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- Preface
- Contributors
- Kashmiri and the Linguistic Predicament
- Roots, Evolution and Affinity
- The Sharada Script
- The Dogri Language
- Gujari Language
- Sanskritic Impact
- The Balti Language
- Balti, Bodhi, Spiti & Lahuli Speeches
- Urdu in Jammu and Kashmir
- Hindi in Kashmir
- Language and Politics
- Appendix A
- Appendix B
- Appendix C
- Appendix D
- Select Bibliography
Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh - Linguistic Predicament

Edited by: P. N. Pushp and K. Warikoo
Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundation
Har-Anand Publications

The Dogri Language
- 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 Punjabi.


Some prominent phonological features of Dogri are-

a. Initial v, y are changes to b, J.
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 child).
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), CVCVCV (Cdlaki)
The main morphological characteristics of Dogri are
a. Preference for passive voice constructions mere sa nei Janoda (I can not go).
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 me).
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).
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 and philosophy.

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:
Sanskrit/Hindi English Dogri
ananda joy nanda
anartha calamity nartha
adhina dependent dhina
akala famine kala
adhyaya chapter dhya
II. Initial y, v of Sanskrit words are changed into j and b. This change occurs after a prefix also:
Sanskrit/Hindi  Dogri
nirvaha  narbah
vistara  bastara
vasanta  basanta
vidyut  bijja
vela  beta
vilapa  balapa
vedana  bedana
visvasa  bisvasa
vicitra  bacittara
viyoga  bajoga
vipat  bipat
yasa  jasa
yogi  jogi
yajna  jagga
yukti  jugat
yatra  jatra
III. Medial y, u are generally changed to i, u and assimilated with other vowels:
Sanskrit/Hindi  Dogri
nayana  nain
vinayaka  banaik
lavana  luna
bhavana  bhauna
IV. The sound y occuring between two a sounds disappears:
Sanskrit/Hindi  Dogri
Himalaya  Himala
Sivalaya  Sivala
niscaya  nisca
samsaya  saimsa
V. Two consonants are often assimilated just as in Prakrit and Punjabi.
Sanskrit/Hindi  Dogri/Punjabi
bhakta  bhatta
tattua  tatta
satya  sacca
sarpa  sappa
karma  kamma
carma  camma
sapta  satta
lagna  lagga
phalguna  phaggana
VI. Cerebral s is changed to kh or s in Dogri.
Sanskrit/Hindi  Dogri
Varsa  barakha
dhanus  dhanakha
nisiddha  nikhiddha
rasi  rasa
nasa  nasa
sita  sita
sabda  sadda
VII. The sound ksa is changed to kha as in Punjabi and sometimes to cha as in Kashmiri.
Sanskrit/Hindi  Dogri
ksina  khina
aksata  akhata
ksatriya  khatri
yaksa  jakkha
ksal  chal
kaksa  kacha
laksmi  lachmi
naksatra  nakhattar/nachattar
draksa  dakha
VIII. Dogri is nearer to Sanskrit in preservation of sound r than other languages like Hindi.
Sanskrit Dogri Hindi
patra pattar patta
nidra nidar nida
ksetra khettar kheta
grama gra gava
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.
Sanskrit/Hindi English Dogri
bhara weight para
svabhava nature suba
labha profit laba
hasa laugh asa

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.

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