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Baloch & Balochi

December 23, 2013


APROPOS news item ‘Baloch woman elected mayor of Iranian province’ (Dec 14), it was good reading that there is a change in Iran, especially in the impoverished province of Sistan.

The appointment of Samieh Balochzei as the mayor of Kalat would definitely pave the way for many others to follow.

However, a mistake was observed in the report which, I think, is the result of not knowing the difference between the words Baloch and Balochi. I would therefore, like to clarify it. There are social terminologies that are used to identify and refer them with regions. These are known as terms of identity/reference and of address. To understand the terms, two formulas are used: regional and genealogical.

The first formula is based on the region where one derives his identity and thus refers to it. For this ‘i or ies’ is added. For instance, the people of Punjab, Sindh and Gilgit are identified as Punjabi, Sindhi, and Gilgiti. The second formula is based on genealogy and the people are identified through their ancestral or founding names. Pakhtun/Pashtun and Baloch come in this category.

To address them as Pakhtuni and Balochi is incorrect because they are not regions. The common misconception observed is calling the Baloch people as Balochi. To correct it: Balochi is the language (i.e. Z is a Baloch and he speaks Balochi). Besides, if one uses the regional formula of identity and reference, then he can use Balochistani since Balochistan is the region.

Bakhtiar Ismail