'Re-construction' challenge no #1: Modern Gandhari

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'Re-construction' challenge no #1: Modern Gandhari

Post by dva_arla »

Granted, this is not the first 'reconstructo-lang' I have been working on -- a cursory browse on my posts will reveal many such languages. But Gandhari, like the languages I shall post under the 'label', poses a challenge, viz. the scantiness of resources. (In contrast, linguists have written 1000-page long volumes on the nature of the Tocharian verb alone, ). It is therefore my hope that this thread shall help organise my research on the historical Gandhari spoken a couple of millenia ago and my progress on the conlang -- as well as earn gainful feedbacks.

On Reconstructing Gandhari

The only grammar of Gandhari that I currently have recourse to is Baum's Outline of Gāndhārī Grammar (available on his website -- https://stefanbaums.com/). Over half of the grammar is a list of sound changes, which in the process of re-construction is more essential than morphological or syntactical details, on which the grammar doesn't cover too much in detail.

A good online lexicon of the language , which I have been accessing for quite some while, may be accessed from this link: https://gandhari.org/ (the marvels of technology..)

Since one can only know so much about historical Gandhari, comparison with related languages is inevitable. For one we have Sanskrit, roughly speaking the 'Latin' of all Indo-Aryan languages. Reconstruction of some forms would need to go back to Sanskrit. A comparison with modern Dardic languages, especially those spoken in the proximity of Peshawar, viz. the Kohistani dialects Torwali and Tirahi, will give us an idea of how the language ought to look like.


Modern Gandhari (Gandhari: ganhārī گنھاری or prĕğwarī پرږوری) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken (not always in the majority) in an area stretching approximately from Taxila to Jalalabad, mainly by Gandharans, though the Gandharans are not the only people to speak the language. Some Pashtuns migrating to the Valley of Peshawar have adopted Gandharan as a spoken language (in OTL it was the other way around), and most Hazaras settling in the valleys of the Hindu Kush in the 14th century have adopted the local language (and, to some extent, culture) spoken within, which, we presume in this scenario, is a 'mountain dialect' of Gandharan.

Gandhari, though may be held in proximity to the Dardic languages, also have features which binds it to the North-western Indo-Aryan languages. It can thus, llike Kashmiri, be characterised as a "transitional language" (correct term?) bridging Dardic and Lahnda.

(On Old Gandhari and Dardic: Cheung suggested that "that “Proto-Dardic” was actually Gandhari Prakrit, if not identical, then at least, very closely related to it." The first part of his assertion sounds less plausible than the second -- my (admittedly quite amateur-ish) research on Gandhari and Dardic leaves me with a hunch that not all Dardic languages may descend from old Gandhari, for there are a few features in Dardic that cannot be accounted for through old Gandhari, viz. the so-called "Dardic metathesis", to which attested Gandhari words show quite discongruent outcomes (more on that later, infinitives in -ik in some Dardic languages (also found in some neighbouring Pamiri languages [Iranic], therefore sprachbund / possible substrate influence?), and the non-Dardic 'lowland' features found in attested Gandhari and some Dardic languages such as Kashmir (which sporadically shows forms and features of the Lahnda and Pahari sort). Indeed, some scholars have questioned the existence of a single, united Dardic language family. The classification of Dardic languages, though, is outside the scope of the present discussion.)

Old Gandhari didn't paint the picture of a united literary language -- dialectal variations (i.e. non-diachronical ones) of forms mainly but not solely related to phonology may be detected in the documented inscriptions and texts. Modern Gandhari may be as much fragmented than her predecessor. One can class the dialects based on geographical delimitations (for which we have the Peshawari, Nanghari, Hazara Gandhari, and the one spoken in that valley northwest of Islamabad-Rawalpindi which includes Attock and Haripur (names, anybody?)) or linguistic features (most prominently being the "rhotic dialects" vs. "non-rhotic dialects" [which works not like counterparts in English -- and more on this later]. The prestige dialect is the one spoken in Peshawar -- which has been the cultural and intellectual capital of Gandhara for over 2000 years.

Gandhari is currently written using the Perso-Arabic script, mainly in Nasta'liq types (as opposed to the Naskhi used for Pashto). There has been some sporadic attempts to revive Kharosthi (popularly known by the first six letters of the abecedary: "Arap-canal" 𐨀𐨪𐨤𐨕𐨣𐨫)

(Phew! Now we're done with the introduction, bickering on which I have delayed a week or so posting it to the forum. You see, I don't write as eloquently as I used to do...)
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Re: 'Re-construction' challenge no #1: Modern Gandhari

Post by dva_arla »

Phonology and Orthography

The orthography of Gandhari is meant to be a diasystem, a system that accounts for all accents of the language, which means that not all distinctions recorded in the orthography are realised in each of the spoken accents (more on Accents later).


p b m f* پ ب م ف
t d n ت د ن
ṭ ḍ ṇ ٹ ڈ ݨ
c dz څ ځ
ć j ń چ ج ڃ‎
y r l w ی ر ل و
ṛ ḷ ڑ لؕ
s z س ز
ś ź ش ژ
x́ ǵ ښ ږ
x* ğ* h** q* خ غ ہ ق

The above table, for the sake of economy, does not take into account:
a) orthographical aspiration, denoted with a trailing ھ, which could occur following any consonant except h /ɦ/ but including all of the sonorants (mhallē /mʱɐl:e ~ mɐ̀l:e:/ مھلے 'grand-father', whĕź /ʍəʒ ~ wə̀z/ وھژ 'greed'). The voicing of said aspiration matches the preceding consonant; a voiceless consonant with aspiration is realised aspirated, while voiced ones (including sonorants) are either realised with some sort of breathy voice, or the distinction is transferred to the following vowel -- devoiced and realised with a low tone (especially in the eastern dialects influenced by Lahnda).
b) 'tensed' consonants kk کۿ
gg گۿ
tt تۿ
ṭṭ ٹۿ
cc چۿ
which are either distinguished from their aspirated and non-aspirated co-articulants by tensing (cf. Korean), glotallisation, or merged into the aspirated or non-aspirated series of consonants (variation by dialect).

Supplementary remarks:
* found only in loan-words. /f/ and /q/ realised in vulgar parlance as wh (فائدہ /ʍəɪdɐ/ 'use') and k.
** always realised as voiced /ɦ/.


Code: Select all

a i u ĕ e o 
ā ī ū ē ō
ya wa
ai au

ā آ (word-initial) ا (word-medial & final)
ī, y, ya ی
ē ې (word-initial & medial) ے (word-final)
ai ئی
ō, ū, w, wa و
au ؤ

Nasalisation, which can fall onto any vowel, is indicated by the use of the letter ں (nūn bē-nuqta), which is never joined to any following letter: شېں‌چا śēnnća /ʃẽ:t͡ʃɑ:/ 'Saturday'

The short consonants may be denoted using diacritics (zabar, zer, pesh, etc.), though they are omitted almost most of the time. Since all Gandharan words and phrases included in this sketchpad are accompanied by transliterations, use of diacritics is deemed unnecessary.
Last edited by dva_arla on 27 Aug 2021 12:17, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 'Re-construction' challenge no #1: Modern Gandhari

Post by dva_arla »

Months of the folk calendar, based on attested Old Gandhari forms. The folk calendar is mainly used to determine the dates to festivals, while the civil Gregorian calendar finds more currency in everyday use.

وښاز ماز wĕx́āz māz

چېتر ćetr Mar - Apr
ہېژاہ hēźāh Apr - May
ڃٹۿ ńeṭṭ May - Jun
آږاڑھ āǵārh Jun - Jul
ښاونے xāwne Jul - Aug
پروتۿہ proṭṭa Aug - Sept
شپیو śpayū Sept - Oct
کتۿی kattī Oct - Nov
منگشیر mengśīr Nov - Dec
? Dec - Jan
? Jan - Feb
پھگن phaggĕn Feb - Mar

ہفتیاز دیوز haftyāz dyōz / dōz

آچا āćā Sunday
چندا / ​سوما ćandā / somā Monday
منگرا mongrā Tuesday
بپا boppā Wednesday
بہسپا behspā Thursday
جمعہ* jummā Friday
شېں‌چا śēnnća Saturday

*irregular final ہ for ā instead of a.

(No comments yet? Now I don't mean to be an attention hog, but feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!)
Last edited by dva_arla on 27 Aug 2021 13:18, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 'Re-construction' challenge no #1: Modern Gandhari

Post by dva_arla »

Numbers 1 to 10:

۱ اک ekk
۲ دوی دوے doi / doē / dwē
۳ ترے trē
۴ چؤ ćau
۵ پنچ panć
۶ ښوں x́ōnn
۷ ستۿ satt
۸ اٹۿ aṭṭ
۹ نوں nōnn
۱۰ دژ daź
Zythros Jubi
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Re: 'Re-construction' challenge no #1: Modern Gandhari

Post by Zythros Jubi »

Maybe you can make a non-Muslim dialect as well, like the Kalashas' (Dardic) language, or a sociolect like Kashmiri Brahmins.
Lostlang plans: Oghur Turkic, Gallaecian Celtic, Palaeo-Balkanic
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Re: 'Re-construction' challenge no #1: Modern Gandhari

Post by IEPH »

Also, I would like to ask how the Gandharans would fare in the modern era? Are they Muslims today (and would this have any bearing on them if much of them live in Afghanistan say from 1996-2001 and from 2021 onward?)
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Re: 'Re-construction' challenge no #1: Modern Gandhari

Post by Pāṇini »

Although I'm not an Indo-Aryanist by any means, it certainly reminds me of what I've seen of the Dardic languages. Excited to see how the morphology works out [:D]
/aɪ kænʔ r̼̊ ʌnəɹstʲænd r̼̊ jəɹ æksɪnt r̼̊/
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