Kutch is a diverse land with a multitude of seasons, and natural beauty oozing from every corner. The people who reside in the land of ‘The White Desert’ are culturally diverse. They have, over time, developed their own unique linguistic expressions.
The main languages spoken in the Kutch are Kutchi and Gujarati. Kutchi or Kachhi is an age-old language who’s first imprints have been found in the Indo-Aryan era. It is spoken by 11 million people worldwide. Kachchhi is very similar to Sindhi in almost every essence - most vocabulary and grammar remains the same. This is the reason why it is often classified as a dialect of Sindhi itself. The relation between these two languages is not unusual, as Sindh is the neighboring nation of Kutch. However, Kachchhi is not just not a mixture of one language– it includes complex combinations of Rajasthani, Gujarati, and Punjabi along with its own unique traits as well. It is recognised as a SOV (subject-object-verb) language, meaning that words are not rigid but rather flexible. The subject, object and verb are freely moved around within a sentence, fulfilling various pragmatic purposes, such as establishing a different point of focus, naming a topic, or indefiniteness of a noun based on context and word order.
The script became extinct during the British era and efforts are ongoing on its revival. It is based on Devanagari vowels, consonants and a unique sound style. This grants Kachhi a place in the list of unwritten Indian languages. It has been revisited recently by linguists with the hopes of establishing a written form that helps the language achieve equality in rank among other languages.
Furthermore, it is believed that Kachhi was written in the Khojki script or the Dholavira script, which are both extinct today. The Kutch museum in the city of Bhuj houses the examples of these extinct scripts. Some communities in India and Pakistan have chosen to write the language in a Perso-Arabic script. The natives’ choice of script reflects the socio-religious divide and complex migratory history of the region.
Language is the cornerstone of any culture and region. It helps people connect socially and relate to each other. There is a relationship between language and social order that can be understood through linking the value of language to the value of knowledge in society, including political, economic and historical information. It is also suggested by some that since the Roman script provides ease of writing and communication in today’s world, we can possibly use it to write Kutchi.
Kutch has many vibrant attractions that the Indian government uses to promote tourism in the region for the economic well-being of the state. And thus, language cannot be left out as it’s an important part of the cultural heritage of the people of Kutch. Gujarati or Sindhi might have gained popularity in mainstream South Asian culture, but Kachhi will forever remain on the tongues, and in the hearts of the people of Kutch.
Here are some words and phrases in Kutchi that you can learn now:
Achija – bye bye (literal meaning: do come again)
Koro nihaareto – what are you looking at?
Koro thiyoh – what happened?
Aain achota – are you coming? (polite)
Koro kareyeinto – what are you doing?
Kuro karyota – what are you doing?(polite)
Kada vanota – where are you going? (polite)
Kien ayo – how are you? (polite)
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