Approximately 17 different languages are spoken in Gilgit Baltistan. English is Pakistan’s official language including Gilgit Baltistan. Most agreements and official work are conducted in English while Urdu is Pakistan’s national language. Below are the important and well known regional languages are spoken in Gilgit Baltistan.
Apart from Skardu, Khaplu, Nagar, Shigar and Kharmang, it is spoken in Ladakh, Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. The estimated number of Balti speakers is 327,000. It is the only language of the Chinese Tibetan family spoken in Pakistan.
There are examples of literature from ancient times. The world’s longest handwriting, Caesar’s Tale, is written in the Balti language. Balti language usually is written in Urdu script, but now Tibetan script has also been introduced.
Burushaski is a unique language, which means it is not found in any other language in the world. Books of this language are being written in Urdu script.
The estimated number of the Broshki language speaker is about 96,800. Speakers of this special language can be found in Nagar, Yasin Valley and Hunza Gilgit Baltistan.
The estimated number of Shina language speakers is 528,000. Shina language is the largest and comprehensive language of Gilgit-Baltistan. Books on both proses as well as poetry are being written in Urdu transcript. Shina is spoken in Gilgit, Skardu, Diamer and Chilas.
Wakhi language is spoken in the Wakhan belt, Gojal, Chitral (Pakistan) and parts of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and China. The estimated number of speakers is 9000.
Wakhi speakers are scattered in different parts of the country, which is why the language is slowly becoming extinct.
It is written in the Arabic script, but the writings are rare. The popular folk song of this language is ‘Bul Bulk’ which is sung by women in pastures. Recently, a music school of the same name has been established in the town of Gojal, north of Hunza.
Khowar language is spoken in Ghizar and Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan. The estimated number of speakers is two and a half million, in Khowar language literature is being written and books of prose and poetry are being published. The number of speakers is increasing and the speakers are actively committed to their language.
Kalasha language is spoken in the Bumburet, Birir Valley and Rumbur valleys of the Kailash region of Chitral. The estimated number of speakers is five thousand. There are very few written specimens in this language, but there is literature in the form of folk tales and songs.
The number of speakers is steadily declining and its speakers are coming under the influence of Khowar language.
Domaaki language is the language of Doms (Musicians). Although the scientific study of language put Domaaki in the Dardic subgroup of Indo Aryan languages it is still disputed as Domaaki was initially placed in the Central Group of Indo Aryan language.
Domaaki has lost or transformed many of its Central Group related features. This now places the language in many aspects much closer to its Dardic neighbors than to its Midland cousins.
This language is spoken by about 500 people only. Domaaki is dying because Domaaki isn’t considered as a respectable language by the local Shina speaking people.
Pashtuns’ immigration to Gilgit Baltistan began in the late 1980s. Now, the Pashtu speakers are growing more than any native language speakers. Pashto is not the regional language that why we are not counting the total Pashto speakers in the list of how many languages are spoken in Gilgit Baltistan.