The Dogri Language
by: P. N. Pushp and K. Warikoo
and Cultural Foundation
- by Ved Kumari Ghai
Dogri - the language of the Dogras is spoken in
the region which includes parts of three States, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal
Pradesh and undivided Punjab. The whole of Jammu Province south of Pir Panjal,
some parts of Himachal Pradesh, viz. Kangra, Chamba, Kullu, Mandi, Suket, some
parts of Punjab viz. Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Nurpur, Hoshiarpur and some parts of
Pakistan, viz. Shakargarh tehsil of Sialkot comprise the area of Dogri language
(Ghai 1965, Shivanath 1976). John Beams including Dogri in the group of eleven
Indian languages gives its area as lying between the Punjab and the valley of
Kashmir. (Outlines of Indian Philology, p. 11). According to Professor
Gauri Shankar, three terrains form the Dogra region, Kandi (the lower
hills), Andarwah (riverine region lying in the plains) and Pahari (mountaineous
region) (Gauri Shankar 1981). Dogri is a feminine form of the word Dogra which
is a tribal name signifying the people of Duggar. Various views have been
expressed about the origin of the word Duggar from Dvigarta (Gauri Shankar,
1981), Durgaha (H.R. Divakar 1970), Dungar (Prashant, Research Bi-annual
Vol. 1, pp. 7174) and Durga (Gauri Shankar 1981, Shivanath 1976). The last one
corroborated by a Chamba copper plate inscription of the eleventh century (Vogll,
1911, p. 183) seems to be the most plausible.
In the census of 1961 the number of the Dogri speakers of Jammu is given as
8,69,199. The number has gone upto 15 lacs in the census of 1981 (Dogri Shodh
p. 3) but this does not include the speakers of various other dialects which
come under Western Pahari. Taking all these dialects together the Dogri speakers
number approximately fifty lacs.
The earliest known mention of Dogri language is found in Amir Khusru's list
of Indian languages-Sindhi, Lahauri, Kashmiri, Dogri, Dhursamundari, Tilangi,
Gujarati, Malbari, Gaudi Bengali, Awadhi and Dehalavi. As Amir Khusru lived from
1253 to 1325 AD, the existence of Dogri language earlier to 13th century is
proved. Inscriptions dating from 12th century AD contain Dogri expressions (See Dogri
Inscriptions by Shivnath. 1976. pp. 52-55) and R.N. Shastri's Dogri Shodh.
1981. pp 40ff) refer to some sanads, letters, agreements and title deeds written
in Takri script and Dogri language dating from 1750 AD to 1860 AD. The earliest
extant Dogri work is Rajauli, a Dogri translation by Tehaldas from the
original Persian work by Bali Ram. The work was translated for Raja Dhyan Singh
of Kotla in the latter half of 18th century AD (Gauri Shankar, Sapta Sindha.
1972), Rev. Carey mentioned Dogri in his list of Indian languages in 1916. A
Dogri translation of the New Testament is said to have been published by
Christian missionaries of Sirampur. A few pieces of Dogri poetry of Dattu of
second half of 18th century and of Rudradatta, Ganga Ram and Lakkhu of the 19th
century are available. Jyotishi Vishveshar translated Lilavati, a
Sanskrit work on Mathematics into Dogri in 1873 AD. It was in the 20th century
that Dogri writing showed a quick growth in various fields of poetry, prose,
novels, short stories, plays etc.
Dogri belongs to the Indo European family of languages in India and is
derived from Sauraseni Prakrit. (Gauri Shankar 1981, B.K. Shastri 1981).
Vocabulary of Dogri is largely derived from Sanskrit but it has absorbed a large
number of Arabic, Persian and English words, e.g., asar (effect) araj
(request), tariff (praise) are Arabic; Kos'as' (effort), gajaa
(subsisting) nagarani (inspection) are derived from Persian; tagma
(medal) bahadar (brave) are of Turkish origin; afasar, injan,
pulas, faisan, taim etc. are from English words-officer,
engine, police, fashion, time etc.
Grierson describes Dogri as a dialect of Punjabi and Kandyali, Kangra and
Cameali as its three sub-dialects. (Linguistic Survey of India Vol. IX
Part I). Some Punjabi writers like Ujjal Singh Bahri (Punjabi Ate O'tar
Bharati Bhashavan, p. 91), Piara Singh Padam (Punjabi Bhasadi vadiai
p. 107), Harpirat Singh (Punjabi dia upa bhas ava to upabolia in Punjabi
Dunia Dec. 1978. p. 58) have expressed a similar opinion, but the veteran
linguist Dr. Siddheshwar Verma has pointed out that Dogri is structurally an
independent language (Namcetana Oct.-Dec. 1967) and not a dialect of any
other language. Shivnath mentions seventeen dialects spoken in the area of
Duggar. These are standard Dogri, Kandyali, Kangri, Bhatiali, Sirmauri, Baghati,
Kiunthali, Kului Gujari, Rambani, Pongli, Hoshiarpur Pahadi and Lahnda.
Bhadrawahi, Rambani and Pongli have common features with Dogri and Kashmiri
while Kangri, Hoshiarpur Pahadi and Lahnda have common features with Dogri and
Some prominent phonological features of Dogri are-
a. Initial v, y are changes to b, J.
The main morphological characteristics of Dogri are
b. Ch generally changes into S.
c. Voived aspirates of Hindi-gh, Jh, dh, bh, are changed to unvoiced
and voiced mutes with tones.
d. Velar and palatal nasals occur initially also nur (grapes) nana
e. Nasalization is phonemic ja, jan.
f. Vowel length and consonant length are phonemic.
g. As stress and tone go together, tone only can be regarded phonemic la
(to place), la (to take down), la (to shake).
h. There is free variation between s and s', sirak, sirak.
i. Syllabic system of Dogri does not possess CVCCVCV (bajjara), CVCVCCV (Kapatta),
a. Preference for passive voice constructions mere sa nei Janoda (I can
On analysing the phonology, the grammar and the vocabulary of Dogri, one can
observe easily that Dogri like many other modern Indian languages has a very
strong Sanskrit base. Sanskrit words have been received in Dogri either in pure
form (Tatsama) or with some phonetic changes (Tadbhava). Even some
Vedic words which are not preserved in classical Sanskrit are preserved in a
slightly changed form in Dogri. Thus the word Sosa used for summer season
occurs in Vajasaneyi Samhita and this has been preserved in Dogri in the
form Soha. The Vedic word Budhna is preserved in Dogri in the form
Bunna. Sanskrit words are mostly used in Dogri conversation at the time
of religious functions and social functions having a touch of religion. While
worshipping girls in Devi Pujana the term kanjaka is used which is
derived from Sanskrit kanyaka but the pure form kanya is used in
marriage ceremony. Many pure Sanskrit words like agnihotra, kusa, jala, diksa,
kalaga, puspa, asana, daksind, kunda, tapa samadhi, vidya, brahma, jiva, atma
are used in religious and philosophical talk. Like many other modern Indian
languages Dogri uses pure Sanskrit terminology in the fields of grammar, poetics
b. The use of ha, tha, a, hi, he, thi, the etc. for the expressions was/were.
c. The conjugation of the auxiliary verb in accordance with the gender of the
subject unlike Punjabi where it remains unchanged.
e.g. Punjabi: Raja ge da si.
The king had gone
Dogri: Raja ge da ha.
Punjabi: Rdni gei di si.
The queeen had gone
Dogri: Ram gei di hi.
d. The use of additional vowel i in the past verbal forms like turi
gea, sunilea. (Had gone, had heard).
e. The special pronominal forms like tugi (to you), migi (to
f, Post positions like Kanne (with) kasa (from).
g. Special liking for forms ending in u e.g. cacu (father), kurtu
(shirt), manu (human being).
h. Verb stems made with er, e.g. khaderana (to make stand), baderana
(to give bath).
As regards tadbhava words from Sanskrit, Dogri has thousands of such
words with regular phonetic changes which prove its close relationship with
Sanskrit, Hindi, Punjabi etc. The following lists of words prove this:
I. Dogri has a tendency to drop the initial vowel of Sanskrit and Hindi words
which are not monosyllabic:
II. Initial y, v of Sanskrit words are changed
into j and b. This change occurs after a prefix also:
III. Medial y, u are generally changed to i, u
and assimilated with other vowels:
IV. The sound y occuring between two a sounds disappears:
V. Two consonants are often assimilated just as in Prakrit and Punjabi.
VI. Cerebral s is changed to kh or s in Dogri.
VII. The sound ksa is changed to kha as in Punjabi and sometimes
to cha as in Kashmiri.
VIII. Dogri is nearer to Sanskrit in preservation of sound r than other
languages like Hindi.
IX. Initial voiced aspirates of Sanskrit/Hindi words are devoiced and
deaspirated in Dogri. This deaspiration gives low tone to the following vowel.
In medial and final position the voiced aspirate does not lose voice but is
deaspirated. If it is followed by a stressed vowel, the vowel gets low tone
but if it is preceeded by a stressed vowel, the vowel gets high tone. Similar
changes occur in the case of aspirate h also.
Thus Dogri language is closely related to other IndoAryan languages. The
literature of Dogri has witnessed a remarkable growth during the past fifty
years. Sahitya Akademi has recognized Dogri as a modern literary language and
awarded prizes to many Dogri writers. Dogri is studied in schools, colleges and
the University of Jammu at undergraduate and post-graduate levels. There is a
great demand for its inclusion in the eighth schedule so that it gets proper
opportunities for further growth and development.