Gawarbati is an endangered and under-documented language spoken in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area. There is no comprehensive study of its grammar or lexicon, and no available corpus reflecting this unique mountain culture. A better understanding of Gawarbati is a key to untangling issues in classification, settlement history and contact patterns in the surrounding and highly diverse Hindu Kush region.

Collaboration with the local community

The remaining Gawarbati speakers live in a settlement cluster on both sides of the border. Pashto has as a regionally dominant language for a long time been encroaching on the Gawarbati-speaking area and is at the receiving end of a fast and irreversible language shift. The aim of this urgent project is to collect, annotate and analyze language data and produce a typologically informed grammatical description, and to compile a lasting record of the language in the form of an annotated audio and video corpus and a lexical database. This will be undertaken in close collaboration with the local community and under the auspices of a language resource centre based in Islamabad. Community members have already taken part in a small revitalization project and acquired basic documentation skills. These motivated individuals will contribute substantially to the present project which will directly and indirectly benefit the community in their ongoing orthography development and maintenance efforts.

Henrik Liljegren, PI.

Henrik Liljegren is a field linguist with more than 15 years’ work experience in this challenging region.

The project is funded by grants from The Swedish Research Council (



Map of the Hindu kush region. Design Henrik Liljegren