dinsdag 14 juni 2011

Learn Pashto: Introduction (پښتو زده کړه: پېژندګلوی)

Pashto (Pashtu, Pakhto, Pakhtu, Paxto, Pushtu, Pushto) (پښتو) is mainly spoken in the eastern and southern provinces of Afghanistan, all the AfPak tribal areas, and the Khyber Pashtunkhwa (خیبر پښتونخوا) province. It is also one of the two (Pashto and Dari) official languages of Afghanistan.
But because of the centuries of wars, poverty and tribal conflicts, the Pashtuns (پښتانه) have constantly migrated to other areas, far and near, and now you can find them in every corner of the world. In some non-Pashtun areas, for example, Karachi and some Arab countries, they have big communities and they speak Pashto with each other.

This is quite an old language with rich literature, but ignored by nearly all governments through the history. Pashtun kings preferred Persian in their courts as nearly all Afghan governments do to this day. It is always the case that Persian is promoted and Pashto is ignored in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, particularly when the Afghan government supported the Pashtunistan cause, the Pakistani government constantly tried to destroy Pashto but failed. Urdu was promoted in schools of Pashtun-dominated areas of even the tribal areas and even religion was used against Pashto.

The mullahs at that time launched a campaign in which they told people to abandon Pashto and adopt Urdu and Arabic. Urdu because it was the language of a country (Pakistan) created by Islamic ideology (some even went to the extent that Prophet Muhammad had prophesied about the creation of Pakistan. Some also said that Allah had decided to create Pakistan at the time he completed the Quran). And Arabic because it was the language of the Paradise (a hadith to this meaning was widely circulated and propagated). Though Pashto was not mentioned in the hadith, the mullahs did not hesitate to specifically say that Pashto was actually the language of the Hell.

A well-known and widely loved Pashtun poet, Amir Hamza Shinwari, responded to this Pashto-in-the-Hell idea in a much quoted couplet:
اغیار خو وايي د دوزخ ژبه ده – زه به جنت ته د پښتو سره ځم
Aghyar kho wayee da dozakh zhaba da – Za ba jannat tad a Pakhto sara sara zam
(Though the enemies say it is the language of the Hell – I will enter the Heaven with Pashto) (He is now there and I hope he is successful in doing so!)

Surely, both Pashto and the Pashtuns suffered a lot but survived. However, ignoring Pashto and hostility against the Pashtuns had two long time detrimental effects:
  1. The Pashtun society as a whole remained a tribal society; and
  2.  Pashto language is losing its richness and attraction, even for the Pasthuns

As a result, the Pashtun areas in both Afghanistan and Pakistan became the center of a global war against terrorism. And Pashto as a language remains backward with no academic progress and modern knowledge that can inspire its speakers and readers.

At this age of knowledge and progress, only a few books are published in Pashto every year most of which are either poetry or religious propaganda published by the authors and distributed free. Only a few books get translated into Pashto from other languages, but that also mostly stories of false religious heroism translated in poor language. Hence, no surprise that extremism and blind faith in religion is so dear to everyone in the Pashtun areas. 99% of the Pashto books, magazines, internet websites, and newspapers publish content that is utterly boring, uninspiring, and repetition of the centuries old tribal thinking. This is because the publishers/editors of these books/media have strict policies that everything must be ‘according to the religion and in respect of the culture.’

Though for the first time Pashto came to the world’s attention during the US-backed jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan – that was the time when several Western radio channels, such as BBC and the Voice of America, started Pashto services -, it was after the 2001 international involvement in Afghanistan that increased interest in learning Pashto.

I am not a professional Pashto teacher but I have learned many languages, including English and Urdu, by myself, using my own methods. A few years ago I created this Learn Pashto blog after which I received hundreds of emails for help in learning Pashto. I stopped updating that blog after a while because I got busy with too many other activities, but now I thought it may be a good idea to post some lessons that comprehensively discuss every aspect of the Pashto language. I will try to post at least one lesson a week with as much details as I can. And will try to make it as easy and as useful as possible for non-Pashto speakers.

You are here because you may need to learn Pashto for your job in Afghanistan, or for some other purpose or just for fun. Or you may have thought that it is handy to know it in case you end up in the Hell (if you happen to believing in mullahs and the Hell), and want to make things easier for yourself. That is none of my business. But I would advise you to learn the basic things, like alphabets, etc., before you come for the lessons. They are available everywhere on internet. If you cannot find, please read this article. And this is an English to Pashto dictionary which you may find useful. And if you have any questions and comments, please post them in the comments section.

Dialects (لهجې)

Pashto has several dialects which are in use to this day. For example, Waziri (وزیري), Khattak (خټک), etc. But the two main dialects are Kandahari (کندهاري) and Yousafzai (یوسفزئ). The base for the Kandahari dialect is Kandahar and it is used in all southern provinces of Afghanistan, and the Baluchistan province in Pakistan. The Yousafzai dialect is based in Peshawar and is used in all eastern provinces of Afghanistan, many tribal areas, and the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Yousafzai is the SOFT dialect and Kandahair is the HARD dialect. Whichever dialect you speak, Pashto-speakers will understand you. However, there are some differences in writing which sometimes confuse foreigners.

For example, in Afghanistan we prefer to write words the way we pronounce them. Hence, we write ‘کې’, but on the other side of the Durand Line, they write it ‘کښې’ but they don’t pronounce the ‘ښ’. People from some southern provinces of Afghanistan even pronounce the ‘ښ’ but do not write it in the standard writing. Following is a list of words that are written differently in Kandahari (Afghanistan) and Yousafzai  (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) dialects. These are just a few words as an example.

                   Khyber Pakhtunkhwa                   Afghanistan
خلک                             خلق                                                                                                               people
په هکله                           په حقله                                                   about
کندهار                            قندهار                                                    Kandahar
مانا                                معنی                                                      meaning
کې                                کښې                                                      in
بښنه                              بخښنه                                                    apology
کونړ                              کنړ                                                        Kunar
سهار                             سحر                                                      morning
کمپ                              کیمپ                                                     camp

کمیسیون                         کمېشن                                                   commission

ښ (kheen) and ش (sheen)

ښ (kheen) is pronounced ‘sheen’ in the south wherever people in the rest of the Pashtun lands pronounce it ‘kheen.’ For example, ښار and شار (city), ماښام and ماشام (evening), ښه and شه (okay), and پښتونخوا and پشتونخوا (Pashtunkhwa). Sometimes, mainly in Pakistan, you will also see words like ماخام instead of ماښام, or پختونخوا instead of پښتونخوا, or کونړ instead of کوڼ (deaf). They are wrong and must be avoided. 

Also, you may sometime see words written with the letter 'ګ' or 'گ'. They are the same. The former is preferred but some people use the latter too. 

We also have different words for different things or the same words with different meanings (for example, in Pakistan صحافي is a journalist but in Afghanistan it means a book-binder). That is because the Pashto that is spoken on the Pakistani side is under the influence of Urdu, on the Afghan side it is under the influence of Dari (Afghan Persian). Some words of one dialect may sound funny to the speakers of the other dialect. But because of the entire international media of Pashto now tends to use words that are used in Afghanistan as standard Pashto, many people around Peshawar and the tribal areas also try to use them, sometimes in wrong context. Sometimes ago I listened to a few programs of the Deewa Pashto radio of Voice of America and I had to laugh at some of the words they used in wrong contexts and pronounced in a very funny way.
If a Pashto speaker is not careful about these things, some people may criticize him/her, some may just laugh and some may find it offensive (if a word is used in a way that gives an offensive meaning), but if a foreigner makes these mistakes, people will just ignore them as minor ‘تېروتنې’ (mistakes).

22 opmerkingen:

  1. iam a baloch but i love pashto i think pashto is a great language of great people

  2. pashto is the language of brave and polite people.

    1. i am in love with man who speak pashto so i want to learn it pray for me.thanks

    2. same case here :P

  3. I am a Punjabi, and Pashtoons and Afghans are found all over Punjab, and I found Pashto language interesting and liked it. I want to learn it.

  4. i am a punjabi but i am learning pashto very keenly through www.uso.org/pashto-course.aspx


  6. i want to learn pashto ....can any one recommend me any website

    1. "hadihairan.com" is one of the websites through which you can learn Pushto.

  7. i want to learn pashto which is written in Afghan pashto alphabitacal.
    if anyone can help please...

  8. pashto is a great language and it is easy to learn. please try to learn it ... good luck

  9. i m learning pashto, i want a contact number pashto conversation, is any one interested??? call me on 0333-4428040

  10. I am married to a man who speaks pashto n it is really easy to learn the language. i learnt it for my husband

  11. i also want to leran pushto
    my c 03003228609

  12. To learn Pashto visit www.glovico.org

  13. Hairan saib sataso web saite kho za chi time wi no zai study kom za da Bajour wesidonkai yaim aw taso zama sara makhki face book ki add wai kho na malomigi chi haga zama I,d yani da face book profile block sho no za pa bajjour ki da Tangi Charmang wosidonki yaim aw satso website mi der ziat khawakhigai aw pa hagai ki pukhtoon aw sharam zama der ziat khawakh dai aw nooor hm , da bajour da qomandan waqia der kha da aw deghasi nori khabri hm dai kho da malomigi chi taso hm pa bajour ki wakht terkarida

  14. very good website hadi i learn very much from this website
    thanks again for posting