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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Baloch and Balochi

What is the adjective of “Baloch” in English? Our country is called Balochistan, that point is clear. We live in Balochistan. We speak Balochi, we have several Balochi dialects, we weave Balochi carpets, we ride Balochi camels, we (hopefully!) give Balochi names to our children. We read Balochi poetry which is published at the Balochi Academy.

However, I have also noticed that often “Baloch” is used as the adjective:

  • Baloch cultural tradition
  • Baloch Students’ Organisation
  • Baloch authors
  • Baloch ethnicity
  • Baloch nationalism
  • Baloch National Movement
  • Baloch men
  • Baloch ethnic group
  • Baloch people

And what about the noun? Am I a Baloch or Balochi? Are my parents Baloch, Balochs, Balochis or Baloches?

Baloch: Baloch is generally known as a noun. The native people who live in Balochistan are called Baloch. Generally Baloch people speak Balochi, but even if native people can’t speak Balochi, they are still called Baloch. They can migrate and live in other parts of the world. They can still refer to themselves as Baloch. So, I believe that it is now accepted that “Baloch” is noun in this context.

Mistakenly, some non-Baloch scholars use the word “Balochi”, instead of “Baloch” when referring to people of Balochistan. For instance, they may say: “Baaraan is Balochi”. It is wrong. “Baaraan is a Baloch” is the right expression. One my say that “Baaraan is a Balochi name”, which is a correct phrase to say.

So, I am a Baloch, not Balochi (likewise, Hazhaar is a Kurd. Hazhaar is a Kurdish name. But saying “Hazhaar is a Kurdish” is a rather an inaccurate expression).

On many occasion, it is rather use a “the” before Baloch, when we refer to people of Balochistan (in national adjective usage). For instance, national adjectives ending in “ch” or “sh” e.g. the Dutch, the Spanish, the Welsh (see The Oxford Library of English Usage, Chapter I, 1990. Similarly we can say “the Baloch” etc.

Other parallel examples:

Javier is a Spaniard. He speaks Spanish. He eats Spanish food. He is a Spanish person. (But although one may say that “He is a Spanish”, the more accurate way is to say it is “Javier is a Spaniard”, instead of “Javier is a Spanish. The same applies for Scot (native Scottish person from Scotland) etc.

Please remember that there is not a universal rule about this issue. e.g. ” Shah Latif was a Sindi (Sindhi). He spoke Sindi (Sindhi) and he was from Sind (Sindh). As you see in this case the word “Sindi” is used both as the noun for naming people from Sind and the language.

As for Plural version of the word “Baloch”, there is no universal accepted form. Some people use “Balochs”, other use “Baloches”. Increasing number of people use “Baloch” as both singular and plural. In my view, using “Baloch” as both singular and plural is somehow a better way to use it. A parallel in English language is the word “Dutch” (people and language of Holland). When referring to people from Holland, they are called “Dutch”, whether one or many people. I have never seen expressions such as “Dutchs” or “Dutches”. I think it looks nicer in a sentence to use “Baloch” as both singular and plural form. One can understand from the sentence, whether we talk about one person or many. It is a personal preference, but words “Balochs” or “Baloches” do not appeal to me. I rather use “Baloch” only. (Some people may write it as “Baluch”, “Balouch” etc. Again “Baluchs/Baluches” or “Balouchs/Balouches” do not sound “attractive”.

Balochi: Anything related to the Baloch (people from Balochistan) can be described as Balochi. It can have genitive form or simply used as an adjective.

Languge of the Baloch is called Balochi. Not only, we the Baloch, call it “Balochi”, but every other non-Baloch person also called it “Balochi”. At least, there is unanimous acceptance about this issue. There are still variations in spelling “Balochi” such as “Baluchi” and “Balouchi”. But it is not a big deal.

“Balochi” is mainly used as an adjective e.g. “Balochi dress”, “Balochi book”, “Balochi dance”, etc. “Baloch” cannot be used in the same context. It is, however, to be noticed when one refers directly to people, i.e. the Baloch, it is rather use “Baloch” not “Balochi” in any compound nouns. e.g.

Baloch Students’ Federation (not Balochi Students’ Federation) as it refers to Baloch people (in this case, students). Also “Baloch women” but NOT Balochi women (again Baloch refers to people, women) etc.

In the meantime, there is a need for a flexible approach towards this issue, as there is no standard/universal rule especially with regards to “Baloch”, “Balochi” etc. The same applies to Balochi orthography (both in Persian/Urdu and Latin/English alphabets). At this stage, there is no excuse for exclusion of any approach, style and preferences. As for various dialects of Balochi language, there is an even greater need for flexibility.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2011 in Baloch Culture

 
 
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