vi. Paṣ̌tō

A. Geographical distribution. B. Phonemic system. C. Phonetical development. D. Morphology. E. Vocabulary. F. Waṇecī. G. Position of Paṣ̌tō within Iranic.

A. Geographical distribution, name, and dialects. (1) Paṣ̌tō (Pa/əҳt’o; for see below) is an Iranic language spoken in south and southeastern Afghanistan, by recent settlers in northern Afghanistan, in Pakistan (North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan), and on the eastern border of Iran. According to the latest estimates, it is spoken by some eight million people in Afghanistan, six million in Pakistan, and about 50,000 in Iran. Paṣ̌tō is thus the second in importance among the Iranic languages and in Afghanistan the official language, beside Darī.

(2) Although the name Afghan has been recorded much earlier than Paṣ̌tō, the latter is undoubtedly the original, native name. The earlier, common derivation from Herodotus’ tribal name Páktues is phonetically untenable. Neither Greek u nor kt could possibly render the sounds of the Iranic name of the 5th century B.C. The ū of Paҳt’ūn (masc. plur. Paxtān’ə) “a member of the Paštūn nation” would at that time have been -a(n)- and xt probably something like *rs(t). The modern “hard” pronunciation of ҳt as xt is restricted to the northeastern dialects and evidently of recent origin, as shown inter alia by the orthography. Indo-Aryan Paṭhān must have been adopted from Paṣ̌tō *Paṣ̌tan-.

(3) The most plausible derivation of Paҳt’o, as already suggested by Markwart (Untersuchungen zur Geschichte von Eran, Göttingen and Leipzig, 1896-1905, II, p. 177; cf. Morg[enstierne]4, par. 40b), is from *Parsuwā, and of Paҳt’ūn from *Parswāna-, with the basic stem *Parsū-; cf. Skt. (Pāṇini) Parśu- “a (northwestern) warrior tribe.” Tedesco, in a letter, compares Pārsa- (from a vṛddhi from *Pārswa-). We know how certain tribal names can spread over widely separated regions; cf., e.g., Veneti and Saxons (Morg.4,5).

(4) Paҳt’o denotes not only the Paštūn language, but also the national code of honor: Paҳtūn haγa na daγ či Paҳto wāyi, lekin haγa či Paҳto ləri “a Paṣ̌tūn is not he who (only) speaks Paṣ̌tō, but he who has Paṣ̌tō. ” This expression symbolizes the strong feeling of Paṣ̌tun national unity—unique among Iranic ethnic groups—in spite of the numerous tribes, subtribes, clans, and continuous inter-tribal fighting.

(5) Although there are numerous different dialects, Paṣ̌tō is essentially one language (as regards the one possible exception, Waṇecī, see below, F). Due to overlaps among various isoglosses, it is difficult to establish a satisfactory classification of Paṣ̌tō dialects (but see supra, p. 505). Thus the dialects presenting a further development of common Paṣ̌tō vocalism may belong either to the “soft” or the “hard” group. Nor are the results of palatalization, metathesis, etc., confined to definitive areas. It may therefore be practical to deal with the dialect features in connection with the description of phonemic and morphological development.

B. Phonemic system. (6) According to the orthography of “classical” Paṣ̌tō recorded since the 10th/16th century, there were thirty-one consonants, including q, f (only in loan words and largely pronounced as k and p) and ʿayn (only in Arabic words and belonging to a learned type of pronunciation). Arabic , is pronounced as t, and as s, and , ż, and as z. Retroflex, and are restricted to loanwords from Indo-Aryan, but a large number of these are of ancient date and no more felt as foreign than, e.g., “church,” “cellar,” or “wine” in English. The remaining twenty-six consonants occur in words of genuine Paṣ̌tō origin, i.e., k, g, γ; t, d, n; p, b, m; ; č, ǰ; c, j; s, š, ҳ; z, ž, ğ; r, , l; y, w, and h (rare in original Paṣ̌tō words). Regarding and ǧ, see below, 21.

(7) The vowels are a, i, u, ə (zwarg’ay); ā, ī, ū, ē, and ō. A and ə overlap in some dialects and ī and ū have been abbreviated in most of them. Ē and ō (for standard Paṣ̌tō) will be written e and o, since there is no opposition between long and short e and o (except in the cases where i may be pronounced as short e). Diphthongs are āy, āw, and final -əy. Characteristic of Paṣ̌tō is the role played by mobile stress; cf. below, 39.

C. Phonetical development. a. Vowels. (8) Stressed Iranic a normally > o, before a nasal > u (e.g., mor “mother,” nūm “name,” lūna “abscess”). A in many cases > ā (e.g., plār “father,” lās “hand,” < *dasta-, but las “ten”). In many dialects in the mountain regions of Pakistan and adjoining parts of Afghanistan, from Afr(īdī) to Waz(īrī), o changes further into ȯ, ȫ, ɛ (Waz. mō/ɛ̄r), and ā to rounded â, å, ō(plâ/å/r). In Afr., etc., lās “ten” fills up the gap left by lâs “hand,” and so on. More or less in the same area we also find, for unknown reasons, ē for a (e.g., špēğ “six,” wrēj “day,” wēr- “to him,” etc.), while ē, e.g., in wlēšt, etc., “span” < Av. vītasti- is common also in other dialects and is due to palatalization. (9) In Waz., etc., ū > ī (e.g., līr “daughter”). No intermediate state ǖ, well known from Persian dialects, has been recorded. This change to ī must have taken place before the loss of phonemic quantity of Paṣ̌tō ī and ū. Note the isolated “Waz.” vocalism in Kāk(aṛī) of Šāhrīg (Bal.) līr, mēr, calēr “four,” etc. (10) In many cases Paṣ̌tō ū and ī are due to lengthening before an original cluster. Thus spīn “white” < *spiθna-, ūҳ “camel” < *ušθra-, g’uta “finger” < *anguštā. But šk has been assimilated (see below, 19) too early to cause lengthening. (11) Iranic ī/ĭ and ᵛū generally > ə, as also in various other Northeastern Iranic languages, and, as a tendency, already in Avestan. Thus, bəl “second,” m’ənay “autumn,” sp’əğa “louse,” ҳ’əj-a “woman” (< *strī-čī + -a), ləm “tail,” m’əğa “rat,” p’ə ča “dung.” But note, e.g., wrīže “rice,” wr’ūja “eyebrow.” Iranic * > ər (e.g., kəṛ, “made,” məṛ “died,: yəğ “bear”). Iranic ai > e (e.g., lew’ə “wolf,” lew’ar “husband’s brother”) and *au > *ō > wa (e.g., γwağ “ear,” rwaj “day”). But the breaking of *ō has affected also some loanwords from Indo-Aryan: Kwaṭa “Quetta” < kōt; twal “of equal weight,” but in a more recent loan, tol “weight.” (12) Loss of initial or medial short vowels is common. Thus bən “co-wife,” ğdən “millet,” gūta “finger,” zyaṛ “yellow,” γwa “cow,” mlā (Bangaš dialect maly’ā) “waist,” psə “goat” or “sheep.” All Iranic final vowels are dropped, with the exception of -ā (see below, 31, 33). (13) But *-ayah probably resulted in -e in the fem. plur. (cf. 38), transferred from stems in -i as a distinguishing feature of the fem. also to stems in -ā, in ’aspe “mares,” etc. Note that for the monosyllabic dre “three” < *θrayah several dialects from Afr. to Kak. have drēy, etc. Iranic *-iyah and *-uvah result in -’ə, e.g., in trə “paternal uncle” < *p(i)tṛwiyah (but, e.g., bəl “other” < *dwiθya-h, čirg “cock” < *kṛkya-h), and psə “small cattle” (from a collective plural). Iranic *-u/awā > -’o, in Paҳˊt’o fem. (if < *Parsuwā), wurš’o fem. “pasture” < *fra-šyawā (Av. fra-šiyaw- “go forward,” cf. the semantically parallel development of car-), waṛγδo fem., plur. -owe “plain, steppe” (cf. Pahl. gawā [= Pahl. dašt] “plain,” given as the translation of Av. gava- “land, district”). (14) The problems connected with the varying results of umlaut and epenthesis before i/y would need a much more detailed analysis and discussion than can be given here, and must also be viewed in connection with the palatalization of consonants (see below, 18). A few characteristic examples are meṛ’ə “husband (< *martiya-), wle/as/št “span” (Av. vītasti-), wrer’a “brother’s daughter” (but wrār’ə “brother’s son”), mair’a “stepmother,” er’a “ashes,” myāšt, etc., “month” (< *māsti-), l(y)ār fem. “road,” wyāl’ə, etc., “irrigation channel,” zyaṛ “yellow,” bən “co-wife” (Av. hapaθnī-), xpəl “own” (< *hwapaθya-). The only known example of u- epenthesis is ž’āwla “resin, gum” (Skt. jatu-).

b. Consonants. (15) Iranic y- is retained, e.g., in yor “husband’s sister,” but may be dropped before i, e.g., in y’ina, dial. ’ina “liver” (< *yaxn-). W is retained, e.g., in w’ala “willow,” wlēšt, etc., “span,” w’ina, dial. (y)ī° “blood.” Paṣ̌tō is the only Iranic language in which w and b- have completely merged. But we also find secondary w-/y-, e.g., in or, dial. w-/y-/hor “fire,” wuč “dry.” W- is dropped before o, e.g., in xor “sister” (but pl. xwainde), calor (but dial. -lw-) “four.” (16) In some southern dialects w and y are “hardened” into b and g before i/y. Thus by’ešta “hair,” bid’ə “asleep,” grəwgi (gr’ewa, dial. grəwye) “collar-bone,” (arw-)ed’əlgi (from -əlē) “were heard.” (17) Paṣ̌tō, like all other Northeastern Iranic languages (a few secondary regressions excepted), opens up Iranic b, d, g, and ǰ into fricatives. Thus wand “dam, dike,” raw- “to suck,” las “ten” (< *δ as in Munǰī), mlā “waist,” γar “mountain,” ṇγwağ- “to hear,” žəy “bow-string,” wa-žn- “to kill.” We find voiced stops only in secondarily initial positions, e.g., gūta “finger,” bən “co-wife,” “this (< *[a]ita-). (18) T- and p- remain, as does k, except when secondarily palatalized, e.g., in čāṛ’ə “knife,” čā obl. “who” (< kahya). Iranic č > dental c (cal’or “four”). Intervocalic -p-, -t-, -k-, -č- > b, l, g, j. Thus ob’ə “water,” səl “one hundred” (but loss of -t-, e.g., in wo “wind”), š’əga “sand,” rwaj “day.” But early elision of vowel takes place: špa “night,” -wēšt “-twenty,” škūṇ “porcupine,” stən “needle” (< *sc- < *suč-). X remains, but θ > l in lew’ar “husband’s brother” (several Iranic languages point to *θ-, not *d- ), plan “wide.” F- > xw- in xway “wooden shovel” (Shugh. fay, etc.), but -f- > w in swa “hoof.”

c. Clusters. (19) St remains (nāst “sitting”), when not palatalized (myāš/st “month”). Št > t (tun “place,” at’ə “eight;” cf. Wāḵī hat), probably through *ht, before the introduction of from Indo-Aryan. Cf. šk > h’k’ > č (wuč “dry,” etc.), and > c (ac’a “thigh-bone:” Av. asču-, ācaṇ- “to sew together” < *ā-sčar(t)n-, Skt. krṇtat-, crta-). Ft > (w) d (tō[w]d, fem. tawd’a “hot,” ūd’ə, etc., “asleep,” but ow’ə “seven”). Xt > zero (səw-ay “burnt,” “went” (if < *taxta-), tər-l’a “uncle’s daughter.” Wrīt “roasted” to Pers. birišta rather than to Bal. brihta, brētka. (20) As generally in modern Northeastern Iranic, -(x) š- has become voiced (e.g., špağ “six,” γwağ “ear,” saǧ-kāl “this year” < *saxša-) but -, - > š- (špa- “night,” šīn “blue,” špūn “shepherd”).

(21 ) The transliteration of ṣ̌ and ẓ̌ by and ǧ veils the most obvious if not the most important, division of Paṣ̌tō dialects. In the southwestern “soft” group they remain sibilants, usually retroflex ṣ̌ and ẓ̌, but merging in some restricted areas with more palatal š and ž. In the “hard” northwestern dialects they merge completely with x and g. But in an intermediate area, mainly Ḡilzay, we find transitional types, or mixings, e.g., š/ṣ̌/ҳ/xəja “woman,” špaž/ẓ̌/ γ̌/g “six.”

(22) Before n, but not before m, there is assimilation of θ, (x) š (for ršn, see below, 24). Thus, spīn “white,” rūṇ “bright,” sūṇ “sniff, snort” (< *sušna-), but melm’ə “guest,” wağm “steam, vapor” (< *waxšma-). Hw > x(w) as generally in Iranic, and *(x)šw- > šp- (špağ “six”). θw > lw (cal[w]or “four,” calweҳt “forty”. But dw- develops differently in war “door,” dwa “two,” bəl “other” (cf. Morg.1, s.v. dwa). (23) Before r initial x- is retained in xriy- “to shave,” while θ-, f- become voiced in dre “three” (*’r could not be tolerated), wr’əǧa “flea” (and probably in the prefix war < fra-). Also fr-, -wr- (wāwra “snow”), but complete assimilation of -θ/xr- (or “fire,” sūr “red,” however, with metathesis, trīx, fem. tərx’a “bitter”). Br > wr in wror “brother,” o(w)r’ə “cloud,” and dr- in draγ’al “liar,” drəm’ənd “threshing” (if < *dru-). Gr- apparently in gr’ewa, etc., “collarbone;” but note also γrδəbay “buckle, clasp” (< *grab/p- ?). (24) Iranic rt/d merges into (kəṛ “made,” zṛə “heart”). Such merging also takes place in Ōrmuṛī, Parāčī, and Sanglēčī. Iranic r(š)n > (aṇ- “to grind,” zāṇa “crane,” war-γaṇay “rubbing [an infant],” Skt. ghṛṣ- “to rub,” γēṇ “penis”). But ršn + t seems to have been dentalized in tanda “thirst” < *tršnatā (?), kāndi (poetical) “they make” < *kaṇ-ndi < *kṛnantai (?; Morg.3). (25) The most convenient way of listing the development of other clusters containing r and a sibilant is to start from the resulting Paṣ̌tō sound: Pšt. < *ršt (kҳel “to pull”), *sr (oҳa “tear”), *str (wāҳ “rope”), *štr (ūҳ “camel”). Pšt. ǧ < * (xoǧ “sweat”), * (yəǧ “bear”), *zr (ǧo “by God!” < *zruwā). Pšt. ҳt < *rs(t) (weҳt’ə “hair,” γaҳtel “to twist”). Pšt. ğd < *rz (ğdən “millet,” [w]ūǧd “long”) (Morg.4). (26) The palatalization of k, st, and vowels has been mentioned above (see 18, 19, 14). We also find š < sy (m’əšar “elder,” maš’ay “fish,” təš “empty”), epenthesis of y (lyār, dial. for lār “road;” myāšt, etc., “month”), and the various dialect plural forms of mor “mother” and other words denoting female relationships (mainde, m[y]ande, m[y]andye), all probably pointing to an early, preliterary system with suprasegmented palatalization throughout the word (*m’an’d’e).

(27) There is a strong tendency toward various kinds of assimilation, dissimilation, and metathesis. Thus mālga “salt” (< *nm-), nwas’ay “grandson” (dial. nm-, lm-), nwar “sun” (nwar, nmar, lmer, etc.), ğmənj “comb” (mangəz; Waz. wžənz). Cf. also (w)šəl “twenty,” (w) lāṛ “went.” Note also the change of r-l to l-r (lār “road,” -lara “to,” lwarən “madder”). (28) These various sound changes have led in many cases to a more or less complete severance of the phonetical connection between related words. Thus plār “father:” trə “paternal uncle,” sxar “father-in-law,” xwāҳe “mother-in-law;” Ḵalīl dial. ul-, pret. wišt “to throw, shoot,” etc. (29) On the subject of phonetical development it is worth noting that in the northeastern dialects most exposed to Indo-Aryan influence, and especially in the Peshawar region, Paṣ̌tō has rid itself of five un-Indo-Aryan phonemes through the change of > x, ǧ > g, c > s, j > z, but ž > ǰ; it has retained only x and z, both of which have also gained a kind of admission into the Northeastern Indo-Aryan languages.

D. Morphology. a. Nouns. Gender. (30) The preservation of a final -a (-ə) <-ā has, as also in other Iranic dialects, supported the retention of a separate fem. gender. The category of gender pervades all nominal forms, including the past part. and the verbal forms based upon it, and has also penetrated into the auxiliary 3rd sing. pres. Only the demonstrative nom. sing. haγa “he/she/that” is an exception. Thus, də haγ’ə zoṛ ās məṛ š’əway day/də haγ’e zaṛa ‘aspa mṛa š’əwe da “his/her old horse/mare has died.” Iranic neuter nouns have been transferred to the masculine (pal “footstep, trace,” nūm “name”) or to the feminine (l’ūma “snare,” but also lam’ən “hem” < nt. plur. *dāmani). (31) Many masculine nouns in -a- end in Paṣ̌tō consonants (kor “house,” “family” < kāra-); but γar “mountain” < *gari- (cf. Khot. ggara-). Ancient stems in -u have been treated in various ways, e.g., psə “goats and sheep” < collective plur. *pasuwoh; os’ay “gazelle” < *āsu- + ka-; oҳa fem. “tear” < *asru + ā-. Stems in -n- can be traced e.g., in melm’ə, plur. -ān’ə “guest.” Stems in -r- denoting kinship may either go back to Iranic accusative (plār “father”), or to some oblique case (mor “mother”). (32) Nouns in stressed or unstressed masculine -ay < *-aka- are common. Thus, nwas’ay “grandson,” malg’əray “comrade,” with the corresponding feminine forms in -’əy, -e < *-aki (nwas’əy, malg’əres). (33) Most feminine nouns end in stressed or unstressed -a (rarely ə). Thus, ’aspa “mare,” asp’a “nettle-rash, asthma,” maṇ’a “apple,” γoban’a fem. “cowherd,” xwlə/a “mouth.” Note the types wrer’a “brother’s daughter,” čāṛ’ə “knife,” Waz, etc. gutyē “finger-ring” < *anguštyā- (but all dialects have -a in g’uta, etc. “finger”), y’əwe “plough,” Waz. yəwyē. All of these go back to -(i)yā, but the distribution between original forms in - and -iyā is not clear. It is at any rate impossible, with Kuryłowicz (Metrik und Sprachgeschichte, p. 102) to consider all feminines in -’a as having been taken over from such in -’iyā. (34) In contracted monosyllables we find -ā. Thus γwā “cow,” Waz. -o; xwā “side,” Waz. -o; mlā “waist” (= Waz.), Bangaš maly’a; plā “journey” = Waz. (probably < *paθyā; γlā “theft” = Waz. (probably < *gadyā). But note also γla (fem. of γal “thief,” špa “night,” swa “hoof,” ҳna “hip.” It is difficult to explain the relations between such bisyllables in - with those in -’o, which have been derived from -a/uwā mentioned above. (35) A restricted, nonproductive group of feminines ending in a consonant go back to *-(č)ī. Thus bən “cowife,” wlešt “span,” ğmənj “comb” (< *fšan-čī), ҳəj-a “woman” (< *strī-čī-), and, in some dialects lyār-a “road.” In təštyā “emptiness” < *-tāti- the t has been retained as if initial, cf. Khot. tuśśātātä and Av. yawē-ča-tāite.

Number. (36) No New or Middle Iranic language presents a corresponding variety of plural endings, and only a selection of the historically most important can be given here. (37) Masc. 1. -(y/g)ān (mostly animates): ūҳ’ān “camels,” mullāy’ān “mullahs.” 2. -’ūna: lās’ūna “hands,” zṛ’ūna “hearts,” but also as ’ūna (and as’ān) “horses,” plar’ūna “fathers.” 3. -’ə: špān’ə “shepherds” (špūn, špə), xrə “asses” (xar), spār’ə “horsemen” (spor, etc.); probably also sxər “rocks” < *sxrə (sxar). 4. -ān’a: γobān’ə “cowherds” (γob-’ə/’ūn). 5. -ī: k’əlī “villages” (-ay), saṛ’ī “men” (-’ay), spī(ān) “dogs” (spag). 6. Irregular are, e.g., wr’ūṇa “brothers” (wror), zām’ən “sons” (zoy). Note -a after numerals: dre k’ora “three houses” (probably < *-āh). (38) Fem. 1. -e: w’əne “trees,” maṇ’e “apples,” l’āre “roads,” Pəҳtan’e “Pathan women,” rw’aje “days” (probably < *-ayah transferred from i-stems, in order to distinguish between the plur. of stems in -a- and -ā-). 2. From feminines in -ā, e.g., mlā-we “waists.” 3. (y/g)āne: nyāg’āne “grandmothers,” tror(y)āne (or trainde, trore) “paternal aunts.” 4. Plur. = sing.: rūp’əy “rupee(s),” but animate spəy, spī’āne “she-dogs.” 5. Irregular: l’ūṇa (lūre) “daughters,” mainde, etc. “mothers” (mor), and similarly other terms in -or denoting female kinship. (39) Note the compound mor-plār “parents” (cf. Skt. mātā-pitaraḥ), and also lās (aw) pҳe “hands and feet,” špa aw rwaje “nights and days.”

Case. (40) The obl. is frequently identical with the nom. (e.g., lās “hand,” spəy “she-dog”). But the masc. has -’ə (e.g., in γrə “hill,” Pəҳtan’ə “Pashtun”), and masc. -ay has -ī (e.g., saṛ’ī “man,” k’əlī “village” = nt. plur.). The obl. fem. can have -e = nt. plur. (e.g., ’lāre “road,” ’ūҳe “she-camel”). Some nouns have a separate prepositional, in some cases identical with the nom., but like the vocative usually formed by adding -a to the nom. Thus, ’ūҳa masc./fem. “camel,” sp’aya “dog,” Pəҳt’ūna “Pashtun.” (41) Obl. plur., masc. and fem., has -o (from nouns in -ay also -io), thus agreeing, as also in Khot. with the vocative plur. The older literary texts and the more archaic dialects have -o, not -ūno, e.g., in ’aso “horses.” This shows that -ūna cannot be based upon an -ūno, derived from *-ānām, but must rather go back to *-ānhāh (Av. -āŋho), and that -o is probably rather < instrumental *-ābiš, cf. also Khot. instrumental abl. plur. -yau.

b. Prepositions and postpositions. (42) The most common prepositions are: da (dial. e) “of” (gen., etc.), la “from,” pa “at, on,” tar “till,” etc. Postpositions are: bānde “on,” cəxa “from,” kҳe “in,” la “towards,” lānde “under,” lara “for,” na “from,” pore “up to,” sara “with,” ta “to.” Combinations of pre- and postpositions are common: pa kor kҳe “in the house,” daγrə na “from the hill,” la ҳəje sara “with the woman.”

c. Article. (43) Yaw “one” and haγa “that” may often be translated by Engl. a(n), the. As far as is known, only in some Ḡilzay dialects is abbreviated and unstressed a(γ) on the way to becoming a real article. Thus, a saṛ’ī ta “to the man,” a sp’ay “the dog,” p’a mulk kҳe “in the country.” Cf. Orm. of Lōgar a saṛ’ay “the man,” but ’a saṛay “that man,” probably through Paṣ̌tō influence.

d. Adjectives. (44) Comparison is not inflexional, but expressed by tar (ṭolo) “from, than (all).” Some adjectives ending in a vowel are inflexible. Others form fem. in -a, -’əy, or -e. But a group of important adjectives have retained a more archaic inflexion. The pattern is, with minor variations, that of to(w)d “hot,” masc. obl. sing. and nom. plur. tāwd’ə: fem. nom. sing. tawd’a, obl. sing. and nom. pl. -’e, masc./fem. obl. plur. -’o. (45) Dybo (quoted by Morg.7) has proposed that this change may go back to a Vedic accent. This has been denied by Kuryłowicz (Metrik), but his objections do not take into account or quote correctly all relevant Paṣ̌tō facts.

e. Numerals. (46) “1” yaw, fem. yəw’a (dial. ew’a). “2” dwa, fem. dwe; d(w)olas “12.” “3” dre (dial. drey, etc.; cf. diphthong in Bal. and Pamir dial.), dyārlas “13,” dərwəšt “23” (< *θri-), derš “30” (Khot. därsä). “4” cal’or (Afr., Waz., etc., -lw-), cwārlas “14,” caler(w)išt “24” (< *caθwāri- ?), calwʾeҳt “40.” “5” pinj’ə (Jaǰi pēṇ°), note final -ə; panj’os “50.” “6” špağ (dial. e), šp’āṛas “16” (cf. *-rd in Oss., etc.), špet’ə “60.” “7” ow’ə (etc.), awy’a “70.” “8” at’ə (dial. [w]otə etc.), aty’ā “80.” “9” nəh, etc., nul/nas “19,” naw’e “90.” “10” las. “20” (w)šəl, but yaw-wišt “21,” etc. Note archaic and Waṇ. ter-cūṛ-pūn-sū “3/4/500” (Morg.2). (47) In some dialects (Khaṭṭak, etc.) a vigesimal system is used (alternatively, with kam “less,” nīm “half,” dəp’āsa “added”: Pinj’e kam dre š’əla/špet’ə = pinj’ə panj’os “55,” dre nīm š’əla = panjos (cf. Danish halv-tre-sinds-tyve “half 3 times 20,” i.e., fifty), cal’or nīm š’əla/las dəp’āsa dre š’əla/awyē, etc.

f. Pronouns. (48) Personal: “I” (cf. Munǰī zo/a) < *az’ā (Greek egṓ, etc.?). Gen. j-mā “my,” s-tā “thy” (dial. e-), etc. < *hača, as in some Northwestern Iranic dialects. Mū(n)ğ “we” <*ahmāša- < *-čya (cf. Waṇecī, but Kūkī Ḵēl, Afr. dyū < ? t’āsu/e “you” (< *-saya “likeness, shadow;” cf. dā-se “thus,” Shugh., etc. di/as < *(a)ita-sā; but Waz. tus “you” probably < Indo-Aryan. (49) The demonstratives are: haγa “that,” daγa, , day “this.” In archaic and dialectic Paṣ̌tō also hā/oγa “that very, that over there.” Interrogatives: cok “who” (Av. čiš + -ok); obl. čā (Av. kahyā); “what;” kūm “which,” rather < *kāma- than *katāma-. Enclitics: me 1st per. sing., de 2nd per. sing., (y)e 3rd per. sing./plur., mū(mo) 1st and 2nd per. plur. Directive pronouns or particles: (Afr. ər) 1st per. “to me, hither,” dar (dial. -e-) 2nd per., war (dial. -e-) 3rd per. (cf. Morg.3, s.vv.).

g. Verbs. (50) The verbal system is, as in other New Iranic languages, based on the opposition between the present and the past stems. A simplified classification of the types of pres. stems is: 1. Simple stems (wīn- “see,” xwaj- “be moving, creep,” e.g., in mār xwajī “a snake creeps” [habitually]). 2. Intransitives with added -- (Kāk. -āž-) (gora, mār xwajeğī “look, a snake is creeping” [just now]). 3. Denominatives in -- (ǰoṛ-- “get restored”). 4. Causatives with added -aw- (ǰoṛ-aw- “restore”). 5. Double stems (kaw-: subj. kṛ- “do,” wo-: š- “become;” wr-: y’os- “take away;” bi’āy-: b’oz- “lead away;” prew’əz-: pr’ewəz- “fall”).

(51) The personal endings are: 1st sing. -əm; 2nd sing. ; 1st plur. -u; 2nd plur. -əy (dial. -o, -ast); 3rd per. -ī (cf. the loss of a separate 3rd plur. in Davānī in Fārs; NTS 19, p. 129). The distribution of stress on stem or suffix (e.g., w’īnəm “I see,” but lar’əm “I have”) would need investigation beyond the scope of this article. Only in the auxiliary are 3rd sing. and plur. distinguished: yəm “I am,” ye “thou art,” “we are,” yəy (yo, yast) “you are,” day “he is,” da “she is,” “they are” (with d- of pronominal origin); also šta “it exists.” Archaic forms are 2nd plur. kānəy (< *kṛna-); 3rd plur. kānde (< *kṛnantai). Imperative has 2nd sing. -a; 2nd plur. -əy. There is a 3rd per. subj., and a 3rd per. opt./cond. wāy-, transferred also to preterites ka haγa rātl-ay “if he had come.” (52) The particle denotes the subj., and can be combined with ba, the marker of the fut. (with the past stem of the durative). (53) Many verbs contain separable, lexical prefixes, beside , dar, war (e.g., ǰār-, kҳe-, nəna-, prā-, pre-, pore-). The prefixes may be separated from the stem by inserted particles. Thus, pre-ba ye-nə-kawəm “I shall not be cutting it,” pre-ba-de-ğdəm “I shall leave you.” This principle may be extended also to the original prefix ā- (rā-w-a-b(a)-exləm “I shall take it with me”), and even to verbs where ā- belongs to the root, e.g., from ā/ărw- “to hear,” w-ā-ba-e-rwəm “I shall hear it.” Corresponding structures are also to be found in the past tenses (cf. Morg.3, p. 106).

(54) The past stem of many verbs is formed, as in other Iranic languages, from the root and the ancient past part.-ta-; e.g., āxist: ’āxl- “take;” āγust: āγund “put on;” wīšt : w’əl- “throw;” kat : k’as- “look at;” bot : boz- “lead away;” xot : x’ež- “rise;” ṇγut : ṇγwağ “listen to;” m(ə)ṛ : mṛ- “die;” γoҳt : γwʾār- “want;” skaҳt : skaṇ- “cut out;” : k’āğ- “pull;” od : ’ow- “weave;” sw : swaj- “burn;” waž(l) : w’ažn- “kill.” Suppletive pasts are, e.g., līd : w’īn- “see;” rāγl : r’āš “come.” (55) In many verbs (e.g., taṛ’əl “bound”) we find an element -əl (probably < *-ita), which may also be added to past stems already characterized as such by other means. Past stems in -ed- (cf. Pers. -īd-) are common, and not exclusively from presents in -eğ-. (56) The personal endings 1st and 2nd sing. and plur. are the same as in the pres. The common 2nd sing. fem. form is -’əla, with 2nd plur. -’əle; we also find 3rd plur. masc. -’əl (with variants). 3rd sing. masc. can have a shorter form with ā, o < a (taṛ’ə “bound,” xot “rose”), but we also find insertion of l.

(57) Perfect and pluperfect are, as in Persian, etc., based on a participle in -*taka- < Paṣ̌tō ’-ay, here, of course, inflected for gender and number. Thus, š’əway/e yəm/wum “I (masc./fem.) have/had become;” 3rd plur š’əw-i/e dī. (58) Many other tenses and moods that cannot be dealt with in detail here are formed with various forms of auxiliaries, the addition of ba and we, or combinations of both. Thus, a perfect conditional ba rased’əlay wu “(then) he would have arrived,” past conditional w’ə ba rased’əm, etc. (59) The structure of past intransitives conforms with that of other New Iranic languages; but in the past transitives the agentive formation has been carried through more strictly than elsewhere. Thus, zə tā wahəm “I strike you,” tə mā wahe “you strike me,” but tā/mā zə/tə wahəl-əm/e “you/I struck me/you,” ҳəja ās/aspa wahī “the woman strikes the horse/mare,” ҳəje ās/aspa wāh’ə/wah’əla “the woman struck the horse/mare.” (60) This use of the agentive tr. past conforms exactly with what we find in adjoining Indo-Aryan languages; it seems likely that the Paṣ̌tō constructions, though based on inherited Iranic tendencies, have been supported and reinforced by the contact with Indo-Aryan. In this connection it is instructive to confront the two Paṣ̌tō texts from Kohat given in the Linguistic Survey of India with the same texts from Kohat Lahndi. There is a nearly complete identity of grammatical forms, prepositions and postpositions, and word order in the two versions, a parallelism which becomes all the more striking if we contrast them with the Linguistic Survey of India specimens from, e.g., Badaḵšī Persian or Balūčī.

(61) Verbal nouns. The infinitive is a plur. noun, formed from the past stem -’əl (= past 3rd per. plur. masc.), and with obl. in -o. There are several other verbal nouns, in -’ūn, -’ə, -’əna, etc.

E. Vocabulary. (62) Although to a large extent the native elements of the Paṣ̌tō vocabulary are related to the vocabularies of other Iranic languages, a remarkably large number of words is special to Paṣ̌tō. To take a few examples from the names of parts of the body: st’ərga “eye,” xwlə “mouth,” yāҳ “tooth,” ’oğa “shoulder,” pҳa “foot,” p’ūnda “heel” (cf. Morg.1, passim).

F. Waṇecī. (63) Except for a few details, Paṣ̌tō dialects can be derived from a prototype not essentially different from the classical 10th/16th century literary language; they do not to any significant extent help us to reconstruct a more archaic form of Paṣ̌tō. There is only one dialect which stands decidedly apart, i.e., Waṇ(ecī) (or Tarīno) spoken in northeast Baluchistan between Harnai and Loralai, and now being more and more influenced by and pushed back by ordinary Paṣ̌tō. Descriptions have been given by Morg.2,6 and by Elfenbein; here it is only possible to draw attention to a few essential points. (64) Phonology. Ir. -d- > -l- as in Paṣ̌tō (mlā “waist,” xwala “sweat”) but -t- > y/0 ( “one hundred,” šwī < *wšī “twenty,” piyār “father,” left as relicts in Kāk. pyār and plyār). In this respect Waṇ. agrees with Munǰī, but not with Pṣ̌t. Before ž Ir. r is retained (yirž “bear,” tərža “thirsty”). Šk > k (pukē “sheep’s dung,” Pṣ̌t. puča). Ft > w (tōw, fem. taw’a “hot,” Pṣ̌t. to[w]d). Retention of nd in γandəm, Pṣ̌t. γanəm. Lack of palatalization (māst “month,” at’ā “eighty”). Note wžənj “comb” < *fšaṇčī, Pṣ̌t. ğumənj, etc.; sunzən “needle,” Pṣ̌t. stən; brēstəṇ “quilt,” Pṣ̌t. bṛastən. (65) Morphology. Gen. da is rare, and probably borrowed from Pṣ̌t., but there is a predicative gen. -(a) γa. Mōš “we” < *ahmāšša-, without nasalization as in Pṣ̌t. mū(n)ğ, and with *šš < *-čy- not joining -š- > -ğ-. This points to an early separation from Pṣ̌t. There is a demonstrative ay “this (very).” (66) Personal endings: “I make,” ke, , , (imper, 2nd sing. ka), and a separate 3rd plur. kīn. ( <*) and kīn from a stem in -aya-, but from a stem in -a-, quite the reverse of the situation in Pṣ̌t. Note the extreme economy shown in expressing all personal endings (except the 3rd per. plur.) by means of the available final vowels. The pres. frequently has an infixed -’en- (murš’enī “I rub,” wīnz’enī “I wash,” wrēš’enī “I spin,” etc.). (67) Words not recorded from Pṣ̌t. are e.g. γoz-: γot “drink,” kəž’ə fem. “(big) fish,” mīt “fist,” wūn “naked,” zūng “knee.” (68) Examples of sentences showing the difference from Pṣ̌t. are: Indī waguṛī čī mōš piyār γa caṭ lēždī wī (Pṣ̌t. *pa de kəlī kҳe zmūnğ da plār ḍer γwayī wū) “in this village our father had many bulls;” šamze o xwāržə šwe mī de γōzīn (Pṣ̌t. šlombe aw xwāğə šawdə həm cҳī) “they also drink buttermilk and sweet milk.”

Some of Waṇ.’s particularities (e.g. šwī “twenty,” mōš “we,” [a]γa “of;” the pres. endings; retention of ; loss of -t-) prove that it must have split off from Pṣ̌t. at an early Mid. Iranic stage, considerably before the constitution of a standard Pṣ̌t. They can scarcely have developed after the arrival of the Waṇ. speakers in their present home, which is in no way topographically cut off from the rest of Pṣ̌t. territory. These speakers must rather represent the forerunners of the main Paṣ̌tūn movement towards the east, but when and where they split off is at present impossible to say.

G. The position of Paṣ̌tō within Iranic. (69) Paṣ̌tō undoubtedly belongs to the Northeastern Iranic branch. It shares with Munǰī the change of *δ > l, but this tendency extends also to Sogdian. The Waṇ. dialect shares with Munǰī the change of -t- > -y-/0. If we want to assume that this agreement points to some special connection, and not to a secondary, parallel development, we should have to admit that one branch of pre-Paṣ̌tō had already, before the splitting off of Waṇ., retained some special connection with Munǰī, an assumption unsupported by any other facts. Apart from l <*δ the only agreement between Paṣ̌tō and Munǰī appears to be Pṣ̌t. ; Munǰī zo/a “I.” Note also Pṣ̌t. l but Munǰī < θ (Pṣ̌t. plan “wide,” cal(w)or “four,” but Munǰī paҳəy, čfūr, Yidḡa čšīr < *čəҳfūr). Paṣ̌tō has dr-, wr- < *θr-, *fr- like Khotanese Saka (see above 23). An isolated, but important, agreement with Sangl. is the remarkable change of *rs/z > Pṣ̌t. ҳt/ǧd; Sangl. ṣ̌t/ẓ̌d (obəҳta “juniper;” Sangl. wəṣ̌t; (w)ūǧd “long;” vəẓ̌dük) (see above 25). But we find similar development also in Shugh. ambaҳc, γ̌j. The most plausible explanation seems to be that *rs (with unvoiced r) became *ṣ̌s and, with differentiation *ṣ̌c, and *rz, through *ẓ̌z > ẓ̌j (from which Shugh. ҳc, γ̌j). Pṣ̌t. and Sangl. then shared a further differentiation into ṣ̌t, ẓ̌d ( > Pṣ̌t. ҳt, ğd).

(70) There appear to be no other special agreements between Paṣ̌tō and any Pamir languages, whether in phonology, morphology, or vocabulary. It is, however, possible that the original home of Paṣ̌tō may have been in Badaḵšān, somewhere between Munǰī and Sangl. and Shugh., with some contact with a Saka dialect akin to Khotanese. But it seems that the Old Iranic ancestor dialect of Paṣ̌tō must have been close to that of the Gathas. (71) It is important to keep in mind the early and profound influence of Indo-Aryan on Paṣ̌tō as well as Paṣ̌tō’s remarkable preservation of many Iranic morphological features, in which respect only Ossetic can compete with or even surpass it.


See also M. G. Aslanov, Afgansko-russkiĭ slovar’, Moscow, 1966.

H. W. Bellew, A Dictionary of the Pukkhto or Pukshto language . . . , Lahore, 1901.

Idem, An Inquiry into the Ethnography of Afghanistan, Woking, 1891.

V. A. Dubo, “O refleksakh indoevropeĭskogo udareniya v afganskom,” Aktual’nye voprosy iranistiki i sravnitel’nogo indoevropeĭskogo yazykoznaniya, Institut yazykoznaniya, Moscow, 1970, pp. 10-14.

J. Elfenbein, “Laṇḍa, zor wəla’. Waṇecī,” Archiv Orientální 35, Prague, 1967, pp. 563-686.

J. Kurylowicz, “L’accent du mot en v.-iranien,” Acta Iranica 4, Liège and Tehran, 1975, pp. 499-507.

Idem, Metrik und Sprachgeschichte, Wrocław etc., 1975, pp. 102ff.

D. L. R. Lorimer, Syntax of Colloquial Pashto, Oxford, 1915.

J. G. Lorimer, Grammar and Vocabulary of Waziri Pashto, Calcutta, 1902.

G. Morgenstierne, An Etymological Vocabulary of Pashto, Oslo, 1927 (Morg.1).

Idem, “The Waṇetsi Dialect of Pashto,” NTS 4, 1930, pp. 156-75 (Morg.2) = Irano-Dardica, Wiesbaden, 1973, pp. 168-74.

Idem, “Archaisms and Innovations in Pashto Morphology,” NTS 12, 1942, pp. 87-114 (Morg.3).

Idem, “"Pashto", "Pathan" and the Treatment of r + Sibilant in Pashto,” Acta Orientalia 18, 1940, pp. 138-44 (Morg.4) = Irano-Dardica, pp. 168-74.

Idem, “The Development of R + Sibilant in some E. Ir. Languages,” TPS, 1948, pp. 70-80 (Morg.5).

Idem, “Additional Notes on Waṇetsi,” Irano-Dardica, pp. 207-23 (Morg.6).

Idem, “Traces of Indo-European Accentuation in Pashto,” NTS 27, 1973, pp. 61ff. (Morg.7).

H. Penzl, A Grammar of Pashto. A Descriptive Study of the Dialect of Kandahar, Afghanistan, Washington, 1955.

Paҳto Qāmūs, 2 vols., Kabul, 1330-33 Š./1951-54.

H. G. Raverty, A Dictionary of the Pak’hto, Pas’hto, or the Language of the Afghans, 2nd ed., London, 1860.

Idem, A Grammar of the Puk’hto, Pus’hto, or Language of the Afghans . . ., London 1867.

D. A. Shafaev, A Short Grammatical Outline of Pashto, Transl. by H. H. Paper, The Hague, 1964.

E. T. Trumpp, Grammar of the Paṣ̌tō or Language of the Afghāns, London, 1873.


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(G. Morgenstierne)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 22, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 5, pp. 516-522

Cite this entry:

G. Morgenstierne, “AFGHANISTAN vi. Paṣ̌tō,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition, 1982, available at