The Pashtu (Pashto) Language

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Tracing the history of Pashto, an ancient language

Pashto belongs to the North-Eastern group within the Iranian branch of Indo-European languages. Pashto has long been recognised as the most important language of the North-West Frontier Province between Pakistan and India. The Pashto language is believed to have originated in the Kandahar/Helmand areas of Afghanistan. Dari often dominated Afghan/Pashto in Afghanistan in everyday government use since the capital was moved to Kabul from Kandahar in the 18th century. Pashto was declared by royal decree in 1936 to be the national language of Afghanistan instead of Dari Persian. However, they both share this status and are still widely spoken across present-day Afghanistan, with most Afghanis being proficient in both languages. The areas of Afghanistan to which Pashto is native are those in the East, South, and South-West bordering Pakistan. Indeed many inhabitants of the regions on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan belong to the Pashtun ethnic group and are speakers of Pashto. The name of the language, Pashto, also denotes the robust code of customs, morals and manners of the Pashtun people.

Dive into the depths of the Pashto language and explore its expansive lexicon

The Pashto lexicon is fascinating as it contains side-by-side words going back to the dawn of Iranian, neologisms of all ages and loanwords from several languages acquired over two thousand years—the oldest loan words date from the Greek occupation of Bactria in the Third century BC. No trace of a Zoroastrian or a Buddhist past remains, but the Islamic period has brought many Arabic and Persian cultural words. For centuries, words have been adopted from Persian in the West and Indo-Aryan neighbours to the East into everyday language. The more significant part of the basic vocabulary is inherited from Eastern Iranians.

The captivating script of the Pashto language is like no other

The earliest authenticated records of Pashto as a literary language date from the late sixteenth century, when the whole area was part of the Mogul empire. The language has always been written in the Perso-Arabic script with certain modified letters added to represent Pashto’s peculiar consonant phonemes. There was a considerable variety in the earliest manuscripts in representing three consonants, but later a standard system emerged. Since adopting Pashto as a national language in Afghanistan, several innovations have been introduced into the script, aiding clarity.

We have looked at the rich and powerful Pashtu (Pashto) language. This language has diverse dialects, is an official language in two countries, and is widely spoken in Central and South Asia. Its beautiful sound is appreciated by all who speak it and those who want to learn.

Knowledge of Pashtu can open many doors into cultures that are not often explored, allowing for further exploration of the wonders of this area of the world. Whether you are a student looking for new opportunities or a business looking for ways to engage customers, knowledge of Pashtu will be a valued asset.

Finally, if you need assistance with translating documents or content into or from Pashtu, don’t hesitate to contact Kwintessential so you can get started understanding and connecting with this vibrant community today!

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