(Last Updated on : 13-11-2014)
Languages of Kashmir mainly include Kashmiri, Hindi, Urdu language and to a lesser extent even English. The Kashmiri language is the language of the valley of Kashmir. It has spread south-west into the valley of Kashtwar and to the south it has flowed over the Pir Panjal Range into the lower hills lying north of river Chenab where it appears in a number of mixed dialects. The word Kashmir is derived from the Sanskrit Kashmirika. It is not the name used by the people of Kashmir itself. They call it Kashir and the language Kashur.
The Sanskrit language is an Indo-Aryan language. It used to be earlier treated as having a Sanskritic origin. It has this time been grouped with Shina-Kohwari according to the revised system of classification, but the claim locally urged that it is essentially a Sanskritic language and in view of the historical fact that the valley of Kashmir, before its conversion to Islam, was wholly populated by Barhmins with the Shastric lore, that claim may merit consideration.
Kashmiri has a dialect which is spoken in Kashtwar and Badrwah. But Kashmiris do not take it to be a dialect. They believe it to be the old and correct form of Kashmiri, which was current before the advent of Islam
in Kashmir This claim is justified by the historical fact that many times in the past, Kashmiris have taken refuge in these high hills, from the then prevalent political or religious persecution in the valley. The present-day inhabitants of these tracts are the descendants of those refugees of yore who migrated to these places via Batote. Batote as we call it now, was in fact then-called Bath-vath i.e. the vath (route) taken by Bats (Bhattas or Kashmiri Pandits) to reach these remotes corners for their safety.
In the standard Kashmiri of today there are minor differences of language. For instance, Kashmiri spoken by Muslims slightly differs from that spoken by the Kashmiri Pandits Not only is the vocabulary of the former more overlaid with the words borrowed from Persian, but also there is a slight difference of pronunciation too. For example Muslims call a Bror (cat) a Beor and krul (a well) keur and so on. Again there is a marked distinction between Marazi and Kamrazi i. e. South Kashmir and North Kashmir. Also there is difference of pronunciation between the talk of a Groost (villager) and Gandur (townsman). The language of Gujjars has a marked difference and is much influenced by Kohistani or Pahari. There is also a marked difference between the language of poetry and prose.
Hindi is the most-spoken language following Kashmiri. The language is mainly spoken by the Gujjars and the Kashmiri Pandits.
The Urdu language
is mostly spoken by the Muslims of Kashmir.
The locals can be seen comfortably conversing in English with the tourists who visit Kashmir.
Thus, discussed are the major languages spoken in Kashmir.