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To Liwaa Nasib Bin Hamad Bin Salim Al Ruwaihi
WO WKhM ON(S)
Commander Sultan of Oman's Land Forces and to the Officers and Men of the Western Frontier Regiment
The Sultan of Oman's Land Forces
1st Edition 1983
2nd Edition 1986
© N. A. Collett 1986
ISBN 0 9509345 1 8
Keyboarded by D. F. Harding
Printed and bound in Great Britain by Burgess & Son (Abingdon) Ltd.
The important "Course in Baluchi" of 1969, based on the Northern (Rakhshani) dialect of Western Baluchi by Barker and Mengal was and remains the best description we have of any Baluchi dialect. Even though Rakhshani is by far the most widely spoken dialect of Baluchi, it is by no means the most interesting or the most prestigious amongst native speakers, and little of the vast classical Baluchi balladry or other literature appears in it. On the other hand, the preferred dialects for classical poetry, Kechi and the Coastal variety of Western Baluchi, have not been the subject of any systematic study since the pioneering accounts of them more than a hundred years ago.
Major Collett has been dealing for some years with Baluch recruits, mainly from Pakistani Makran, to the armed forces of the Sultan of Oman, and wishing to provide a guide to their language as an aid to other officers from abroad, has written this account of it. Perforce he has based it on the Kechi dialect, and has thus provided a new description of what has hitherto been a neglected but nonetheless most important variety of Baluchi, important for its literary prestige as well as for its linguistically most conservative character.
The Kechi dialect of the phrasebook is still that used by the vast majority of Baluch recruits from Pakistan in the Omani forces, because of the policy of recruitment from the Kech Valley, but recently recruits have also been gathered from other Baluch areas of Pakistan as well. This circumstance is mirrored in the vocabulary lists, in which an occasional Pakistani form is to be found beside the Kechi form; some Coastal dialect forms, easily recognised, are also included. The vocabulary also contains many words hitherto unrecorded in Baluchi.
This work, painstaking as it is, stands well in the British Army traditions of writing accounts of languages of the Indian subcontinent. For Baluchi in particular there has been that of Major Mockler in 1877, Major Gilbertson in 1925, and now Major Collett has produced a valuable addition to the existing descriptions of Baluchi, one which deserves an honoured place amongst them.