|Pronunciation||[pəʂˈt̪o], [pʊxˈt̪o], [pəçˈt̪o]|
|Native to||Afghanistan, Pakistan|
|Perso-Arabic script (Pashto alphabet)|
Official language in
Areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan where Pashto is:
the predominant language
spoken alongside other languages
Pashto ( // , // ; پښتو / Pəx̌tó, [pəʂˈt̪o, pʊxˈt̪o, pəʃˈt̪o, pəçˈt̪o] ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language of the Indo-European family. It is known in Persian literature as Afghani (افغانی, Afghāni).
The language is natively spoken by Pashtuns (also called Pukhtuns/Pakhtuns; historically known as ethnic Afghans ), an ethnic group of Afghanistanand Pakistan. Pashto comprises, along with Dari (alternatively known as 'Afghan Persian'), the two languages of Afghanistan with official status. Pashto is also the second-largest regional language in Pakistan, mainly spoken in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the northern districts of the Balochistan province. Likewise, it is the primary language of the Pashtun diaspora around the world; the total number of Pashto-speakers is thought to be at least 40 million, although some estimates place it as high as 60 million. Pashto is a "one of the primary markers of ethnic identity" amongst Pashtuns.
As a national language of 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 of 45–60% of the total population of Afghanistan.
In Pakistan, Pashto is spoken by 15% of its population, mainly in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and northern districts of Balochistan province. Pashto-speakers are found in other major cities of Pakistan, most notably in Karachi, Sindh.
Other communities of Pashto speakers are found in India, Tajikistan,and northeastern Iran (primarily in South Khorasan Province to the east of Qaen, near the Afghan border). In India most ethnic Pashtun (Pathan) peoples speak the geographically native Hindi-Urdu language instead of Pashto. However small numbers of Pashto speakers exist in India, namely the Sheen Khalai in Rajasthan, and the Pathan community in the city of Kolkata, often nicknamed the Kabuliwala ("people of Kabul").
In addition, sizable Pashtun diaspora also exist in Western Asia, especially in the United Arab Emiratesand Saudi Arabia. The Pashtun diaspora speaks Pashto in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Qatar, Australia, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, etc.
Pashto is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan, along with Dari Persian.Since the early 18th century, 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 spoke Pashto as their native tongue. King Amanullah Khan 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 in the Third Anglo-Afghan War 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 in 1932 as well as the formation of the Pashto Academy (Pashto Tolana) in 1937.
Although officially supporting the use of Pashto, the Afghan elite regarded Persian as a "sophisticated language and a symbol of cultured upbringing".King Zahir Shah (reigned 1933-1973) thus followed suit after his father Nadir Khan had decreed in 1933 that officials were to study and utilize both Persian and Pashto. In 1936 a royal decree of Zahir Shah formally granted to Pashto the status of an official language with full rights to usage in all aspects of government and education - despite the fact that the ethnically Pashtun royal family and bureaucrats mostly spoke Persian. Thus Pashto became a national language, a symbol for Pashtun nationalism.
The constitutional assembly reaffirmed the status of Pashto as an official language in 1964 when Afghan Persian was officially renamed to Dari.The lyrics of the national anthem of Afghanistan are in Pashto.
In Pakistan, Pashto is the first language of 15% of its population (as of 1998), mainly in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and northern districts of Balochistan province. It is also spoken in parts of Mianwali and Attock districts of the Punjab province, areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and in Islamabad, as well as by Pashtuns who live in different cities throughout the country. Modern Pashto-speaking communities are found in the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh.
Urdu and 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 and north Balochistan.The primary medium of education in government schools in Pakistan is Urdu.
The lack of importance given to Pashto and neglect has caused growing resentment amongst Pashtuns, who also complain that Pashto is often neglected officially .It is noted that Pashto is not taught well in schools in Pakistan. Moreover, in government schools material is not provided for in the Pashto dialect of that locality. Students are unable to fully comprehend educational material in Urdu.
Professor Tariq Rahman states:
"The government of Pakistan, faced with irredentist claims from Afghanistan on its territory, also discouraged the Pashto Movement and eventually allowed its use in peripheral domains only after the Pakhtun elite had been co-opted by the ruling elite...Thus, even though there is still an active desire among some Pakhtun activists to use Pashto in the domains of power, it is more of a symbol of Pakhtun identity than one of nationalism."— Tariq Rahman, The Pashto language and identity‐formation in Pakistan
Robert Nicols states:
"In the end, national language policy, especially in the field of education in the NWFP, had constructed a type of three tiered language hierarchy. Pashto lagged far behind Urdu and English in prestige or development in almost every domain of political or economic power..."— Language Policy and Language Conflict in Afghanistan and Its Neighbors, Pashto Language Policy and Practice in the North West Frontier Province
Some linguists have argued that Pashto is descended from Avestan or a variety very similar to it.However, the position that Pashto is a direct descendant of Avestan is not agreed upon. What scholars agree on is the fact that Pashto is an Eastern Iranian language sharing characteristics with Eastern Middle Iranian languages such as Bactrian, Khwarezmian and Sogdian.
Strabo, who lived between 64 BC and 24 CE, explains that the tribes inhabiting the lands west of the Indus River were part of Ariana. This was around the time when the area inhabited by the Pashtuns was governed by the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. From the 3rd century CE onward, they are mostly referred to by the name Afghan (Abgan).
Abdul Hai Habibi believe that the earliest modern Pashto work dates back to Amir Kror Suri of the early Ghurid period in the 8th century, and they use the writings found in Pata Khazana. Pə́ṭa Xazāná (پټه خزانه) is a Pashto manuscript claimed to be written by Mohammad Hotak under the patronage of the Pashtun emperor Hussain Hotak in Kandahar; containing an anthology of Pashto poets. However, its authenticity is disputed by scholars such as David Neil MacKenzie and Lucia Serena Loi. Nile Green comments in this regard:
"In 1944, Habibi claimed to have discovered an eighteenth-century manuscript anthology containing much older biographies and verses of Pashto poets that stretched back as far as the eighth century. It was an extraordinary claim, implying as it did that the history of Pashto literature reached back further in time than Persian, thus supplanting the hold of Persian over the medieval Afghan past. Although it was later convincingly discredited through formal linguistic analysis, Habibi’s publication of the text under the title Pata Khazana (‘Hidden Treasure’) would (in Afghanistan at least) establish his reputation as a promoter of the wealth and antiquity of Afghanistan’s Pashto culture."— Afghan History Through Afghan Eyes
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), Khushal Khan Khattak, Rahman Baba, Nazo Tokhi, and Ahmad Shah Durrani, founder of the modern state of Afghanistan or the Durrani Empire.
In modern times, noticing the incursion of Persian and Arabic vocabulary, there is a strong desire to "purify" Pashto by restoring its old vocabulary.
Pashto is a subject–object–verb (SOV) language with split ergativity. Adjectives come before nouns. Nouns and adjectives are inflected for two genders (masc./fem.),two numbers (sing./plur.), and four cases (direct, oblique, ablative and vocative). There is also an inflection for the subjunctive mood. The verb system is very intricate with the following tenses: present, simple past, past progressive, present perfect, and past perfect. The possessor precedes the possessed in the genitive construction. The verb generally agrees with the subject in both transitive and intransitive sentences. An exception occurs when a completed action is reported in any of the past tenses (simple past, past progressive, present perfect, or past perfect). In such cases, the verb agrees with the subject if it is intransitive, but if it is transitive, it agrees with the object, therefore Pashto shows a partly ergative behaviour. Unlike most other Indo-Iranian languages, Pashto uses all three types of adpositions – prepositions, postpositions, and circumpositions.
|Nasal||m ( listen )||n ( listen )||ɳ ( listen )||ŋ ( listen )|
|Plosive||p ( listen )||b ( listen )||t̪ ( listen )||d̪ ( listen )||ʈ ( listen )||ɖ ( listen )||k ( listen )||ɡ ( listen )||q ( listen )|
|Affricate||t͡s ( listen )||d͡z ( listen )||t͡ʃ ( listen )||d͡ʒ ( listen )|
|Flap||ɽ ( listen )|
|Fricative||f ( listen )||s ( listen )||z ( listen )||ʃ ( listen )||ʒ ( listen )||ʂ ( listen )||ʐ ( listen )||ç ( listen )||ʝ ( listen )||x ( listen )||ɣ ( listen )||h ( listen )|
|Approximant||l ( listen )||j ( listen )||w ( listen )|
|Trill||r ( listen )|
In Pashto, most of the native elements of the lexicon are related to other Eastern Iranian languages. مېچنmečә́n i.e. a hand-mill as being derived from the Ancient Greek word μηχανή [mēkhanḗ] i.e. a device. Post-7th century borrowings came primarily from Persian language and Hindi-Urdu, with Arabic words being borrowed through Persian, but sometimes directly. Modern speech borrows words from English, French, and German.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 notes the Pashto word
However, a remarkably large number of words are unique to Pashto.
Here is an exemplary list of Pure Pashto and borrowings:
|Pashto||Persian Loan||Arabic Loan||Meaning|
|د ... په اړه|
There a lot of old vocabulary that have been replaced by borrowings e.g. پلاز [throne] with تخت [from Persian]. يګانګي [yagānagí] meaning "uniqueness" used by Pir Roshan Bayazid. Such classical vocabulary is being reintroduced to modern Pashto. Some words also survive in dialects like ناوې پلاز [the bride-room].Or the word
Example from Khayr-al-Bayān:
... بې يګانګئ بې قرارئ وي او په بدخوئ کښې وي په ګناهان
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 ."
Pashto employs the 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 lettersand 4 diacritic marks.In the Latin transliteration, stress is represented by the following markers over vowels: ә́, á, ā́, ú, ó, í and é. The following table gives the letters' isolated forms, along with the Latin equivalents (not officially recognised) and typical IPA values:
x̌ (or ṣ̌)
/ʂ, ç, x, ʃ/
ǵ (or ẓ̌)
/ʐ, ʝ, ɡ, ʒ/
w, u, o
/w, u, o/
Pashto dialects are divided into two varieties, the "soft" southern variety Paṣ̌tō, and the "hard" northern variety Pax̌tō (Pakhtu).Each variety is further divided into a number of dialects. The southern dialect of Wanetsi is the most distinctive Pashto dialect.
1. Southern variety
2. Northern variety
3. Waṇetsi Dialect
Standard Pashto or Literary Pashto is the standardized variety of Pashto which serves as a literary register of Pashto , and is based on the North Western dialect, spoken in the central Ghilji region, including the Afghan capital Kabul and some surrounding region. Literary Pashto's vocabulary, however, also derives from Southern Pashto. This dialect of Pashto has been chosen as standard because it is generally understandable. Standard Pashto is the literary variety of Pashto used in Afghan media.
Literary Pashto has been developed by Radio Television Afghanistan and Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan in Kabul. It has adopted neologisms to coin new terms from already existing words or phrases and introduce them into the Pashto lexicon. Educated Standard Pashto is learned in the curriculum that is taught in the primary schools in the country. It is used for written and formal spoken purposes, and in the domains of media and government.
There is no actual Pashto that can be identified as "Standard" Pashto, as Colye remarks:
"Standard Pashto is actually fairly complex with multiple varieties or forms. Native speakers or researchers often refer to Standard Pashto without specifying which variety of Standard Pashto they mean...people sometimes refer to Standard Pashto when they mean the most respected or favorite Pashto variety among a majority of Pashtun speakers."— Placing Wardak among Pashto Varities, page 4
As David MacKenzie notes there is no real need to develop a "Standard" Pashto:
"The morphological differences between the most extreme north-eastern and south-western dialects are comparatively few and unimportant. The criteria of dialect differentiation in Pashto are primarily phonological. With the use of an alphabet which disguises these phonological differences the language has, therefore, been a literary vehicle, widely understood, for at least four centuries. This literary language has long been referred to in the West as 'common' or 'standard' Pashto without, seemingly, any real attempt to define it."— A Standard Pashto, page 231
There has also been an effortto adopt a written form based on Latin script, but the effort of adapting a Roman alphabet has not gained official support.
Pashto-speakers have long had a tradition of oral literature, including proverbs, stories, and poems. Written Pashto literature saw a rise in development in the 17th century mostly due to poets like Khushal Khan Khattak (1613–1689), who, along with Rahman Baba (1650–1715), is widely regarded as among the greatest Pashto poets. From the time of Ahmad Shah Durrani (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").
An excerpt from the Kalām of Rahman Baba:
زۀ رحمان پۀ خپله ګرم يم چې مين يم
چې دا نور ټوپن مې بولي ګرم په څۀ
IPA: [zə raˈmɑn pə ˈxpəl.a gram jəm t͡ʃe maˈjan jəm]
[t͡ʃe d̪ɑ nor ʈoˈpən me boˈli gram pə t͡sə]
Transliteration: Zə Rahmā́n pə xpə́la gram yəm če mayán yəm
Če dā nor ṭopə́n me bolí gram pə tsə
Translation: "I Rahman, myself am guilty that I am a lover,
On what does this other universe call me guilty."
See: Pashto literature and poetry § Proverbs
Pashto also has a rich heritage of proverbs (Pashto matalúna, sg. matál).An example of a proverb:
اوبه په ډانګ نه بېلېږي
Transliteration: Obә́ pə ḍāng nə beléẓ̌i
Translation: "One cannot divide water by [hitting it with] a pole."
|Hello||ستړی مه شې |
ستړې مه شې
|stә́ṛay mә́ še |
stә́ṛe mә́ še
|May you not be tired|
|ستړي مه شئ||stә́ṛi mә́ šəi||May you not be tired [said to people]|
|په خير راغلې||pə xair rā́ğle||With goodness (you) came|
|Thank you||مننه||manә́na||Acceptance [from the verb منل]|
|Goodbye||په مخه دې ښه||pə mә́kha de x̌á||On your front be good|
|خدای پامان||xwdā́i pāmā́n||From: خدای په امان [With/On God's security]|
List of colors:
سور/ سره sur/sra [red]
šin / šna [green]
کینخي kinaxí [purple]
تور/ توره tor/tóra [black]
šin / šna [blue]
سپین spin/spína [white]
نسواري naswārí [brown]
ژېړ/ ژېړه žeṛ/žéṛa [yellow]
چوڼيا čuṇyā́ [violet]
خړ / خړه xәṛ/xə́ṛa [grey]
List of colors borrowed from neighbouring languages:
|Afternoon||ماسپښين||māspasx̌ín||Kandahar: /mɑs.pa.ˈʂin/ |
|Later afternoon||مازديګر |
|Evening||ماښام||māx̌ā́m||Kandahari: /mɑ.ˈʂɑm/ |
|Late evening||ماسختن||māsxután||/mɑs.xwə.ˈt̪an/ |
Pashtuns followed the Vikrami Calendar, as mentioned by Yousuf Khan Jazab:
|8||Kartika||کاتۍ / کاتک |
kātә́i / kāták
|11||Māgha||بله چيله |
Pakistan's estimated population in 2021 was 225,199,937 according to the 2017 Census of Pakistan. Pakistan is the world's fifth-most-populous country. However, as per recent 2020 statistics, the current population of Pakistan is 230,495,437 with the growth rate of 2.0%.
Pashtuns, historically known as Afghans, are an Iranian ethnic group native to Central and South Asia.
Dari or Dari Persian is a political term used for the various dialects of the Persian language spoken in Afghanistan. Dari is the term officially recognized and promoted since 1964 by the Afghan government for the Persian language, hence it is known as Afghan Persian in many Western sources. This has resulted in a naming dispute among the native speakers of Persian in Afghanistan who refer to their language simply as Farsi.
Pashtūnistān is the geographic historical region inhabited by the indigenous Pashtun people of modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan in South-Central Asia, wherein Pashtun culture, language, and national identity have been based. Alternative names historically used for the region include "Pashtūnkhwā" (پښتونخوا) and "Afghānistān" (افغانستان), since at least the 3rd century CE onward. Pashtunistan borders Iran to the west, Persian and Turkic-speaking areas of Turkestan region to the north, Kashmir to the northeast, Punjab to the east, and Balochistan to the south.
Pakistan is home to many dozens of languages spoken as first languages. Five languages have more than 10 million speakers each in Pakistan – Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Saraiki and Urdu. Almost all of Pakistan's languages belong to the Indo-Iranian group of the Indo-European language family.
The Ghiljī also spelled Khilji, Khalji, or Ghilzai or Ghilzay (غلزی), are one of the largest tribes of Pashtuns. Their traditional homeland is Ghazni and Qalati Ghilji in Afghanistan but have also settled in other regions, primarily, Pashtunistan which encompasses the Afghan-Pakistan frontier. The modern nomadic Kochi people are predominantly made up of Ghilji tribes. The Ghilji make up around 20-25% of Afghanistan's total population
The Durrānī formerly known as Abdālī (ابدالي), are one of the largest tribes of Pashtuns. Their traditional homeland is in southern Afghanistan, straddling into Toba Achakzai in Balochistan, Pakistan, but they are also settled in other parts of Afghanistan and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.
Pashtun diaspora refers to ethnic Pashtuns who live outside their traditional homeland of Pashtunistan, which is south of the Amu River in Afghanistan and west of the Indus River in Pakistan. Pashtunistan is home to the majority of the Pashtun community. However, there are significant Pashtun diaspora communities in the Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan, in particular in the cities of Karachi and Lahore, in the Rohilkhand region of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan States of India. Smaller populations of Pashtuns are also found in other parts of India, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Australia, Canada, Germany, Iran, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other parts of the world.
Afghanistan is a multilingual country in which two languages – Pashto and Dari – are both official and most widely spoken.
Hindkowans, also known as the Hindki, are an Indo-Aryan linguistic-cultural group, which is native to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pothohar Plateau and Azad Kashmir regions of Pakistan. Hindkowans speak various Hindko dialects of Lahnda.
The Pashtun tribes, historically also known as Afghan tribes, are the tribes of the Pashtun people, a large Eastern Iranian ethnic group who use the Pashto language and follow Pashtunwali code of conduct. They are found primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan and form the world's largest tribal society, comprising over 49 million people and between 350 and 400 tribes and clans. They are traditionally divided into four tribal confederacies: the Sarbani (سړبني), the Bettani (بېټني), the Gharghashti (غرغښتي) and the Karlani (کرلاڼي).
Ormuri also known as Baraki, Ormur, Ormui or Bargista is an Eastern Iranian language spoken in South-east Afghanistan and Waziristan. It is primarily spoken by the Burki people in the town of Kaniguram in South Waziristan and Logar, Afghanistan. The language belongs to the Eastern-Iranian language group. The extremely small number of speakers makes Ormuri an endangered language that is considered to be in a "threatened" state.
Waṇetsi, commonly called Tarīno, and sometimes Tsalgari, is a very distinct dialect of Pashto and is considered by some to be a different language. In some cases Wanetsi rather shares similarities with the Pamir language of Munji, instead of modern Pashto. It is perhaps a representation for a more archaic, or very early, form of Pashto.
Abdul Hai Habibi – ʿAbd' ul-Ḥay Ḥabībi) was a prominent Afghan historian for much of his lifetime as well as a member of the National Assembly of Afghanistan during the reign of King Zahir Shah. A Pashtun nationalist from Kakar tribe of Kandahar, Afghanistan, he began as a young teacher who made his way up to become a writer, scholar, politician and Dean of Faculty of Literature at Kabul University. He is the author of over 100 books but is best known for editing Pata Khazana, an old Pashto language manuscript that he claimed to have discovered in 1944; the academic community, however, does not unanimously agree upon its genuineness.
Pata Khazāna is the title of a manuscript written in the Pashto language. According to its discoverer Abdul Hay Habibi, the script contains an anthology of Pashto poetry, which precedes the earliest known works of Pashto literature by hundreds of years. The authencity of parts of the manuscript has been questioned by some, among them scholars of Iranian Studies.
Pashto dialects can be divided into two large varieties: Northern Pashto and Southern Pashto. Each of the two varieties of Pashto is further divided into a number of dialects. Northern Pashto is spoken in eastern and northeastern Afghanistan, and central, northern and eastern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ; while Southern Pashto is spoken to the south of it, in southern and western Afghanistan, southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and northern Balochistan. Ethnologue divides Pashto into Northern, Southern and Central Pashto, and Wanetsi.
The Kakazai, also known as Loi or Loye Mamund, a division of the Mamund clan, are part of the larger Tarkani (ترکاڼي) tribe who are primarily settled in Bajaur Agency, Pakistan, but originally hailed from the Laghman province of Afghanistan. However, it has grown and scattered around to such an extent that it is recognized as tribe of its own.
Across Afghanistan, proverbs are a valued part of speaking, both publicly and in conversations. Afghans "use proverbs in their daily conversations far more than Westerners do, and with greater effect".
Southern Pashto comprises the South Western and South Eastern dialects.
Pathans in India are citizens or residents of India who are of ethnic Pashtun ancestry. "Pathan" is the local Hindi-Urdu term for an individual who belongs to the Pashtun ethnic group, or descends from it. The term additionally finds mention among Western sources, mainly in the colonial-era literature of British India. Historically, the term "Afghan" was also synonymous with the Pathans. The Pathans originate from the Pashtunistan region straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan.
To the south is Afghanistān. There are ten or eleven different languages spoken in Kābul: Arabic, Persian, Tūrki, Moghuli, Afghani, Pashāi, Parāchi, Geberi, Bereki, Dari and Lamghāni.
From among the languages of Pashto, Dari, Uzbeki, Turkmani, Baluchi, Pashai, Nuristani, Pamiri (alsana), Arab and other languages spoken in the country, Pashto and Dari are the official languages of the state.
Estimates of the number of Pashto speakers range from 40 million to 60 million...
As is well known, the Pashtun people place a great deal of pride upon their language as an identifier of their distinct ethnic and historical identity. While it is clear that not all those who self-identify as ethnically Pashtun themselves use Pashto as their primary language, language does seem to be one of the primary markers of ethnic identity in contemporary Afghanistan.
Pashto, which is mainly spoken south of the mountain range of the Hindu Kush, is reportedly the mother tongue of 60% of the Afghan population.
"Paṧtō (1) is the native tongue of 50 to 55 percent of Afghans".
...because of the state’s patronage, Urdu is now the most widely-spoken language in Pakistan. But the preponderance of one language over all others eats upon the sphere of influence of other, smaller languages, which alienates the respective nationalities and fuels aversion towards the central leadership...If we look to our state policies regarding the promotion of Pashto and the interests of the Pakhtun political elite, it is clear that the future of the Pashto language is dark. And when the future of a language is dark, the future of the people is dark.
Sources say that this is mainly because the Pushto text books in use in the settled areas of N.W.F.P. are written in the Yusufzai dialect, which is not the dialect in use in the Agency
A brief interview with the principal of the high school in Madyan, along with a number of his teachers, helps to underscore the importance of Pashto in the school domain within Pashtoon territory. He reported that Pashto is used by teachers to explain things to students all the way up through tenth class. The idea he was conveying was that students do not really have enough ability in Urdu to operate totally in that language. He also expressed the thought that Pashto-speaking students in the area really do not learn Urdu very well in public school and that they are thus somewhat ill prepared to meet the expectation that they will know how to use Urdu and English when they reach the college level. He likened the education system to a wall that has weak bricks at the bottom.
Paṧtō undoubtedly belongs to the Northeastern Iranic branch.
The earliest mention of the name 'Afghan' (Abgan) is to be found in a Sasanid inscription from the third century AD and their language as "Afghani".
At the same time Pashto has borrowed largely from Persian and Hindustani, and through those languages from Arabic.
|Pashto edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pashto language .|
|Look up pashto in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Pashto .|