History of Shina Language

With approximately 6000 distinct languages are spoken worldwide, (Grimes, 1998). 4000 with little or no written records, the need for widespread descriptive linguistics is imperative. As an underlying principle, that all languages are coequal reflections of human creative, intellectual and cognitive capacity.  All are significant and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, even though some may be spoken by very few and possibly powerless individuals.

Recently, however, the tragedy of language underdevelopment and extinction and the concomitant urgency of descriptive linguistics has been recognized by the academic world at large (Krauss, 1992), UNESCO estimates that 3000 of the 6000 or so languages spoken today will become extinct in the next century as the graveyard of languages.  

As for as Pakistan is concerned there are 72 languages are spoken. While five local languages including Shina, Brushiski, Wakhi, Balti and Khawar are spoken by the people of GB. Due to several reasons the Doomaki language is being extinct language.

The status of Shina language in GB is lingua-franca. It belongs to the Shina group of the Dardic branch of the North-Western zone of the Indo-Arian sub family of the Indo-European family of Languages. According to Linguistics Survey of Pakistan (1990) about 1.3 million people speak Shina in different valleys of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) province including GilgitGhizer, Nagar, Rondu, Kharmang, Astore, ChilasDarelTangir,  as well as in district of Kohistan of Khyber Pukhtoon Khwa (KPK) province including JalkotPalas, Kolai, and Kohistan. Apart from Pakistan Shina is spoken in occupied Kashmir as well i.e. Gurez and Drass valleys. Moreover, Palula of Chitral district, Chiliso and Gawro of Kohistan and Brakskat of Ganukh and Ladakh are the Isoglots of Shina. 

As the centuries past the ethnic differences within Shina language community have faded but the kin groups are maintained. They are Yashkuns, Gushpur, Ronos, Kashmiries, Kamin and people from many other kin groups as well as Shins, all of whom speak Shina as their Mother Tongue. Shina speaking areas were quite isolated from each other. Mountain berries to communication has resulted in a diversity of dialects.

Because influential position of Gilgit town as trade , Govt., education and communication center are exposed to the Gilgit verity of Shina. Consequently people from regions outside Gilgit have a better understanding of Gilgiti Shina than the Gilgiti people have of other verities of Shina. Thus Gilgiti Shina may be the de fecto standard dialect of Shina.  

When a language dies without written records all potential for enriching human experience embodied in the oral tradition and wisdom of that culture is lost forever.

Hale (1992) effectively argues that the loss of diversity that language extinction represents is a scientific and human tragedy. In recognition of this situation the linguistic and cultural society of Gilgit has established Shina Language and culture Promotion Society for its preservation and promotion.