Pashto language, also known as Pakhto, Pushto, or Pashtu, belongs from an Indo Iranian branch of an Indo-European language family. The language is widely spoken in various countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc. Some parts of the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, India, and much more. It is estimated spoken by around 40 to 50 million people in the world. The language is majorly divided into two dialects that are distinct based on vocabulary and pronunciation. These dialects involve multiple variants. In general, it has been observed that the Pashto speakers can understand each other within the same dialects. It is also estimated that the lexical similarity between northern and southern Pashto is seen around 80%.
Pashto is considered to be one of the two formal languages that are spoken in Afghanistan. The other language is considered to be Dari. The two languages have coexisted in the country for an extended period. There are around twice as many Pashto speakers in the world as compared to the Dutch speakers. In Pakistan, the total number of Pashto speakers is about 25 million. Pashto has enriched the tradition of poetry and literature. The practices of Pashto involve folk stories and long poetry. The genres of the poetry are different and express the trials and tribulations of the everyday life of Afghan women. Afghan poetry is quite hard to understand and translate. As compared to other languages, the way the Pashto language is being spoken varies from region to region. The Pashto language involves two to three dialects, such as Northern Pashto is spoken in Pakistan; Central Pashto that is expressed in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and lastly, Southern Pashto, which is described in Afghanistan. People who don’t talk and know about Pashto quite well can easily mistake written Pashto as the Arabic language as the script used for both is quite the same. Other differences which can differentiate Afghan Pashto and Pakistani Pashto are as follows:
- Pakistani Pashto is said to be Urdu mixed. Many Urdu language words are being mixed with the learn Pashto language in Pakistan because the education system, media, and all other modes of communication in Pakistan are mainly in Urdu.
- Pakistani Pashto has a soft dialect as compared to the Afghani Pashto. Also, the Pakistani Pashto involves no official status at the federal level of the country. However, it is considered the second-largest language spoken in Pakistan at the regional level.
- It is spoken majorly at the west and northwest side of Pakistan, such as within Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Baluchistan.
- In comparison to Pakistan, the Afghani speaks Persian mixed Pashto.
- Pashto is considered to be the national language of Afghanistan. It is also said to be the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan that involves the majority of the native speakers as Pashto.
- Afghani Pashtun can adequately read and write their mother language as compared to the Pakistani Pashtun.
- The media industry of Afghani Pashtun is much weaker than the Pakistani Pashtun industry because of the Taliban that has strict rule over there and also the present situation of terrorism.
The Pashto language is one of the most exciting and challenging languages to learn and understand, especially for beginners. However, with proper knowledge and understanding of the appropriate background of the Pashto language and thoroughly understanding the dialects and vocabulary, one can quickly learn and speak Pashtu within a short period. All it requires is keen knowledge and focus.
Muhammad Junaid is a senior Analyst and Search Engine Expert. Extensive experience being a lead writer in Urdu Tutor. Work for years with local and international enterprises. Also, represent well-known brands in the UAE.