Pashto language is as old as the “Pashtoon” because Pashto is not only the name of a language that has a very rich history, but a language with deeply rooted norms, values, and traditions. Pashto language has a very rich, traditional culture dating back almost 7000 years. In fact, the “Pashtoons” are considered to have branched off from “Aryan”— a civilization that existed around 3000 BC.
Ancient texts such as the Rig-Veda, a sacred Hindi collection written in 1400 B.C., have also been found to contain references to Pashto and the “Pashtoon” peoples (Khan, 1964). Herodotus, a Greek historian who wrote his biography from 486-521 BC, mentions the word Paktika — a province in northern Afghanistan. From such compilations of artifacts and historical data the majority of researchers now believe that the Pashto language is roughly 3500 to 2500 years old. This assertion has also been confirmed by Afghan Researcher Abdul Hai Habibi in his book “Pata Khazana” (Habibi, 2001).
As you can tell, the roots of the Pashto language and foundations of Pashtoon culture developed in very interesting ways. Jibe in his thesis notes that “Lwekan”, which ruled Ghazni and Baltistan in 960 B.C., contains the root “Lway” which translates to big and powerful in Pashto (Jebi, 1960). Furthermore, archeologists have discovered that some Pashto letters contain mud stamps in the area of Swat, which belonged to the Asori Regime that ruled in 700 B.C. In his book “Da Pashto Tarikh” (History of Pashto), Muhammad Younus Khan points out that in Japanese emperor Mikado’s library there were many books on the teachings of Buddhism that were simultaneously written in Pashto. Accordingly the current writing style of Pashto can be traced back 2500 years ago (Khan, 1964).
Pashto is also considered to be a part of other language families. Author Jebi in his research “Pakhwani Pakhto Dwa Neem Zara Kala Makhkay” (Old Pashto 2500 years before) writes that Iran was ruled by Darwesh around 486 BC to 522 BC. Darwesh was a ruler well-known for his leadership skills and the legislative reform. After passing away, poems were written praising the qualities of the ruler, with most of these poems written in Pashto (Jebi A. R., 1974). Since then, Pashto has been world-renowned for its poetry. Perhaps this is the reason that numerous historians and Iranica (Encyclopedia of Iran) believe that the Pashto language belongs to the Eastern Iranian family of languages (Williams, 2010).
On the basis of above discussions, one could argue that Pashto is as old as many other historic languages like Sanskrit and Osta. According to the most reliable sources and facts, its roots can be traced back some 3500 years to 2500 years ago. Despite the fact that the lion’s share of researchers have concluded that Pashto is a 5000 years old language, more empirical research must be completed to support of this view. Whatever the case may be, its origins are clearly very diverse and fascinating to learn about.
Afghani, A. H. (1983). Ar. Peshawar: Pakhto Academey University of Peshawar.
Habibi, A. H. (2001). Pata Khazana. Afghanistan: Oxford Books Publishers.
Jebi, A. R. (1974). Pakhwani Pakhto Dwa Neem Zara Kala Makhkay. Peshawar: Abasin Publishers.
Jebi, N. (1960). History of Pashto Language. Pakhto, 112-43.
Khan, M. Y. (1964). Da Pakhto Tarikh. Peshawar: University Book Agency.
Williams, N. S. (2010). Eastern Iranian Languages. Retrieved July 2, 2010, from Encyclopedia Iranica: http://www.iranica.com