A Brief Introduction to Pashto Language
the language of Pashtuns. They are, historically, inhabited mainly in
At the early nineteenth century, when European scholars became interested in Pashtuns’ origin, some accepted the Israelite theory, but others deemed the theory wrong and called Pushtuns to be Arians. (Sir William Jones, Alexander Burnes, William Moorcroft subscribe to the Israelite theory. On the other hand, Mountstuart Elphinston, John Malcolm, Bernard Doren, and James Darmsteter believe in Arian origin of Pashtuns.) Scholars favoring the Israelitic theory, believe that Pashto is like Arabic and Hebrew a Semitic language. On the other hand, those who accept the Arian origin of Pahtuns, relate Pashtu to Indo-European language group.
At present, based on scientific research in Philology and History, most Afghans as well as foreign scholars agree that Pashto belongs to the Northeast Arian branch of Indo- European language group and its kinship with ancient (Avista and Saka ) languages is considered a proven fact. Ancient forms of the language can be found in the (Zand and Avesta).” The late Norwegian scholar, Georg Morgenstierne (1892-1978) accepts the Indo-European and North-east Arian origin of Pashto language but instead of it’s relation with (Avesta), he believes Pashto is of (Saki) origin.*
As a consequence of life in mountainous areas, weak socio-economic inter-relations, along with other historic and linguistic reasons, there are many dialects in Pashto language. However, as a whole, Pashto has two main dialects: soft or western dialect and hard or eastern dialect. The difference between these two dialects is in the use of some vowels and two sounds: (sh, gh to be added in Pashto alphabet).
are called “Afghans” by non-Pashtuns; Pashto is called “Afghani.” Based on Ghaznavid era literature, written history
of the word “afghan” extends to more than a thousand years. The name “
Pashto alphabet is made Arabic letters. The numbers of sound letters (Phonemes) reaches to forty, of which eight sounds are distinctly Pashto, and the rest are the same as Arabic sounds. Although, we don’t have much definitive information regarding the kind of letters used in written Pashto before the present Arabic based letters. Form coins, earthenware and inscriptions, discovered in various parts of Pashtunhkwa, areas where Pushtuns historically lived, it can be guessed that at some point of time, Pashto was written in “Kharoshti”. But as of today, scholars have not made a lasting judgment on the subject of ancient Pashto alphabet.
to the formation of contemporary Pashto alphabet, it is generally said, that
in the era of Gaznvid Sultan Mohmud, his wazir Khwaja Hassan Maiwandi, instructed
Qazi Saifullah to develop alphabet for Pashto language. After hard work and
many improvements the present form of Pashto alphabet was adopted. But Baizid
Roshan, a Pasthun religious and political leader, (931-980), prides himself
for inventing Pashto letters, superimposing them on Arabic and thus creating
Pashto alphabet. Anyhow, Pashto alphabet has gone through a series of changes
introduced by such prominent Pashtuns as Roshan’s peer Baizid Ormar, Nangarhari
Akhund Darviza (939-1048), Khushal Khan Khatak (1022-1100) and latter on by
Wazir Mohamma Gul Khan, Khan Abdul Samad Khan, and Qalandar Momand. But the
present form of Pashto alphabet, initiated by Pashto Tolana (official English
name), rectified and agreed upon by scholars in
Pata Khazana or Hidden treasure, compiled by Mhammad Hotak (1728) traces Pashto literature’s poetic samples as far back as the 2nd Hijri Qamari (7th A.D.). Tazkiratul-Awlia, written in Pashto by Suliman Maku in 1215, extends the history of Pashto prose to about 800 years. After Roshani era or 10th century Hijri Qamari (16th A.D.) Pashto written literature, till present day, has had a steady continuity. The era of Khoshal Khan, his sons and his grandsons is considered the golden age of Pashto literature. We will have a headless body, as the saying goes, if Landie and Khoshal Khatak are taken awy from Pashto literature.
literature’s active cultural domains are