K could speak Urdu while 70 % of the population could read and write in this language. 

All of the official land records, courts, revenue, as well as FIRs are scripted in Urdu in Kashmir.

4. Burushaski

Another language spoken in Kashmir as well as in Jammu is called ‘Burushaski’. This language is majorly spoken in northern Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan.

It is also spoken in Jammu & Kashmir but there are only a few hundred speakers of it in India. A language isolate, Burushaski isn’t like any other language in the world and it isn’t classified either. 

It is quite a unique language and only about 1% of J&K’s population speaks this language.

5. Pahari Languages

When we talk about the major languages spoken in Jammu & Kashmir, we cannot leave out the Pahari languages. 

Pahari language is a collective name that is given to the languages of people who mostly reside in hilly or mountainous regions. 

Pahari is listed in the sixth schedule of the constitution of Jammu & Kashmir and is one of the regional languages. 

Some of the distinct Pahari languages include Ponchi, Padri, Mirpuri, Parmi, Bhaderwahi, etc. A significant number of the population i.e. about 23.99% is known to speak these Pahari languages.

Also, languages spoken in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, etc. are known as Pahari languages but they are different from the ones spoken in Jammu & Kashmir. 

In Jammu and Kashmir, these languages are spoken in the Pir Panjal region, Karnah, Uri, etc. 

6. Tibetic Languages

Among the major languages spoken in Jammu & Kashmir region, the next is the Tibetic language. These languages are related to the Tibetan family. 

These are the minority languages in the J&K region as these aren’t spoken by a lot of people.

Ladakhi/ Bodhi/ Bhoti is spoken in the Leh area. Zangskari is spoken in the Zanskar region in Ladakh. 

7. Other Languages

Other languages that are commonly spoken in Jammu & Kashmir include English and Hindi. These two are also among the 5 official languages of the union territory.

These two languages are also spoken by a significant number of the population residing in J&K.

Conclusion

The languages of Jammu and Kashmir are as diverse and unique as the land itself with a vast vocabulary and dialects. Kashmir is a hub of various cultures that co-exists beautifully together. In this blog, we talked about the major languages spoken in Jammu & Kashmir. We hope that this gave you an idea of the languages spoken in Kashmir as well as in the Jammu region.

Were you aware of any of the languages that we mentioned above?

Also, what is your native language?

Let us know in the comments below.

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