By Syed Jamil Ud din
UNLIKE all other contemporary researches assiduously undertaking to unearth origin of Shina language, Mazhar Ali – a Gilgit-based intellectual of great acumen, poet and lexicographer – has embarked on a stupendous work that justifiably brings him to the limelight virtually singling him out for the sublimity of thought and uniqueness of style in an attempt to traces the origin of this language to the very fiber dating as far back as times immemorial – something heretofore remained adumbrated. As also portrayed continually through the brain-storming sessions being held, he aptly thrashes out and extrapolates in a very much convincing credible manner that Shina is not at all a language drawing on or borrowing from others and instead, it has the attributes if having a firm base of its own from an ancient era on which all other linguistic groups have all along been squarely dependent. Thus he is truly boastful of Shina as mother-language in terms of its origin and in keeping with the lexicon it has lending to others during the course. To prove this scientifically, he contends legitimately that all these languages are the product of the later eras as compared to Shina having an ancient origin.
The specialty of the new research is inter alia, that it is all encompassing and with all its salient features, tends to set the record pertaining to the originality in form of Shina straight on the premises that it has never historically been at the receiving end in the etymological context and as such, has munificently lent to others and fed them during the course. Above all, the Shina dictionary on the anvil about forty percent work on which as Mazhar reveals, has been done, would be a milestone when launched.
This is as opposed to the general perception and consequent belief that Shina is very much a precise language deriving many words in its lexicon from other languages. In his this context, it is oft-quoted that certain words like ‘hath’, ‘pa’, mukh’, ‘noo’, ‘dee’ etc. in Shina are square with and have a bearing on identical words in Punjabi having exactly the same connotations. It is noteworthy that names of days like Thursday and Friday called respectively ‘bryspat’and ‘shukur’ correspond to those of Hindi save that in the latter, ‘var’ becomes a suffix. There are similar other words of Sindhi, Persian and even Arabic to be found in Shina besides an intra-regional intermix of words of the languages spoken in Gilgit-Baltitan itself find a niche in it. To this admixture, the general perception has been that all the words were borrowed from other languages to construct Shina to the hilt. There are still others which are attributed to Sanskrit origin.
Conversely, the new research Mazhar fastidiously compares and collates thereby arriving at the conclusion inter alia, that Shina – the language of Shaman in facts, originates in the Shamanic era in history. It is to be seen that Bon religion replaced Shamanism while Buddhism popularized after the Bon era and continued until coming of Islam to this region, the research unfolds.
Be as it may, Mazhar’s fastidious research is well demonstrative of his unrivalled erudition in Shina and its literature with his views always acting and re-acting on the thought and the thought vibrates with the swing and flow of the language so much so that the thought and the language comingle into harmonious and homogeneous whole in a style essentially Shamanistic. Given this, no other researcher can even approach him much less surpass. The impeccability of his words, the immaculateness of style, terseness of diction and piquancy make it both forceful and vigorous – cannot at all be equaled.
In sum, the wonderful network of words and appropriate use; rich and onomatopoeic imagery; voluptuousness of thought and wonderful flights of imagination; beauty of diction and rapidity of narration; such impalpable music of Nature and variegated description have not been so aptly sung anywhere else except in ‘chin’ that is so ebullient with zeal of fire and passion of life. In consequence, a charitable reception is due to accorded to his virgin and chaste thoughts couched in equally chaste language. It is nonetheless, worth mentioning that he avoids any futile plunge into the labyrinth of thought and unnecessary pageantry of words and hence his work stands out as the best revealing a wonderful array of realistic thoughts garbed in realistically poetic language thereby making him an indisputable wizard of the age in linguistics insofar Shina language is concerned.
He has invented a style of his own which quite discernibly, is at once direct rather than circumlocutory, simple rather than baffling, unaffected and homely rather than a labored jargon discarding all recondite formalities incidental to superscription of salutations or subscriptions, and as such, plunges directly into the very spirit of the subject, in quite graceful and inimitable style, conveying his thoughts and opinion in chaste, chosen and choicest, piquant and impeccable words, lending terseness and piquancy to the diction.
This is indeed a time when the region has become a great honeycomb of great men of talents of shades and opinions, of vocations and callings with literary societies formed across the region and the air is abuzz with activities and poetical symposia held periodically. There is therefore, dire need of gearing up new researches Shina in that this threatened language remaining exposed to various furious onslaughts of other cultures ominously transposing to endanger its virginity, could be rehabilitated else fears loom large that it will fast disintegrate head towards extinction if serious strivings are not made to stem the tide by erudite scholars.
True, an intellectual or to put it, a philosopher having been imparted with a vision and opened to him the vistas begins a random voyage among the seas of fanny but it ends with the return of a laden treasure-ship of the imagination into the harbors of great land. The new research base provided by Mazhar needs be carried forward.
A lexicographer adept in exoteric and esoteric sciences and having been imparted vision to the fullest measure and in the soundest manner can set out the salient linguistic features
Unsawed by the currently irresistible wave of dazzling specter of modernism, he is abhorrent of the unauthentic and the spurious and as such, has amassed a treasure of credible information and lavishes all his affection on chaste and virgin Shina of the pristine glorious eras – something characterized by the ‘chin’ alone which happens to be his pioneering output that sufficiently and justifiably immortalizes him in the literary firmament, given the high appreciation and the public acclaim because of its intrinsic worth and value, to put it briefly.
Generally speaking, Mazhar is a very keen in linguistics but nonetheless, Shina has captured his imagination and possessed. His views need to be tapped fully and documented carefully as these ought to be allowed to blossom forth in order to revive Shina in originality in form and diction.
One is bound to listen to Mazhar with rapt attention and be enthralled literally by the bewitching grace, elegance, and the enrapturing charm of ‘chin’ when he warbles which never ceases to amaze the audience. To put it plainly, this makes the audience spellbound given that he is the master of the art, sound and solid, fine and perfect. It is here how the Muse begins to flap its wings prompting him to seek the heights of imagination.
The writer is an alumnus from KIU having recently done BBA/IT. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org