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Documentation of Torwali

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Language Torwali
Depositor Inam Ullah
Affiliation University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan
Location Pakistan
Collection ID 0077
Grant ID SG0057
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

Torwali is one of at least twenty-four lesser-known languages of northern Pakistan, many of which remain largely unwritten and have had little exposure in the international academic community. Smaller groups or individuals strive to preserve and document their mother tongues; however, due to a lack of national language policy and support, it is mostly foreign researchers who take it upon themselves to explore and analyze these languages.

Torwali is an endangered language, as it has a small community of speakers (80,000-90,000), and close to half its speakers have migrated permanently to the bigger cities of Pakistan where their language is being replaced by Urdu, the national language, or by other languages of wider communication such as Pashto. Further, tourism in the Torwali-speaking homeland exposes the language to linguistic encroachments and, as the language has no writing tradition, it is particularly vulnerable.

This collection will contain documentation of oral texts, such as life histories, folk tales, local historical lore, poems, idioms and riddles. It is hoped that the materials in this collection will encourage further academic research on Torwali, and that mother-tongue education in the Torwali-speaking community will be promoted.


Group represented

Torwali people, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan.


Language information

Torwali (Urdu: توروالی‎) is an Indo-Aryan language mainly spoken in the Bahrain and Chail areas of the Swat district in northern Pakistan. It has an estimated 80-100,000 speakers who are sometimes bilingual with Pashto or Urdu–they call their language Kohistani, however this epithet means “of the mountains” and is therefore applied to other languages spoken in the area as well. It has two dialects: Bahrain and Chail. According to Lunsford (2001), loanwords are being taken from Urdu, Pashto, Arabic and English, and have been or are being incorporated into the Torwali language. Torwali is sometimes referred to as “Torwalik” or “Torwalak”.


Other information

The researcher is a native speaker who, without any institutional support, worked on the compilation of Torwali lexical database for the past twelve years. His friends, family members, colleagues and students have been actively supporting him in the collection of lexical items. His work has already been acknowledged by UNESCO as a ‘Registered Good Practice of language preservation’ (please see the link For the researcher’s digital Torwali-English dictionary with audio, please click here:

Additionally, Ullah is a founder member of various community based organizations, especially, Swat Kohistan Youth Association for Integrated Development (SKYAID) and Idara baraye taleem-o-taraqi (Organization for Education and Development).


Acknowledgement and citation

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Ullah, Inam. 2014. Documentation of Torwali. London: Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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