PREFACE TO ‘THE BURUSHASKI LANGUAGE’ BY LT. COL. D. L. R. LORIMER

The following Vocabularies are based on the material collected in 1923-24, to which reference has been made in the Introduction, Volume I (pp. lvi. ff.), and were completed in 1930-31.
Thanks to assistance received from the Leverhulme Research Fund, I was able to revisit Gilgit and. Hunza in 1934-35, and I then collected a considerable amount of new material.
Of this practically nothing has been incorporated in the present work. The additions, in the way both of new entries and of the elaboration of the existing entries, would have been considerable, and their preparation would have entailed great delay in publication.
As matters stand I have not yet worked out the new material, and this has saved me from much temptation.
The revision of the Burushaski- English Vocabulary as it already existed, was, however, one of the many items of a too ambitious programme, which I did carry out, if only in a hasty and perfunctory way.
For this work I was fortunate in obtaining the assistance of Qudratullah Beg (QUB), son of Subadar Muhabbatullah Beg, a literate and extremely intelligent young man with a remarkable feeling for language and the refinements of phonetics.
A thorough examination of the forms, meanings and uses of the words in even this very modest vocabulary would have been a major task requiring an almost infinite amount of time. I had therefore to restrict my aims to improving the phonetic representation of the words, principally in regard to distinguishing cerebrals and non-cerebrals, aspirates and non-aspirates, and to clearing up doubts indicated by question marks in the original script, which chiefly related to noun-categories and to plural and pronominal-prefix forms, but also sometimes to meanings. Even these limited aims were not completely realised; many forms and queries escaped notice or otherwise resisted determination.
One point resulting from this revision may be noted. The keyword as given in the Vocabulary, or the first form, where alternatives are offered, is the representation of the word, which from all information available I believe to be the correct one. Many words are misspelt, as regards cerebrals and aspirates, in the Grammar and Texts, which were in print before this revision was carried out. No attempt has been made to correct them in the quotations given in the Vocabulary. The reader is therefore asked to concentrate his mind on the keyword forms.
It will be observed that among the meanings given Arabic and Persian words frequently occur, to all which “H” (Hindustani) has been prefixed. This is for the sake of simplification and because explanations were usually given in Hindustani (or Urdu) in which these words are current.
Occasionally another Burushaski word is quoted under the description ‘Bu. Syn. (Burushaski Synonym. This is not to be taken as meaning that the one word exactly duplicates the other in meaning, but oily that the second was used to explain the first.
This volume began to go to press while I was still in Hunza, and Professor Morgenstiene very generously undertook the unpleasant task of working my emendations into the earlier part of the script and revising the proofs of the first few sheets. This resulted in a very considerable saving of time.
I regret to have to append a lengthy list of corrections and additions. These are due in large part to the upsetting effect of growing know-ledge and the alterations in the text which it entailed, for the rest I can only hope that they may be attributed to physical limitations rather than to economy of endeavour on my part. I have made a vast number of corrections in the proofs, but unfortunately this is a case where anything short of complete achievement acquires no merit.
I have made no effort to turn this into a comparative philological dictionary, a task beyond my competence, but I have aimed at indicating obvious loan-words, for the benefit of those who may approach Burushaski with a minimum knowledge of other oriental languages.
The bulk of these loam-words will be found to be Arabic-Persian, i.e. Arabic words current in Persian, most of which have probably been acquired, more or less indirectly, from the latter language.
The original source of dissemination of Persian in all this part of the world has undoubtedly been the language of the Tajik population of the plains of what is now known as Tajikistan in USSR territory. This Tajik Persian is now beginning to receive attention (Cp. W. Lentz. “Pamir Dialekte, I” Gottingen. 1933, Introd. pp. 31 ff. and H. Sköld, “Materalien zu den iranischen Pamirsprachen”, Lund 1936, Introd. pp. 8 ff.). Work has been done on it in recent years by Soviet scholars, but copies of their publications are not easy to obtain.
What proportion of the Persian words recorded by me in Burushaski are familiar to all Burushaski speakers, I cannot definitely say. Illiterate and untravelled men and most of the women would not, I think use, or know, many Persian words for which there are adequate Burushaski equivalents. Against this, every child in Hunza seemed to know the word taswi’r for “photograph’. It was a very old man who, when he had lost or damaged his portrait, asked if he could have another copy of the girminum, the “script”.
Other non-adjacent languages which have been laid under contribution are Hindustani and Punjabi.
With Tibetan I have no direct acquaintance but I have noted a few words in Burushaski which can be found in the standard Tibetan dictionaries.
Burushaski and the dialect of Tibetan spoken in Baltistan posses some words in common, and comparison has now been facilitated by the Vocabulary printed in A. F. C. Reads “Balti Grammar” (RAS 1931), which became available to me only after the greater part of this volume was in print. A separate note on the subject. is now appended v. pp 532 536.
Turkish and Eastern Turki stand in much the same position as Tibetan. They have contributed words to Burushaski, but I have no personal experience of these languages, and have only indicated words that I happened to know or such as were readily traceb1e. The source of these borrowings has undoubtedly been the Eastern Turki spoken in Chinese Turkistan.
On the other hand, coming to Burushaski’s immediate neighbours, I have quoted all the parallels known to me in Shina, Khowar and Wakhi. Except where otherwise stated, these are furnished from my own collections. This is a first step towards a comparison of the complete vocabularies of these languages – at present impossible owing to deficiency of material which would yield some interesting results. We should lean for instance the extent to which the various vocabularies overlap the nature, and amount of borrowing by one language from another, and the area of survival or dispersion of Burushaski words, Burushaski being by hypothesis the original language of a much wider tract than it occupies at the present day.
I have made some attempt to illustrate the possibility of tracing the transference of grammatical devices and idiom within this group of languages in a paper which is due to appear in the ‘Transactions of the Philological Society” of 1937.
An oxamination of G. Raquotte’s ‘English Turki Dictionary Lund, 1927 reveals a very large number of Ar, Pers, words. Of the genuine Turki words there recorded very few are to be found in Burushaski.

  1. In the Kho words the cerebrals and aspirates are probably fairly correctly) marked. In Shina words many have probably gone unnoted. I have therefore quoted any forms given by Grahame Bailey which differed from mine. In Wakhi I could get no assistance in phonetics from my informants. I recorded cerebral č, š, and occasionally ţ, but no aspirates, which proves little.
Apart from indicating undoubted loan-words, often to me of unknown origin, which are shared by Burushaski with one or more of the neighbouring languages. I have made no attempt to pronounce on the authenticity of those words which prima facie appear to be true Burushaski. Sanskrit cognates have been suggested for some of them by Professor Morgenstierne.
One important question remains to which I can give no precise or certain answer: What proportion do the Burushaski words in this Vocabulary bear to the total word-stock of the language? When I returned to Hunza in 1934 one of my hopes was to record sufficient new words to make my collection fairly complete as regards words in daily use and known to everyone. I was well aware that the still popular belief that peoples living in primitive conditions must possess simple languages and employ small vocabularies had been abundantly disproved by facts, but I had not realised what a lengthy business it is to collect and adequately record even a few hundred words after the first couple of thousand in constant daily use have been noted. How many new words I actually recorded I hate no idea, but I am certain that they will go only a short way towards making the vocabulary complete. I could always easily get new words; the difficulty was to find time to have them elucidated and to write them down.
Burushaski possesses a large number of nouns of a technical nature relating to all the ordinary occupations of life, which, given time, can be ascertained by observation and enquiry, but it also appeal’s to be very rich in verbs, and these are not so easily and quickly discovered by any direct method.
The Werchikuar English Vocabulary remains much as it was when it was originally compiled in 1934 – 35. I made several efforts to bring Werchikwar-speakers to Hunza to work with me there but failed to secure competent men. The principal result was disappointment and wasted time. Eventually I paid a visit to Yasin and found an old acquaintance with whom I worked there and whom I brought back to Hunza and kept with me for a few weeks. Unfortunately I did not remember how full of uncertainties my Werchikwar Vocabulary was, and instead of revising it I spent all my time trying to obtain new material. From this however, I have been able to fill in some details lacking in the original vocabulary.
The English Burushaski and English Werchikwar indeces, prepared by my wife, are not to be taken as dictionaries, they merely give references to the occurrence of the English words in the preceding Vocabularies. These English words are not necessari1y the exact equivalents of the vernacular words which follow them. These should therefore in every case be looked up.

EPILOGUE.

With this Preface to the last volume may be combined an epilogue to the whole work. The latter concocted in the course of the years 1926 – 30 from material collected in 1923—24, passed on to the ordeal of printing, from which it now finally emerges. It has therefore been something of a preoccupation, almost continuously, for fifteen years, and has consumed a considerable amount of time and labour.

The expenditure of time and energy in routine work, or without definite objective, easily passes unnoticed ad seldom arouses active regret. When there is, or ought to be, a definite result to show for it, we become critical, and we are specially apt to find the outcome of self-imposed, directed labour inadequate and unsatisfactory. We then realise that tine passed is unrecoverable, and that energy expended is virtue that has gone out of us for ever.
The author of an imperfect work on Burushaski can therefore quote with humble fellow-feeling the sad case of Burzoë described by Ath Tha’alibi in his “History of the Persian Kings. Burzoë (Buzurjmihr) was a learned doctor at the Persian Court who obtained permission from the King, Anushirwan, to proceed to India to search for a medicinal plant, of which he had read, which possessed the property of bringing the dead back to life. He went, and searched, and failed:
“Burzoë avoiding no effort or fatigue, wore himself out in picking, collecting, sorting and combining these plants, so that he might have said with the people of Baghdad, ‘We have continuously been busy with nothing at all, and now we have finished’. He experienced much grief and disappointment, because without attaining his object he had wasted his days.”
But Eurzoë’s story continues to a happy ending.

Welwyii Gardrni City, Herts.                                         D. L. B. L.
6th November 1937.


 
MY NOTE: Professor Hermann Berger developed his interest in 1956 and decided to improve this work further. Accordingly he visited Hunza in 1962 where he met my father and continued his research, at a low pace. This he told me in a telephonic conversation in August 1980 when I was on a visit to Autobrùn (Mùnich) in Germany. After the death of my father in 1984, he came into contact with Allama Naseeruddin and Burushaski research Academy and paced up his research work which he has published in 1998. Meanwhile, my father completed his work on Burushaski Alphabets in 1967 and had to wait till 1980, when I was able to provide him the money to get his works published.


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