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Indo-Iranian

Dardic Group

Among the Dardic, or Pisacha, languages are Kafiri, spoken in Afghanistan; Khowar, current in Pakistan; Shina, Kohistani, and Kashmiri, prevalent in Pakistan and N India; and Romani, the language of the Romani (Gypsies), spoken mainly in Europe. These languages share certain distinctive phonetic characteristics, feature the use of pronominal suffixes with various verb forms, and include in their vocabularies a number of words that among the languages of India are usually encountered only in Vedic Sanskrit. Kashmiri is the sole Dardic language that both has a literature and is recognized in the Indian constitution of 1950. The native tongue of about 4 million people, it has been heavily influenced by Sanskrit, so that it is now partly Indic in character. Kashmiri is written in Persian letters by Muslims, whereas Hindus use a script similar to the Devanagari alphabet.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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