Balochi language

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بلوچی balojî
Balochi in Perso-Arabic script (Nastaʿlīq style)
Native to Balochistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Oman
Ethnicity predominantly Baloch, some Brahui
Native speakers
7.6 million (2007)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Balochistan; Balochistan Province of Iran (provincial)
Regulated by Balochi Academy (Balochistan)
Language codes
ISO 639-2 bal
ISO 639-3 balinclusive code
Individual codes:
bgp – Eastern Balochi
bgn – Western Balochi
bcc – Southern Balochi
ktl – Koroshi
Glottolog balo1260[2]
Linguasphere 58-AAB-a > 58-AAB-aa (East Balochi) + 58-AAB-ab (West Balochi) + 58-AAB-ac (South Balochi) + 58-AAB-ad (Bashkardi)
Geographic distribution of Balochi and other Iranian languages
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Balochi is a Northwestern Iranian language.[3] It is the principal language of the Baloch people. It is also spoken as a second language by most Brahui. Balochi is categorized as one of the Northwestern Iranian languages


Balochi is closely related to other Northwestern Iranian languages.



The Balochi vowel system has at least eight vowels: five long vowels and three short vowels.[4] The long vowels are /aː/, /eː/, /iː/, /oː/, and /uː/. The short vowels are /a/, /i/ and /u/. The short vowels have more centralized phonetic qualities than the long vowels.

Southern Balochi (at least as spoken in Karachi) also has nasalized vowels, most importantly /ẽː/ and /ãː/.[5]


The following consonants are common to both Western Balochi and Southern Balochi.[6] The place of articulation of the consonants /s/, /z/, /n/, /ɾ/ and /l/ is claimed to be alveolar in Western Balochi, while at least the /ɾ/ is claimed to be dental in Southern Balochi. The stops /t/ and /d/ are claimed to be dental in both dialects.

Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Palatoalveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Stop p b t d ʈ ɖ k ɡ ʔ
Affricate t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Fricative s z ʃ ʒ[cn 1] h[cn 2]
Tap ɾ ɽ[cn 3]
Nasal m n
Approximant w l j


  1. Words with /ʒ/ are uncommon.
  2. Word-initial /h/ is dropped in Balochi as spoken in Karachi.
  3. The retroflex tap has a very limited distribution.

In addition, /f/ is listed for Southern Balochi, but is found in few words. /x/ (voiceless velar fricative) in some loanwords in Southern Balochi corresponding to /χ/ (voiceless uvular fricative) in Western Balochi; and /ɣ/ (voiced velar fricative) in some loanwords in Southern Balochi corresponding to /ʁ/ (voiced uvular fricative) in Western Balochi.


The normal word order is subject–object–verb. Like many other Indo-Iranian languages, Balochi has split ergativity. In the present tense or future tense, the subject is marked as nominative, and the object is marked as accusative. In the past tense, however, the subject of a transitive verb is marked as oblique, and the verb agrees with the object.[7]


There are two main dialects among the Balochi language, one with the Mandwani or northern tribes and the other with the Mazaris or southern tribes.[8] The differences among the Mazaris dialect from that among the Maris, the Bugtis, the Shambanis, the Kacchi Plains people and those of the Bolan Pass are slight and as such are said to all be the same.[8] The grammatical terminations by the northern tribes are less full and distinct than those in the southern tribes.[8]

Writing system

Before the 19th century, Balochi was an unwritten language.[9] The official written language was Persian,[9] although Balochi was still spoken at the Baloch courts. British linguists and political historians wrote from with the Latin script, but following the independence of Pakistan, Baloch scholars adopted Urdu Arabic script. The first collection of poetry in Balochi, Gulbang by Mir Gul Khan Nasir was published in 1951 and incorporated the Urdu Arabic Script. But it was much later that Sayad Zahurshah Hashemi wrote a comprehensive guidance on the usage of Urdu Arabic script and standardized it as the Balochi Orthography in Pakistan. This earned Sayad Hashemi the title of 'the Father of Balochi'. Sayad's guidances are widely used in Eastern and Western Balochistan. In Afghanistan, however, Balochi is written in a modified Arabic script based on what is used for Farsi.

Balochi orthography

ا آ ب بھ ݒ پ پھ ت تھ ٹ ٹھ ث ج جھ ݘ چ چھ ح خ د دھ ڈ ڈھ ڋ ذ ڌ ڌھ ر ڑ ڑھ ز ژ س ش ص ض ط طھ ظ ع غ ف ق قھ ک کھ گ گھ ڱ ڳ ل لھ م مھ ن نھ ں ڹ و وھ ہ ھ ء ی ے ﻳﮭ ~٠

This orthography of Balochi script has been introduced in his Balochi pamphlet "Balochi Nama Qasim" published in 1987. The same alphabets have been published in his article "Balochki Mundh Likh" in monthly Balochi Nama, Dera Ghazi Khan, August–September 1991, Vol. 1, issue 1, Pp. 24.[10]

The Sayad Zahurshah Hashemi 'Urdu Arabic orthography'

ا آ ب پ ت ٹ ج چ د ڈ ر ڑ ز ژ س ش ک گ ل م ن و ھ ء ی ے

Balochi Latin alphabet

The following Latin-based alphabet was adopted by the International Workshop on "Balochi Roman Orthography" (University of Uppsala, Sweden, May 28–30, 2000).[11]

Alphabetical order:

a á b c d ď e f g ĝ h i í j k l m n o p q r ř s š t ť u ú v w x y z ž ay aw (33 letters and 2 digraphs)

A/a amb (mango), angúr (grape), bagg (camel-caravan), sardar (Head man-nobleman), namb (mist)
Á/á dár (wood), abba (father), árth (flour), bahá (price), pádh (foot), ághah (coming), áhán (them)
B/b (be) bawar (snow, ice), bám (dawn), bágpán (gardener), baktáwar (lucky)
C/c (che) cattr (umbrella), bacc (son), kánc (knife), Karácí, Kulánc, Cákar, Bálác
D/d (de) dard (pain), drad (rainshower), dárman (medicine), wádh (salt)
Ď/ď is same as Ř/ř (ře) so this latter is preferably used to simplify the orthography.
E/e eš (this), cer (below), eraht (end of date harvest), pešraw (leader, forerunner), kamer (ploughshare)
F/f (fe) To be used only in loan words where its use is inevitable, like Fráns (France), fármaysí (pharmacy),
G/g (ge) gapp (talk), ganokh (mad), bágh (garden), bagg (herd of camels), pádagh (foot), Bagdád (Baghdad)
Ĝ/ĝ (like ĝhaen in Perso-Arabic script) Only in loan words and in eastern dialects: Ghair (Others), Ghali (Carpet), Ghaza (Noise).
H/h (he) hár (flood), máh (moon), koh (mountain), mahár (rein), hon (blood)
I/i (i) istál (star), ingo (here),gir (take), kirr (near),
Í/í (í) ímmán (faith), šír (milk), pakír (beggar), samín (breeze), gálí (carpet)
J/j (je) jang (war), janagh (to beat), jing (lark), ganj (treasure), sajjí (roasted meat)
K/k (ke) Kirmán (Kirman), kárc (knife), nákho (uncle), gwask (calf), kasán (small)
L/l (le) láp (stomach), gal (joy), ghall (party, organization), gull (cheek), gul (rose)
M/m (me) mát/más (mother), bám (dawn), camm (eye), mastir (leader, bigger).
N/n (ne) nán/nagan/naghan (bread), nokk (new, new moon), dann (outside), kwahn (old), nákho (uncle)
O/o (o) oštagh (to stop), ožnág (swim), roc (sun), dor (pain), socagh (to burn)
P/p (pe) Pádh (foot), šap (night), šapád (bare-footed), gapp (talk), haptád (70)
Q/q (qú) Used in loan words, like Qábús
R/r (re) Rustum (a name), rekh (sand), baragh (to take away), giragh (to get), garragh (to bray), gurrag (to roar), šarr (good), sarag (head), sarrag (a kind of donkey's braying)
Ř/ř (ře) řák (post), řukkál (famine), gařř (urial), guřř (last), guřřag (to chop).
S/s (se) sarag (head), khass (someone), kasán (little), bass (enough), ás (fire)
Š/š (še) šap (night), šád (happy), meš (sheep), šuwánag (shepherd), wašš (happy, tasty).
T/t (te) taghard (mat), tahná (alone) thás (bowl), kilítt (kay), masítt (mosque), battí (lantern)
Ť/ť (ťe) ťung (hole), ťíllo (bell), baťť (cooked rice), baťťág (eggplant).
U/u uštir (camel), šumá (you), ustád (teacher), gužn (hunger), buz (goat)
Ú/ú (ú, sounds like the "oo" in English word "root") úrt (thin), zúrag (to take), bizú (take), dúr (distant)
V/v (ve) used in loanwords only, like in the English word service, very.
W/w (we) warag (food, to eat), wardin (provision), dawár (abode), wádh (salt), kawwás (learned), hawa (wind)
X/x (khe) Xudá (God),
Y/y (ye) yád (remembrance), yár (friend), yárah (eleven), biryání (meat in rice), raydyo (radio), yakk (one)
Z/z (ze) zarr (monay), zí (yesterday), muzz (wages), moz (banana), nazzíkk (nearby), bazgar (tenant), Zor (power).
Ž/ž (že) žand (tired), zindaghi (life), žáng (bells), pažm (wool), gažžag (to swell), gužnag (hungry), Mauz (waves).
Ay/ay (h)ayrán (surprise), ayrát (distribution), say (3), may (our), kay (who), šumay (your)
Aw/aw kawr (river), hawr (rain), kissaw (story), dawl (sort), dawr (jump), awlád (off-spring), kawl (promise), gawk (neck).


  1. Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Balochic". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Eastern Iranian languages". Encyclopedia Iranica. "Baluchi, a North-Western Iranian language, is spoken chiefly in Pakistan, in the south-eastern corner of the Iranophone area."
  4. See Farrell (1990) for Southern Balochi (as spoken in Karachi, Pakistan, and Axenov (2006) for Western Balochi as spoken in Turkmenistan.
  5. Farrell (1990).
  6. See Axenov (2006) and Farrell (1990), respectively.
  7. "Balochi" at National Virtual Translation Center. Archive copy at the Wayback Machine
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Dames, Mansel Longworth (1922). A text book of the Balochi language. Lahore: Government Print of Punjab. p. 1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 Dames, Mansel Longworth (1922). A text book of the Balochi language. Lahore: Government Print of Punjab. p. 3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Mir Qasim Qaisrani Baloch (August/September 1991) Balochki Mundh Likh, Dera Ghazi Khan, Pakistan, Monthly Balochi Nama, Vol. 1, Issue: 1, Pp. 24-25
  11. "Baluchi Roman ORTHOGRAPHY -". Retrieved 2015-10-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading


  • Elfenbein, Josef (1997). "Balochi Phonology". In Kaye, Alan S. Phonologies of Asia and Africa. 1. pp. 761–776. ISBN 1-57506-017-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Axenov, Serge. 2006. The Balochi language of Turkmenistan: A corpus-based grammatical description. Uppsala, Sweden: Acta Uppsala Universitet.
  • Barker, Muhammad A. & Aaqil Khan Mengal. 1969. A course in Baluchi. Montreal: McGill University.
  • Collett, Nigel A. 1983. A grammar, phrase book, and vocabulary of Baluchi. Abingdon: Burgess & Son.
  • Farrell, Tim. 1989. A study of ergativity in Balochi.' M.A. thesis: School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London.
  • Farrell, Tim. 1990. Basic Balochi: An introductory course. Naples: Instituto Universitario Orientale, Dipartimento di Studi Asiatici.
  • Farrell, Tim. 1995. Fading ergativity? A study of ergativity in Balochi. In David C. Bennett, Theodora Bynon & B. George Hewitt (eds.), Subject, voice, and ergativity: Selected essays, 218–243. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
  • Gilbertson, George W. 1923. The Balochi language. A grammar and manual. Hertford: Stephen Austin & Sons.
  • Gilbertson, George W. 1925. English-Balochi colloquial dictionary. Hertford: Stephen Austin & Sons.
  • Jahani, Carina. 1990. Standardization and orthography in the Balochi language. Studia Iranica Upsaliensia. Uppsala, Sweden: Almqvist & Wiksell Internat.
  • Jahani, Carina. 2000. Language in society: Eight sociolinguistic essays on Balochi. Uppsala, Sweden: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.
  • Korn, Agnes. 2009. Marking of arguments in Balochi ergative and mixed constructions. In Simin Karimi, VIda Samiian & Donald Stilo (eds.) Aspects of Iranian Linguistics, 249–276. Newcastle upon Tyne (UK): Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

External links