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Current Situation and Endangerment

Timeline of Torwali Speaker Estimates

Timeline of Speakers


1880: (2), 1992: (7), 2001: (4), 2010: (6), **2015: (10)

** The most recent estimation is made by a native Torwal researcher living in the community currently.

Current Facts & Figures from the Torwali Community:

Sample Population: 50 Male Torwali Community Members aged 18-78 years.

Limitations: All Males, nobody under age of 18.

88% estimate their community to exist at or over 120,000 members.

86% believe their language and their culture is endangered.

64% cannot read or write Torwali.

70% said that the "young people" of the community do not know many "old" Torwali words.

92% said that the "young people" of the community do not know the original Torwali names for places in their community.

100% said that they want to preserve Torwali language and culture.

100% said they want Torwali to be recognized by the government as a National language of Kohistan.


How Endangered is Torwali?

Applying the Endangerment Scales:

David Crystal defines "viable but small" languages as those that over one thousand speakers and are smoked in isolated communities that are aware of their language as an identity marker.

Based on the 2014 study done by Zubair Torwali (outlined above) 100% of the sample speaker population wanted to preserve the Torwali language and 86% believed their language was endangered. Torwali is spoken by roughly 80,000 people. These numbers would lead me to classify Torwali as Viable but Small.


5 Levels

Stephen Wurm's 5 Level Model of Language Endangerment

Endangered Language Status:

With regards to the 5 level model of language status displayed above, Torwali would be considered an Endangered Language because it has "few or no children learning the language and the youngest good speakers of the language are young adults".


70% of the sample speaker population (all whom are over the age of 18) claimed that the young people do not know the "old Torwali words".

92% said that the young people do not know the original Torwali names for places in their community.


Status, History, & Threat Scenarios Facing Torwali: 

To get a better idea of the threats facing Torwali I have attempted to identity some of the variables that threaten minority languages based on Edwards' 1992 Typology Schema in the table below. The table is set up in a Pro/Con chart although many of the variables can be considered as either positive or negative when compared in subjective lights.

Variables such as history, education, geographical location, and language attitudes among the Torwali community may allow us to assess the vitality of the Torwali language. 


Table 2.2 Questions

Table 2.2 Edwards' 1992 Sample Questions Answered for Torwali

Are the Biggest Threats to Torwali Local, Regional, National, & International?


An International Language is widely used between nations for exchange, trade, etc. - Torwali is not an international language.

 A National Language is used within a country in education, work, mass media, and at the government level - Torwali is not a national language in this sense.

A Regional Language is used in education, work, media, and government subdivisions with a particular region - Torwali is not used in this way.

Torwali is only spoken in a local domain and that is how it is threatened. 

A Local Domain involves the speech community itself and the groups with which a speech community comes into frequent contact with. (Trade, cultural exchange, and general communication)

Therefore the biggest threat to Torwali is at the Local Level.

Torwali did not have a writing system until 2008. This is proof that Torwali was a exclusively spoken (oral) language used for face to face communication exclusively amongst the Torwali community. 

Remember that according to Rensch et al., if a Pashtuun and a Torwal or a Kalam and a Torwal were speaking they would never use Torwali. Rather they would use Pashto or Urdu.

Torwali people that communicate with the neighboring groups almost always speak Pashto and Urdu as well as Torwali however the neighboring groups almost never speak Torwali.

Therefore there is no prestige of speaking Torwali outside of the speech community itself. It is not recognized at any level nor is it used it in formal education or mass media.

Therefore it is apparent why there is a significant language loss amongst the younger speakers in the community.

(7), (3)

Current Situation and Endangerment