The History of Pashto language

Posted on 16. Jul, 2010 by in Basic, Culture, language

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.

Works Cited

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

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About Mujeeb

I am 33 years old, wih PhD in management, presently working as Assitant Professor and Coordinator Management Science Program at Sarhad University. Due to my interest in Pashto Language, and strong association with Pashtoon Culture, I have decided to join Transparent Language as a Blogger. I will make some efforts to the let my readers learn about the rich culture of Pashoon living in most part of Afghanistan and North West of Pakistan.

9 Responses to “The History of Pashto language”

  1. Ibrahim shah 26 October 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    Pashto are very old language wich in now speakin in afghanistan & pakistani people . These people are belonged to Israeal wich is called bni israel the nation of yaqoob ali salam . They are 12 tribe the sons of yaqoo ali salam . The tow tribe knowing yahodiya remai in syria palasten & other 12 tribe exiled to khorasan , iran.

  2. Asif khan 16 January 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    i love the language of pashto, i would request any of my pashtun brother, to please upload, the 1st pashto book, and the history of pashtuns, written by hafiz rerhmat khan

  3. the Zero 10 June 2012 at 11:42 am #

    Paktika is in southern Afghanistan not in northern!

  4. Aslam Khan Arjal 17 October 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    Pashto is not a language its just dialect. Its just a provencial and regional dialect with many different accents. The whole lot of information above are incorrect and the references all are from few Pashtoon who has learnt writing in madrasa (religious school) and from untrusted and nunjustified sources. One of the important fact that differentiate a language from a dialect is its alphabet texture and grammer which pashto lack of these essential and crucial facts. Pashto alphabet is copied from Parsi Dari with adding some phonological symbols with no proper set of grammer or language rules. There is a fact there is no efucatef or uneducated pashtoon can be found in whole planet who could claim to either speak or write pashtoo properly or according to its rules. Because there isn’t sny rules or set of grammer and…

    Reference of Abdul Hai Habibi is totally wrong as A H Habibi himself was a fanatic pashtoonist he finished all his education in Parsi. He claimed that pashtoo textures and writing history goes back to the Amir Karor Suri with the name of Potha Khazana. This claim is purely based on own self fictions and totally unjustified. He had a dream or nightmare then put it on writing, just show and create a subject of debate about pashtoo so illitrate people respect him as a knowingly person. He waz also supported by Zaher Shah the pashoon king of Afghanistan at the time. Despite he was not able to speak pashtoo or he may well be feeling embarred to speak pashtoo, because pashtoo has always been a dialectof the villagers, urban people and illitrate and uneducated group of people in the entire country and the king and the royal family never want to be on that posiyion that’s why they don’t want to be on that position but yhey rather try to be posh and magnificent. King and other fanatic pashtoons and pashtoon nationalists supported him for his false debate and argument but he couldn’t convinced others because all his laims were badless without any historical and scietific founds it was based on lies and fictions. Pashtoo texture started in late 18th century using Parsi Dari and some Arabic alphabets so how is it possible have texture from hundreds of years ago? More information can be provided if you are interested. I am a pashtoon but my great grand dad stop speaking pashtoo when he moved Kabul over 100 years ago l am xo proud of him because what he has done he made the decision and that’s why we are now civilised people and talk and prefer to communicate always rather than explode ouselves killing other inicent people. There are hundreds thounsands and millions of pashtoo speakers who don’t speak pashtoo and don’t even want to be accociated with pashtoo pashtoons and pakhtoonwali are glad to be called Dari or Parsi speakers . This is mh own experience when l was a teacher in school in Kabul. My students were asking me to put their ethnic origin as Tajik despite in their Afghan ID card (TAZKARA) was writing Pashtoon. That why pashtoons are increasingly in decline. Regards to everyone including those who still call themselves pashtoon or pathan

  5. Syed Kiramat Shah Bacha 29 October 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    Well, I appreciate the effort is being made in research on pashtu language, unfortunately there were historical books in Afghanistan National Library back in 1976 which was taken away or destroyed for unknown reasons and the rich collection vanished. The only libraries where we can find the history of Pashto language are the London Royal Library and I heared that there are some pashto collections in Italian and German Library. Any pashtoon living there, is requested to search for nobal peace of information for the thrust of millions of pashtoons spead over in every corner of the globe. Its petty to inform that out of thousands songs of Nashanas, one can hardly find a few.
    We have a collective responsibility to collect, secure and dissaminate the rich history of grand grand father and we are obligated to our future generations to provide them their origin.

    Very warm regards,

  6. Afghan 25 November 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    Mr. Arjal, you know nothing about language, in your writing the only thing you proved was your bias towards Pashtuns and Pashtu. For your information every language has Grammatical rules. If languages didn’t follow rules, no one would understand each other; that is just a fact of how languages function. As for the rest of the garbage you spewed, they aren’t worthy of response. Genetic studies already indicate that Pashtuns as an ethnicity have been around since the Bronze Age, an thus most likely we have been speaking a language close to modern Pashto for close to 4000-5000 years. Pashtuns are a far older ethnicity than Farsi speakers and that is also a genetic fact. Pashto as a language most likely represents a third branch of Indo-Europeans in the region as Sanskrit and Avestan representing the other two branches. Pashto is perhaps the oldest surviving language of the original Aryan migration into Iran, Afghanistan and the Indian Subcontinent.

  7. Ubaid ul haq 22 March 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    I think before 200 years English rulers destroyed or mixed up the continent languages… as we are not unite in…we will never unite for history! as for as language concerns its a different debate. lets start the history from now, what we are? what is our identity? what will be our generation? the culture vice versa- is different today of the books and museums, its the time lets start a new history

  8. Arcady 24 April 2013 at 8:33 am #

    Salam!
    Would you like to help me?
    I’m interested when the Pushtu language became known in Europe for the first time?
    And what kind of resources should be studied in this connection?

  9. Big boy 18 August 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Hi dear ( paktika is the part of paktia province which was siprated in 1992 ) loya paktia southern afghanistan not north


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