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Balti language facts for kids

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Native to Pakistan, India
Region Kashmir, Gilgit, Baltistan,Kargil, India, Bhutan and small pockets in Karachi, Rawalpindi/Islamabad and Lahore
Native speakers 337,000  (date missing)
Language family

Balti (بلتی) is a language spoken in Baltistan, in the Gilgit Baltistan of Pakistan and adjoining parts of the disputed territory of Indian-administered Kashmir. Before 1948 Baltistan was part of Ladakh province. The language is a sub-dialect of Ladakhi and an archaic dialect of the Tibetan language, but many of the consonants that are silent in most modern Tibetan dialects are pronounced in Balti.


All people of different races, living in Baltistan are called Balti. Greeks used the word Byaltae instead of Bal-ti, which in Tibetan means water gorge. The historian Ptolemy who was also a general in the army of Alexander the Great had named the region (Byaltae) in his book. Baltistan is the Persian translation of Baltiyul, “The Homeland of Balti”. The people belonging to Balti nationality are settled on both banks of the river Indus from Kargil (in the east) to Haramosh (in the west) and from Karakoram range (in the north) to Deosai plains (in the south). In this nationality the majority comes from Tibetan origin. However people migrated to this area in different periods of ancient times, on account of different reasons and after merging in the prevailing Tibetan society, gave birth to a new civilisation. All these multi-racial groups speak Balti language, which is a branch of the ancient Tibetan language. However, in some rural areas, the Sheen people still speak Shina language.

The Balti are a very forbearing, cheerful,brave and hospitable people. But during the Rmakpon reign (from 12th century to 1840 A.D.) they invaded Ladakh and Tibet many times.

There are several Balti communities in Pakistan's urban areas farther south, that is in Lahore, Islamabad, in Karachi and other places.But they are living as non Pakistani in Pakistan because Gilgit Baltistan is considered as disputed region.


The Balti language has kept many honorific words like all the Tibetan dialects and many other languages. Below are a few examples:

Ordinary Balti Honorific Ladakhi Meaning
Ata Baba Aba Father
Ano/Amo Zizi Ama Mother
Kaka Kacho Acho Brother (elder)
Bustring Zung Nama Wife
Momo Jangmocho Ajang Maternal uncle
Nene Nenecho Ane Aunt
Bu Bucho Tugu Son
Fru Nono Boy
Apo Apocho Meme Grandfather
Api Apicho Abi Grandmother
Ashe Ashcho Singmo Sister (elder)
Zo bjes Zo Eat
Thung bjes Thung Drink
Ong Shokhs Yong Come
Zer Kasal-byung Zer Speak/Say
Ngid tong gZim tong Ngid tong Sleep (go to)
Lagpa Phyaq-laq/g Lagpa Hand/Arm
Khyang Yang/Yari-phyaqpo Khyorang You
Kanma gzok-po Leg
  • Everson, Michael. ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 N2985: Proposal to add four Tibetan characters for Balti to the BMP of the UCS. 2005-09-05
  • Hussainabadi, Mohamad Yusuf. Balti Zaban. 1990.
  • Read, A.F.C. Balti grammar.London:The Royal Asiatic society, 1934.

See also

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