Name of the language – कुलुई

The name of the language has several variants: Kullui, Kaulī, Kuḷuī, Kulwālī, Pahāṛī, Pahāṛī Kullu, Phārī Kulu, Kulu Pahāṛī, Kulu Boli, Kulvi. Kullu is the title name used by Ethnologue for the group.
We use the name of Kullui that is derivative of the name of Kullu district (Kullu now, before – Kulu) where this language is common. In the census of India (2001 report on the language situation), the idiom is referred to as Kulvi – this variant is the self-designation of the language along with deshi bhasha which means ‘local language’.

Distribution, number of speakers

Kullui belongs to the Western group of Pahari languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is spoken in the state of Himachal Pradesh in Northern India, mainly in the district of Kullu. According to the 2001 census of India, the number of Kullui speakers was 170,007 people. However it is unclear exactly which varieties of Pahari the census covered.

Linguo-geographical information

In general, the Western group of Pahari languages, given their geographical location in the mountainous area, has a great variety of dialects. Kullui itself has many variants differing slightly from village to village.

In the literature (Zoller 2011: 197; Grierson 1916: 593), there are references to two dialects of Kullui, inner Siraj (inner sirājī) and outer Siraj (outer sirājī). They both are found in the southern part of Kullu.

Sociolinguistic information

The official language of Himachal Pradesh is Hindi. Kullui has neither the status of an official language, nor a literary standard or standardized script, and is mainly used for verbal communication.

By state of conservation, the Kullui language is referred to vigorous languages (6a, Vigorous) and is actively used by all generations. However, a part of the younger generation has limited language skills and tends to use Kullui less. Some Kullu residents consider their native language as being low-status and preventing them from mastering Hindi.

The radio broadcasting from the state capital city of Shimla (radio Akashvani Shimla) is in Kullui. There are some audio excerpts from the Bible available on the Internet. In the city of Kullu, the locals record songs, make movies and videos in Kullui.

It wasn’t until the mid of the 20th century that Devanagari script was used for writing in Pahari. Before that, all records had been written in Takri/Tankri script (close to Punjabi Gurmukhi). There has been no standardization. During our 2014 expedition, we managed to get a few magazines with small pieces of Kullui literary works published in Devanagari (tales, riddles and poems). For social networking, the locals mainly use the Latin alphabet.

The teaching language at schools in Himachal Pradesh is Hindi. There are also schools with English as the teaching language. Kullui is not taught at schools as a subject. Using local languages is not encouraged even for socializing during school breaks.