Literacy for most Baloch-speakers is not in Balochi, but in Urdu in Pakistan and Persian in Afghanistan and Iran. Even now very few Baloch read Balochi, in any of the countries, even though the alphabet in which it is printed is essentially identical to Persian and Urdu.
Balochi belongs to the
Western Iranian subgroup, and its original homeland is suggested to be around the central
Glottolog classifies four different varieties, namely
Koroshi, Southern Balochi and Western Balochi (grouped under a "Southern-Western Balochi" branch), and Eastern Balochi, all under the "Balochic" group.
ISO 639-3 groups Southern, Eastern, and Western Baloch under the Balochi macrolanguage, keeping Koroshi separate.
There are two main dialects: the dialect of the Mandwani (northern) tribes and the dialect of the Domki (southern) tribes. The dialectal differences are not very significant. One difference is that grammatical terminations in the northern dialect are less distinct compared with those in the southern tribes. An isolated dialect is
Koroshi, which is spoken in the Qashqai tribal confederation in the
Fars province. Koroshi distinguishes itself in grammar and lexicon among Balochi varieties.
The Balochi vowel system has at least eight vowels: five
long and three
short.[page needed] These are /aː/, /eː/, /iː/, /oː/, /uː/, /a/, /i/ and /u/. The short vowels have more
centralized phonetic quality than the long vowels. The variety spoken in Karachi also has nasalized vowels, most importantly /ẽː/ and /ãː/.[page needed] In addition to these eight vowels, Balochi has two vowel glides, that is /aw/ and /ay/.
The following table shows consonants which are common to both Western (Northern) and Southern Balochi.[page needed] The consonants /s/, /z/, /n/, /ɾ/ and /l/ are articulated as
alveolar in Western Balochi. The plosives /t/ and /d/ are dental in both dialects. Three (f, kh, gh) are very scarcely used. The symbol ń is used to denote
nasalization of the preceding
^The retroflex tap has a very limited distribution.
In addition, /f/ occurs in a few words in Southern Balochi. /x/ (voiceless velar fricative) in some
loanwords in Southern Balochi corresponding to /χ/ (voiceless uvular fricative) in Western Balochi; and /ɣ/ (voiced velar fricative) in some loanwords in Southern Balochi corresponding to /ʁ/ (voiced uvular fricative) in Western Balochi.
In Eastern Balochi, it is noted that the stop and glide consonants may also occur as aspirated allophones in word initial position as [pʰtʰʈʰt͡ʃʰkʰ] and [wʱ]. Allophones of stops in postvocalic position include for voiceless stops, [fθx] and for voiced stops [βðɣ]. /nl/ are also dentalized as [n̪l̪].
Difference between a question and a statement is marked will the tone, when there is no question word. Rising tone marks the question and falling tone the statement. Statements and questions with a question word are characterized by falling intonation at the end of the sentence.
Falling Intonation - Statement
(Á) wassh ent.
(آ) وشّ اِنت.
He is well.
Falling Intonation - Question
(Taw) kojá raway?
(تئو) کجا رئوئے؟
Where are you going?
Questions without a question word are characterized by rising intonation at the end of the sentence.
Rising Intonation - Question
(Á) wassh ent؟
(آ) وشّ اِنت؟
Is he well?
Both coordinate and subordinate clauses that precede the final clause in the sentence have rising intonation. The final clause in the sentence has falling intonation.
Rising Intonation - In clauses that precede the final clause
Shahray kuchah o damkán hechkas gendaga nabut o bázár angat band at.
شهرئے کوچه و دمکان هچکَس گندگَ نبوت و بازار انگت بند اَت.
Nobody was seen in the streets of the town, and the marketplace was still closed.
^The latter ya is with nouns while yak is used by itself.
Balochi was not a written language before the 19th century, and the Persian script was used to write Balochi wherever necessary. However, Balochi was still spoken at the Baloch courts.
British colonial officers first wrote Balochi with the Latin script. Following the creation of Pakistan, Baloch scholars adopted the
Persian alphabet. The first collection of poetry in Balochi,
Mir Gul Khan Nasir was published in 1951 and incorporated the
Arabic Script. It was much later that Sayad Zahoor Shah Hashemi wrote a comprehensive guidance on the usage of Arabic script and standardized it as the Balochi Orthography in Pakistan and Iran. This earned him the title of the 'Father of Balochi'. His guidelines are widely used in Eastern and Western Balochistan. In Afghanistan, Balochi is still written in a modified Arabic script based on
In 2002, a conference was held to help standardize the script that would be used for Balochi.
The following alphabet was used by
Syed Zahoor Shah Hashmi in his lexicon of Balochi Sayad Ganj (سید گنج) (lit. Sayad's Treasure). Until the creation of the
Balochi Standard Alphabet, it was by far the most widely used alphabet for writing Balochi, and is still used very frequently.
The Balochi Standard Alphabet, standardized by Balochi Academy Sarbaz, consists of 29 letters. It is an extension of the
Perso-Arabic script and borrows a few glyphs from
Urdu. It is also sometimes referred to as Balo-Rabi or Balòrabi. Today, it is the preferred script to use in a professional setting and by educated folk.
The following Latin-based alphabet was adopted by the International Workshop on "Balochi Roman Orthography" (University of Uppsala, Sweden, 28–30 May 2000).
a á b c d ď e f g ĝ h i í j k l m n o p q r ř s š t ť u ú v w x y z ž ay aw (33 letters and 2 digraphs)
^Spooner, Brian (2011). "10. Balochi: Towards a Biography of the Language". In Schiffman, Harold F. (ed.). Language Policy and Language Conflict in Afghanistan and Its Neighbors. Brill. p. 319.
ISBN978-9004201453. It [Balochi] is spoken by three to five million people in Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Oman and the Persian Gulf states, Turkmenistan, East Africa, and diaspora communities in other parts of the world.
^Spooner, Brian (2011). "10. Balochi: Towards a Biography of the Language". In Schiffman, Harold F. (ed.). Language Policy and Language Conflict in Afghanistan and Its Neighbors. Brill. p. 320.
^"Balochi". National Virtual Translation Center. Archived from
the original on 18 November 2007. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
^Korn, Agnes (2006).
"Counting Sheep and Camels in Balochi". Indoiranskoe jazykoznanie i tipologija jazykovyx situacij. Sbornik statej k 75-letiju professora A. L. Grjunberga (1930–1995). Nauka. pp. 201–212. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
Farrell, Tim (1990). Basic Balochi: an introductory course. Naples: Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale".
Jahani, Carina; Korn, Agnes (2009). "Balochi". In Windfuhr, Gernot (ed.). The Iranian languages. Routledge Language Family Series (1st ed.). London: Routledge. pp. 634–692.
Serge, Axenov (2006). The Balochi language of Turkmenistan: a corpus based grammatical description. Stockholm: Uppsala Universitet.
Jahani, Carina; Korn, Agnes, eds. (2003). The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times. In cooperation with Gunilla Gren-Eklund. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Jahani, Carina, ed. (2000). Language in society: eight sociolinguistic essays on Balochi. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Uppsala University.
Dictionaries and lexicographical works
Gilbertson, George W. 1925. English-Balochi colloquial dictionary. Hertford: Stephen Austin & Sons.
Ahmad, K. 1985. Baluchi Glossary: A Baluchi-English Glossary: Elementary Level. Dunwoody Press.
Badal Khan, S. 1990. Mán Balócíá Darí Zubánání Judá. Labzánk Vol. 1(3): pp. 11–15.
Abdulrrahman Pahwal. 2007. Balochi Gálband: Balochi/Pashto/Dari/English Dictionary. Peshawar: Al-Azhar Book Co. p. 374.
Mír Ahmad Dihání. 2000. Mír Ganj: Balócí/Balócí/Urdú. Karachi: Balóc Ittihád Adabí Akedimí. p. 427.
Bruce, R. I. 1874. Manual and Vocabulary of the Beluchi Dialect. Lahore: Government Civil Secretariat Press. vi 154 p.
Muhammad Zarrín Nigár. Dastúr Tatbíkí Zabáne Balúcí bá Fársí. Íránśahr: Bunyáde Naśre Farhange Balóc. p. 136.
Gilbertson, George W. 1923. The Balochi language. A grammar and manual. Hertford: Stephen Austin & Sons.
Bugti, A. M. 1978. Balócí-Urdú Bólcál. Quetta: Kalat Publications.
Ayyúb Ayyúbí. 1381. Dastúr Zabán Fársí bih Balúcí. Íránśahr: Intiśárát Asátír. p. 200.
Hitturam, R. B. 1881. Biluchi Nameh: A Text-book of the Biluchi Language. Lahore.
Etymological and historical studies
Elfenbein, J. 1985. Balochi from Khotan. In: Studia Iranica. Vol. XIV (2): 223–238.
Gladstone, C. E. 1874. Biluchi Handbook. Lahore.
Hashmi, S. Z. S. 1986. Balúcí Zabán va Adab kí Táríx [The History of Balochi language and Literature: A Survey]. Karachi: Sayad Hashmi Academy.
Korn, A. 2005. Towards a Historical Grammar of Balochi. Studies in Balochi Historical Phonology and Vocabulary [Beiträge zur Iranistik 26]. Wiesbaden (Reichert).
Korn, A. 2009. The Ergative System in Balochi from a Typological Perspective // Iranian Journal for Applied Language Studies I. pp. 43–79.
Korn, A. 2003. The Outcome of Proto-Iranian *ṛ in Balochi // Iran : Questions et connaissances. Actes du IVe congrès européen des études iraniennes, organisé par la Societas Iranologica Europaea, Paris, 6-10 septembre 1999. III : Cultures et sociétés contemporaines, éd. Bernard HOURCADE [Studia Iranica Cahier 27]. Leuven (Peeters). pp. 65–75.
Mengal, A. K. 1990. A Persian-Pahlavi-Balochi Vocabulary I (A-C). Quetta: Balochi Academy.
Morgenstiene, G. 1932. Notes on Balochi Etymology. Norsk Tidsskrift for Sprogvidenskap. p. 37–53.
Moshkalo, V. V. 1988. Reflections of the Old Iranian Preverbs on the Baluchi Verbs. Naples: Newsletter of Baluchistan Studies. No. 5: pp. 71–74.
Moshkalo, V. V. 1991. Beludzskij Jazyk. In: Osnovy Iranskogo Jazykozanija. Novoiranskie Jazyki I. Moscow. p. 5-90.
Dames, M. L. 1881. A Sketch of the Northern Balochi Language. Calcutta: The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
Elfenbein, J. 1966. The Baluchi Language. A Dialectology with Text. London.
Filipone, E. 1990. Organization of Space: Cognitive Models and Baluchi Dialectology. Newsletter of Baluchistan Studies. Naples. Vol. 7: pp. 29–39.
Gafferberg, E. G. 1969. Beludzhi Turkmenskoi. SSR: Ocherki Khoziaistva Material'oni Kultuy I Byta. sn.
Geiger, W. 1889. Etymologie des Baluci. Abhandlungen der I. Classe derKoniglich Bayersichen Akaemie der Wissenschaften. Vol. XIX(I): pp. 105–53.
Marston, E. W. 1877. Grammar and Vocabulary of the Mekranee Beloochee Dialect. Bombay.
Pierce, E. 1874. A Description of the Mekranee-Beloochee Dialect. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Vol. XI: 1-98.
Pierce, E. 1875. Makrani Balochi. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 11: N. 31.
Rossi, A. V. 1979. Phonemics in Balochi and Modern Dialectology. Naples: Instituto Universitario Orientale, Dipartimento di Studi Asiatici. Iranica, pp. 161–232.
Rahman, T. 1996. The Balochi/Brahvi Language Movements in Pakistan. Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Vol. 19(3): 71–88.
Rahman, T. 2001. The Learning of Balochi and Brahvi in Pakistan. Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Vol. 24(4): 45–59.
Rahman, T. 2002. Language Teaching and Power in Pakistan. Indian Social Science Review. 5(1): 45–61.
Elfenbein, J. 1982. Notes on the Balochi-Brahui Linguistic Commensality. In: TPhS, pp. 77–98.
Foxton, W. 1985. Arabic/Baluchi Bilingualism in Oman. Naples: Newsletter of Baluchistan Studies. N. 2 pp. 31–39.
Natawa, T. 1970. The Baluchis in Afghanistan and their Language. pp. II:417-18. In: Endo, B. et al. Proceedings, VIIIth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, 1968, Tokyo and Kyoto. Tokyo: Science Council of Japan.
Rzehak, L. 1995. Menschen des Ruckens-Menschen des Baluches: Sprache und Wirklicheit im Verwandtschaftssystem der Belutschen. pp. 207–229. In: Reck, C. & Zieme, P. (ed.); Iran und Turfan. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Elfenbein, Josef. 1997. "Balochi Phonology". In Kaye, Alan S. Phonologies of Asia and Africa. 1. pp. 761–776.
Farideh Okati. 2012. The Vowel Systems of Five Iranian Balochi Dialects. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis: Studia linguistica Upsaliensia. p. 241.
Grammar and morphology
Farrell, Tim. 1989. A study of ergativity in Balochi.' M.A. thesis: School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London.
Farrell, Tim. 1995. Fading ergativity? A study of ergativity in Balochi. In David C. Bennett, Theodora Bynon & B. George Hewitt (eds.), Subject, voice, and ergativity: Selected essays, 218–243. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Korn, Agnes. 2009. Marking of arguments in Balochi ergative and mixed constructions. In Simin Karimi, VIda Samiian & Donald Stilo (eds.) Aspects of Iranian Linguistics, 249–276. Newcastle upon Tyne (UK): Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Abraham, W. 1996. The Aspect-Case Typology Correlation: Perfectivity Triggering Split Ergativity. Folia Linguistica Vol. 30 (1-2): pp. 5–34.
Ahmadzai, N. K. B. M. 1984. The Grammar of Balochi Language. Quetta: Balochi Academy, iii, 193 p.
Andronov, M. S. 2001. A Grammar of the Balochi Language in Comparative Treatment. Munich.
Bashir, E. L. 1991. A Contrastive Analysis of Balochi and Urdu. Washington, D.C. Academy for Educational Development, xxiii, 333 p.
Jahani, C. 1994. Notes on the Use of Genitive Construction Versus Izafa Construction in Iranian Balochi. Studia Iranica. Vol. 23(2): 285–98.
Jahani, C. 1999. Persian Influence on Some Verbal Constructions in Iranian Balochi. Studia Iranica. Vol. 28(1): 123–143.
Korn, A. 2008. A New Locative Case in Turkmenistan Balochi // Iran and the Caucasus 12. pp. 83–99.
Leech, R. 1838. Grammar of the Balochky Language. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Vol. VII(2): p. 608.
Mockler, E. 1877. Introduction to a Grammar of the Balochee Language. London.
Nasir, K. A. B. M. 1975. Balócí Kárgónag. Quetta.
Sabir, A. R. 1995. Morphological Similarities in Brahui and Balochi Languages. International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics. Vol. 24(1): 1–8.
Elfenbein, J. 1992. Measurement of Time and Space in Balochi. Studia Iranica, Vol. 21(2): pp. 247–254.
Filipone, E. 1996. Spatial Models and Locative Expressions in Baluchi. Naples: Instituto Universitario Orietale, Dipartimento di Studi Asiatici. 427 p.
Miscellaneous and surveys
Baloch, B. A. 1986. Balochi: On the Move. In: Mustada, Zubeida, ed. The South Asian Century: 1900–1999. Karachi: Oxford University Press. pp. 163–167.
Bausani, A. 1971. Baluchi Language and Literature. Mahfil: A Quarterly of South Asian Literature, Vol. 7 (1-2): pp. 43–54.