The population of Ashret and Biol Valleys is almost completely monolingual (2008)
|Palula alphabet (Nastaʿlīq script)|
Palula (also spelt Phalura, Palola, Phalulo) and also known as Ashreti (Aćharêtâʹ) or Dangarikwar (the name used by Khowar speakers), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by approximately 10,000 people in the valleys of Ashret and Biori, as well as in the village of Puri (also Purigal) in the Shishi valley and at least by a portion of the population in the village Kalkatak, in the Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
In some of the smaller villages, Palula has either ceased to be spoken (in the village Ghos, situated near Drosh) or its speakers are largely shifting (as in Puri and Kalkatak) to the more widely spoken Khowar language. However, in the main Palula settlements in the Biori and Ashret valleys, it is a strong, vibrant and growing language, as the population in those areas increases and it is still with a few exceptions the mother tongue of almost all people.
Palula is pronounced as /paːluːlǎː/, with three long vowels and a rising pitch on the final syllable.
The Palula language has been documented by George Morgenstierne (1926, 1941), Kendall Decker (1992), Henrik Liljegren (2008, 2009, 2010), and Henrik Liljegren & Naseem Haider (2009, 2011).
It is classified as a Dardic language, but this is more of a geographical classification than a linguistic one.
The following table sets out the vowels of Palula.
|Close||i iː||u uː|
|Mid||e eː||o oː|
Nasalization is found; however, it typically limited to vowels preceding sibilants and nasals and word finally.
The consonant inventory of Palula is shown in the chart below.
Like many Dardic languages, Palula shows either tone or, as in Palula, a pitch accent. Words may have only one accented mora, which is associated with high pitch; the remaining mora have a default or low pitch.
In 2004, Anjuman-e-Taraqqi-e-Palula, the Society for the promotion of Palula, was founded by people in the Palula community to promote the continued use of their language and to encourage research and documentation of their language, history and culture. After the establishment of a written form of the language, the society is now engaged in producing literature and educational material in Palula. In 2006, Palula Alifbe (Palula alphabet book) and Palula Shiluka (Palula stories) were jointly published by the Anjuman-e-taraqqi-e-Palula and the Frontier Language Institute in Peshawar.
In 2008, a mother-tongue based educational programme was launched by a local school management committee in Ashret and a first batch of Palula children could start learning to read and write in their own language. Since 2010, two schools operate within this programme in Ashret, using a curriculum developed by the community itself with assistance from the Forum for Language Initiatives (a regional language resource centre based in Islamabad).
The writing system made by Anjuman-e-Taraqqi-e-Palula is as follows:
|ا||aa, -||/aː/, /∅/||Used as a vowel placeholder in initial form.|
Used to represent the "aa" vowel in medial and final positions.
|ث||(s)||/s/||Only used in loanwords.|
|ح||(h)||/h/||Only used in loanwords.|
|ذ||(z)||/z/||Only used in loanwords.|
|ژ||(ǰ)||/ʑ/||Only used in loanwords.|
|ص||(s)||/s/||Only used in loanwords.|
|ض||(z)||/z/||Only used in loanwords.|
|ط||(t)||/t/||Only used in loanwords.|
|ظ||(z)||/z/||Only used in loanwords.|
|ع||-||/∅/||Only used in loanwords, no pronunciation.|
|ف||f||/f/||Only used in loanwords, may or may not have a unique pronunciation or a native pronunciation, depends on speaker.|
|ق||q||/q/||Only used in loanwords, may or may not have a unique pronunciation or a native pronunciation, depends on speaker.|
|ݨ||ṇ||/ɳ/||Sometimes formed when "n" precedes a retroflex consonant.|
|ں||_~||/◌̃/||No pronunciation on its own. Nasalizes preceding vowel.|
|و||w, oo, uu, o||/w/, /oː/, /uː/, /o/||Can be read as a consonant or a vowel depending on context. See more in Vowel orthography section.|
|ھ||_h||/◌ʰ/, /◌ʱ/||No pronunciation on its own. Marks aspiration on the preceding consonant.|
|ی||y, ii, i||/j/, /iː/, /i/||Can be read as a consonant or a vowel depending on context. See more in Vowels section.|
|ے||ee, e||/eː/, /e/||See more in Vowel orthography section.|
The used of diacritics seems to fluctuate depending on the writer, however, it is almost always used when needing to distinguish from another word with similar vowels, but can be dropped otherwise.
|e||ـےۡ||N/A||/e/||In Ashret, word initial and medial /e/ fluctuates with /a/.|
|o||ـوۡ||ـو||او||/o/||In Ashret, word initial and medial /o/ fluctuates between /u/.|