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Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an
Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Ira ...
of the
Indo-European family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
. It is known in
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
literature as Afghani (, ). Spoken as a native language mostly by ethnic
Pashtuns Pashtuns (, or ; ps, پښتانه, ; Pakhtuns or Pathans), historically known as Afghan (ethnonym), Afghans,, ''Afğân'' or Bactrian language, Bactrian Abgân - αβγανο are an Iranian peoples, Iranian ethnic group native to Central ...

Pashtuns
, it is one of the two official
languages of Afghanistan Afghanistan is a multilingual country in which two languages – Dari language, Dari and Pashto language, Pashto – are both official language, official and most widely spoken. Dari is the official name of the variety of Persian language spoken i ...
,
Constitution of Afghanistan The 1964 Afghanistan Constitution was the constitution of Afghanistan Afghanistan (; /: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a at the crossroads of and . Afghanistan is bordered by to the east and so ...

''Chapter 1 The State, Article 16 (Languages) and Article 20 (Anthem)''
/ref> and is the second-largest provincial , spoken mainly in the northwestern province of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (; ps, خیبر پښتونخوا; ), often abbreviated as KP or KPK and formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province, is one of the Administrative units of Pakistan, four provinces of Pakistan. It is located in the Geo ...

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
and the northern districts of the
Balochistan Balochistan (; bal, بلوچِستان; also romanised as Baluchistan) is an arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development ...

Balochistan
province. Likewise, it is the primary language of the
Pashtun diaspora The Pashtun diaspora refers to ethnic Pashtuns Pashtuns (, or ; ps, پښتانه, ; or Pathans), historically known as Afghans,, ''Afğân'' or BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an an ...
around the world. The total number of Pashto speakers is at least 40 million, (40 million) although some estimates place it as high as 60 million. Pashto is "one of the primary markers of ethnic identity" amongst Pashtuns.


Geographic distribution

A national language of
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
, Pashto is primarily spoken in the east, south, and southwest, but also in some northern and western parts of the country. The exact number of speakers is unavailable, but different estimates show that Pashto is the
mother tongue A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1) is a language or dialect that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period hypothesis, critical pe ...
of 45–60% (50%) of the total population of Afghanistan. In
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
, Pashto is spoken by % of its population,http://www.pbs.gov.pk/sites/default/files/tables/POPULATION%20BY%20MOTHER%20TONGUE.pdf mainly in the northwestern province of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (; ps, خیبر پښتونخوا; ), often abbreviated as KP or KPK and formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province, is one of the Administrative units of Pakistan, four provinces of Pakistan. It is located in the Geo ...

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
and northern districts of
Balochistan Balochistan (; bal, بلوچِستان; also romanised as Baluchistan) is an arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development ...

Balochistan
province. It is also spoken in parts of
Mianwali Mianwali (Punjabi and ur, ) is the capital city of Mianwali District, Pakistan. It is the Largest cities of Pakistan, 81st largest city of Pakistan, known for its diverse population of Punjabis, Punjabi and Pashtuns, Pashtun ethnicities and co ...

Mianwali
and
Attock Attock (Punjabi Panjābī (pʌnˈdʒɑːbi) (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) (پنجابی) Punjabi or Panjabi most often refers to: * Something of, from, or related to Punjab Punjab ( Gurmukhi: ; Shahmukhi: ; , ; , ; ; also romanised as Panjāb or ...

Attock
districts of the , areas of
Gilgit-Baltistan Gilgit-Baltistan (; , Balti language, Balti: རྒྱལ་སྐྱིད་ སྦལྟི་ཡུལ།), formerly known as the Northern Areas, is a region administered by Pakistan as an administrative territory, and constitutes the no ...

Gilgit-Baltistan
and in
Islamabad Islamabad (; ur, , translit=Islām Ābād) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, state, province, or othe ...

Islamabad
. Pashto speakers are found in other major cities of Pakistan, most notably
Karachi Karachi (; ur, ; ; ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association - Library of Congress) is a set of standards for romanization, the representation of text in other writing systems using the Latin script. Applications The system is used to re ...

Karachi
, Sindh,
, thefridaytimes
which may have the largest Pashtun population of any city in the world. Other communities of Pashto speakers are found in
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
,
Tajikistan ) , image_map = Tajikistan (orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , capital = Dushanbe Dushanbe ( tg, Душанбе, ; ; russian: Душанбе) is the Capital city, capital and largest ...

Tajikistan
, and northeastern
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
(primarily in
South Khorasan Province South Khorasan Province ( fa, استان خراسان جنوبی ''Ostān-e Khorāsān-e Jonūbī'' ) is a provinces of Iran, province located in eastern Iran. Birjand is the centre of the province. The other major cities are Ferdows, Tabas and Q ...
to the east of
Qaen Qayen ( fa, قائن, also Romanize Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying a ...

Qaen
, near the Afghan border). In India most ethnic Pashtun (Pathan) peoples speak the geographically native Hindi-Urdu language rather than Pashto, but there are small numbers of Pashto speakers, such as the Sheen Khalai in
Rajasthan Rajasthan (; ; lit. 'Land of Kings') is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspa ...

Rajasthan
, and the Pathan community in the city of
Kolkata Kolkata ( or , ; also known as Calcutta , the official name until 2001) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger upperca ...
, often nicknamed the ''Kabuliwala'' ("people of
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , translit=Kābəl, ; prs, , translit=Kābol, ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capital ...

Kabul
"). Pashtun diaspora communities in other countries around the world speak Pashto, especially the sizable communities in the
United Arab Emirates The United Arab Emirates (UAE; ar, الإمارات العربية المتحدة ) or the Emirates ( ar, الإمارات ), is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregio ...

United Arab Emirates
and
Saudi Arabia (''Shahada'') , national_anthem = "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, " "National Anthem of Saudi Arabia" , image_map = Saudi Arabia (orthographic projection).svg , capital = Riyadh , coordinates ...

Saudi Arabia
.


Afghanistan

Pashto is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan, along with
Dari Persian Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, interna ...
.Modarresi, Yahya: "Iran, Afghanistan and Tadjikistan, 1911–1916." In: ''Sociolinguistics'', Vol. 3, Part. 3. Ulrich Ammon, Norbert Dittmar, Klaus J. Mattheier, Peter Trudgill (eds.). Berlin, De Gryuter: 2006. p. 1915.

/ref> Since the early 18th century, List of heads of state of Afghanistan, the monarchs of Afghanistan have been ethnic Pashtuns (except for Habibullāh Kalakāni in 1929). Persian, the literary language of the royal court, was more widely used in government institutions, while the
Pashtun tribes The Pashtun tribes ( ps, پښتانه قبايل), historically also known as Afghan tribes, are the tribes of the Pashtun people Pashtuns (, or ; ps, پښتانه, ; Pakhtuns or Pathans), historically known as ,, ''Afğân'' or Ab ...
spoke Pashto as their native tongue. King
Amanullah Khan Ghāzī Amānullāh Khān ( prs, غازی امان الله خان, ps, غازي امان الله خان) was the sovereign of the Kingdom of Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929, first as Emir and after 1926 as King. After the August 1919 end of t ...
began promoting Pashto during his reign (1926–1929) as a marker of ethnic identity and as a symbol of "official nationalism" leading Afghanistan to independence after the defeat of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
in the
Third Anglo-Afghan War The Third Anglo-Afghan War ( fa, جنگ سوم افغان-انگلیس; ps, د افغان-انگرېز درېمه جگړه), also known as the Third Afghan War, the British-Afghan War of 1919 and in Afghanistan as the War of Independence, began ...
in 1919. In the 1930s a movement began to take hold to promote Pashto as a language of government, administration, and art with the establishment of a Pashto Society ''Pashto Anjuman'' in 1931 and the inauguration of the
Kabul University Kabul University (KU) ( prs, پوهنتون کابل، دانشگاه کابل, translit=Pohanton-e-Kābul, Dāneshgāh-e-Kābul, ps, د کابل پوهنتون, translit=Da Kābul Pohantūn) is one of the major and oldest institutions of higher ...
in 1932 as well as the formation of the
Pashto AcademyPashto Academy ( ps, پښتو اکېډمي) is a language regulatory institution based at the University of Peshawar The University of Peshawar ( ps, د پېښور پوهنتون; hnd, پشور یونیورسٹی; ur, ; abbreviated UoP; known m ...
(Pashto ''Tolana)'' in 1937. Muhammad Na'im Khan, the minister of education between 1938 and 1946, inaugurated the formal policy of promoting Pashto as Afghanistan's national language, leading to the commission and publication of Pashto textbooks. The Pashto Tolana was later incorporated into the Academy of Sciences Afghanistan in line with Soviet model following the
Saur Revolution The Saur Revolution (pronounced like "sour"; prs, إنقلاب ثور or (literally ''7th Saur''); ps, د ثور انقلاب), also romanized Sowr Revolution, and alternatively called the April Revolution or April Coup, was the process by whi ...
in 1978. Although officially supporting the use of Pashto, the Afghan elite regarded Persian as a "sophisticated language and a symbol of cultured upbringing".Tariq Rahman. "Pashto Language & Identity Formation in Pakistan." ''Contemporary South Asia'', July 1995, Vol 4, Issue 2, p151-20. King
Zahir Shah Mohammed Zahir Shah (15 October 1914 – 23 July 2007) was the last King of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given ...
(reigning 1933–1973) thus followed suit after his father had decreed in 1933 that officials were to study and utilize both Persian and Pashto. In 1936 a
royal decree A decree is a rule of law usually issued by a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of statebeing an embodiment of the ...
of Zahir Shah formally granted Pashto the status of an official language, with full rights to use in all aspects of government and education – despite the fact that the ethnically Pashtun royal family and bureaucrats mostly spoke Persian.Hussain, Rizwan. ''Pakistan and the emergence of Islamic militancy in Afghanistan''. Burlington, Ashgate: 2005
p. 63.
/ref> Thus Pashto became a
national language A national language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
, a symbol for
Pashtun nationalism Pashtun nationalism ( ps, پښتون ملتپالنه) is a political and social movement which promotes the idea that the Pashtuns Pashtuns (, or ; ps, پښتانه, ; or Pathans), historically known as Afghans,, ''Afğân'' or BactrianBa ...
. The constitutional assembly reaffirmed the status of Pashto as an official language in 1964 when Afghan Persian was officially renamed to
Dari Dari (, , ), or Dari Persian (, ), is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Gr ...
. The lyrics of the national anthem of Afghanistan are in Pashto.


Pakistan

In
British India The Provinces of India, earlier Presidencies of British India and still earlier, Presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance in the Indian subcontinent. Collectively, they have been called British India. In one ...

British India
, prior to the creation of Pakistan by the British government, the 1920s saw the blossoming of Pashto language in the then NWFP: in 1921 established the ''Anjuman-e- Islah al-Afaghina'' (Society for the Reformation of Afghans) to promote Pashto as an extension of Pashtun culture; around 80,000 people attended the Society's annual meeting in 1927. In 1955, Pashtun intellectuals including
Abdul Qadir Abd al-Qadir or Abdulkadir ( ar, عبد القادر) is a male Muslim given name. It is formed from the Arabic words '' Abd'', ''al- ( ar, ٱلْـ), also Romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the s ...
formed the Pashto Academy Peshawar on the model of Pashto Tolana formed in Afghanistan. In 1974, the Department of Pashto was established in the University of Balochistan for the promotion of Pashto. In Pakistan, Pashto is the first language around of % of its population (per the 1998 census). However,
Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonpr ...

Urdu
and
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
are the two official languages of Pakistan. Pashto has no official status at the federal level. On a provincial level, Pashto is the regional language of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (; ps, خیبر پښتونخوا; ), often abbreviated as KP or KPK and formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province, is one of the Administrative units of Pakistan, four provinces of Pakistan. It is located in the Geo ...

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
and north
Balochistan Balochistan (; bal, بلوچِستان; also romanised as Baluchistan) is an arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development ...

Balochistan
. Yet, the primary medium of education in government schools in Pakistan is Urdu. The lack of importance given to Pashto and her neglect has caused growing resentment amongst Pashtuns. It is noted that Pashto is taught poorly in schools in Pakistan. Moreover, in government schools material is not provided for in the Pashto dialect of that locality, Pashto being a dialectically rich language. Further, researchers have observed that Pashtun students are unable to fully comprehend educational material in Urdu. Professor
Tariq Rahman Tariq Rahman (born 4 February 1949) is a Pakistani academic scholar, newspaper columnist and a writer. Currently based in Lahore, he is author of many books and other publications, mainly in the field of linguistics. He has been awarded several ...
states:Robert Nicols states: Although Pashto used as a medium of instruction in schools for Pashtun students results in better understanding and comprehension for students when compared to using Urdu, still the government of Pakistan has only introduced Pashto at the primary levels in state-run schools. Taimur Khan remarks: "the dominant Urdu language squeezes and denies any space for Pashto language in the official and formal capacity. In this contact zone, Pashto language exists but in a subordinate and unofficial capacity".


History

Some linguists have argued that Pashto is descended from
Avestan Avestan , also known historically as Zend, comprises two languages: Old Avestan (spoken in the 2nd millennium BCE) and Younger Avestan (spoken in the 1st millennium BCE). The languages are known only from their use as the language of Zoroastrian ...
or a variety very similar to it, while others have attempted to place it closer to
BactrianBactrian may refer to *Bactria Bactria ( Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanis ...
. However, neither position is universally agreed upon. What scholars do agree on is the fact that Pashto is an
Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Ira ...
sharing characteristics with Eastern Middle Iranian languages such as Bactrian, Khwarezmian and Sogdian. Compare with other
Eastern Iranian Languages The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages emerging in Middle Iranian times (from c. the 4th century BC). The Avestan language is often classified as early Eastern Iranian. As opposed to the Middle Western Iranian diale ...
and
Old Avestan Avestan , also known historically as Zend, comprises two languages: Old Avestan (spoken in the 2nd millennium BCE) and Younger Avestan (spoken in the 1st millennium BCE). The languages are known only from their use as the language of Zoroastrian ...
:
Strabo Strabo''Strabo'' (meaning "squinty", as in strabismus Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. The eye that is focused on an object can alternate. The condition may be pre ...

Strabo
, who lived between 64 BC and 24 CE, explains that the tribes inhabiting the lands west of the
Indus River The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these rivers, including t ...

Indus River
were part of
Ariana Ariana, the Latinized Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920s and 1930s to repl ...

Ariana
. This was around the time when the area inhabited by the Pashtuns was governed by the
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom The Bactrian Kingdom, known to historians as the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, was a Hellenistic-era Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic ...
. From the 3rd century CE onward, they are mostly referred to by the name ''Afghan'' (''Abgan'').
Abdul Hai Habibi Abdul Hai Habibi ( ps, عبدالحى حبيبي, fa, عبدالحی حبیبی) – ''ʿAbd' ul-Ḥay Ḥabībi'') (1910 – 9 May 1984) was a prominent Afghan historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC ...
believed that the earliest modern Pashto work dates back to
Amir Kror Suri Amīr Krōṛ Sūrī ( ps, امير کروړ سوري), also known as Jahan Pahlawan, is a legend A legend is a genre of folklore that consists of a narrative featuring human actions perceived or believed both by teller and listeners to have ...
of the early
Ghurid The Ghurid dynasty (also spelled Ghorids; fa, سلسله غوریان; self-designation: , ''Shansabānī''), was a Persianate A Persianate society is a society that is based on or strongly influenced by the Persian language Persian (), ...
period in the 8th century, and they use the writings found in
Pata KhazanaPata Khazāna ( Pashto: پټه خزانه – „''The Hidden Treasure''“, alternative transcriptions: ''Peta Khazāna'', ''Pota Khazana'', ''Pata Xazāna'') is the title of a manuscript written in the Pashto language. According to its discovere ...
. Pə́ṭa Xazāná () is a Pashto
manuscript A manuscript (abbreviated MS for singular and MSS for plural) was, traditionally, any document written by hand – or, once practical typewriter A typewriter is a or machine for characters. Typically, a typewriter has an array ...

manuscript
claimed to be written by Mohammad Hotak under the patronage of the Pashtun emperor
Hussain Hotak Shah Hussain Hotak, (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language of the Indo-European family. It is known in Persian literature as Afghani (, ). The language is natively spoken by Pasht ...
in
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a List of cities in Afghanistan, city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of . It is Afghanistan's second largest city after Kabul, with a population ...

Kandahar
; containing an anthology of Pashto poets. However, its authenticity is disputed by scholars such as
David Neil MacKenzie David Neil MacKenzie FBAFBA may refer to: * Federation of British Artists * Federal Bar Association * Fellow of the British Academy * Filsports Basketball Association * First Baptist Academy (Houston, Texas), United States * First Baptist Acade ...
and Lucia Serena Loi.Lucia Serena Loi: ''Il tesoro nascosto degli Afghani''. Il Cavaliere azzurro, Bologna 1987, p. 33
Nile GreenNile Green is Professor of History and the current holder of the Ibn Khaldun Endowed Chair in World History at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He specializes in Islamic history of Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe, including ...
comments in this regard: From the 16th century, Pashto poetry become very popular among the Pashtuns. Some of those who wrote in Pashto are Bayazid Pir Roshan (a major inventor of the
Pashto alphabet The Pashto alphabet () is a version of Perso-Arabic script used to write down the Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian l ...

Pashto alphabet
),
Khushal Khan Khattak Khošāl Khān Khaṭak (1613 – 25 February 1689; Pashto: :ps:خوشال خان خټک, خوشال خان خټک), also known as Khushal Baba ( ps, خوشال بابا), was an Afghans, Afghan Nationalism, nationalist, poet, tribal chief, ...
,
Rahman Baba Abdur Rahmān Mohmand ( ps, عبدالرحمان بابا; 1632–1706) or Rahmān Bābā ( ps, رحمان بابا), was a renowned Afghan Afghan ( Pashto/Persian language, Persian: ) refers to someone or something from Afghanistan, in parti ...
,
Nazo Tokhi Nāzo Tokhī (نازو توخۍ), commonly known as Nāzo Anā ( ps, نازو انا, "Nazo the grandmother"), was an Afghan Afghan (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Easter ...
, and
Ahmad Shah Durrani Ahmad Shāh Durrānī (c. 1722 – 4 June 1772) (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian ...
, founder of the modern state of Afghanistan or the
Durrani Empire The Durrani Empire ( ps, د درانيانو ټولواکمني), also called the Sadozai Kingdom and the Afghan Empire, was an Afghan Afghan ( Pashto/Persian language, Persian: ) refers to someone or something from Afghanistan, in particul ...
. The Pashtun literary tradition grew in the backdrop to weakening Pashtun power following Mughal rule:
Khushal Khan Khattak Khošāl Khān Khaṭak (1613 – 25 February 1689; Pashto: :ps:خوشال خان خټک, خوشال خان خټک), also known as Khushal Baba ( ps, خوشال بابا), was an Afghans, Afghan Nationalism, nationalist, poet, tribal chief, ...
used Pashto poetry to rally for Pashtun unity and Pir Bayazid as an expedient means to spread his message to the Pashtun masses. For instance
Khushal Khattak Khošāl Khān Khaṭak (1613 – 25 February 1689; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language of the Indo-European family. It is known in Persian literature as Afghani (, ). The ...
laments in :


Grammar

Pashto is a
subject–object–verb In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods fo ...
(SOV) language with
split ergativity Split(s) or The Split may refer to: Places * Split, Croatia )'' , settlement_type = List of cities and towns in Croatia, City , anthem = ''Marjane, Marjane'' , image_skyline = Split Collage.jpg , imagesize = 267px , image_caption = Top: Nig ...
. In Pashto, this means that the verb agrees with the subject in transitive and intransitive sentences in non-past, non-completed clauses, but when a completed action is reported in any of the past tenses, the verb agrees with the subject if it is intransitive, but with the object if it is transitive.
Verb A verb () is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of being (''be'', ''exist'', ''stand''). In the usual description of E ...
s are inflected for present, simple past, past progressive, present perfect, and past perfect tenses. There is also an inflection for the
subjunctive mood The subjunctive is a grammatical mood In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, ...
. Nouns and adjectives are inflected for two
genders Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, femininity and masculinity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex, sex-based social structures (i.e., gender roles), or gende ...
(masculine and feminine), two
numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
(singular and plural), and four cases (direct, oblique, ablative, and vocative). The possessor precedes the possessed in the genitive construction, and
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
s come before the
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...

noun
s they modify. Unlike most other Indo-Iranian languages, Pashto uses all three types of adpositions—prepositions, postpositions, and circumpositions.


Phonology


Vowels


Consonants

* Phonemes that have been borrowed, thus non-native to Pashto, are color coded. The phonemes and tend to be replaced by and respectively. * is apical postalveolar . The exact place of articulation of is unclear. The approximant is
palatal The palate is the roof of the mouth in humans and other mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of ma ...

palatal
, whereas and vary from retroflex sibilants to non-sibilant dorso-palatal fricatives , depending on the dialect. In particular, the retroflex fricatives, which represent the original pronunciation of these sounds, are preserved in the South Western dialects (especially the prestige dialect of
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a List of cities in Afghanistan, city in Afghanistan, located in the south of the country on the Arghandab River, at an elevation of . It is Afghanistan's second largest city after Kabul, with a population ...

Kandahar
), while they are pronounced as palatal fricatives in the North Western dialects. Other dialects merge the retroflexes with other existing sounds: The South Eastern dialects merge them with the
postalveolar Postalveolar or post-alveolar consonants are consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain ...

postalveolar
fricatives , while the North Eastern dialects merge them with the
velar Velars are consonants place of articulation, articulated with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth (known also as the Soft palate, velum). Since the velar region of the roof of ...
phonemes in an asymmetric pattern, pronouncing them as . Furthermore, according to Henderson (1983), the voiced palatal fricative actually occurs generally in the
Wardak Province Wardak Province ( ps, د وردګ ولايت, prs, ولایت وردگ), also called Maidan Wardag or Maidan, is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the central region of Afghanistan. It is divided into eight districts and has a ...

Wardak Province
, and is merged into elsewhere in the North Western dialects. Sometimes it is also pronounced as in Bati Kot according to the findings of D.W Coyle. * The
velar Velars are consonants place of articulation, articulated with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth (known also as the Soft palate, velum). Since the velar region of the roof of ...

velar
s followed by the
close back rounded vowel The close back rounded vowel, or high back rounded vowel, is a type of vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms th ...
assimilate into the
labialized Labialization is a secondary articulatory feature of sounds in some languages. Labialized sounds involve the lips while the remainder of the oral cavity In animal anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biolog ...
velars . * Voiceless stops are all
unaspirated In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Itali ...
, like
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of w ...

Romance languages
, and
Austronesian languages The Austronesian languages (, , , ) are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign ...
; they have slightly aspirated allophones prevocalically in a stressed syllable.


Vocabulary

In Pashto, most of the native elements of the lexicon are related to other
Eastern Iranian languages The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages emerging in Middle Iranian times (from c. the 4th century BC). The Avestan language is often classified as early Eastern Iranian. As opposed to the Middle Western Iranian diale ...
. As noted by Josef Elfenbein, "Loanwords have been traced in Pashto as far back as the third century B.C., and include words from Greek and probably Old Persian". For instance,
Georg Morgenstierne Georg Valentin von Munthe af Morgenstierne (2 January 1892 Oslo Oslo ( , also , , rarely ) is the Capital city, capital and List of towns and cities in Norway, most populous city of Norway. It constitutes both a Counties of Norway, county ...
notes the Pashto word i.e. ''a hand-mill'' as being derived from the Ancient Greek word (, i.e. a device). Post-7th century borrowings came primarily from
Persian language Persian (), also known by its endonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europ ...
and
Hindi-Urdu Hindustani (; Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (''Nāgarī'', ),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida . ''M ...
, with Arabic words being borrowed through Persian, but sometimes directly. Modern speech borrows words from English, , and
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
. However, a remarkably large number of words are unique to Pashto. Here is an exemplary list of Pure Pashto and borrowings: Due to the incursion of
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
and in modern speech,
linguistic purism Linguistic purism or linguistic protectionism is the prescriptive Linguistic prescription, or prescriptive grammar, is the attempt to establish rules defining preferred or correct usage of language. These rules may address such Linguistics, ...
of Pashto is advocated to prevent its own vocabulary from dying out.


Classical vocabulary

There a lot of old vocabulary that have been replaced by borrowings e.g
پلاز
hronewith تخت rom Persian Or the wor
يګانګي [yagānagí
/nowiki>] meaning "uniqueness" used by Pir Roshan, Pir Roshan Bayazid. Such classical vocabulary is being reintroduced to modern Pashto. Some words also survive in dialects like ناوې پلاز [the bride-room]. Example from Khayr-al-Bayān: Transliteration: ... be-yagānagə́i, be-kararə́i wi aw pə badxwə́i kx̌e wi pə gunāhā́n Translation: " ... without singularity/uniqueness, without calmness and by bad-attitude are on sin ."


Writing system

Pashto employs the
Pashto alphabet The Pashto alphabet () is a version of Perso-Arabic script used to write down the Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian l ...

Pashto alphabet
, a modified form of the Perso-Arabic alphabet or Arabic script. In the 16th century, Bayazid Pir Roshan introduced 13 new letters to the Pashto alphabet. The alphabet was further modified over the years. The Pashto alphabet consists of 45 to 46 letters and 4 diacritic marks. Latin Pashto is also used. In Latin transliteration, stress is represented by the following markers over vowels: ә́, á, ā́, ú, ó, í and é. The following table (read from left to right) gives the letters' isolated forms, along with possible Latin equivalents and typical IPA values:


Dialects

Pashto dialects are divided into two categories, the "soft" southern grouping of ''Paṣ̌tō'', and the "hard" northern grouping of ''Pax̌tō'' (Pakhtu). Each group is further divided into a number of dialcets. The Southern dialect of Wanetsi, Tareeno is the most distinctive Pashto dialect.1. Southern Pashto, Southern variety :*''Durrani, Abdaili'' or Kandahar dialect (or ''South Western'' dialect) :*''Kakar'' dialect (or ''South Eastern'' dialect) :*''Shirani'' dialect :*''Mandokhel'' dialect :*''Marwat-Bettani'' dialect :*Central Pashto, Southern Karlani group ::*''Khattak'' dialect ::*''Wazirwola'' dialect :::*''Dawarwola'' dialect :::*''Masidwola'' dialect ::*''Banisi (Banu)'' dialect 2. Northern Pashto, Northern variety :*''Central Ghilji'' dialect (or ''North Western'' dialect) :*Yusapzai and Momand dialect (or ''North Eastern'' dialect) :*Central Pashto, Northern Karlani group ::*''Wardak'' dialect ::*''Taniwola'' dialect ::*''Mangal tribe'' dialect ::*''Khosti'' dialect ::*''Zadran'' dialect ::*''Bangash-Orakzai-Turi-Zazi'' dialect ::*''Afridi Pashto, Afridi'' dialect ::*''Khogyani'' dialect 3. Wanetsi, Tareeno Dialect


Literary Pashto

Literary Pashto is the artificial variety of Pashto which is used at times as Literary language, literary register of Pashto. It is said to be based on the North Western dialect, spoken in the central Ghilji region. Literary Pashto's vocabulary, also derives from other dialects.


Criticism

There is no actual Pashto that can be identified as "Standard" Pashto, as Colye remarks: As David MacKenzie notes there is no real need to develop a "Standard" Pashto: Standardisation also comes at the cost of overlooking the rich number of Pashto dialects.


Literature

Pashto-speakers have long had a tradition of oral literature, including Afghan proverbs, proverbs, stories, and poems. Written Pashto literature saw a rise in development in the 17th century mostly due to poets like
Khushal Khan Khattak Khošāl Khān Khaṭak (1613 – 25 February 1689; Pashto: :ps:خوشال خان خټک, خوشال خان خټک), also known as Khushal Baba ( ps, خوشال بابا), was an Afghans, Afghan Nationalism, nationalist, poet, tribal chief, ...
(1613–1689), who, along with
Rahman Baba Abdur Rahmān Mohmand ( ps, عبدالرحمان بابا; 1632–1706) or Rahmān Bābā ( ps, رحمان بابا), was a renowned Afghan Afghan ( Pashto/Persian language, Persian: ) refers to someone or something from Afghanistan, in parti ...
(1650–1715), is widely regarded as among the greatest Pashto poets. From the time of
Ahmad Shah Durrani Ahmad Shāh Durrānī (c. 1722 – 4 June 1772) (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian ...
(1722–1772), Pashto has been the language of the court. The first Pashto teaching text was written during the period of Ahmad Shah Durrani by Pir Mohammad Kakar with the title of ''Maʿrifat al-Afghānī'' ("The Knowledge of Afghani [Pashto]"). After that, the first grammar book of Pashto verbs was written in 1805 under the title of ''Riyāż al-Maḥabbah'' ("Training in Affection") through the patronage of Nawab Mahabat Khan, son of Hafiz Rahmat Khan, chief of the Barech. Nawabullah Yar Khan, another son of Hafiz Rahmat Khan, in 1808 wrote a book of Pashto words entitled ''ʿAjāyib al-Lughāt'' ("Wonders of Languages").


Poetry example

An excerpt from the ''Kalām'' of
Rahman Baba Abdur Rahmān Mohmand ( ps, عبدالرحمان بابا; 1632–1706) or Rahmān Bābā ( ps, رحمان بابا), was a renowned Afghan Afghan ( Pashto/Persian language, Persian: ) refers to someone or something from Afghanistan, in parti ...
: Pronunciation: Transliteration: Translation: "I Rahman, myself am guilty that I am a lover,
On what does this other universe call me guilty."


Proverbs

''See:'' Pashto also has a rich heritage of proverbs (Pashto ''matalúna'', sg. ''matál''). An example of a proverb: Transliteration: O''bә́ pə ḍāng nə beléẓ̌i'' Translation: "One cannot divide water by [hitting it with] a pole."


Phrases


Greeting phrases


Colors

List of colors: List of colors borrowed from neighbouring languages: * ''nārәnjí'' - orange [from
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
]
* ''gulābí'' - pink [from Hindustani language, Hindustani, originally Persian] * ''nilí'' - indigo [from
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
, ultimately Sanskrit]
]


Times of the day


Months

Pashtuns use the Vikrami calendar:


Notes


References


Bibliography

* *
Georg Morgenstierne Georg Valentin von Munthe af Morgenstierne (2 January 1892 Oslo Oslo ( , also , , rarely ) is the Capital city, capital and List of towns and cities in Norway, most populous city of Norway. It constitutes both a Counties of Norway, county ...
(1926) ''Report on a Linguistic Mission to Afghanistan''. Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture, Instituttet for Sammenlignende Kulturforskning, Serie C I-2. Oslo. * Daniel G. Hallberg (1992) ''Pashto, Waneci, Ormuri (Sociolinguistic Survey of Northern Pakistan, 4)''. National Institute of Pakistani Studies, 176 pp. . * Herbert Penzl ''A Grammar of Pashto: A Descriptive Study of the Dialect of Kandahar, Afghanistan'', * Herbert Penzl ''A Reader of Pashto'',


Further reading

*Morgenstierne, Georg. "The Place of Pashto among the Iranic Languages and the Problem of the Constitution of Pashtun Linguistic and Ethnic Unity." Paṣto Quarterly 1.4 (1978): 43-55.


External links


Pashto Dictionary with Phonetic Keyboard & Auto-Suggestion

Pashto Phonetic Keyboard

Pashto Language & Identity Formation in Pakistan

Indo-Aryan identity of Pashto
* Henry George Raverty
''A Dictionary of the Puk'hto, Pus'hto, or Language of the Afghans''
Second edition, with considerable additions. London: Williams and Norgate, 1867. * D. N. MacKenzie
"A Standard Pashto"
Khyber.org
Freeware Online Pashto Dictionaries



Origins of Pashto

Resources for the Study of the Pashto Language
{{DEFAULTSORT:Pashto Language Pashto, Iranian languages Eastern Iranian languages Languages of Afghanistan Languages of Balochistan, Pakistan Languages of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Languages of Pakistan Subject–object–verb languages Fusional languages Articles containing video clips