Orthography

Burushaski is primarily a spoken language; literacy in the first language is practically non-existent. A major problem faced by scholars working on the language is the absence of a widely-accepted writing system. Following is a proposal for a Persio-Arabic alphabet for Burushaski (Note: a Roman-based alphabet is available here):

Proposals for a Persio-Arabic Alphabet

Various proposals have been made to write Burushaski using a Persio-Arabic based writing system with modifications to cater to the phonetic/phonological needs of the Burushaski language. One of the most popular of these is the one proposed by Allama Nasir-ud-Din Nasir Hunzai. Another one, with a few differences is proposed by Mr. Ghulamuddin Hunzai. There are certain technicall difficulties in adopting these writing systems besides some differences in the two systems which have yet to be resolved between the followers of these scholars. Besides, there are some inconsistencies in the use of diacritics. In order to address the technical difficulties, resolve the differences and address the inconsistencies in these writing systems, this study proposes a slightly modified version. The modifications are being made in view of both technical as well as other problems faced in using any of the previously proposed writing systems. The following table contains a list of all the primary symbols to be used in the writing system:

alphabet table

[Note: there is one typographic error in the table above which will be corrected soon]

Use of Digraphs

Burushaski has a number of unaspirated and aspirated voiceless consonants which are also present in Urdu. In addition, it also has unaspirated and aspirated voiceless dental affricates [c]/[ch] and voiceless retroflex consonants [ċ]/[ċh] which are absent in Urdu. Consistent with the Urdu alphabet, this study proposes to use digraphs for all aspirated consonants (See table below for illustration; U = Urdu, B = Burushaski).

digraphs table

 

Script for Burushaski used by the Burushaski Research Academy:

BRA_alphabet

The proposed modification will remove the symbols used for [ċh] (Arabic letter hah with four dots or numeral 4 underneath) and [ch] (Arabic letter swad with three dots above) by BRA since these are redundant being the aspirated counterparts of [ċ] and [c] (respectively).

Use of diacritics

This study proposed to use the following diacritics in the writing system (see table below). The justification for doing this is that their use is very common in both Urdu and Perso-Arabic script and a number of its modifications in all the Burushaski-speaking regions.

diacritics table