Pashto language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

پښتو paʂto
Spoken in: Pakistan: western provinces; Afghanistan: south, east, west and a few provinces in the north; India: small pockets in the north[1] 
Region: South-Central Asia
Total speakers: approx. 40-50 million[2] 
Ranking: 82 (Northern),
92 (Southern)[3]
Language family: Indo-European
Official status
Official language of: Pakistan (Provincial)
Afghanistan (National)
Regulated by: no official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1: ps
ISO 639-2: pus
ISO 639-3: variously:
pus — Pashto (generic)
pst — Central Pashto
pbu — Northern Pashto
pbt — Southern Pashto

Pashto (پښتو‎, IPA: [pəʂto] also known as Pakhto, Pushto, Pukhto پختو‎, Pashtoe, Pashtu, Pushtu, Pushtoo, Pathan, or Afghan language) is an Iranian language of the Indo-Iranian language family spoken by Pashtuns living in southeastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan.[4]


[edit] Classification

Pashto is classified as an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. Pashto belongs to the Southeastern branch of Iranian languages, along with Sarikoli, Wakhi, Munji, Shughni, and other languages. Other notable related Iranian languages include Persian, Kurdish, Gileki, and Ossetic, spoken in the Caucasus and South Asia.

[edit] Geographic distribution

Geographic distribution of Pashto (purple) and other Iranian languages
Geographic distribution of Pashto (purple) and other Iranian languages

Pashto is spoken by about 28 million people in the western provinces of North-West Frontier Province, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and Balochistan of Pakistan and by over 13 million people in the south, east, west and a few northern provinces of Afghanistan.[5][6] Approximately 776,000 Pashtuns speak Pashto in small pockets of India.[7] Smaller, modern "transplant" communities are also found in Sindh (Karachi, Hyderabad). Other smaller communities peopled by Pashtun invaders in the past centuries, exist in Northern India (Pathankot, Rampur) and northeastern Iran. It is spoken by a large part of Afghanistan's population who are of the Pashtun tribe, as well as by ethnic Pashtuns who live in Pakistan.

[edit] Official status

Pashto is an official and one of the national languages of Afghanistan as of 1936. It is one of the official languages in the western provinces of Pakistan. A related language spoken in areas of northern Afghanistan, a dialect of Persian, is Dari.

[edit] Dialects

The northern dialect is spoken by about 16,000,000 people, and the southern dialect by about 29,000,000. One of the main features of the dialects is the differences in the pronunciation of these five phonemes (all sounds in IPA):

Southwest (Kandahar, Afghanistan): [ts] [dz] [ʂ] [ʐ] [ʒ]
Southeast (Quetta, Pakistan): [ts] [dz] [ʃ] [ʒ] [ʒ]
Northwest (Central Ghilzai, Afghanistan): [s] [z] [ç] [j] [ʒ]
Northeast (Jallalabad, Afghanistan): [s] [z] [x] [g] [d͡ʒ]

The dialect of Kandahar is the most conservative with regards to phonology, retaining both the dental affricates and the retroflex fricatives, which have not merged with other phonemes.

[edit] Phonology

[edit] Vowels

[i]     [u]
[e] [ə]   [o]

Diphthongs: [aj] [əj] [aw]

[edit] Consonants

Bilabial Dental Retroflex Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Plosives p b t d ʈ ɖ k g q ʔ
Fricatives f s z ʂ ʐ ʃ ʒ x ɣ h
Affricates ts͡ dz͡ tʃ͡ dʒ͡
Nasals m n ɲ
Approximants w l j
Trills r ɺ̢

The sounds [f], [q], [h] are present only in loanwords. Less educated speakers tend to replace them with [p], [k] and nothing, respectively.

The retroflex lateral flap (ɺ̢) is pronounced as retroflex approximant (ɻ) when final.

[edit] Historical sound changes

[edit] Grammar

Pashto is a S-O-V language with split ergativity. Adjectives come before nouns. Nouns and adjectives are inflected for gender (Masculine/Feminine), number (Singular/Plural) and case (Direct/Oblique). Direct case is used for subjects and direct objects in the present tense. Oblique case is used after most pre- and post-positions as well as in the past tense as the subject of transitive verbs. There is no definite article, but instead there is extensive use of the demonstratives this/that. The verb system is very intricate with the following: Simple Present, Subjunctive, Simple Past, Past Progressive, Present Perfect,and Past Perfect. In any of the past tenses (Simple Past, Past Progressive, Present Perfect and Past Perfect) Pashto is an ergative language, i.e. transitive verbs in any of the past tenses agree with the object of the sentence.

[edit] Vocabulary

Pashto, being an Indo-European language, shares many cognates with other related languages. Following the advent of Islam in Afghanistan, the Pashto language has received a significant influx of loan-words from Arabic, Persian and various Turkic languages.

[edit] Writing system

From the time of Islam's rise in South-Central Asia, Pashto has used a modified version of the Perso-Arabic script. The seventeenth century saw the rise of a polemic debate which also was polarized along lines of script. The heterodox Roshani movement wrote their literature mostly in the Persianate style called the Nasta'liq script. The followers of the Akhund Darweza, and the Akhund himself, who viewed themselves as defending the religion against the influence of syncretism, wrote Pashto in the Arabicized Naskh. With some individualized exceptions Naskh has been the generally used script in the modern era of Pashto, roughly corresponding with the late 19th and 20th centuries, due to its greater adaptability for typesetting. Even lithographically reproduced Pashto (generally in Pakistan) has been calligraphied in Naskh as a general rule, since it was adopted as standard.

Pashto has several letters which do not appear in any other Perso-Arabic script which represent the retroflex versions of the consonants /t/, /d/, /r/, /n/. The letters are written like the standard Arabic ta', dal, ra', and nun with a "pandak", "gharwandah" or also called "skarraen" attached underneath which looks like a small circle; ړ ,ډ ,ټ, and ڼ, respectively. It also has the letters ge and xin (the initial sound of which is like the German ch found in the word "ich") which look like a ra' and sin respectively with a dot above and beneath. Pashto also has the extra letters that Persian has added to the Arabic alphabet. It has a number of additional vowel diacritics as well, though these often vary in their usage.

[edit] Alphabet

The letters of the Pashto alphabet are:[8][9]

ا ب پ ت ټ ث ج ځ چ څ ح خ د ډ ذ ر ړ ز ژ ږ س ش ښ ص ض ط ظ ع غ ف ق ک ګ ل م ن ڼ ه ۀ و ؤ ى ئ ي ې ۍ

[edit] Pashto Keyboard

[edit] Examples

Examples of intransitive sentence forms using the verb "to go" "tləl":

Command (you masculine-singular):

  • maktab ta dza! or maktab ta lāṛ ša!
  • School to go - Go to school!

Command (you masculine-plural):

  • Maktab ta lāṛ šəy!
  • Go to school!

Simple Present:

  • zə maktab ta dzəm.
  • I school to go - I go to school.
  • zə ğwāṛəm če maktab ta lāṛ šəm.
  • I want that to school go (Masculine-I-verb form) - I want to go to school.

Present Perfect:

  • zə maktab ta tləlay yəm.
  • I school to gone (Masculine verb form) am - I have gone to school.

Simple Past:

  • zə maktab ta wəlāṛəm.
  • I school to went - I went to school.

Past Perfect:

  • zə maktab ta tləlay wəm.
  • I school to gone (Masculine verb form) was - I had gone to school.

Past Progressive:

  • zə maktab ta tlələm.
  • I school to was going - I was going to school or I used to go to school

Examples of transative sentence forms using the verb "to eat" "xwaṛəl":

Command (You singular):

  • Panir wəxora!
  • cheese eat - Eat the cheese!
  • Panir məxora!
  • cheese no-eat - Don't eat the cheese!

Command (You plural):

  • Panir wəxorəy!
  • cheese eat - Eat the cheese!
  • Panir məxorəy!
  • cheese no-eat - Don't eat the cheese!

Simple Present:

  • zə panir xorəm.
  • I cheese eat - I eat cheese.


  • zə ğwāṛəm če panir wəxorəm.
  • I want that cheese eat (I-verb form) - I want to eat cheese.

Present Perfect: ما پنېر خوړلی دی

  • mā panir xoṛəlay day.
  • me (I-oblique) cheese eaten (masculine-singular verb form) is - I have eaten cheese.

Simple Past:

  • mā panir wəxoṛə.
  • me (I-oblique) cheese ate - I ate cheese

Past Perfect:

  • mā panir xoṛəlay wo.
  • me (I-oblique) cheese eaten (masculine-singular verb form) was - I had eaten cheese.

Past Progressive:

  • mā panir xoṛə.
  • me (I oblique) cheese was eating (masculine-singular verb form) - I was eating cheese or I used to eat cheese.

Questions Stā num tsə day your name what is - what is your name

[edit] A Comparison Table of the Iranian Languages

English Zazaki Kurdish Pashto Balochi Mazandarani Tajik Persian Middle Persian Parthian Old Persian Avestan
beautiful rind rind/delal/cûwan shkulay, xkulay sharr, soherâ zebo zibâ/ xubchehreh hučihr, hužihr hužihr naiba vahu-, srîra
blood gûn xwîn wina hon xin xun xūn xōn xōn vohuni
bread nûn nan ḍoḍəy/roṭəy (from Indic) nân, nagan nân non nân nân nân
bring ârdena anîn/hênan rāwṛəl âvardan biyârden ovardan âvardan âwurdan, āwāy-, āwar-, bar- āwāy-, āwar-, bar- bara- bara, bar-
brother birâ bira wror barādar birâr barodar barādar brād, brâdar brād, brādar brâtar brâtar-
come amaena hatin rātləl áhag, âmadan enen omadan âmadan âmadan, awar awar, čām ây-, âgam âgam-
cry bermayish girîn žāṛəl taukh bərmə/ qâ giristan geristan griy-, bram-
dark târî tarî tiārə thár siyo torîk târîk târīg/k târīg, târēn sâmahe, sâma
daughter kena keç/kîj/kenîşk/dot lūr mind kijâ/ dether duxtar doxtar duxtar duxt, duxtar duxδar
day roc roj wradz roshe rez/ reoj rûz rûz rōz raucah-
do kerdena kirin/kirdin kawəl khandagh hâkerden kardan kardan kardan kartan kạrta- kәrәta-
door ber derge/derî war gelo bəli dar dar dar dar, bar duvara- dvara-
die merdena mirin mṛəl/məṛedəl mireg bamirden murdan murdan murdan mạriya- mar-
donkey her ker xar her xar xar xar xar
egg hak hêk hagəy heyg merqâna tuxm toxm toxmag, xâyag taoxmag, xâyag taoxma-
earth êrd (Arabic) herd/erd (Arabic) zməka/mzəka zemin zemi zamin zamin zamīg zamīg zam- zãm, zam, zem
evening shund êvar/êware māshām, māxām nəmâshun begáh begoh, shom sarshab êbêrag
eye chım çav stərga ch.hem, chem chashm chashm chašm chašm čaša- čašman-
father pi bav/bawk plār pyt, abbâ piyer padar pedar pidar pid pitar pitar
fear ters tirs wera terseg təshəpash tars tars tars tars tạrsa- tares-
fiancé washte dezgîran, destgirtî nām zād nomzad nâm-zad - -
fine wesh xweş/baş sha, xa hosh naghz, xub xub dârmag srîra
finger gisht til/qamik gūta/gwəta lenkwk, mordâneg angoos angusht angosht angust dišti-
fire âdır agir or âch, âs tesh otash âtash, âzar âdur, âtaxsh ādur âç- âtre-/aêsma-
fish mâse masî kab/māhī mâhi mohi mâhi mâhig mâsyâg masyô, masya
food / eat werdena xwarin xwāṛa/xoṛəl warag, vereg xurok / xurdan xorâk / xordan parwarz / xwâr, xwardīg parwarz / xwâr hareθra / ad-, at-
go shiyaena çûn tləl jwzzegh shunen / burden raftan raftan raftan, shudan ay- ai- ay-, fra-vaz
god homâ xwedê xwdāy hwdâ xudo xodâ bay, abragar baga- baya-
good hol baş, çak sha, xa jawáin, šarr xâr naghz, xub, neku xub / neku xūb, nêkog vahu- vohu, vaŋhu-
grass vash giya, riwek, şênkatî wāshə, wāxə rem sabza, giyoh sabzeh, giyâh giyâ dâlūg urvarâ
great gırd / pil gir, mezin, gewre stər mastar belang, pila buzurg bozorg wuzurg, pīl vazạrka- uta-, avañt
hand dest dest/lep lās dast dess dast dast dast dast dasta- zasta-
head ser ser sar saghar kalə sar, kalla sar, kalleh sar
heart zerri dil zṛə dil, hatyr dil dil del dil dil aηhuš
horse estoar hesp ās (masc.), aspa (fem.) asp istar asp asb, astar asp, stōr asp, stōr aspa aspa-
house ke(ye) mal kor log səre xona xâneh xânag demâna-, nmâna-
hunger vêyshan birçîtî/birsiyetî lwaža shudhagh veyshna gurusnagi gorosnegi gursag, shuy
language ziwan / zun ziman žəba zevân ziwân zabon zabân zuwân izβân hazâna- hizvâ-
laugh huyaena kenîn xandəl khendegh, hendeg xandidan xandidan xandīdan karta Syaoθnâvareza-
life jewiyaena jiyan/jîn žwand zendegih zindagi zendegi zīndagīh, zīwišnīh žīwahr, žīw- gaêm, gaya-
man merd mêr/piyaw saṛay merd merd mard mard mard mard martiya- mašîm, mašya
moon ashmê heyv/mang spožməy/spogməy máh mithra moh māh māh māh mâh- måŋha-
mother mae dayik mor mât, mâs mâr modar mādar mādar mādar mâtar mâtar-
mouth fek dev/dem xwla daf dahon dahân dahân, rumb åŋhânô, âh, åñh
name nâme nav num num num nom nâm nâm nâman nãman
night shewe şev shpa shaw, šap sheow shab shab shab xšap- xšap-
open rakerdena vekirin prānistəl/prānatəl božagh vâ-hekârden kushodan, boz kardan bâz-kardan abâz-kardan būxtaka- būxta-
peace kotpy aştî rogha ârâm oshti, oromish âshti, ârâmeš âštih, râmīšn râm, râmīšn šiyâti- râma-
pig xoz beraz xug xug xi xuk xūk xūk varâza (wild pig)
place ja cih/şûn dzāy hend joy, jo gâh gâh gâθu- gâtu-, gâtav-
read wendena xwendin lwastəl wánagh baxinden xondan xândan xwândan
say vatena gotin/wutin wayəl gushagh baotena guftan goftan guftan, gōw-, wâxtan gōw- gaub- mrû-
sister wae xweşk xor gwhâr xâxer xohar xâhar xwahar
small qıch piçûk ləž, ləg/woṛ/kuchnay lekem pətik, bechuk, perushk xurd kuchak, kam kam, rangas kam kamna- kamna-
son qıj kur zway, zuy pisar, phusagh pisser pisar pesar pur, pusar puhr puça pūθra-
soul giyan rūh (Arabic), sā rūh (Arabic) ravon ravân rūwân, gyân rūwân, gyân urvan-
spring wusar bihar psarlay wehâr bahor bahâr wahâr vâhara- θūravâhara-
tall berz bilind/berz lwaṛ bwrz baland boland / bârez buland, borz bârež barez-
three hire dre se se se se hrē çi- θri-
village dew gund, dê kəlay helk deh deh, rusto deh wiž dahyu- vîs-, dahyu-
want wastena xwestin/wîstin ghwāṛəl lotagh bexanen xostan xâstan xwâstan
water awe av obə âf ab ob âb âb âb âpi avô-
when key kengê kəla, či ked kay kay kay ka čim-
wind va ba bād gwáth bod bâd wâd vâta-
wolf verg gur līwə gurkh varg, gəorge gurg gorg gurg varka- vehrka
woman jeniye jin/afret shədza, xəza jan zəna zan zan zan žan hâīrīšī-, nâirikâ-
year serre sal kāl sâl sol sâl sâl θard ýâre, sarәd
yes / no ya / ne erê / na ho, wo / na ere / na ha / ne âri / na hâ / ney hâ / ney yâ / nay, mâ yâ / noit, mâ
yesterday vizêr duh/dwênê pərun direz dina, diruz diruz dêrûž

[edit] See also

[edit] Bibliography

  • Schmidt, Rüdiger (ed.) (1989). Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum. Wiesbaden: Reichert. ISBN 3-88226-413-6. 

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ University of Texas in Austin - Ethnolinguistic Groups in Afghanistan...Link
  2. ^ Ethnologue Report for Pashto
  3. ^ David P. Brown: Top 100 Languages by Population
  4. ^ University of Texas in Austin - Ethnolinguistic Groups in Afghanistan...Link
  5. ^ Government of Pakistan: Population by Mother Tongue
  6. ^ CIA -The World Factbook -- Afghanistan
  7. ^ Pushtan, Southern of India
  8. ^ Pashto Alphabet Table
  9. ^ Pashto Alphabet Table

[edit] External links

Pashto language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[edit] Pashto Computer Fonts

Iranian Languages
Eastern Iranian
Old Iranian Avestan † | Scythian (including Saka)† | Sogdian†
Middle Iranian Bactrian† | Khwarezmian† | Khotanese† (possibly a Saka dialect) | Ossetic | Sacian†
Modern Iranian Bartangi | Hidukush Group | Ishkashmi | Karakoram Group | Khufi | Munji | Oroshori | New Ossetic | Parachi | Pashto | Roshani (Roshni) | Sanglechi | Sarikoli | Shughni | Wakhi | Vanji † | Waziri | Yaghnobi | Yidgha | Yazgulami | Zebaki
Western Iranian
Old Iranian Median† | Old Persian (Aryan)†
Middle Iranian Parthian Pahlavi† | Sasanian Pahlavi†
Modern Iranian Alviri (Vidâri) | Ashtiani | Azari† | Baluchi | Bashkardi | Central Iran | Persian Dari | Dari (Zoroastrian) | Gilaki | Gorani | Harzani | Judeo-Persian | Kurdish Kurmanji | Laki | Luri | Bakhtiari Lori | Mazandarani | Ormuri | Sangsari | Parachi | New-Persian | Sorani (Kurdish) | Tajik | Taleshi | Tat | Tati | Vafsi | Zazaki
Extinct †