The Balochi Language Project
Balochi is an Iranian language spoken in south-eastern Iran, south-western Pakistan, southern Afghanistan, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Turkmenistan, India, East Africa, and nowadays also by immigrant Baloch in North America, Europe and Australia.
It is difficult to estimate the total number of Balochi speakers. The main reason for this is that there are seldom questions about ethnic affiliation and languages in censuses carried out in the countries where Balochi is spoken, but it is likely that the total number of Balochi speakers amounts to around 10 million or even more. Possibly just as many regard themselves as Baloch but do not speak Balochi.
The main dialect split is between Western, Southern, and Eastern Balochi. Western Balochi dialects are spoken in the northern Balochi-speaking area in Iran, as well as in Khorasan and Golestan, in Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and in the north-western Balochi-speaking areas of Pakistani Balochistan. Southern Balochi dialects are spoken in the southern areas of the Balochi-speaking parts of Iran and Pakistan, as well as by a majority of the Baloch in Karachi and in the Gulf States. Like the Western and Southern dialects, Eastern Balochi is not a unified dialect, but rather a conglomerate of dialects often referred to by the tribal names of the speakers as the Marrī, Bugṭī, Leghārī, Mazārī, etc. The fact that the Balochi speakers are separated into several countries with various official languages is another situation which increases dialect differentiation in this language.
The Balochi Language Centre, Uppsala University, is a group of researchers and writers who have taken an initiative to create and promote a standard literary language for Balochi. Among our activities so far are:
- An orthography conference, which was held in March 2014 with representation from the Balochi Academy, Quetta, Pakistan, the University of Balochistan, Quetta, Pakistan, the Iranology Foundation, Iranshahr, Iran, and the University of Naples, Italy, as well as a number of writers and publishers in Balochi. A report from the orthography conference can be downloaded here.
- A keyboard for writing Balochi in Arabic script can be downloaded here.
- A brief overview of Balochi literature can be downloaded here.
- The publication of a children’s book in Balochi in the orthography accepted by the orthography conference 2014:
- Jahani, Carina, and Aziz Baloch. 2016. Chokkán gón pásé. Uppsala: Uppsala University. Download fulltext here. Download soundtracks here: Mussá nabi o Hodáay gozhnagén bandag, Gójok, Láliay chokkay sir, Shér o say hamdelén gók, Shayh Challi, Tólagay bádsháhi, Gwaská kay bandit, Wájah panchkosh, Kontth bibi, Bádsháh o azhdiá. An app with the texts and soundfiles of the 10 folktales found in this book is now available for android smartphones. It can be downloaded from: play.google.com
- Three additional books have been published outside the project but in the orthography accepted by the orthography conference:
- A grammar conference, which was held in April 2016. A report of the grammar seminar can be downloaded here.
- Work on an English-Balochi dictionary online.
- Balochi grammar lessons. A series of introductory lessons with sound files using the orthography agreed upon at the orthography conference and the dialect variants agreed upon at the grammar conference can be downloaded here:
- Lesson 1 Soundfile 1
- Lesson 2 Soundfile 2
- Lesson 3 Soundfile 3
- Lesson 4 Soundfile 4
- Lesson 5 Soundfile 5
- Lesson 6 Soundfile 6
- Lesson 7 Soundfile 7
- Lesson 8 Soundfile 8
- Lesson 9 Soundfile 9
- Lesson 10 Soundfile 10
- Lesson 11 Soundfile 11
- Lesson 12 Soundfile 12
- Lesson 13 Soundfile 13
- Lesson 14 Soundfile 14
- Lesson 15 Soundfile 15
- Lesson 16 Soundfile 16
- Baloch Club, Bahrain
- Balochi Academy, Quetta, Pakistan
- Iranology Foundation, Iranshahr, Iran
- University of Balochistan, Quetta, Pakistan
- University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Zahedan, Iran