Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Language Profile: Sindhi

This week we're taking a look at Sindhi, an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Sindhi ethnic group of Pakistan. Sindhi is the official provincial language of the Sindh province in Pakistan, but is also spoken in other parts of the country such as Balochistan. It is also one of the many officially recognized languages of India, though it is not associated with any particular region.

Mazar-e-Quaid in Karachi, the tomb of the founder of Pakistan.
Sindhi is the native language of about 15% of Pakistanis, principally in Sindh province, where it is taught in schools and used by the government. The cities of Karachi, Hyderabad, and Sukkur have the largest populations of Sindhi speakers in the region.

The Sindhi language also has a long literary tradition. Its poetry and literature were especially influential in the region between the 14th and 18th centuries.

In terms of its lexicon, Sindhi has borrowed many words from Arabic and Persian due to the cultural influences of various conquests of the Sindh area throughout history. More recently, the language has picked up vocabulary from English. There are also several regional dialects. Those used in Pakistan tend to be more heavily influenced by Urdu, while in India they are more influenced by Hindi.

As for writing, Sindhi is mainly written using a Perso-Arabic script with additional letters for sounds specific to the language. It has quite a large alphabet, with 46 consonants and 16 vowels! It is also occasionally written using Devanagari script in India, though the Perso-Arabic script is also used there.