Baraki, Ormur, Ormui, Bargista
Native toPakistan, Afghanistan
RegionSouth Waziristan and Logar
Native speakers
6,000 (2004)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3oru

Ormuri (Pashto: اورموړی ژبه; Persian: زبان ارموری; literally, "Ormuri language") also known as Baraki, Ormur, Ormui or Bargista is an Eastern Iranian language spoken in Southeast Afghanistan and Waziristan. It is primarily spoken by the Burki people in the town of Kaniguram in South Waziristan and Logar, Afghanistan. The language belongs to the Eastern-Iranian language group. The extremely small number of speakers makes Ormuri an endangered language that is considered to be in a "threatened" state.

Ormuri is notable for its unusual sound inventory, which includes a voiceless alveolar trill that does not exist in the surrounding Pashto. Ormuri also has voiceless and voiced alveolo-palatal fricatives (the voiceless being contrastive with the more common voiceless palato-alveolar fricative), which also exist in the Waziristani dialect of Pashto, but could have been adopted from Ormuri due to its close proximity.[3]


Ormuri is classified under the Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Eastern Iranian, Southeastern Iranian, and Ormuri-Parachi language groups.[4][5]

Language status

According to the Endangered Languages Project, the language of Ormuri is highly threatened. The language is used for face-to-face communication, however it is losing users.[4][6]


The Ormuri language is used by the Ormur/Baraki tribe in parts of the Kaniguram Valley in Waziristan, Pakistan. The language is also used in a small part of Logar Province, Afghanistan.[7]

Ormuri tribe

An alternate name used by the Ormur people is Baraki. It is believed that there were eight to ten thousand families in the Logar area at the beginning of the 19th century and approximately four to five hundred families in Kaniguram at the beginning of the 20th century. The Ormur tribe does not occupy an ethnically homogeneous territory. In Afghanistan, the Ormur people live in mixed communities with both Tajiks and Pashtun. Whereas, in Pakistan, the Ormur people live only with the Pashtuns.[6]

Early history of the tribe can be traced in Herodotus' book. The Persian Emperor Darius Hystaspes; Governor of Egypt conquered the Greek colonies of Barca and Cyrene in Libya and took them to Egypt on their return from expedition. At this time, the King returned from his Scythian campaign to his capital, Susa. The Barakis were given a village in Bactria to live in, later named Barke. After two thousand three hundred and fifty years, the village was still inhabited in 1891 within the same territory.[3]

Ormuri language

The name 'Ormur' (orməṛ) is originally derived from Pashto (meaning fire). The first man to have made mention of the Baraki language was Babar, in his book Baburnama. Ormuri, also called Birki at the time was one of the eleven to twelve tongues that were observed by Babar while in the region of Kabul. It is known that many of the Ormuri speakers are at least bilingual or trilingual, speaking other tribal languages such as Pashto, Persian, Dari, or Kaboli[3]

Pir Roshan (Bayazid Khan) was one of the first known Pashto prose writers and composers of Pashto alphabets who used several Ormuri words in his book "Khairul-Bayan." A few of the words that were used within his book were Nalattti (Pigs), Nmandzak of Mazdak (Mosque), Teshtan (Owner), Burghu (flout), Haramunai (ill-born), etc.


In Pashto: A historical examination of Ormuri

Hikmatyar Burki has also done an MPhil on Ormuri and published his work through the Pashto Academy.[8]

Geographic distribution

Ormuri is spoken primarily in the town of Kaniguram in South Waziristan, Pakistan. A small population also speaks it in the town of Baraki Barak in Logar Province, Afghanistan.[3] The language is sustained by nearly fifty adherents in Afghanistan and around five to six thousand speakers in Pakistan[6]

Districts of Logar province. This image does not include Azra district, located to the east of Khoshi and Mohammad Agha districts.
North (purple) and South (blue) Waziristan and surrounding Federally Administered Tribal Areas and provinces


There are two dialects of Ormuri; one is spoken in Kaniguram, Waziristan, which is the more archaic dialect, and the other one in Baraki-Barak, Logar. The Kaniguram dialect is not understood in Baraki-Barak. The linguist Georg Morgenstierne wrote:

While Kaniguram has borrowed freely from Waziri Pashto, the vocabulary of Logar has been influenced by other Pashto dialects, and, to a still greater extent, by Persian.[9]

The dialect of Kaniguram is currently strong, spoken by a relatively prosperous community of Ormur in an isolated part of the rugged Waziristan hills. However, the position of the dialect of Baraki Barak is not strong. Morgenstierne wrote he was told that:

Ormuri was no longer spoken in Baraki Barak, the ancient headquarters of the Ormur tribe. Even a man said to be from this village denied the existence of any other language than Persian and Pashto in his native place.[9]

Lexical differences

Table 1: Lexical differences in Ormuri
Logar Kaniguram
'blind' kor wond
'soft' narm nořh
'fox' roba rawas
'flea' kayk řak
'shepherd' čopan šwān
'comb' šåná šhak(k)
'place' jåy jikak
'to fly' parók buryék


Differences in phonetic forms

Table 2: Differences in the phonetic form of vowels in Ormuri
Logar Kaniguram
'to go' tsok tsek, tsyek
'one' še sa
'house' ner nar
'dry' wuk wyok
'water' wok wak
'to sit' nóstok nástak


The vowel system of Ormuri is characterized as heterogenous. The language consists of a subsystem of vowels that found native within Ormuri vocabulary, as well as a subsystem of vowels that is considered "borrowed vocabulary." The differences seen between the Logar and Kaniguram dialects are mainly based on the quality of vowels instead of the quantity.

The system is based on six phonemes: i, e, a, å, o, u.

Table 3: Differences in the phonetic form of consonants in Ormuri
Logar Kaniguram
'one' še sa
'three' šo ři
'six' xo ša
'above' pa-bega pa-beža
'snow' ɣoš ɣoř


The consonant system varies slightly between both the dialects of Kaniguram and Logar. The Logar native consonant system contains 25 phonemes, while the Kaniguram system has 27.



Labial Dental/
Retroflex Post-alv./
Velar Uvular Glottal
plain labialised
Nasal m n (ɳ)
Stop voiceless p t (ʈ) k (q)
voiced b d (ɖ) ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡s t͡ʃ
voiced d͡z d͡ʒ
Fricative voiceless f s (ʂ)1 ʃ x2 χ χʷ1 h
voiced w z (ʐ)1 ʒ ɣ2 ʁ ʁʷ1
Approximant l j w
Tap/Trill plain r (ɽ)
fricative 1
  1. Only in Kaniguram.
  2. Only in Logar.

/t͡ʃ/ and /d͡ʒ/ are uncommon in native vocabulary. In both dialects free variation of dental and postalveolar affricates is widespread. // usually corresponds to /ʃ/ in Logar.

Ľubomír (2013) claims there is a voiceless retroflex non-sibilant fricative [ɻ̊˔].[10]


Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a ɑ1 ɒ2
  1. Only in Kaniguram.
  2. Only in Logar.

Syllabic Patterns

Proper Ormuri words will have the following syllabic patterns: V, VC, CV, CCV, (C)VCC, CVC, CCVC, CCVCC. Both dialects from Kaniguram and Logar have similar syllabic structure.


At the end of certain words CC occurs as spirant/sonant + occlusive. When separating most words into syllables, a medial CC will be divided:


The language has undergone extensive change in comparison to its ancestral self. For nominal morphology (nouns, adjectives, and pronouns), aspects of the Kaniguram dialect of grammatical gender has completely been lost in the Logar. In terms of the verbal morphology, there is a greater variety of conjugations of modal and tense-aspect forms based on the present-tense stem. There is also a distinction made between masculine and feminine words based on the past-tense system. Finally, there is a greater number of distinctions between within the system of tense-aspect forms and there are different types of ergative constructions.

There is a developed system of noun and verb inflections. Nominal parts of speech contains: Three numbers (singular, dual, and plural), three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter), and the verb has two voices (active and middle). There is the elimination of the category of case (loss in nouns, adjectives, numerals, and certain pronouns). There is also a complete loss of the category of gender, varying on the dialect (Complete loss in Logar and rudimentary masculine and feminine forms remain in Kaniguram). In Logar most original Ormuri nouns and adjectives have a simple stem ending in a consonant and a few nouns end in unstressed (or rarely stressed) -a or -i. Whereas in Kaniguram, the stem usually ends in a consonant, but both nouns and adjectives may end in -a or -i.[6]


Ormuri uses the Pashto script with the additional letters ڒ // , ݫ /ʑ/ and ݭ /ɕ/  :

Name IPA Transliteration Contextual forms Isolated Latin Unicode(Hex)
Symbol Final Medial Initial
alif [ɑ] ā ـا ـا آ, ا آ, ا Ā ā U+0627,


be [b] b ـب ـبـ بـ ب B b U+0628
pe [p] p ـپ ـپـ پـ پ P p U+067E
te [t̪] t ـت ـتـ تـ ت T t U+062A
ṭe [ʈ] ـټ ـټـ ټـ ټ U+067C
se [s] s ـث ـثـ ثـ ث S s U+062B
jim [d͡ʒ] j ـج ـجـ جـ ج J j U+062C
če [t͡ʃ] č ـچ ـچـ چـ چ Č č U+0686
he [h]3 h ـح ـحـ حـ ح H h U+062D
xe [x] x ـخ ـخـ خـ خ X x U+062E
tse [t͡s] ts ـڅ ـڅـ څـ څ Ts ts U+0685
dzim [d͡z] dz ـځ ـځـ ځـ ځ Dz dz U+0681
dāl [d̪] d ـد ـد د د D d U+062F
ḍāl [ɖ] ـډ ـډ ډ ډ U+0689
zāl [z] z ـذ ـذ ذ ذ Z z U+0630
re [r] r ـر ـر ر ر R r U+0631
xře [r̝] ř ـڒ ـڒ ڒ ڒ Ř ř U+0692
ṛe [ɽ] ـړ ـړ ړ ړ U+0693
ze [z] z ـز ـز ز ز Z z U+0632
že [ʒ] ž ـژ ـژ ژ ژ Ž ž U+0698
źe [ʑ] ź ـݫ ـݫ ݫ ݫ Ź ź U+076B
sin [s] s ـس ـسـ سـ س S s U+0633
šin [ʃ] š ـش ـشـ شـ ش Š š U+0634
śin [ɕ] ś ـݭ ـݭـ ݭـ ݭ Ś ś U+076D
swād [s] s ـص ـصـ صـ ص S s U+0635
zwād [z] z ـض ـضـ ضـ ض Z z U+0636
twe [t] t ـط ـطـ طـ ط T t U+0637
zwe [z] z ـظ ـظـ ظـ ظ Z z U+0638
ayn [ɑ] ā ـع ـعـ عـ ع Ā ā U+0639
ğayn [ɣ] ğ ـغ ـغـ غـ غ Ğ ğ U+063A
fe [f] f ـف ـفـ فـ ف F f U+0641
qāp [q] / [k] q ـق ـقـ قـ ق Q q U+0642
kāp [k] k ـک ـکـ کـ ک K k U+06A9
gāp [ɡ] g ـګ ـګـ ګـ ګ G g U+06AB
lām [l] l ـل ـلـ لـ ل L l U+0644
mim [m] m ـم ـمـ مـ م M m U+0645
nun [n] n ـن ـنـ نـ ن N n U+0646
ṇun [ɳ] ـڼ ـڼـ ڼـ ڼ U+06BC
nūn ğunna [ ̃] ̃

(over vowel)

ں ـنـ نـ ں N n U+06BA
wāw [w], [u], [o] w, u, o ـو ـو و و W w, U u, O o U+0648
he [h], [a] h, a ـه ـهـ هـ ه H h, A a U+0647
kajīra he [ə] ə ـۀ ۀ Ə ə U+06C0
ye [j], [i] y, i ـي ـيـ يـ ي Y y, I i U+064A
ye [e] e ـې ـېـ ېـ ې E e U+06D0
ye [ai], [j] ay, y ـی ـ ـ ی Ay ay, Y y U+06CC
ye [əi] əi ـئ ـئـ ئـ ئ Əi əi, Y y U+0626


"Log." will represent examples from the Ormuri dialect of Logar and "Kan." will be used to signify the Kaniguram dialect of Ormuri


See also


  1. ^ "Ormuri language, alphabet and pronunciation".
  2. ^ Ormuri at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b c d "Dying Languages; Special Focus on Ormuri"[usurped]. Originally published in Pakistan Journal of Public Administration; Volume 6. No. 2 in December 2001. Khyber.ORG.
  4. ^ a b Endangered Languages Project
  5. ^ Ethnologue
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h V.A., Efimov (2011) [1986 original Russian edition]. The Ormuri Language in Past and Present. Translated by Baart, Joan L.G. Islamabad: Forum for Language Initiatives. ISBN 978-969-9437-02-1.
  7. ^ Scott, D. A. (1984). "Zoroastrian Traces along the Upper Amu Darya (Oxus)". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 116 (2): 217–228. doi:10.1017/S0035869X00163567. JSTOR 25211708. S2CID 163761565.
  8. ^ "Pashto Academy Peshawar :: پښتو اکېډمي پېښور". khyber.org. Archived from the original on March 18, 2019. Retrieved 2021-04-10.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  9. ^ a b Daniel G. Hallberg (1992) Pashto, Waneci, Ormuri (Sociolinguistic Survey of Northern Pakistan, 4). National Institute of Pakistani Studies, 176 pp. ISBN 969-8023-14-3.
  10. ^ Novák, Ľubomír (2013). "Other Eastern Iranian Languages". Problem of Archaism and Innovation in the Eastern Iranian Languages (PhD). Prague: Charles University. p. 59.