ݜݨیاٗ زبان
The word Ṣiṇyaá written in the Arabic script in Nastaliq style.
Native toPakistan, India
RegionGilgit-Baltistan, Kohistan, Drass, Gurez
Native speakers
720,200 Shina (2018)[1]
and Shina, Kohistani 458,000 (2018)[2]
Arabic script (Nastaʿlīq)[3]
Language codes
ISO 639-3Either:
scl – Standard Shina
plk – Kohistani Shina
Glottologshin1264  Shina
kohi1248  Kohistani Shina
Distribution of Shina language in Dark Orange
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Shina (ݜݨیاٗ,شِْنْیٛا Ṣiṇyaá, IPA: [ʂiɳjá]) is a Dardic language of Indo-Aryan language family spoken by the Shina people.[4][5] In Pakistan, Shina is the major language in Gilgit-Baltistan spoken by an estimated 1,146,000 people living mainly in Gilgit-Baltistan and Kohistan.[4][6] A small community of Shina speakers is also found in India, in the Guraiz valley of Jammu and Kashmir and in Dras valley of Ladakh.[4] Outliers of Shina language such as Brokskat are found in Ladakh, Kundal Shahi in Azad Kashmir, Palula and Sawi in Chitral, Ushojo in the Swat Valley and Kalkoti in Dir.[4]

Until recently, there was no writing system for the language. A number of schemes have been proposed, and there is no single writing system used by speakers of Shina language.[7] Shina is mostly a spoken language and not a written language. Most Shina speakers do not write their language.

Due to effects of dominant languages in Pakistani media like Urdu, Standard Punjabi and English and religious impact of Arabic and Persian, Shina like other languages of Pakistan are continuously expanding its vocabulary base with loan words.[8] It has close relationship with other Indo-Aryan languages, especially Standard Punjabi, Western Punjabi, Sindhi, and the dialects of Western Pahari. [9]


In Pakistan

There are an estimated 1,146,000 speakers of both Shina and Kohistani Shina in Pakistan according to Ethnologue (2018), a majority of them in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkwa and Gilgit-Baltistan. A small community of Shina speakers is also settled in Neelam valley of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.[10][11]

In India

A small community of Shina speakers is also settled in India in the far north of Kargil district bordering Gilgit-Baltistan. Their population is estimated to be around 32,200 according to 2011 census.[12]


Shina is one of the few Dardic languages with a written tradition.[13] However, it was an unwritten language until a few decades ago[14] and there still is not a standard orthography.[15] Since the first attempts at accurately representing Shina's phonology in the 1960s there have been several proposed orthographies for the different varieties of the language, with debates centering on whether vowel length and tone should be represented.[16] For the Drasi variety spoken in the Indian union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, there have been two proposed schemes, one with the Perso-Arabic script and the other with the Devanagari script.[17]

One proposed alphabet for Shina is the following:[18][better source needed]

Letter Romanization IPA
ا ʿ /ʔ/
ب b /b/
پ p /p/
ت t /t/
ٹ /ʈ/
ث (s) /s/
ج ǰ /d͡ʒ/
چ č /t͡ʃ/
ح (h) /h/
خ ǩ /x/
څ c /t͡s/
ځ j /d͡z/
ڇ ċ /ʈ͡ʂ/
د d /d/
ڈ /ɖ/
ذ (z) /z/
ر r /r/
ڑ /ɽ/
ز z /z/
ژ ž /ʒ/
ڙ ż /ʐ/
س s /s/
ش š /ʃ/
ݜ /ʂ/
ص (s) /s/
ض (d) /d/
ط (t) /t/
ظ (z) /z/
ع ʿ /ʔ/
غ ǧ /ɣ/
ڠ ŋ /ŋ/
ف f /f/pʰ/
ق (k) /k/
ک k /k/
گ g /ɡ/
ل l /l/
م m /m/
ن n /n/
ݨ /ɳ/
ں ˜ /˜/
و w /ʊ~w/
ہ h, x /h/ɦ/
ھ _h /ʰ/
ء ʿ /ʔ/
ی y /j/
ے e /e/


The following is a description of the phonology of the Drasi ,Sheena variety spoken in India and the Kohistani variety in Pakistan.


The Shina principal vowel sounds:[19]

Front Mid Back
unrd. rnd.
High i u
High-mid e o
Low-mid ɛ ə ʌ ɔ
Low (æ) a

All vowels but /ɔ/ can be either long or nasalized, though no minimal pairs with the contrast are found.[19] /æ/ is heard from loanwords.[20]


In Shina there are the following diphthongs:[21]


In India, the dialects of the Shina language have preserved both initial and final OIA consonant clusters, while the Shina dialects spoken in Pakistan have not.[22]

Labial Coronal Retroflex Post-alv./
Velar Uvular Glottal
Stop Voiceless p t ʈ k q[a]
Aspirated ʈʰ
Voiced b d ɖ ɡ
Breathy[a] ɖʱ ɡʱ
Affricate Voiceless t͡s ʈ͡ʂ t͡ʃ
Aspirated t͡sʰ ʈ͡ʂʰ t͡ʃʰ
Voiced d͡z[b] d͡ʒ[b]
Breathy d͡ʒʱ[a]
Fricative Voiceless (f) s ʂ ʃ x[b] h
Voiced z ʐ ʒ[b] ɣ[b] ɦ[b]
Nasal m (mʱ)[a] n ɳ ŋ
Lateral l (lʱ)[a]
Rhotic r ɽ[c]
Semivowel ʋ~w j
  1. ^ a b c d e Occurs in the Kohistani dialect, Schmidt (2008)
  2. ^ a b c d e f According to Rajapurohit (2012, p. 33–34)
  3. ^ Degener (2008, p. 14) lists it as a phoneme


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Shina words are often distinguished by three contrasting tones: level, rising, and falling tones. Here is an example that shows the three tones:

"The" has a level tone and means the imperative "Do!"

When the stress falls on the first mora of a long vowel, the tone is falling. Thée means "Will you do?"

When the stress falls on the second mora of a long vowel, the tone is rising. Theé means "after having done".

See also


  1. ^ "Shina". Ethnologue. Archived from the original on 2019-06-06. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Shina, Kohistani". Ethnologue. Archived from the original on 2019-06-05. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Ethnologue report for Shina". Ethnologue.
  4. ^ a b c d Saxena, Anju; Borin, Lars (2008-08-22). Lesser-Known Languages of South Asia: Status and Policies, Case Studies and Applications of Information Technology. Walter de Gruyter. p. 137. ISBN 978-3-11-019778-5. Shina is an Indo-Aryan language of the Dardic group, spoken in the Karakorams and the western Himalayas: Gilgit, Hunza, the Astor Valley, the Tangir-Darel valleys, Chilas and Indus Kohistan, as well as in the upper Neelam Valley and Dras. Outliers of Shina are found in Ladakh (Brokskat), Chitral (Palula and Sawi), Swat (Ushojo; Bashir 2003: 878) and Dir (Kalkoti).
  5. ^ Jain, Danesh; Cardona, George (2007-07-26). The Indo-Aryan Languages. Routledge. p. 1018. ISBN 978-1-135-79710-2.
  6. ^ "Shina". Ethnologue. Archived from the original on 2019-06-06. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  7. ^ Braj B. Kachru; Yamuna Kachru; S. N. Sridhar (2008). Language in South Asia. Cambridge University Press. p. 144. ISBN 9781139465502.
  8. ^
  9. ^ M. Oranskij, “Indo-Iranica IV. Tadjik (Régional) Buruǰ ‘Bouleau,’” in Mélanges linguistiques offerts à Émile Benveniste, Paris, 1975, pp. 435–40.
  10. ^ "Shina". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2022-05-22.
  11. ^ "Shina, Kohistani". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2022-05-22.
  12. ^ "Shina". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2022-05-22.
  13. ^ Bashir 2003, p. 823. "Of the languages discussed here, Shina (Pakistan) and Khowar have developed a written tradition and a significant body of written material exists."
  14. ^ Schmidt & 2003/2004, p. 61.
  15. ^ Schmidt & Kohistani 2008, p. 14.
  16. ^ Bashir 2016, p. 806.
  17. ^ Bashir 2003, pp. 823–25. The Devanagari scheme was proposed by Rajapurohit (1975, pp. 150–52; 1983, pp. 46–57; 2012, pp. 68–73). The latter two texts also present Perso-Arabic schemes, which in the 2012 book (pp. 15, 60) is given as primary.
  18. ^ "Shina's Writing System".
  19. ^ a b Rajapurohit 2012, p. 28–31.
  20. ^ Schmit & Kohistani 2008, p. 16.
  21. ^ Rajapurohit 2012, p. 32–33.
  22. ^ Itagi, N. H. (1994). Spatial aspects of language. Central Institute of Indian Languages. p. 73. ISBN 9788173420092. Retrieved 14 August 2017. The Shina dialects of India have retained both initial and final OIA consonant clusters. The Shina dialects of Pakistan have lost this distinction.


  • Bashir, Elena L. (2003). "Dardic". In George Cardona; Dhanesh Jain (eds.). The Indo-Aryan languages. Routledge language family series. Y. London: Routledge. pp. 818–94. ISBN 978-0-7007-1130-7.
  • Bashir, Elena L. (2016). "Perso-Arabic adaptions for South Asian languages". In Hock, Hans Henrich; Bashir, Elena (eds.). The languages and linguistics of South Asia: a comprehensive guide. World of Linguistics. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 803–9. ISBN 978-3-11-042715-8.
  • Rajapurohit, B. B. (1975). "The problems involved in the preparation of language teaching material in a spoken language with special reference to Shina". Teaching of Indian languages: seminar papers. University publication / Department of Linguistics, University of Kerala. V. I. Subramoniam, Nunnagoppula Sivarama Murty (eds.). Trivandrum: Dept. of Linguistics, University of Kerala.
  • Rajapurohit, B. B. (1983). Shina phonetic reader. CIIL Phonetic Reader Series. Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages.
  • Rajapurohit, B. B. (2012). Grammar of Shina Language and Vocabulary : (Based on the dialect spoken around Dras) (PDF).
  • Schmidt, Ruth Laila (2003–2004). "The oral history of the Daṛmá lineage of Indus Kohistan" (PDF). European Bulletin of Himalayan Research (25/26): 61–79. ISSN 0943-8254.
  • Schmidt, Ruth Laila; Kohistani, Razwal (2008). A grammar of the Shina language of Indus Kohistan. Beiträge zur Kenntnis südasiatischer Sprachen und Literaturen. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 978-3-447-05676-2.

Further reading

  • Buddruss, Georg (1983). "Neue Schriftsprachen im Norden Pakistans. Einige Beobachtungen". In Assmann, Aleida; Assmann, Jan; Hardmeier, Christof (eds.). Schrift und Gedächtnis: Beiträge zur Archäologie der literarischen Kommunikation. W. Fink. pp. 231–44. ISBN 978-3-7705-2132-6. A history of the development of writing in Shina
  • Degener, Almuth; Zia, Mohammad Amin (2008). Shina-Texte aus Gilgit (Nord-Pakistan): Sprichwörter und Materialien zum Volksglauben, gesammelt von Mohammad Amin Zia. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-05648-9. Contains a Shina grammar, German-Shina and Shina-German dictionaries, and over 700 Shina proverbs and short texts.
  • Radloff, Carla F. (1992). Backstrom, Peter C.; Radloff, Carla F. (eds.). Languages of northern areas. Sociolinguistic survey of Northern Pakistan. Vol. 2. Islamabad, Pakistan: National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University.
  • Rensch, Calvin R.; Decker, Sandra J.; Hallberg, Daniel G. (1992). Languages of Kohistan. Sociolinguistic survey of Northern Pakistan. Islamabad, Pakistan: National Institute of Pakistan Studies Quaid-i- Azam University.
  • Zia, Mohammad Amin (1986). Ṣinā qāida aur grāimar (in Urdu). Gilgit: Zia Publishers.
  • Zia, Mohammad Amin. Shina Lughat (Shina Dictionary). Contains 15000 words plus material on the phonetics of Shina.