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Pashto Phonetics
(A Description of the
vowels and
Consonants of the
Standard Pashto)
For Foreign & Native Learners of
Pashto
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Amjad Hussain Nassir


MA English, MA Pashto
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Pashto Phonetics

(A Description of the vowels and Consonants of the


Standard Pashto)

For Foreign & Native Learners of Pashto


4

Amjad Hussain Nassir


MA English, MA Pashto

Foreword

All glory be to Allah, the creator and sustainer of the universe and
all what is beyond it.
It is my pleasure to put up before you the most wanted book on
Pashto Phonetics keeping in view two major needs; firstly, the demand of
my students wherever I have taught them; secondly, there is no book
available in the country specifically on Pashto Phonetics, the main reason
being that Pashto is the language of the inhabitants of the Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa Province, and the National Language of the country is Urdu,
thus the need at national level for the description of Pashto has not been
felt by the intellectuals or people in the power corridors, their main focus
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being on Urdu and, of course, English, since the official correspondence of


the country is mostly in English. My experience of teaching for the last
seventeen years has taught me a lot of things about the needs and psyche
of the Pakistani students; their aims and objectives in getting education; the
trust of their parents in them for achieving good grades in their studies; and
the support, both financial and moral, from parents, as they want their
children to be educated, and prove to be good citizens of Pakistan. In my
opinion, education makes good humans; humans with the requisite skills not
only to benefit their own self and families, but also the entire humanity at
large. I have learnt from scholars in psychology that we dream in our mother
tongue because our subconscious is primarily preoccupied by our mother
tongue, since our first ever encounter after being born in the world is with
our mother tongue, which remains there till death. It is easier for us to talk
in mother tongue, most often without making any conscious effort to think
and speak in it. This is a long debate which I do not want to indulge in at this
point in time, but our attitudes are determined by our perception of the
world and our behavior is determined by our attitude towards the world. If
want to be positive to the people around us, a positive attitude is a
prerequisite for this and humanity demands from us that we behave well.
Education makes us good humans, and true education, in the point of view
of scholars, is that which is achieved in a natural environment rather than
by rotting or continuous drills and practices, which we can learn through
practice, but which we may or may not like to learn. Keeping the idea
limited, there is no denying the fact that education acquired in mother
tongue is more effective and long lasting than one acquired in any other
language. It is on account of this fact that I focused my attention to the study
of my mother tongue, Pashto, and started exploring the various facts about
it, one among which is the phonetics of Pashto, which is an area of my
interest. Other aspects of Pashto such as syntax, semantics, and morphology
etc are of course a huge area to be explored. Not to mention the
sociolinguistic ambit of Pashto language, which also has a tremendous scope
for being explored by scholars and researchers in linguistics, and which will
be the next target for me to explore.

The book is open to you for reading with a hope that you benefit from
its reading. I would very much like to have your feedback on the book in case
you found technical, typing, thematic or semantic errors. Any positive
comments would not only benefit me but also the readers at large which
shall come in the form of revisions in the next edition.
Any comments, suggestions/feedback or review of this book can be sent to
amjadnaasir@gmail.com.
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I am praying for your future success with hope that you will benefit
from reading the book.

Amjad nasir

Acknowledgment

Alhamdulillah! To the almighty, for bestowing upon me


the blessings of knowledge. Thanks to the teacher of
teachers, the leader of leaders, the guide of all guides
and the prophet of all prophets, Muhammad peace be
upon him, who taught me how to live and how to please
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my creator. After him, I am truly indebted to all my


teachers who taught me what I know; my mother, who
taught me what I do; and my students who taught me
what I must teach. Equally I am thankful to my wife,
Muneeba Amjad, who has been so much supportive
towards me in my intellectual endeavors. I am thankful
to my son Ryan, who has always taught me how to be
inquisitive and how to pursue things I never knew before.
I am thankful to all those friends who have given me
moral support in any intellectual pursuit I have been
making so far.

I am highly indebted to the English authors John Lyon,


Peter Roach, Daniel Jones, O’Connor, and David Crystal
etc. who inspired me for reading about language and
linguistics and particularly phonetics and phonology. I am
especially thankful to the soul of Ferdinand d’Saussure
and the living legend, Noam Chomsky, for inspiring me to
study the structure of language in general and that of
Pashto in particular. My teacher Professor Dr.
Aurangzeb, who is not in Pakistan, is missed every
moment I talk of language, for he was the first teacher
who inspired me for pursuing my studies in linguistics.
My other teachers, Professor Muhammad Hussain, Sir
Dr. Zulfiqar Khan, Dr. Amjad Saleem, Dr. Muazzam
Shareef, Dr. Yaser Hussain, Professor Dr. Riazuddin and
ones I will be unable to count in this little space, all
deserve my gratitude and respect, who have guided me
all the way down to this moment, and without whose
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support, I could not have been able to accomplish my


studies in the field of linguistics.

I pray for all the near and dear ones, particularly for my
children, Mehwish Gulalay, Affan Taimur Nasir, Sehrish
Gulalay, and the little Sannan Abdullah, who make my life
beautiful by their constant smiles around the year.

amjad naasir

ABOUT THIS BOOK


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This book is intended for all those readers who have


interest in the study of phonetics, though it is a
specialized subject in linguistics. It is by no means an
exhaustive book which will serve the need of advanced
level readers. It is brief, and its contents are devised for
self study as well as for study in groups of peers. It can
also benefit teachers of Pashto Language if they want to
use it in class room situations. Effort has been made to
make the contents of the book as simple as possible. One
interesting fact about this book is that it is placed in a
context which the readers will find more local rather than
international. My experience of teaching at different
levels of academics has dawned upon me certain facts
which are more of psychological nature and which I
cannot count in here, but which I definitely had in mind
when I embarked upon the journey of conceiving in the
first place, and later on, preparing this book. I felt the
need to work out on this book due to many reasons. One
reason is that I could not get any book on Pashto
phonetics in any library. There are many books available
in the market about English phonetics and phonology
and my reading has inspired me to make an attempt for
writing on Pashto Phonetics. The non availability of books
of Pashto Phonetics may be attributed to various
reasons. In my opinion the reason might be that the
readers of Pashto language are not the readers of English
and vice versa. This book will serve as a bridge between
the two languages because its medium is English while
the language it describes is Pashto. I hope I will be right
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to claim that this book will be the very first book of its
kind to have been written. Since it is my first attempt, I
believe it will be deficient in many ways. But keeping
restricted to our limitations does not mean we should
quit attempting new things. I have made an attempt,
which may be poor, weak, and wanting more knowledge
and scholarship, but I did make an attempt, no matter
how weak or poor. Every new experience is hard and non
conclusive. The fact that this book is not exhaustive is
accounted for by the very limited contents of this book.
It focuses only on phonetics of Pashto. The Phonology of
Pashto, the segmental and supra-segmental features are
left for the next edition of the book. I hope this book will
inspire scholars, and students like me, to make further
greater attempts in future.

This book will help those students a great deal who


want to clarify their key concepts in the area of
phonetics. This book is ideal for those students who are
the beginners in the subject because its contents are few,
its language is simple and examples are easy. It is equally
of value to those who have a lot of knowledge about the
subject but who need material to teach from. The best
way to use book is to give sufficient time to each session.
After having read the session, the students must browse
through the internet for expanding the scope of their
understanding by finding the relevant examples from
other languages. once they grasp the topic completely,
they should move to the next session. This approach will
help them learn more effectively.
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For foreign learners of Pashto, this book will be of


help to them in learning the phonetic aspect of Pashto
language, which will help them a great deal in learning
correct pronunciation, as the standard symbols of IPA
have been used and if they know how to use IPA symbols,
they will definitely learn how to use the same symbols in
learning correct pronunciation of Pashto sounds. For
teachers of Pashto language, this book, it is hoped, will
prove to be a good read. It will provide them the way
forward for how to go about teaching phonetics to the
students of Pashto language and linguistics in the
classroom which will be of great use in their professions.
Towards the end, I would like to inform my readers
with utmost honesty, that being a Pukhtoon I have
realized that the Pukhtoons, as a nation, are mentally
very sharp and highly critical, though the criticism takes
negative and destructive form at times. I have observed
in them that if one Pukhtoon becomes rich, the other is
jealous without any reason and criticizes him in such
words and phrases that the rich starts wishing to be poor.
The similar is the case with a Pukhtoon who becomes a
scholar. The other Pukhtoon scholar, if he has become
one by chance or by personal efforts, make fun of him by
calling different names to the effect that he starts
wishing to be illiterate. In my personal opinion, this social
phenomena among the Pukhtoons has caused more
trouble and rather destruction for the community at
large. If one makes an attempt to contribute to
knowledge by making any research work etc, majority of
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the Pukhtoons will try hard not let the gentleman achieve
his academic goals. No scholar of English and Pashto
among the Pukhtoons was ready to even give a proof
reading to this book which is a fact that I will always
remember about my Pukhtoon fellows. Despite repeated
requests, most of the ‘Gentlemen’ of scholarship and
erudition have refused to help me out by any means.
Particularly the Pashto poets, once they get popular, they
think they are gods, and don’t put a step on the ground.
I have visited many famous Pashto poets, when I was
publishing my Pashto Poetry book, and requested them
to write up a preface of a few lines upon my book. The
script used to lie with them for months and years but
they would not bother to encourage me. Just a few
genuine humans among the Pukhtoons, actually did my
job. But most of the famous scholars of Pashto are self
centered and believe that if some one else got the skills
in Pashto poetry or prose, they will feel deprived.
Therefore, my perception about the Pukhtoon
intellectuals is utterly pessimistic. It is my perception,
which might be wrong, but I believe the illiterate
Pukhtoon is more helpful, more hospitable, more
sacrifice maker for fellow beings and more responsible
than these educated and so called intellectual
Pukhtoons, who get education not to become good
humans, but rather for fame and popularity among the
majority of the Pukhtoons who are very simple, innocent,
brave, courageous, candid, loving, caring and highly
cooperative by nature. In short, I will give my personal
opinion about majority of the educated Pukhtoons that
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they got educated but they lost the ‘Ghairat’ which once
was the very hallmark of their personality.

In preparation of this book, none of my friends, fellow


men helped except just a few, who did not extend any
physical help but rather emotional support that ‘Go man,
you can do the job’. I requested the Director Pashto
Academy, University of Peshawar, to give me the project
of preparing books on Linguistics and Pashto Language
Teaching, to be included in the MA Pashto course of
Previous and Final years just like the Department of
English has Linguistics and ELT in the Final year. But my
twist was turned down and I stood on my own to start
the project. This book is my own attempt and I am on a
solo flight in this regard. I intend to serve my Mother
tongue, not to achieve name and fame, just like few
people who work for fame in Pashto Language &
Literature, to appear in media and TV channels. My aim
to serve my mother tongue selflessly and without any
wish for fame. I admit that the mind of one individual is
limited. It will be faulty, poorly ordered, lacking
scholarship and needs a lot of improvement but it is one
man’s endeavor and I, as a human being, admit my
weaknesses but I don’t want to live an apologetic life due
to this reason. I made the attempt, and I always will.
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Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 The Phoneme,
phonetics&phonology
Chapter 3 The Production of Speech Sounds
Chapter 4 The Consonants of Pashto
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Chapter 5 The Vowels of Pashto


Chapter 6 A Note for the Teachers of Pashto
Language

Chapter 1
Introduction

Pashto language, whose speakers prefer to speak


and write it as Pukhto, is the language of the Pashtuns
(Preferably the Pukhtoons, as they call themselves, and
the Afghans as the Persians call them or the Pathans, as
the Indians call them). It is known in Persian literature
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as Afghani and the Pakistani Urdu and Indian


Hindi literature as Paṭhani. Speakers of the language are
called Pashtuns or Pakhtuns and sometimes Afghans or
Pathans by people outside the province in which they live.
Pashto is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan
(Hallberg 1992, Penzle 1955). The total number of
Pashto-speakers is estimated to be 45–60 million people
worldwide. Other communities of Pashto speakers are
found in Tajikistan, and further in the Pashtun diaspora.
Sizable Pashto-speaking communities also exist in
the Middle East, especially in the United Arab
Emirates, Saudi Arabia, North-eastern 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. Pashto is thus the second in importance
among the Iranic languages and in Afghanistan the
official language, beside Darī.
The Pashtun diaspora speaks Pashto in countries
like the US, UK, Thailand, Canada, Germany,
Australia, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, and the
Scandinavian countries like
the Netherlands, Sweden, etc.
In Pakistan, Pashto is spoken as a first language
by about 35-40 million people – 15.42% of Pakistan's 208
million population. It is the main language of the Pashtun
majority regions of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and
northern Balochistan. It is also spoken in parts
of Mianwali and Attock districts of the Punjab
province and in Islamabad, as well as by Pashtuns who
live in different cities throughout the country. Modern
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Pashto-speaking communities are found in the cities


of Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh.
The two official languages of Pakistan are
Urdu and English. Pashto has no official status at the
federal level. The primary medium of education in
government schools in Pakistan is Urdu, but from 2014
onwards, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has
placed more emphasis on English as the medium of
instruction. English-medium private schools in Pashto-
speaking areas, however, generally do not use Pashto.
The imposition of Urdu as the primary medium of
education in public schools has caused a systematic
degradation and decline of many of Pakistan's native
languages including Pashto. This has caused growing
resentment amongst Pashtuns, who also complain that
Pashto is often neglected officially and if the attitude of
the central government towards Pashto remains the
same, there is a danger of Pashto becoming an extinct
language.
In Pashto, most of the native elements of the
lexicon are related to other Eastern Iranian languages.
However, a remarkably large number of words are
unique to Pashto. Post-7th century borrowings came
primarily from the Persian and Hindustani languages,
with some Arabic words being borrowed through those
two languages, but sometimes directly. Modern speech
borrows words from English, French and German.
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A number of sources discuss various dialect


divisions within the Pashto language. One distinction
which is almost universally mentioned in these sources is
the distinction between hard and soft Pashto. On this topic
Grierson says, “Over the whole area in which it is spoken,
the language is essentially the same.” This will to some
extent be evident from the specimens which follow. Such
as they are they show that, while, as we go from tribe to
tribe there are slight differences in pronunciation and
grammar, the specimens are all written in various forms
of what is one and the same language. Two main dialects
are, however, recognized, that of the north-east, and that
of the south-west. They
mainly differ in pronunciation. The Afghans of the
North-east pronounce the letter ‘kha’ and those of the
South-west pronounce them ‘Sha’ (1921:7).
Another statement determines where Grierson thought
these two varieties to be spoken: The North-Eastern
dialect is spoken in the district of Hazara, and over the
greater part of the districts of Peshawar and Kohat, but in
the two latter the members of the Khatak tribe use the
South-Western dialect. In the districts of Bannu and Dera
Ismail Khan the SouthWestern dialect is universal
(Grierson,1921:10).
In yet another statement, when speaking about South
Western Pashto speakers besides the Khataks, Grierson
says: Other speakers of the South-Western dialect are the
remaining Pathan tribes of Bannu, among whom the
principal are Marwats, the Nyazis, the Bannuchis, and the
Wazirs (Grierson 1921:69). Many other writers have also
pointed out this major two part division between Pashto
varieties, but in later writings a finer distinction based on
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pronunciation is delineated. One such writer is D.N.


MacKenzie, who, in his 1959 article entitled, ‘A Standard
Pashto, distinguishes four dialect areas based on five
different phonemes. These are: the South-west
(Kandahar), South Pashto, east (Quetta), North-west
(Central Ghilzai), and North-east (Yusufzai) (1959:232)
In addition to the unique qualities found in
Waziri, it also seems that other Pashto varieties exhibit
qualities that are not specifically revealed by the simple
four-part division mentioned above.
Morgenstierne says: ‘… the dialectal variety of
Pashto is far greater than that of Baluchi. And among the
Afghans, the nomadic Ghilzais and the comparatively
recent invaders of Peshawar, Swat, etc. show the least
amount of dialectal variation, while the central part of
Pashto speaking territory is the one which is most split up
into different dialects (1932:17).
The lexical data as displayed by the Sociolinguistic
Survey of Northern Pakistan Vol IV, shows that the
Northern Pashto, as called by some researchers as the
Eastern or Northeastern Pashto includes the word list
locations of Peshawar and Charsadda in District
Peshawar, Mardan and Swabi in District Mardan,
Madyan and Mingora in District Swat, Batagram, Baffa,
and Oghi in District Mansehra, and Dir in District Dir and
with only a few exceptions, all of the similarity counts
between these locations were 90 percent or above. In
addition, within this larger Northern group there were
sub-areas of greater similarity. For example, Madyan and
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Mingora, in District Swat, have 99 percent lexical


similarity; Batagram, Baffa, and Oghi share 99 to 100
percent lexical similarity; and Peshawar and Charsadda
are 97 percent similar. In contrast, similarity percentages
between Northern locations (including tribal locations)
and nearly all of the Southern-group localities were in the
70s or
low 80s. Many percentages between the two major
groups were in the 70s.
The morphological differences between the most
extreme north-eastern (i.e. the Peshawari dialect) and
south-western dialects (i.e. the Kandahari dialect) are
comparatively less considerable. Pashto is spoken slightly
differently from place to place (e.g., Swat, Peshawar,
Hazara), but the differences do not appear to be very
great. However, there is a marked difference between
the extreme north and extreme south varieties both
lexical and phonological. The criteria of dialect
differentiation in Pashto are more of a phonological
nature than lexical or morphological. The differences
other than phonological are not so great as to divide
Pashto as a language into contrasting dialects. With the
use of an alphabet which disguises these phonological
differences the language has, therefore, been a literary
vehicle, widely understood, for at least four centuries.
This literary language, in the words of D. N. MacKenzie
(1959), has long been referred to in the West as
'common' or 'standard' Pashto without, seemingly, any
real attempt to define it. On this account it seems
appropriate to attempt to define standard Pashto in
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more concrete phonemic terms than any adaptation of


the Arabo-Persian script allows it to stay as a distinct
language with a definite standard dialect and a number
of other local varieties. Dialects, particularly of the north-
east, have abandoned a number of consonant phonemes
but have generally confirmed the vowels in their
morphological positions. It is an obvious inference that
an older stage of Pashto, combined a 'south-western'
consonant system with a 'north-eastern' vowel phoneme
system. It is this conceptual phonemic system, therefore,
which is reflected in the verse of the classical period of
Khushal Khan and Rahman Baba. Apart from the evident
value of this 'Standard Pashto', in its discreet native
dress, as a universal literary medium among Pashtuns, it
appears to have another important application. It
permits the description of Pashto morphology in more
accurate and universal terms than does any single
dialect. Moreover, once established, by a comparison of
the main north-eastern and south-western dialects, it
may well serve as the basis for a simple description of the
regular phonetic divergences of other dialects. Of the 36
consonant signs of the standard alphabet, D. N.
MacKenzie states, seven, appear almost exclusively in
loanwords of Arabic origin and represent no additional
phonemes of Pashto. They are mere 'allographs ', marked
in the transliteration by a subscript line. Here D. N.
MacKenzie seems to have left a gap. The current
phonemes of standard Pashto may or may not be the
same as mentioned by him and it needs further
investigation, which this book will attempt to find out.
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Pashto is an ancient language that is written in


Perso-Arabic script. Its vocabulary contains words
borrowed from Ossete, Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu and
other regional languages of Pakistan, also some Indo-
Aryan languages. It is considered to be in close relation
with Persian but there are certain features in Pashto that
are not found in Persian e.g. there are certain consonants
and vowels in Pashto that are not found in Persian like
retroflex oral stops [‫ ]ټ‬and [‫]ډ‬, retroflex flap [‫]ړ‬, retroflex
nasal [‫ ]ڼ‬etc. Secondly in Persian, there is no gender and
noun case, nouns have only categories of definiteness
and number but in Pashto there is. Stress pattern is also
different, in Pashto the emphasis, again unlike Persian, is
not on the last syllable, but can vary. This freedom of shift
from one syllable to another plays a very important
grammatical role in Pashto and allows it to give different
meanings to same words. Due to these facts many
researchers have suggested that origin of Pashto is not
Persian rather it is either Ossete or a language from
which Ossete has originated though Pashto has
borrowed a number of lexical items from Persian. As far
as phonetical borrowings are concerned, Pashto has
borrowed phonemes from Arabic in exact form and
shape. The main reason being, Pashto is spoken by
people, who accepted Islam as a community, and the
reading of the holy book, Al Qur’an or the Qur’an is
obligatory for everyone who believes in Islam. The
reading of the Qur’an was impossible without Arabic in
the days when the Qur’an was not translated in
languages other than Arabic. Even now, its reading is
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mandatory in Arabic for spiritual satisfaction and


pleasure of the Almighty Allah.
Let us examine an excerpt of the Yusafzai Pashto
as recorded on page 32 of Vol X of the Linguistic Survey
of India by Sir George Abraham Grierson who placed the
Yusafzai Dialect in Vol X for the reason that this dialect
belongs to the Eranian Family, the specimen of which he
included in the book and the following excerpt was
included with the courtesy of Sir Herold Deane. A snap
shot of the excerpt of the Yusafzai Dialect is shown here
below:
24
‫‪25‬‬

‫‪The same paragraph, if transcribed in today’s‬‬


‫‪Peshawari Pashto, it will be reading as follows:‬‬
‫چ پالره ما له خپله‬ ‫ر‬
‫سي دوه زامن وو نو هغه کش خپل پالر ته ووېل ې‬ ‫د يو ړ‬
‫ورچ‬‫برخه د مال نه راکړه‪ .‬نو هغه خپل جائېداد په دواړو وويشو‪ .‬يو څو ې‬
‫زوي هر څۀ جمع کړل او يو لرې ملک ته ي ېي کوچ وکړو‪ .‬او هلته‬ ‫ر‬
‫پس کش ي ي‬
‫چ ټول ي ېي خالص کړو نو په هغه ملک‬ ‫مست والوزولو‪ .‬نو ې‬
‫ۍ‬ ‫ي ېي خپل مال په‬
‫ے‬
‫معتب‬‫باندې يو قحط راغ او هغه تنګ شو‪ .‬نو هغه الړو او د هغه وطن يو ر‬
‫خبيرانو د څرولو دپاره خپلو پټو ته اولېګو‪.‬‬ ‫سي سه نوکر شو‪ .‬او هغه د ے ے‬ ‫ړ‬
‫چ خبيرانو خوړل خپله ګېډه‬ ‫ے‬ ‫ے‬
‫ل سه په هغه بوسو ې‬ ‫او هغه به په خوشحا ۍ‬
‫چ ځما‬ ‫وي وئېل ې‬ ‫چ په خود شو نو ي ې‬ ‫ډکه کړې وه‪ .‬خو هيچا نۀ ورکول‪ .‬پيا ې‬
‫لوګ مرم‪ .‬زۀ به پاڅم‬ ‫موم‪ .‬او زۀ د ې‬
‫د پالرڅومره نوکران په ښۀ شان ډوډۍ ي‬
‫چ پالره ما د خداے ګناه کړې ده‬ ‫او خپل پالر له به ورشم‪ .‬او ورته به وايم ې‬
‫ے‬
‫کښ ېم‬ ‫چ ستا زوے شم‪ .‬خو په نوکرانو ر ې‬ ‫او ستا هم‪ .‬او ددې الئق نۀ يم ې‬
‫ے‬
‫چ هغه ال ېببته وو نو خپل‬ ‫واچوه‪ .‬او هغه پاڅېدو او خپل پالر له راغ‪ .‬خو ې‬
‫پالر وليدواو ترس ي ېي پرې وکړو او وروزغلېيدو ورترغاړه وتو او ښکل ي ېي کړو‪.‬‬
‫چ پالره ما د خداے او ستا ګناه کړې ده‪ .‬نو ددې الئق‬ ‫زوي ورته ووئېل ې‬ ‫او ي ي‬
‫چ ښه جامه‬ ‫ول پالر ي ېي خپلو نوکرانو ته ووئېل ې‬ ‫چ ستا زوے شم‪ .‬ې‬ ‫نه يم ې‬
‫پت ورته په ښپو‬ ‫ے‬ ‫‪.‬‬
‫راوړئ او دۀ ته ي ېي واغوندئ او يوه ګته ي ېي په الس کړئ او ې‬
‫چ دا زما زوے‬ ‫خوشحال وکړو‪ .‬ځکه ې‬ ‫ي‬ ‫چ ډوډۍ وخورو او‬ ‫کړئ‪ .‬او راچ ې‬
‫خوشحال‬
‫ې‬ ‫مړ ؤ او ژوندے شوے دے‪ .‬ورک ؤ او پېدا شوے دے‪ .‬او هغوي‬
‫جوړه کړه‪.‬‬

‫اغ او کور ته نزدے‬ ‫مش زوے په پت ک ےښ ؤ‪ .‬او چ ر ے‬ ‫اوس د هغه ر‬


‫ې‬ ‫ي ر ې‬
‫شو نو د سود او د ګډېدو اواز ي ېي واورېدو نو يو نوکر ته ي ېي اواز وکړو او‬
‫چ ستا‬ ‫چ ددې څه مطلب دے؟ نو هغه ورته ووئېل ې‬ ‫پوښتنه ي ېي ترې وکړه ې‬
‫چ هغه ي ېي روغ جوړ‬ ‫خبات کړے دے‪ .‬ځکه ې‬ ‫رور راغےل دے او پالر دې ې‬
‫موندےل دے‪ .‬نو هغه مرور شو او دننه نۀ تللو نو پالر ي ېي رااووتو او منت ي ېي‬
‫‪.‬‬
26

‫ے‬
‫چ ګوره دومره ډېرکالونه‬ ‫کښ پالر ته ووئېل ې‬ ‫ نو هغه په جواب ر ې‬.‫ورته اوکړو‬
‫ما ستا خدمت کړے دے او هيچرې ېم ستا حکم نۀ دے مات کړے او بيا‬
‫چ ما پرې د خپلو دوستانو سه‬ ‫هم تا چرته ما له يو چيےل راکړے نه دے ې‬
‫چ مال ي ېي درته په ډمو خراب‬ ‫ې‬ ‫زوي‬ ‫چ دا ستا‬ ‫ ې‬.‫کړې وې‬
‫ول خو ې‬ ‫ے‬
‫خوشحال‬
‫ي‬
‫چ زويه ته‬‫ې‬ ‫ووئېل‬ ‫اه‬
‫ر‬ ‫و‬ ‫هغه‬ ‫نو‬ .‫له‬
‫ړ‬ ‫ک‬
‫ور‬ ‫مېلمستيا‬ ‫ته‬‫ور‬ ‫تا‬ ‫نو‬ ‫اغ‬ ‫ر‬ ‫ے‬ ‫کړے د‬
‫چ مونږ ښادي‬ .
‫همېشه ما سه ي ېي او ځما هر څۀ ستا دي دا مناسب وو ې‬
‫ او ورک‬.‫چ دا ستا رور مړ ؤاو بيا ژوندے شو‬ ‫وکړو او خوشحاله شو ځکه ې‬
‫ؤ موندےل شوے دے‬.
This transcription of current day Pashto is the
current trend in writing Pashto in the Khyber
Pukhtunkhwa Province, which has been, or is supposed
to be officially, adopted after the Pashto Academy, the
University of Peshawar announced that a standard for
writing Pashto is the need of the day and must be
adopted for the future literary and linguistic works in
Pashto Language and Literature. This transcription is to
be made the standard transcription due to the fact that
almost three decades ago, the Barra Gali Conference
held on July 11 and 12, 1990, which was attended by
famous scholars, writers, linguists and researchers of
Pashto Language and Literature from Northern and
Southern Pukhtunkhwa including Afghanistan, the entire
Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province and the northern areas of
Balochistan, where Pashto is spoken as first language,
stressed the importance of adopting a standard and
uniform transcription system in order to bring about
uniformity and consensus among the writers of Pashto.
A number of decisions, total seventeen decisions to be
more precise, were taken unanimously by the delegates
(copy of the minutes of the conference attached). The
27

purpose of the conference was to mutually decide upon


the alphabets of the Pashto language to take conclusive
steps in order to make a standard phonetical and
phonological system of the Pashto language, not only for
indigenous speakers and users of Pashto but also to make
the job of the foreign learners of Pashto easy. In fact
certain linguists and literary scholars still have
reservations about a few sounds of Pashto which are not,
according to them, precisely transcribed, or proposed to
be transcribed, by the scholars who participated in the
Conferences held from time to time, about taking
conclusive steps, and reaching to conclusions about the
transcription about the alphabets of Pashto language.
Let us see another paragraph in Peshawari Pashto
which is written in current standard transcription of
Pashto as approved by the Pashto Academy, University
of Peshawar, the institution who is responsible for
ensuring to serve the Pashto Language and Literature in
any capacity. The paragraph reads as follows:
‫ده ادب څۀ مقصد پکار دے او که نه؟ دا بحث کول یو لوري ته ډېر زوړ‬
.‫ نو بل لوري ته اوس هم ددے ذکر او په دے پوهيدل ےضوري دي‬.‫دے‬
‫فرماي که یو ليکونےک په دې ښه پوهه نۀ وي نو هغه د‬ ‫ي‬ ‫چ پوهان‬ ‫ځکه ې‬
‫هغ د اظهار په حقله هيچرے یو واضحه طور سه پيش‬ ‫ے‬
‫خپل ليک او د ې‬
‫بشبه نظریه نه خپل ځان ته او نه نورو لوستونکو او اورېدونکو‬ ‫ړ‬ ‫کيدونک‬
‫ې‬
‫ليکونک خپله نظریه واضحه نه وي نو په‬ ‫د‬ ‫چ‬ ‫او‬ .‫ش‬ ‫ر‬ ‫کول‬ ‫اندې‬ ‫ته وړ‬
‫ي‬ ‫ې‬ ‫ې ي‬
.
‫ جنت دوزخ‬،‫ جهان‬،‫ش پرېوتےل ژوند‬ ‫ر‬
‫لوستونک چرته هم پوره پوره اثر نه ي‬ ‫ي‬
.‫پوهبي کنه‬
‫ږ‬ ‫هم‬ ‫خپله‬ ‫په‬ ‫پرې‬ ‫خو‬ ‫چ ليکوال‬ ‫هله ټول ستائيل پکار وي ې‬
‫ عنوان که هر څه وي‬.‫اي په ازادۍ راکړئ‬ ‫تاسو ته منظوره ده کنه؟ خپله ر ې‬
.
‫خو غندنه مۀ کوئ زمونږ به ګيله نه وي‬..
28

This excerpt contains the Pashto alphabets which


are used in the Peshawari dialect which is spoken in the
capital of the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province, Peshawar
and the adjacent districts of Charsadda, Mardan,
Noshera, Kohat, Swabi and by speakers of the tribal
regions of District Khyber, District Bajaur and Muhmand
erstwhile Khyber Agency and Muhmand Agency and
Bajaur Agency. The regions such as District Swat, Dir
Lower and Dir Upper, Buner and Malakand which are
closer to these adjacent districts of Peshawar and Swabi,
also speak the same Peshawari Dialect with slight
variations of pronunciation and vocabulary which are
mutually comprehendible for the listeners of the entire
province. It is perhaps this reason that the electronic and
print media makes use of this dialect. Few geographical,
historical and literary facts oblige me to consider the
Peshawari Pashto as the dialect of Pashto which is the
most important dialect of Pashto and it is the dialect
which must be designated as the Standard Dialect for
both the native and foreign learners of the Pashto
language. Other than the historical and literary reasons
which will follow later, certain geographical statistics
show that the Peshawari Pashto is the dialect of Pashto
which is equally understood by all speakers of the Khyber
Pukhtunkhwa province and is spoken by most of the
29

residents of the region where Pashto is the mother


tongue of the speakers with the exception of the
residents of the few southern districts, which in
themselves have a variety of the Pashto language with
certain variations of grammar, vocabulary and
pronunciation. According to the census of 2017, after the
merger of erstwhile tribal agencies, and FR regions the
total population of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is
35,525,047 out of which 21,081,158 (59%) population of
the three divisions namely Malakand, Mardan and
Peshawar divisions speak the Peshawari Pashto while the
rest of the population i.e. 14,443,889 (41%) which reside
in other divisions of the province, the majority of whom
understand the Peshawari Pashto, although the speakers
of the Peshawari dialect are lesser in number. It must be
kept in mind that the speakers from the other divisions,
who have frequent interaction in the field of business,
education or who keep family relations or friendships
with people in the Peshawar or its adjacent regions,
understand the Peshawari Pashto, since it is capital of the
province, and off course, carries historical, political and
financial significance not only for the people of the
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but also for the country and the
world at large. This book considers the Peshawari Pashto
as the Pashto spoken and understood by all those
Northeastern speakers of the Pashto language who
30

reside in or around the Peshawar region including the


Peshawar division and the adjacent divisions of Mardan
and Malakand.

Apart from the districts of Peshawar Division, all


the districts of Mardan and Malakand division also speak
the same Peshawari Pashto, though with slight variations
of pronunciation, but not necessarily those of grammar
and vocabulary. The districts of Swabi, Charsadda,
Noshera, Buner, Swat, Malakand, Dir Upper and Dir
Lower, Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, and Kohat have the
same dialect of Pashto which is spoken and understood
alike. The common observation that language changes
after each twelve to fifteen kilometers is a reality yet to
be proved thought, these districts are spread well over a
radius of 25,620 sq km out of the entire area of the
Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province which is 101,741 sq km
after the merger of the erstwhile FATA. Research about
the exact number of those speakers who can speak or
understand the Peshawari Pashto, particularly after the
merger of the erstwhile FATA region into the Khyber
Pukhtunkhwa province, is an open option for any
independent researcher. Due primarily to lack of time,
testing was not done in the reverse direction— testing
the Quetta story in Yusufzai/Peshawar territory. This is
something which probably should be done in the future
31

to verify that Yusufzai really is more widely understood


than the Quetta dialect.

Apart from geographical significance, the


Peshawari Pashto carries historical as well as literary
significance when it comes to describing a dialect of
Pashto which is understood by all and used by majority
of the Pukhtoon population. As mentioned earlier, a
huge population of the Pukhtoons is living abroad in
different parts of the world as well. Their channel of
communication with their community back home is
either the internet or the TV channels, which are a formal
mode of communication and for the formal mode, the
Peshawari Pashto is utilized by the TV Channels. We will
come to this point later in our discussion. Let us briefly
discuss the various reasons for why the Peshawari Pashto
be considered as the standard dialect for the native as
well as the foreign learners of Pashto.

The oldest form of poetic composition in Pashto


literature is the ‘Tapa’. It is said that Pashto poetry was
born out of the womb of Tapa which is a literary form
that has a very simple metrical composition but a very
comprehensive and pregnant thematic make up. It is one
of the oldest forms of folk literature and is traced by
historians to the pre-Greek era. The first ever Tapa
recorded in the books of history which is:
32

‫سپوږميه کړنګ وهه را ر‬


‫خبه‬

‫ګوي ريىبينه‬ َ
‫يار مـى ده ګلو لـؤ کوي ې‬
Spogmaya Krung Waha Rakheeja
Yaar Me Da Gulo Lao Kawi Gutey Rebeenaa

And is translated into English as follows;


O Moon! Come out soon with jingle and light up the sky,
My lover is out at midnight to harvest flowers,
Who might hurt his fingers in the dark.

If we look at the syntactic structure of the above


Tapa, it is written in the Peshawari dialect although it was
not known in those days that the Peshawari dialect will
ever exist.

Another Tapa which is recorded about a 1000


years ago, by famous historian Khursheed Jahan, when
the Armies of the Great Sultan Mehmood of Ghazna
came to India in their series of battles which they won
one after the other. There was a commander in his
armies by the name ‘Khaalo’ who belonged to the Gomal
Pass, in the current Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. His
beloved fiancé was reported to have uttered the
following Tapa when she came to know that the Armies
of Mehmood of Ghazna are about to cross the Gomal
Pass in a couple of days:
33

‫اش‬‫ر‬
‫چ د خالو لښکرے ر ي‬
‫ې‬
‫زه به ګومل ته د خپل يار ديدن له ځمه‬
Che Da Khaalo Lakhkaray Rashi

Za Ba Gomal Ta da Khpal Yar Deedan La Zama

Which can be translated into English as:


When the Armies of ‘Khaalo’ would reach,
I would go to the Gomal Pass to meet my lover there.

Although it was sung by a lady of the southern


districts of the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and it should have
been in the southern dialect but, against our
expectations, it is in the Peshawari dialect. Similarly, a
book named ‘Roohi Sandary’, at the Pashto Academy,
University of Peshawar, contains about 26000 Tapas and
hardly a few might be in the dialects other than the
Peshawari dialect. Thus historically, the very beginning of
Pashto literature is woven into a dialect which was a
standard, because every speaker and every writer knew
that it is the dialect which is understandable for every
speaker of Pashto. This fact is narrated by Morgenstierne
when he says that the orthography of Pashto was fixed in
the
16th century, the distinction between ‫ ش‬/ʃ/, ‫ ﮋ‬/ʒ/ and ‫خ‬
‫ ږ‬,seems still to have been preserved even among the
north-eastern tribes, who were probably the creators of
Pashto literature (1932:17).
34

The first ever recorded book of Pashto which


exists, is Bayazid Ansari’s book, “Khair ul Bayan. Bayazid,
the Geoffrey Chaucer of Pashto literature, lived between
1526? and 1574?, and influenced not only the literature
of Pashto language, in which he composed both prose
and poetry, but is also greatly contributed to the
Phonetic studies of Pashto, by devising thirteen new
alphabets adding them to the set of the existing
inventory of Pashto alphabets at that time. Thus he can
be called as the first phonetician of the Pashto language.
His book was written in the Nastaliq, the Arabic-based
script as adapted the writing script of Persian, which itself
‘began to be recognized as an independent form in the
second half of the fourteenth century’ (Hanaway &
Spooner 1995). It is considered to be a textbook by
recent critics and researchers (Haq1986; Guide 1990). It
does contain passages about the essentials of Islam, and
the message of God the writer wanted to convey to the
common masses, which may be understood by ordinary
people. Rozi Khan Barki writes about the script of Khairul
Bayan that it was composed by the learned author in
‘standard’ Pashto, a dialect which had no legal or official
status at that time, but which at least was the dialect
which was in vogue for literary compositions, and was
not only understandable to all the readers of Pashto but
was also the language of formal communication in which
35

religious as well as moral ideas were communicated by


learned authors to the masses at large. His belonged to
the people of Urmar who was an Urmary or Bargasta
speaking tribe (Himayatullah Yaqubi, 2013) but since he
was a man of erudition, he knew how important his
message was for the masses at large, and that was why
he used a dialect of Pashto for his communication which
was more prolific and universal so as to spread his
message to everyone. He knew that the dialect of his
mother tongue, the Waziri Pashto was not understood in
the Peshawar valley as the Peshawari dialect which was
the language of formal communication. Bayazid also
knew the fact that it is the Peshawari Pashto in which the
literary composition will be made as the reading lot
consisted mainly of the ones who read and spoke the
Peshawari Pashto. Dr Yar Muhammad Maghmoom also
adopts the same stance in describing the linguistic
significance of that book and states that the book was
composed in a universal dialect which would be spread
and read all over the Pukhtoon readers both in
Afghanistan and the current Khyber Pukhtunkhwa as well
as the Pukhtoons living in the part of the subcontinent to
be later called India. Thus he used a dialect, standard for
that time, though that was not defined to be standard as
such. But its acceptance as a standard dialect was in
place. In response to Bayazid’s book, Akhund Darweeza
36

Baba (1533-1619), wrote his own book Makhzan ul Islam.


The Makhzan (or treasure) was a rich collection of Arabic
religious texts translated in Pashto. Moreover, the
language of exposition was Pashto. This book is said to
have been taught both in the madrassas and at homes by
women to other women and children. It was also read
out to those who could not read it themselves. This book
was also composed in a dialect easily understandable for
the entire community of Pashto speakers, and that
dialect was the Peshawari Pashto. Another book which is
said to be part of the curricula, especially for women, is
Mulla Abdur Rashid‘s Rashid-ul-Bayan. This was written
in AH 1124 (1712). Rashid’s ancestors are said to have
come from Multan and he lived at Langarkot. It was read
by women in their homes and was a kind of sermon in
verse. The following lines from it will serve as illustration
of the whole. The nature of the deity, for instance, is
described as follows:
Na e naqs shta pa zat ke/ Na e aeb shta pa sifat ke i.e.

Neither has He any defect in His Being nor has He any fault in His qualities.

Bayazid Ansari, an influential politician and religious


leader of Pathan origin, who had lived during the second
period of the literary evolution of the linguistic system
known today as Pashto, has been known to pride himself
to be the creator of the letters of the alphabet which he
had developed through the superimposition of Pashto
37

letters over those of Arabic and as a result developing the


new alphabet according to oral traditions. Similarly,
Khoshal Khan Khattak had devised a new Pashto script
after substantial amendments but that could only last up
to his family because Mukhzin-ul-Islam which was taken
as a text book, and its script obtained popularity and
became deep rooted in society during a short span of
time, and the same script remained functional with slight
modifications until the recent past (Pakhto Lik Laar
1991).

The literature of Pashto, as well as its script, has


undergone evolutionary changes mainly put into effect
by Pathans like Khatak, Darwaiza and Bayazid. The Pashto
Academy at Kabul Afghanistan was created for the
standardization of the language in Kabul in the early
nineteen hundreds, contributed to this very task to
research on the influence of foreign languages, more
concretely Persian and Arabic which had influenced the
writings of the Pashto authors who used the languages
as a model for their style and topic selection.
Nevertheless, they kept in mind the preservation of the
characteristic norms of Pashto.

A glance at the books of prose and poetry


available in the libraries reveals that the poets and prose
writers since the 17th Century have been using the same
38

dialect for their literary compositions. Great scholars,


intellectuals and poets as well as prose writers of Pashto
literature in the entire region have been using the same
dialect for their literary compositions. As D. N. Mackenzi
puts it, a 'Standard Pashto', in its discreet native dress, as
a universal literary medium among Pashtuns, carries a
conceptual phonemic system which is reflected in the
verses of the great classical poet Khushal Khan Khatak
(1613-1689), who was a Khatak by tribe, and whose
father was killed by the Yusufzais in a battle, remained a
declared enemy of the Yusufzai tribe and had fought
several battles with them on behalf of the Mughal
emperors. But if we study the literary works of Khushal
Khatak, we see that he used the Peshawari dialect for all
type of literary composition, poetry or prose. The
Peshawari dialect was spoken by the Yusufzais and
composed literature in the same dialect, Khushal Khan,
despite all his enmity with the Yusufzais, adopted the
same dialect for his literary compositions since he knew
that it was widely used and understood by Pukhtoons not
only in the region but by the Pashto speakers the entire
Indian subcontinent. Similarly, Abdur Rahman Baba
(1632-1711), who was a Momand by birth, but he used
the Peshawari dialect for his poetry and in his entire
Diwan (collection of his poems) no single verse could be
found in the Momand or other dialect of Pashto.
39

Poets of great repute in the following century also


composed poetry in the Peshawari dialect. The famous
poet, known by the name ‘hair splitter’ for his glorious
imagery, Abdul Hameed Baba (1669-1732), and Ali Khan
Baba (1737-1766) were Momand by birth but they
composed poetry in the Peshawari dialect.

Famous Pashto Poets of the modern era also used


the Peshawari dialects for their literary composition
whether prose or poetry. Famous poet, Fiction writer and
Dramatist, Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari (1907-1994) was a
Shinwari by tribe. Similarly, Misri Khan Khatir Afridi
(1929-1961), known as the John Keats of Pashto for his
beautiful imagery and rosy expression in his poetry, was
an Afridi by tribe, but no single verse can be found in
Shinwari or Afridi dialects in their entire poetry. Famous
novelists and dramatist, fiction writer and journalist,
Rahat Zakhaeeli (1885-1963), famous poet and literary
figure Abdul Akbar Khan (1899-1977), one among the
most influential critics and literat, Siyyid Taqweemul Haq
Kakakhel (1927-1999), renowned scholar, critic and
researcher, Dost Muhammad Kamil (1915-1981),
renowned poet, famous by the name ‘the crazy
philosopher’, Khan Abdul Ghani Khan (1914-1996),
reputed scholar, researcher, critic and poet, Qalandar
Momand (1930-2003), revolutionary poet, Ajmal Khatak
(1926-2010), a living legend among the poets of Pashto,
40

Rahmat Shah Sayil (1949- ), research and critic,


Hameesh Khalil (1930- ), researcher, scholar and a poet
of high repute, Dr Salma Shaheen (1958- ), famous
critic, scholar, researcher and poet Dr Sahib Shah Sabir
(Late), famous poet and dramatist, Dr Muhammad Azam
Azam, renowned scholar, researcher and literat, Dr
Nasrullah Wazir (Director Pukhto Academy), research
fellow at the Pashto Academy, Dr Sher Zaman Seemab,
research fellow at Pashto Academy, Dr Noor Muhammad
Betani and many other great scholars, researchers,
critics, linguists and intellectuals whose names are
difficult to list here, are few of the many writers who
composed literature, both in prose and poetry, in the
Peshawari dialect.

Another fact which invites our attention is the


writings of the foreigners who either composed poetry
and prose in Pashto literature or any book of grammar or
syntax, they wrote it in the Peshawari dialect. The British
knew the significance of Pashto language in dealing
successfully with the Pukhtoons. Its importance can be
gauged from a report on Pashto language which reveals
that, in addition to being spoken in Afghanistan Pashto is
also spoken by 1,200,000 people in India. The report
states:

Pashto is all important as the lingua franca on the Indian


North West Frontier. If there is any trouble there, a knowledge of
41

Pashto is indispensable. Its political importance can be gauged


from the fact that it is studied in both German and Russian
Universities. It is also the language of our Pathan troops
(Committee 1909: 117).

The learned Englishmen, at least, were supposed


to learn Pashto if they wanted to successfully deal with
the Pukhtoons in the area called by them the North West
Frontier Province. The official orders by the British
Government reveal the significance of Pashto for the
rulers at that time.

One of such orders states as follows:

All the Indian Frontier officers and Missionaries in the


frontier must know Pashto. These are many in number. At
present they have to learn the language on the spot, and some
who are good linguists know a good deal about it, but once they
leave their duty their accumulated knowledge is lost. The
arrangements for teaching on the frontier are imperfect.
(Committee 1909: 117)

The arrangements made to teach to such British


officers were generally private ones. Englishmen
generally hired the locally available private tutors for
nominal payments, crammed grammars and lists of
certain vital words written by English authors or took
lessons from tutors hired by their organizations for the
purpose.
42

Among the officers, who were linguists, there


were many who wrote grammars and dictionaries. The
most well known among these are Captain H.G. Raverty;
H.W. Bellew; George Morgenstierne and,George
Grierson. Raverty’s dictionary, completed in July 1860, in
its preface refers almost entirely to the military, and
political, significance of the language. Among other
things he said, was an important point to make which is
that, the Indian Pathans, or go-betweens of Afghan origin
from India, should not be sent to Afghanistan for the
purpose of mediating between the Afghans and the
government. Rather we must free ourselves from
dependence upon them, and that could be done by
sending as agents into the country men practically
acquainted with the language spoken by the people, or,
at least, with the language in general use at the court of
the ruler to which they may be accredited’ (Raverty
1860). Raverty also added that the Pashtuns had sided
with the British during the upheaval of 1857 and, the
Afghans should be enlisted, as well as Sikhs and Gurkhas,
into every regiment or, even regiments of each ethnic
group may be created. He goes on to say further that
another reason was that the Russians, who taught Pashto
at St. Petersburgh, would be advantaged by their
knowledge of the language whereas the British, who
actually ruled over the Pashtuns, would not be able to
43

influence them. Raverty argued that schools should be


established ‘for the express study of Pashto and the
government must make it compulsory for its officers. His
own dictionary; textbook called Gulshan-i-Roh; and
grammar; he says, are meant to facilitate the learning of
this important language. Raverty’s complaint about
British indifference to Pashto gained some support from
the fact that a German scholar, H. Ewald, rather than an
English one, pioneered the study of Pashto. Ewald and
other German linguists with interest in Pashto, wrote
books of grammar and articles on the sound system and
a grammar of Pashto from 1893 onwards. Indeed, as
Annemarie Schimmel in her extremely useful study of the
German linguists who have studied Pakistani languages
puts it, ‘Geiger’s contribution gave the study of Pashto a
new, firm ground on which the coming generation could
work’ (Schimmel 1981). Such German works provided
material for the study of Pashto to British officers.
However, since they were meant for linguistic study, they
had less specifically pedagogical material than the works
of British linguists. The Indian tutors facilitated their
British pupils to learn Pashto. Indeed, the very first
grammar of Pashto, entitled Riyaz al-mahabba was
written by Mahabbat Khan, son of Hafiz Rahmat Khan
Rohila, in 1806-7 ‘for a British officer’ (Schimmel 1981).
One of the first such books was
44

Tutor to Pushto and it was published in 1896 by Moulvi


Ismail Khan as ‘a perfect help to the lower and higher
standard Pashto examination’ (Khan 1896). Some of the
tutors of Pashto, such as Qazi Najamuddin Khan and Qazi
Behram Khan, both father and son, made this practice a
family profession. Behram’s son Qazi Abdul Khaliq was
also an ‘officers language teacher’ in Peshawar and wrote
his short booklet Fifty Lessons to Learn Pashto.

Moreover, the medium of communication in


mass media is also the same dialect which has a wide
circulation and recognition and is a source of
communication for the Pukhtoons of the Khyber
Pukhtunkhwa with the rest of the world. The textbooks,
the novels, the drama and other pieces of writing such as
essays, treatises and articles are composed in the same
dialect. This dialect is also the unofficial medium of
instruction in schools and colleges as well as in the
Academy of Pashto in the University of Peshawar, though
Urdu is the official medium of communication in the
government organizations and educational institutions
and English is the medium of instruction in the private
educational institutions.

In my view this dialect is selected by the users of


Pashto language due to a number of reasons. Apart from
the historical reasons, in my own assessment, most
45

important reason is the metrical and structural simplicity


of the Peshawari dialect. Though it is called the ‘hard’
dialect due to the presence of certain phonetic elements,
which this book will try to address, if it successfully could,
but the overall impression of the Peshawari dialect is that
of a smooth and easy to understand dialect. Therefore,
the focus of attention for this book is also the Peshawari
dialect. As enunciated above, D. N. MacKenzie has rightly
pointed out that despite being the most widely used
dialect, and despite the fact that literature of
international standing has been composed in the
Peshawari dialect, it is yet to be recognized as standard
dialect. He says, “This literary language has long been
referred to in the West as 'common' or 'standard' Pashto
without, seemingly, any real attempt to define it.”

The knowledge of phonetics and phonology of


English is necessary for all those who want to know the
principles regarding the correct use of English speech
sounds. It is important to learn English pronunciation in
terms of phonemes rather than letters of the alphabet,
because of the confusing nature of English spelling (Peter
Roach 2000). The accent that is used as a model for
foreign learners is Received Pronunciation (BBC
Pronunciation). It is the accent that has been used as the
basis for textbooks and pronunciation dictionaries and so
is described in more detail than other accents of English
46

(Roach: 2000) This book is dedicated to the same cause.


It focuses on the Peshawari dialect and if its reading
could convince the readers as well as the authorities who
define and declare a specific dialect of Pashto as the
standard dialect, this might well be a successful attempt
to prove that it is the Peshawari dialect that is the
standard. In the words of MacKenzie, the criteria of
dialect differentiation in Pashto are primarily
phonological. It is the same reason that this book is
designed to address the phonological aspect of the
Peshawari dialect. It does not mean that the
orthographic aspect is ignored. It rather means that the
phonological aspect of the dialect is taken into
consideration due to the fact that the other differences
of vocabulary and syntax are not so great as to invite
immediate attention and a detailed focus. This book is an
attempt to describe the phonetical aspect of the
Peshawari dialect, a variety of Pashto used since
centuries.

What is a dialect?

Hudson (1996, p. 22) defines a variety of


language as ‘a set of linguistic items with similar
distribution. According to Hudson, this definition also
allows us ‘to treat all the languages of some multilingual
speaker, or community, as a single variety, since all the
47

linguistic items concerned have a similar social


distribution. Ferguson (1972, p. 30) offers another
definition of variety: ‘A body of human speech patterns
which is sufficiently homogeneous to be analyzed by
available techniques of synchronic description and which
has a sufficiently large repertory of elements and their
arrangements or processes with broad enough semantic
scope to function in all formal contexts of
communication.’ Note the words ‘sufficiently
homogeneous’ in this last quotation. Complete
homogeneity is not required; there is always some
variation whether we consider a language as a whole, a
dialect of that language, the speech of a group within
that dialect, or, ultimately, each individual in that group.
Such variation is a basic fact of linguistic life.

Hudson and Ferguson agree in defining ‘variety’


in terms of a specific set of ‘linguistic items’ or ‘human
speech patterns’ (presumably, sounds, words,
grammatical features, etc.) which we can uniquely
associate with some external factor (presumably, a
geographical area or a social group). Consequently, if we
can identify such a unique set of items or patterns for
each group in question, it might be possible to say there
are such varieties as Standard English, Cockney, lower-
class New York City speech, Oxford English, legalese,
cocktail party talk, and so on. One important task, then,
48

in sociolinguistics is to determine if such unique sets of


items or patterns do exist. As we proceed we will
encounter certain difficulties, but it is unlikely that we
will easily abandon the concept of ‘variety,’ no matter
how serious these difficulties prove to be and see
whether the description of this dialect can help in
understanding the aspects of the other regional dialects
of Pashto. From the very outset it is essential for me to
make a point clear to the readers that there is a
difference between an accent and a dialect. Accent is the
way a person or a group of persons speak a specific
language. It means that accent is specifically related only
to the pronunciation of a language. For example, a
speaker of Peshawar pronounces the English word ‘how’
as ‘sanga’ in Pashto. The speakers of Swabi, Swat, Buneer
and Dir districts pronounce it as ‘sanga’ while a speaker
from district Charsada will pronounce it as ‘Singa’. The
pronunciation of the same word differently by different
speakers of the same language is said to be an aspect of
accent. Accent tells us where a speaker is from. When a
speaker starts speaking to us, he speaks our language
Pashto but a careful listener automatically understands
that the speaker is either from Charsada or Kohat or
Peshawar or any other region of the province. What is it
that helps us in recognizing a speaker from his very act of
speaking a few words? We do not wait to understand the
49

structure of his sentence but get the feeling from few


words that the speaker is from this or that district. This is
because of his accent. Languages have different accents:
they are pronounced differently, people from different
geographical place, from different social classes, of
different ages and different educational backgrounds
(Roach, 2000). Thus accent relates only to the way a
speaker pronounces certain words.

Accent is the way different people pronounce the


same language. The difference might be because of the
fact that its speakers belong to different geographical
regions, social classes and educational backgrounds or
different age and gender groups. We will come to this
discussion in the later part of the book. Speaking about a
dialect is more comprehensive than that.

A dialect is a variety or type of language which is


not only different in pronunciation but also different in
syntax (grammar and sentence structure) and vocabulary
and sometimes different in morphology or the order of
words. Accent is only one part of a dialect. Other parts
are vocabulary, syntax, morphology and word order etc.
This book will focus only on the Peshawari dialect and will
take into account mainly its pronunciation, and of course
some of its vocabulary items to elaborate its phonetical
aspect, and to some extent the syntax and morphology
50

for the purpose of elucidating the phonetics and


phonology of this dialect. The reason is that it is the
Peshawari dialect that appears in print media and
newspapers and textbooks. It is the dialect which is heard
on the TV and Radio channels in the Khyber
Pukhtunkhwa province. Pashto is also spoken in the
accent of the Southern Districts such as Waziristan,
Bannu, DI Khan and Kurram etc. But the Pashto of those
districts is different in pronunciation as well as in
vocabulary and syntax. Those dialects are to be treated
separately in another such book because during a
discourse situation sometimes even the speaker of the
Peshawari dialect has to ask the speakers of the southern
districts to repeat what they said because it is not
understandable for him in the first go, particularly when
he hears a faster speaker. It is not like the southern
districts speak different language. They speak the same
Pashto. It is because of the difference in vocabulary and
pronunciation that sometimes the speakers of one
dialect look alien to the speakers of another dialect or
accent. After carefully listening they understand each
other though. This is not the scope of this book to discuss
all the dialects of Pashto. A detailed description of the
southern dialects will require another book of such
nature which can be composed by a speaker of those
dialects.
51

The accent that this book concentrates on and


uses as a model is the one that is recommended for the
foreign learners of Pashto which can help them
understand the TV and Radio news channels in the
Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province, as well as the
newspapers and journals published in Pashto around the
country. It is also for the native speakers of Pashto who
want to learn the language of formal communication and
understand what is disseminated in the media. The
dialect which this book will describe should be called the
Standard Dialect of Pashto i.e. the Peshawari dialect,
which would be abbreviated as SDP in the following
pages. There is no implication in selection of SDP as a
standard dialect that other accents or dialects of Pashto
are inferior or less standard. It is only for the purpose of
education as well as for making the job of Pashto
language teachers easier who want to teach Pashto
language either to foreign learners of Pashto or the
natives speakers of Pashto at school, college or university
level. It is supposed to make the job of those foreign
learners of Pashto easier who want to have some
knowledge of the Pashto language, even without the
help of a teacher. For those readers of this book, who are
the native speakers of Pashto, it is not mandatory to
change their pronunciation patterns after having gone
through the book. I do not ask the native speakers to
52

change their own way of speaking their native tongue


after reading this book. It is, of course, suggested for the
native speakers of Pashto, to read the book and
concentrate on SDP, which over the course of reading
this book, they will find it interesting to know that they
can identify the ways in which their own dialect is
different or similar to the SDP and how can they judge
whether their dialect is close to the SDP or otherwise.
The readers can even learn to pronounce utterances of
accents other than their own and that will benefit them
in their knowledge of the dialects of their native tongue.

Why learn Pashto?

The Pukhtoons have always been a very


important nation for those who aspired to influence the
western part of the subcontinent in olden times. From
the time of the Guptas down to the Greek Alexander and
in the 19th century to the British, this region where the
Pukhtoons have resided for thousands of years has been
a focus of attention for many rulers and invaders. The
Pukhtoons have kept their traditions intact during
several centuries. They consider themselves born
warriors and never let any ruler rule them unless the
invader has come to good terms with them. One way of
winning the Pukhtoons is by behaving good towards
53

them. Leaning their language and interacting with them


is yet another trick to subdue this nation. It is somehow
a general rule of thumb to avoid enmity of a nation by
learning its language. If interaction with the Pukhtoons is
needed, one must learn their language because of many
reasons, the first and foremost being that most of the
Pukhtoons lack exposure to foreign language and
cultures. The British had adopted a policy for the
Pukhtoons to keep them deliberately away from
education, and thus had closed one big gateway for them
to achieve progress and economic prosperity.

Keeping in view the competitive and economic


age of today, the significance of any language cannot be
underestimated. Particularly, in a region like the Khyber
Pukhtunkhwa province where a global economic activity
in the form of China Pak Economic Corridor is proposed
to be launched, the regional language of the province is
of supreme importance for all investors in the project,
particularly China, in that the jobs and employment
opportunities are to be availed by the residents of the
Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province. The Chinese or other
investors cannot afford to bring their own staff from the
top level to the bottom, and thus some of the
employments slots have to be filled by the regional
residents, no matter higher or lower in ranks, who will
have to interact with the foreigners, be it Chinese, Saudis
54

or other investors. It is believed that the CPEC project will


open new avenues of growth and progress which will
result in regional prosperity for the country. In this
regard, the residents’ multilingual skills will go a long way
in tapping the maximum benefits towards attaining the
goal of a sustainable economic development. In order to
make CPEC a success, bridging the language and cultural
gap between the regional and the global stakeholders is
of supreme importance, besides catering to the
investment and profit needs of the investors. The
Pakistani scholars, in matters of finance and linguistics,
have to play a vital role in coming up to the expectations
of the two countries in order to make CPEC a true success
for the country as well as for the region. Pakistanis need
to learn Chinese language, and culture and reciprocally
the Chinese and other stakeholders of CPEC need to learn
about Pakistani culture, as well as the regional languages,
in order to break the linguistic barriers to realize the full
potential of the CPEC project.

It is with such a crucial purpose in mind that this


book was conceived for providing a platform both to the
native and non native learners of Pashto, not only with
CPEC in mind, but the interest of global powers in the
region ever since the start of the cold war. For thousands
of years this region, the Peshawar valley, has been a
centre of attraction for rulers, investors and religious
55

missionaries. Only the British realized for the first time


that along with political and financial knowledge of this
region, a more in-depth cultural and linguistic
understanding was also needed if the Pukhtoons have to
be handled in a shrewd way.

The bilateral relations between Pakistan and


China are excellent since the independence of Pakistan,
but unfortunately people of both the countries have less
awareness about each other’s culture and languages.
After CPEC, China and Pakistan both need to have an in
depth understanding of each others’ culture and
language because it is understanding of such values
which goes a long way in bilateral relations, apart from
the use of money and power between two countries.

The purpose of this book is two-fold; In the first


place it intends to describe the vowels and consonants of
Pashto to elucidate it by putting it in comparison with
vowels and consonants of English, which is an
international language, and will help every leaner of
Pashto who aims to master the phonology of Pashto and
that will sound more easy if the base for understanding
Pashto phonology is the phonological system of English
which is known worldwide. Secondly, this book intends
to propose a theoretical framework for the study of
Pashto language, particularly the Peshawari dialect, since
56

it is the dialect that appears in the print and electronic


media. Learners, particularly the non native learners of
Pashto, and to some extent the natives learners of
Pashto have difficulty in the pronunciation of certain
phonemes and phonological patterns, which they
needed to comprehend in order to easily understand
Pashto and its literature. As for the users of Pashto
language at an advanced level, say, at research or
Teaching of Pashto as a native tongue or Teaching of
Pashto as a foreign language level, this book is hoped to
be of help to such users in that it will provide to them a
theoretical framework in understanding the principles
regulating the description and use of sounds in Pashto
language. The general readers of this book will also
receive help in identifying and differentiating the vowel
and consonant sounds of Pashto for a deeper
understanding of the sound patterns which are similar or
different between Pashto and English. Keeping in view
the number of speech sounds in Pashto language, it
might be theorized that the native speakers of Pashto are
at an advantage to master the sound system of any
language in the world, as the range of speech sounds
covered in Pashto is vast.

International Phonetic Alphabet


International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), a set of
alphabet developed in the 19th century to accurately
57

represent the pronunciation of languages. The


International Phonetic Association is responsible for the
alphabet and publishes a chart summarizing it. One aim of
the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) was to provide
a unique symbol for each distinctive sound in a
language—that is, every sound, or phoneme, that serves
to distinguish one word from another.
The concept of the IPA was first broached by Otto
Jespersen in a letter to Paul Passy of the International
Phonetic Association and was developed by A.J. Ellis,
Henry Sweet, Daniel Jones, and Passy in the late 19th
century. Its creators’ intent was to standardize the
representation of spoken language, thereby sidestepping
the confusion caused by the inconsistent conventional
spellings used in every language. It was first published in
1888 and was revised several times in the 20th and 21st
centuries. The IPA primarily uses Roman characters.
Other letters are borrowed from different scripts (e.g.,
Greek) and are modified to conform to Roman style.
Diacritics are used for fine distinctions in sounds and to
show nasalization of vowels, length, stress, and tones. The
IPA can be used for broad and narrow transcription. For
example, in English there is only one /t/ sound
distinguished by native speakers. Therefore, only one
symbol is needed in a broad transcription to indicate
every t sound. If there is a need to transcribe narrowly in
English, diacritical marks can be added to indicate that
the /t/ in the words tap, pat, and stem differ slightly in
pronunciation.
The IPA did not become the universal system for phonetic
transcription that its designers had intended, and it is used
less commonly in America than in Europe. Despite its
58

acknowledged shortcomings, it is widely employed by


linguists and in dictionaries, though often with some
modifications. The standard for pronunciation in this
book will be the one prescribed by the International
Phonetic Alphabet. Over the course of reading, the
readers will compare the speech sounds of Pashto with
the standard speech sounds given in the IPA chart, which
has been utilized by Peter Roach for his description of the
English vowels and consonants. We will see whether a
vowel or consonant of Pashto matches the vowels or
consonants in the IPA or deviate from them. In case of
deviation, what is the level and degree of deviation and
to what extent is the English Language helpful in
identifying such sounds and how to resolve the problem
faced by learners of Pashto. It is worth mentioning that
the speech sounds of Pashto are not supposed to follow
the set pattern of the speech sounds in IPA chart. We will
bring the comparison in our discussion for the sake of the
convenience of the learners of Pashto as the IPA is an
international standard which can be followed by learners
of any language worldwide. The IPA charts for the vowels
and consonants are given in the tables below:
59
60

Chapter 2

The Phoneme, phonetics and phonology

The Phoneme

The word phoneme has been derived from the


Greek word ‘phone’ which means ‘a sound’. Phoneme is
defined as, ‘any of the perceptually distinct units of
sound in a specified language that distinguish one word
from another, for example p, b, d in English language.

The Oxford Dictionary defines a phoneme as, ‘Any


of the perceptually distinct units of sound in a specified
61

language that distinguish one word from another, for


example p, b, d, and t in the English words pad, pat, bad,
and bat.’

In Pashto phonetics and phonology, the same


definition is to be utilized for explanation. Consider, for
example the words ‘‫ ’کټ‬i.e. ‘bed’ and ‘‫ ’ بند‬i.e. ‘closed’.
The first word contains /k/ and /t/ consonants which are
called phonemes. The /a/ in the middle of ‘‫ ’کټ‬is a vowel
which is also a phoneme. Similarly, in the word ‘bund’,
the phonemes are /b/, /u/, /n/ and /d/. Phoneme is the
minimal distinctive unit of sound, whether a consonant
or a vowel, which cannot be further divided into smaller
parts. It means that a phoneme is that unit of sound
which cannot be simplified. The term ‘distinctive’ is also
important to understand. Distinctive means ‘unique’. It
means a sound which cannot be replaced. If it is replaced
by any other sound, it will change the meaning of the
word totally. For example, if we replace the /k/ in the
word ‘kat’ by a phoneme /s/, the word will become ‘sat’
and it means different than the word ‘kat’. Thus both the
/k/ and /s/ are distinctive phonemes of Pashto and if we
replace them in words with different phonemes, the
meaning of the word will be totally changed. A phoneme
is not a letter or alphabet. There can be alphabets which
might contain a number of phonemes. For example the
alphabet /‫ﺝ‬/. If we pronounce the alphabet as ‘jeem’ it
will contain three phonemes namely, /j/, /e/, /m/. The
first is a consonant while the second is a vowel which is
pronounced as a long vowel equal to the length of two e
62

vowels but we will come to the length of vowel in the


chapter that deals vowels. The phoneme /j/ will also be
discussed at length in the chapter which deals with
consonants.
Allophone

At this stage it will complicate things too much


but I suppose it is important for readers to understand
another concept related to phoneme which is
‘allophone’. The Oxford Dictionary defines an allophone
as, ‘Any of the various phonetic realizations of a
phoneme in a language, which do not contribute to
distinctions of meaning. For example, in English an
aspirated p (as in pin) and unaspirated p (as in spin) are
allophones of /p/.

Aspiration here means the release of a puff of air


while pronouncing certain phonemes. For example in
Pashto the word ‘pat’ i.e. ‘hidden’ can be pronounced
without aspiration as /pat/ and the ‘p’ can be
pronounced with aspiration as /phat/. Here it is worth
noting that the aspiration does not change the meaning
of the word. Only a specific feature of pronunciation is
added to the phoneme /p/ i.e. aspiration. If we replace
the /p/ by any other phoneme e.g. /s/ then the word
becomes /sat/ and its meaning will be changed. It means
that an allophone is not a different phoneme. It is in fact
63

the same phoneme but some feature of pronunciation is


added to it. Or we may say that its realization becomes
slightly different because of some feature of
pronunciation such as aspiration. Aspiration depends on
the choice of the speakers. It may also depend on the
accent one uses. Some accents have more aspirations
while others may have lesser aspiration. Particularly in
literary speeches, such as narration of poetry or a
treatise, the speaker may choose to use more aspirated
words to create special effects for impressing the
audience. For example the simple word, /sta/ i.e. ‘your’
or ‘yours’ might be pronounced as /stha/ for creating a
more poetic impression on the audience. Similarly, words
likes /starry/ i.e. ‘tired’, might be pronounced as
/stharray/ by the speaker to let the audience realize the
very meaning of tiredness. There are other phonetic
features such as stress and intonation in Pashto, which
are called supra-segmental features of phonology, the
detail description of which will be made in the relevant
chapter.

After having cleared our concept of phoneme and


allophone, we can now afford to move forward and step
into the discussion of phonetics.

Phonetics and Phonology


64

Many readers of language and linguistics take


phonetics and phonology to be synonymous. After
spending some time with the study of language, the
difference between the two terms gets clearer and
clearer but it is only the matter of time and attention. Let
us define phonetics separately and then we will discuss
its relation to phonology.

Phonetics

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines Phonetics as, it the


study of speech sounds and their physiological
production and acoustic qualities. Acoustic means
something relating to sound or the sense of hearing.
Britannica further goes on to say that The study of
the anatomy, physiology, neurology, and acoustics of
speaking is called phonetics. The scope of this definition
is much wider and much more comprehensive. To the
extent of this book, we can rely on understanding
phonetics in simple words that phonetics studies the
physical characteristics of speech sounds that are uttered
by human beings for making speech utterances. It takes
into account where and how the speech sounds are
produced in the oral or nasal cavity and any other place
of articulation involved in the production of speech
sounds. This also includes the study of the air stream
produced in the diaphragm and the vocal box which
65

produces an air stream that helps in creating the speech


sounds in the oral or nasal cavity.

The speech of human beings is more complex


than it apparently looks. A number of different studies
are involved only in the sound aspect of human speech.
It requires the help of various scientific apparatus to
observe and bring under experiment if we want to
explain its various aspects. For this purpose various
branches of phonetics have been identified in which
separate aspects of human speech are studied. The
branch of phonetics that deals with the configurations of
the vocal tract used to produce speech sounds is called
articulatory phonetics. Similarly, the study of the acoustic
properties of speech sounds is known as acoustic
phonetics, and the manner of combining sounds so as to
make syllables, words, and sentences is linguistic
phonetics. Yet another branch of phonetics that deals
with the study of the medium of the speech sound, is
called auditory phonetics. We will limit the scope of our
study of phonetics only to articulatory phonetics due to
the fact that our concern here in this book is with the
study of the physical characteristics and articulation of
the speech sounds of Pashto language. Through
articulatory phonetics we will try to identify the number
of speech sounds in Pashto language and their manner
and place of articulation. We will also attempt to
66

differentiate between the consonants and vowels of the


Pashto language, in the context of the Peshawari dialect
specifically.

The standard, against which this book will


attempt to describe the phonetics and phonology of the
Peshawari dialect of Pashto language, is the International
Phonetic Alphabet which has been designed by the
International Phonetics Association.

Phonology

Phonology is the study of the speech sounds in


their interaction with each other. The study of how the
different sounds in a particular language are put together
in speech. For example, the study of the phonetic features
of /p/ is the study of how the /p/ is produced in the oral
cavity and whether it is aspirated or unaspirated in
isolation. When the same sound, /p/ is studied in
connected speech in relation to other sounds co-occuring
with /p/, such as the combination of /p/ with e.g. /r/ as in
‘prime’ or /l/ as in ‘place/, then we move into the field of
phonology. Thus phonology is the study of the inter-
relationship of speech sounds in a particular language that
how are consonants interacting with vowels, how and
what consonants are placed with what vowels in a
particular language to form words and utterances.
We say that phonetics covers much of the aspect
of a language study which is its pronunciation. Spoken
language makes use of a wide range of sounds. Each
spoken language uses a somewhat different range, and
67

this is partly responsible for the difficulty of learning to


speak a foreign language and for speaking it “with an
accent.” Far fewer general classes of sounds are
distinctive (carry meaning differences) in any language
than the number of sounds that are actually phonetically
different. The English t sounds at the beginning and end
of ‘taught’ and in the two places in stutter are all different,
though these differences are not readily noticed by
English speakers, and, rightly, the same letter is used for
them all. Similar statements could be made about most or
all of the other consonant and vowel sounds in English.
The same goes true for Pashto language as well when its
phonology is studied in connected speech. Pronouncing
individual sounds slowly and carefully tends to be
different than pronouncing the same sounds in a faster and
relatively spontaneous manner.
Every Language differs with another language in
grouping their consonant and vowel sounds into
syllables when making words. Pashto, just like English,
tolerates several consonants before and after a single
vowel for example in English the word ‘strengths’ has
three consonant sounds before and three after a single
vowel sound (ng and th stand for one sound each).
Similarly, the Pashto word ‘srgand’ has three consonants
i.e. /s/, /r/ and /g/ preceding a vowel /a/ followed by two
consonants /n/ and /d/. The word ‘shkharra’ which
contains the consonants /sh/, /kh/ and vowel schwa after
it and the retroflex /R/ followed by a schwa. Speakers of
such languages as English find such words very hard to
pronounce, though to a native speaker of Pashto they are
perfectly natural, natural in this context meaning “within
the sounds and sound sequences whose mastery is
68

acquired in early childhood as part of one’s primary


language.

All these considerations relating to the use of


speech sounds in particular languages fall under the
general heading of phonology, which may be defined as
the sound system of a language; phonology is often
regarded as one component of language structure, other
components being syntax, semantics and morphology
which are beyond the scope of this book. For the
description of the phonology of Pashto language, a
separate book of this length, may be larger than this book,
is required, which is intended and will soon be started
with. Similarly, book on Pashto syntax, inflection and
morphology will also be following from this author. It is
the matter of time and energy. Let us jump into the world
of phonetics. The succeeding chapter briefly discusses the
production of speech sounds.

Chapter 3

The Production of Speech Sounds

What is Articulatory Phonetics?


69

Phonetics is the study of the speech sounds of human


languages. Usually the study of speech sounds is divided
into three main branches, namely, the auditory
phonetics, the acoustic phonetics and the articulatory
phonetics. The auditory phonetics is the study of speech
sounds as perceived by the human auditory organs such
as the ears and their further processing to the brain.
Acoustic phonetics is concerned with the sound aspect of
the speech sounds through which medium they are
exchanged from the speaker to the listener. Our main
focus in the field of teaching is on articulatory phonetics,
which is the study of the production of speech sounds,
how are they produced in the oral or nasal cavity and
what is the mechanism of the production of speech
sounds by human beings.

The traditional method of describing speech


sounds is in terms of the movements of the vocal organs
that produce them. Organs like the vocal cords, the throat,
the tongue, the teeth, the lips, the upper palate and the
nasal cavity are the places where speech sounds are
produced. The main structures that are important in the
production of speech are the lungs and the respiratory
system, together with the vocal organs shown in Figure 1.
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Figure 1

The airstream from the lungs passes between


the vocal cords, which are two small muscular folds
located in the larynx at the top of the windpipe. The space
between the vocal cords is known as the glottis. If the
vocal cords are apart, as they are normally when breathing
out, the air from the lungs will have a relatively free
passage into the pharynx and the mouth. But if the vocal
cords are adjusted so that there is a narrow passage
between them, the airstream will cause them to be sucked
together. As soon as they are together there will be no
flow of air, and the pressure below them will be built up
until they are blown apart again. The flow of air between
them will then cause them to be sucked together again,
and the vibratory cycle will continue.

The Voiced and voiceless sounds


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The feature of voicing is a feature that is common


to all vowels and might be to some consonants. The
sounds produced when the vocal cords are vibrating are
said to be voiced. It can be felt by placing the fingers on
the Adam’s apple while producing speech sounds. If there
is a vibration in the vocal box, the sounds are voiced. As
opposed to those in which the vocal cords are apart, and
no vibration is felt in the vocal box, the sounds are said to
be voiceless. Some consonants might be voiced, other
might be voiceless. The detail will be given in the
description of the vowels and consonants ahead.

The air passages above the vocal cords are known


collectively as the vocal tract. For phonetic purposes they
may be divided into the oral tract within the mouth and
the pharynx, and the nasal tract within the nose. Many
speech sounds are characterized by movements of the
lower articulators—i.e., the tongue or the lower lip—
toward the upper articulators within the oral tract.
Articulators in the strict terms of the word are the places
where the speech sounds are produced. For example the
bilabial sound /b/ is produced with the help of the two lips
touching together, therefore, the lips is one articulator.
Similarly the upper surface includes several important
structures from the point of view of speech production,
such as the upper teeth. The alveolar ridge is a small
protuberance just behind the upper front teeth that can
easily be felt with the tongue. The major part of the roof
of the mouth is formed by the hard palate in the front, and
the soft palate or velum at the back. The soft palate is a
muscular flap that can be raised so as to shut off the nasal
tract and prevent air from going out through the nose.
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When it is raised so that the soft palate is pressed against


the back wall of the pharynx there is said to be a velic
closure. At the lower end of the soft palate is a small
hanging appendage known as the uvula.

As may be seen from Figure 1, there are also


specific names for different parts of the tongue. The tip
and blade are the most mobile parts. Behind the blade is
the so-called front of the tongue; it is actually the forward
part of the body of the tongue and lies underneath the hard
palate when the tongue is at rest. The remainder of the
body of the tongue may be divided into the centre, which
is partly beneath the hard palate and partly beneath the
soft palate; the back, which is beneath the soft palate; and
the root, which is opposite the back wall of the pharynx.

Speech sounds are either vowels or consonants.


Phoneticians have identified few sounds as semi vowels
and semi consonants too. Let us now consider the two
major divisions of speech sounds which are vowels and
consonants. Before the description of Pashto consonants,
let me make few more terms clear about articulation, the
major of which is secondary articulation which is made in
the production of certain sounds, particularly those
borrowed from Arabic by Pashto. This is also used in the
production of certain approximants too. The early
description of secondary articulation will prove to be
handy for the learners of Pashto phonetics.

Secondary articulations
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When an approximant articulation occurs at the


same time as another articulation is being made at a
different place in the vocal tract, the approximant is said
to form a secondary articulation. There are special terms
for some of these possibilities. Added lip rounding is
called labialization; it occurs in the formation of several
Pashto sounds—e.g. during the pronunciation of the
palato-alveolar fricative /ʃ/ such as in the word ‫ ﺷﻮﻢ‬/ʃu:m/
i.e. miserly.

Raising of the front of the tongue while


simultaneously making another articulation elsewhere in
the vocal tract is called palatalization. Raising of the back
of the tongue to form a secondary articulation is
called velarization. Retracting of the root of the tongue
while making another articulation is
called pharyngealization. These type of articulation will
be discussed in the phonemes which make use of them.

In fact a consonant, in Pashto, may be described by


reference to the following factors:
(1) state of the glottis, (2) secondary articulation (if any),
(3) place of articulation, (4) central or lateral articulation,
(5) velic closure—oral or nasal, and (6) the manner of
articulation. Thus the consonant at the beginning of the
word ‘soor’ i.e. the English word ‘red’ is a (1) voiceless,
(2) labialized, (3) alveolar, (4) pulmonic, (5) central, (6)
oral, (7) fricative. Unless a specific statement is made to
the contrary, the Pashto consonants have a pulmonic
airstream and secondary articulation, and a three-term
description e.g. voiceless alveolar fricative is sufficient to
describe them.
74

Chapter 4

The consonants of Pashto

The Consonants
Consonants are the speech sounds during the
production of which the airstream through the vocal tract
is obstructed in some way, either partially or totally. We
may say that consonants are the sounds during the
production of which there is either total or partial
obstruction to the air stream in the oral or nasal cavity,
depending on the position of the soft palate, and the
tongue with respect to the teeth. Consonants are those
phoneme sounds “which do obstruct the airflow” (Roach
2009: 20) Consonants can be classified according to the
place and manner of this obstruction. The principal terms
that are required in the description of Pashto articulation,
and the structures of the vocal tract that they involve are
the following:
The Labials, the two lips;
The dental, the set of front teeth,
The tongue, its tip or blade or sides and its root
The alveolar, the area behind the upper front teeth,
The palato-alveolar region;
The Hard Palate;
75

The velar;
The pharynx, and,
The glottis.

Certain sounds in Pashto are produced either


totally in the nasal cavity or both with the help of the nasal
cavity and specific places in the oral cavity, which will
be described separately.

Note that the terms for the various places of


articulation denote both the portion of the lower
articulators (i.e., lower lip and tongue) and the portion of
the upper articulatory structures that are involved. Thus
velar denotes a sound in which the back of the tongue and
the soft palate are involved and retroflex implies a sound
involving the tip or blade of the tongue and the back part
of the alveolar ridge or the hard palate. If it is necessary
to distinguish between sounds made with the tip of the
tongue and those made with the blade, the terms apical
(tip) and laminal (blade) may be used.
There are two essential concepts to consider in the
production of speech sounds in every language, namely i.
the manner and ii. Place of articulation. Following are the
concepts related to the manner of articulation for the
production of speech sounds:

1. The Plosives, which are non-continuants


and sometimes called stops (Crystal 2010).
They are made in several stages, namely
the following:
1. The closing phase: creating the total
obstruction of the air stream,
76

2. The compression phase: holding the air


stream behind the closure
3. The release phases: releasing suddenly
the air stream from behind the obstacle
4. The post-release phase: accompanying
the pronunciation of the sounds by audible
aspiration, unless they are preceded by /s/,
which causes the plosive sounds to lose
their aspiration.
2. The Fricatives, which are made by forming
a narrow passage to the air stream and a
slow separation of the articulators from
one another. They are continuants; they
can be made as long as possible.
3. The Affricates, which are pronounced in
two stages – they start as plosives and end
in fricatives. The affricates are only made
by homorganic phonemes, i. e. they are
made by the same set of articulators. There
are the palato-alveolar /tʃ/ and /dʒ/. Also in
the transcription, the symbols consist of
two symbols which can also be used
individually.
4. The Laterals, which are created by placing
an obstacle in the middle of the oral cavity
and the air stream escaping along the sides
(latera) of the tongue.
5. The Approximates, which are made by the
positioning of articulators close to the
other articulator (proximity), but never
really making the full contact.
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6. The Glottal, the sound which is made in


the glottis, the opening between the vocal
folds.
7. The Semivowels, which are made as
vowels (no obstacle to the air stream), but
are used as
consonants (as edges of syllables).
8. The Nasals which are made by lowering
the soft palate to touch the back of the
tongue, allowing the air stream to escape
through the nose. For all other phonemes
in Pashto, the soft palate is raised.

The Plosives or Stops


Plosives are those consonants which involve
closure of the articulators to obstruct the airstream. The
air stream is totally blocked and when it is released
suddenly, the consonant is produced. The blockage of air
takes place stage wise when the production of these
plosive sounds are observed closely. Peter Roach
identifies four phases for the production of the plosives.
The first phase is the closure phase in which the articulator
or articulators move to form the stricture for the plosive.
The second phase is when the compressed air is stopped
from escaping. This is called the hold phase. The third
phase is when the articulator or articulators are moved to
release the air. This is called the release phase. The final
phase is the post release phase in which the plosive is
actually produced.
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Pashto plosives

The set of Pashto plosives or stops which are


produced in the oral cavity are the following:

‫ ﭖ‬/p/,
‫ ﺐ‬/b/,

‫ ﺕ‬/ṱ/,
‫ ﺪ‬/ḓ/,

‫ ټ‬/ʈ/,
‫ډ‬/ɖ/,

‫ ک‬/k/,
‫ ګ‬/ɡ/,

‫ ق‬/q/
‫ ﻁ‬/tˤ/
‫ ﺽ‬/dˤ/

Let us discuss these phonemes in slight detail according


to their place of articulation.

The bilabial stops of Pashto

‫ ﭖ‬/p/,
‫ ﺐ‬/b/,

The first pair of phonemes in Pashto is the


bilabials ‫ ﭖ‬/p/ and ‫ ﺐ‬/b/. Children usually start their
79

speech from these bilabials as they are easy to pronounce.


Both sounds are bilabials and plosives or stops. They are
similar to the English /p/ and /b/ in their manner and place
of articulation. Examples in Pashto are ‫ ﭘﻼﺭ‬/ꞌplɑ:r/ i.e.
father and ‫ ﺒﺎﺒﺎ‬/bɑ:ꞌbɑ:/ i.e. the honorary name given to
father or any other elderly man.
The /p/ sound is voiceless i.e. there is no vibration in the
vocal chords when we pronounce it in isolation. However,
in continuous speech it might be voiced or voiceless
depending upon the succeeding and preceding phonemes
whether they are vowels or consonants and whether they
are voiced or voiceless. We will discuss this aspect of
these bilabials in the phonology section.

The dento-alveolar plosives of Pashto

‫ ﺕ‬/ṱ/,
‫ ﺪ‬/ḓ/

The two sounds i.e. ‫ ﺕ‬/ṱ/ and ‫ ﺪ‬/ḓ/ are not like the
English /t/ and /d/ which are typically alveolar sounds.
The ‫ ﺕ‬is voiceless like the English /t/ while the ‫ ﺪ‬is voiced
just as the English /d/. However, these sounds are rather
more laminal and tend to be more dental rather than
alveolar as against the English /t/ and /d/. Examples in
Pashto are, ‫ ﺗګ‬/ṱʌɡ/ i.e. going as a noun, and ‘‫’دا‬/ḓɑ:/ i.e.
this.
Some speakers of the Pashto language, Peshawari
dialect, pronounce these two plosive stops i.e. ‫ ﺕ‬and ‫ﺪ‬
with the tip of the tongue held between the upper and the
lower teeth while the lamina is pressed against the
alveolar ridge. The denti-alveolar consonant or dento-
80

alveolar consonant is a consonant that is articulated with


a flat tongue against the alveolar ridge and upper teeth,
such as /t/ and /d/ in languages like Spanish and French.
That is, a dento-alveolar consonant is one that
is alveolar and laminal. In Pashto the tip of the tongue is
behind the upper teeth or with some speakers, the tip of
the tongue is between the upper and the lower teeth but
not conspicuously exposed externally, while the lamina is
touching the alveolar ridge. Some other speakers of the
same dialect tend not to touch the alveolar ridge while
producing these dento alveolars and that is why for them
they are dentals but not definitely pure alveolar or post
alveolar sounds.

Although denti-alveolar consonants are often


labeled as "dental" because only the forward contact with
the teeth is visible, the point of contact of the tongue that
is farthest back is most relevant, which defines the
maximum acoustic space of resonance and gives a
characteristic sound to a consonant. But in case of the
Pashto ‫ ﺕ‬and ‫ ﺪ‬the laminal and alveolar contact is of lesser
significance in that they can be easily pronounced even
without the lamina touching the alveolar ridge, which is
practically the case with the speakers of the Peshawari
dialect, and that is why they tend to be more dental rather
than alveolar. The reason of such comparison of these two
sounds with the English /t/ and /d/ is that the Pashto
speakers find it difficult to pronounce these two English
sounds with difficulty because they want a pure alveolar
contact of the tip of the tongue whereas the sounds
identical with these two sounds in Pashto language
involve the teeth as well. Many phoneticians have ignored
81

this aspect of these two sounds in languages like the


Arabic, Urdu and Hindi which contain these sounds but
which have been categorized in these languages as pure
alveolar sounds while they are actually not. The Hindi,
Arabic, Panjabi phoneticians have used the IPA symbols
/t/ and /d/ for the Hindi, Arabic and Panjabi bilabials of ‫ﺕ‬
and ‫ ﺪ‬which occur in words like ‘Thal’, ‘Thamoroon’ and
‘Thussi’ in these languages respectively but in my opinion
a non native of these languages will be unable to
differentiate between the English /t/ and /d/ and the Urdu,
Panjabi and Pashto /ṱ/ and /ḓ/ which are no doubt plosives,
but way different in their place of articulation.

The palatal retroflex plosives of Pashto

‫ ټ‬/ʈ/,
‫ډ‬/ɖ/,

These two sounds are Pashto palatal retroflex


plosives. Their place of articulation is the palatal region.
The tongue is curled while pressing against the hard palate
and the air flow is totally blocked. When the air stream is
released, the plosive is produced. The ‫ ټ‬/ʈ/ is a a voiceless
plosive which can be produced even without any air
stream coming out of the mouth and needs no voicing. On
the contrary, the ‫ ډ‬/ɖ/ is a voiced sound and needs voicing
and the presence of the airstream.
Examples in Pashto are ‫ټک‬/ʈʌk/ i.e. a sting or bite, and ‫ډک‬
/ɖʌk/ i.e. full.
82

‫ ک‬/k/,
‫ ګ‬/ɡ/

These are the Pashto velar stops typically like the


/k/ and /ɡ/ of English language. The ‫ ک‬/k/ is a voiceless
velar. The back of the tongue is pressed against the velum
to block the air passage totally. When the air is released
by lowering the back of the tongue, the plosive ‫ ک‬/k/ and
‫ ګ‬/ɡ/ are produced. Though the place of articulation is the
same but the ‫ ګ‬/ɡ/ is voiced and needs the voiced air
stream for its production. Examples are Pashto words, ‫ﻜﺎﺭ‬
/kɑ:r/ i.e. work and ‫ ګﻝ‬/ɡʊl/ i.e. flower.

‫ ق‬/q/
‫ ﻁ‬/tˤ/
‫ ﺽ‬/dˤ/

Let us discuss these special plosives in detail as they are


not native to Pashto. We will see that the speakers of the
Peshawari dialect find it difficult in informal speech to
pronounce these plosives and consequently they use
different allophones for the same phonemes in speech.
However, in written form, these phonemes are used
correctly according to their calligraphic forms and one
phoneme is not replaced for another.

‫ ق‬/q/

This phoneme is not a typically found English


phoneme. It is a special phoneme which is found in Arabic
83

language and which spread to all those languages which


got affected from Arabic due to the spread of Islam, the
religion of peace. Basically it is binding on all Muslims to
read the holy book of Qur’an in Arabic. The languages
which contained the phonemes present in Arabic had no
trouble in reading the holy book but it was a big problem
for the speakers of those languages which did not contain
phonemes like ‫ ق‬/q/ which so frequently occurs in the
reading of the holy book. Thus all those non Arab
speakers adopted certain Arabic phonemes in their
languages on account of the obligatory status of reading
the holy book. Languages like Urdu, Persian, Pashto,
Panjabi, Sindhi etc were directly under the influence of
Islamic rules and rulers therefore these languages readily
accepted the Arabic phonemes. Languages other than
those spoken by non Muslims did not own the set of
phonemes which was compulsory for the reading of the
holy book. Therefore, we do not see the phoneme ‫ ق‬/q/
and a few others from Arabic language in non Arabic or
non Muslim communities.

This phoneme ‫ ق‬/q/ is a plosive stop. It is a typical


uvular sound just like many sounds of the Arabic
language. Few Pashto consonants which are borrowed
from Arabic and Persian are also typically uvular which
will be discussed on their turn. For the production of this
sound the back of the tongue is touched to the uvula
further back than the velum. The air passage is totally
blocked and when it is released, the plosive is produced.
A special effect gives a distinct phonemic characteristic to
this consonant. The effect is the total blockage of the air
passage in the uvular region with no stricture. The total
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blockage of the air stream at the uvular region creates a


total stop in the air flow and when the air stream is
released suddenly, the resonating effect in the uvular
region creates that special effect of fullness in the
production of this phoneme. In Arabic, this special effect
is more intensified in the pronunciation of this phoneme
which is called ‘Qalqala’, means the echo of the phoneme,
which must be realized while reading the holy book, Al
Qur’an. The ones, who memorize the holy book, are
named as Qaris, (The plural of the noun Qari, meaning the
one who is professionally trained in the recitation of the
Holy Qur’an) and recite it publicly in a louder voice, or
teach the phonetics of the Arabic phonemes. Emphasis is
laid on such special effects during the production of this
phoneme. Many phoneticians like Tegey and Robson etc
consider this phoneme voiced. I would differ with them
because to me this phoneme is voiceless. It becomes
voiced when it is followed by a vowel. And the quality of
voicing comes on account of the vowel. If we produce this
phoneme individually without preceded or followed by
any vowel or consonant, it is voiceless because it can be
produced without the air stream coming up the oral cavity.
Examples in Pashto are ‫ ﻗاﻡ‬/qɑ:m/ i.e. nation and
‫ ﻘﺎﺮﻱ‬/ꞌqɑ:ri:/ i.e. a qualified reciter of the Holy Qur’an.

Some speakers of the Peshawari dialect, such as


some speakers of Mardan, Charsada, and particularly
those who reside in the old city of the capital of
Pukhtunkhwa i.e. Peshawar, speak a different realization
of the same phoneme. This happens when they use the ‫ق‬
/q/ phoneme in their day to day talk, and not while reading
the Qur’an. The same phoneme is pronounced as /k/. For
85

example, some speakers would call a Qari as Kari /kɑ:ri/.


The English speakers also pronounce the ‫ ق‬/q/ phoneme
as /k/ when they pronounce the word Qur’an as the Koran.
Both the phonemes are the different realizations of the
same phoneme but it depends on the choice of the
speakers. However, when reciting the Holy Qur’an, the
phoneme must be pronounced as /q/ but not as /k/ because
in Arabic the very meaning of the word will change. For
instance the Arabic word Qalb ‫ ﻗﻠﺐ‬/qʌlb/ means the ‘heart’
while the word Kalb ‫ ﻜﻠﺐ‬/kʌlb/ means a ‘dog’. Thus the
phoneme /q/ is very distinctive in Arabic. It is not so
distinctive in Pashto as a matter of fact and in day to day
conversation any of the two allophones can be used by
speakers of the Peshawari dialect.

Let us briefly describe Pharyngealization which is


a secondary articulation of consonants or vowels. Certain
Pashto phonemes which have been borrowed from Arabic
are pharyngealized. During the production of such
sounds, the pharynx or epiglottis is constricted which is
felt as friction, making the sound fricative. Usually the
pharyngealized sounds are voiced on account of the
presence of a voiced airstream.

IPA symbols

In the International Phonetic Alphabet,


Pharyngealization can be indicated by one of two
methods:
1. A tilde or swung dash through the letter
indicates velarization, uvularization or
86

Pharyngealization, as in [ᵶ], the pharyngealized


equivalent of [z].
2. The symbol ⟨ˤ⟩ (a superscript variant of ⟨ʕ⟩,
the voiced pharyngeal approximant; graphically
a reversed glottal stop) is used after the letter
which stands for the pharyngealized consonant.

This book will use the second method of symbolizing


the pharyngealized consonants because it is more easy to
understand due to the fact the glottal stop used in English
language is already familiar for the learners.

‫ ﻁ‬/tˤ/

This phoneme is found in Arabic and Pashto has


borrowed from Arabic. It is produced in the oral cavity
with the help of the tongue and the alveolar ridge. Some
speakers may prefer to make it denti-alveolar though. It
seems the same as Pashto /ṱ/. What is different in this
phoneme is the quality of Pharyngealization, which is
rather a secondary articulation of consonants or vowels.
The first phase of the phoneme is produced in the alveolar
region when the tongue is placed against the alveolar
ridge, or some speakers place the tip of the tongue behind
the upper teeth and the blade of the tongue against the
alveolar ridge to stop the airstream. After producing the
/ṱ/ part, the back of the tongue is immediately moved back
after performing the function of the alveolar production.
As soon as the air stream is released through the middle
and tip of the tongue, the back of the tongue is
immediately moved to the soft palate. Another additional
phonetic feature of this phoneme is that the sides of the
87

tongue are pressed harder against the hard palate during


the alveolar phase which gives the phonetic quality of full
blockage to the air stream. The first phase of the phoneme
is voiceless while the pharyngealized phase is voiced.

Another additional phonetic feature is rounding of


the lips after the Pharyngealization. However, the
rounding of lips depends on the vowel or consonant
following it.

In Arabic, there is another phonetic feature which


is performed during the production of this phoneme in
formal speech. The air stream is stopped at the alveolar
ridge, or behind the teeth, depending on the speaker’s
choice, and more air stream is supplied from the
diaphragm which results in bulging the cheeks out. But in
Pashto no such phonetic feature is added to it except few
formal speakers who teach or learn the phonetics of the
Holy Quran.

‫ ﺽ‬/dˤ/

This phoneme is also found in Arabic and Pashto


has borrowed it from Arabic. It is produced in the oral
cavity with the help of the tongue and the alveolar ridge.
It seems the same as the Pashto /ḓ/ in that in it is alveolar.
Some speakers prefer to make this sound denti-alveolar.
What is different in this phoneme is the quality of
Pharyngealization, which is rather a secondary
articulation of consonants or vowels. The first phase of
the phoneme is produced in the alveolar region when the
tongue is placed against the alveolar ridge, or some
88

speakers place the tip of the tongue behind the upper teeth
and the blade of the tongue against the alveolar ridge to
stop the airstream. After producing the /ḓ/ part, the back
of the tongue is immediately moved back after performing
the function of the alveolar production. As soon as the air
stream is released through the middle and tip of the
tongue, the back of the tongue is immediately moved to
the soft palate. Another additional phonetic feature of this
phoneme is that the sides of the tongue are pressed harder
against the hard palate during the alveolar phase which
gives the phonetic quality of full blockage to the air
stream. The first phase of the phoneme is voiceless while
the pharyngealized phase is voiced.

Another additional phonetic feature is rounding of


the lips after the Pharyngealization. However, the
rounding of lips depends on the vowel or consonant
following it.

In Arabic, there is another phonetic feature which


is performed during the production of this phoneme in
formal speech. The air stream is stopped at the alveolar
ridge, or behind the teeth, depending on the speaker’s
choice, and more air stream is supplied from the
diaphragm which results in bulging the cheeks out. But in
Pashto no such phonetic feature is added to it except few
formal speakers who teach or learn the phonetics of the
Holy Quran. The Pashto speakers pronounce this sound in
formal speech and writing as ‫ ﺽ‬/dˤ/, although the
pharyngialization feature is minimal. Since this phoneme
occurs in Pashto mostly in those lexical items which are
borrowed from Arabic, in order to differentiate it from
89

other distinct phonemes the Pashto speakers write it in the


Arabic calligraphic notation. As for the sound, the Pashto
speakers of the Peshawari dialect produce the ‫ ﺽ‬/dˤ/
phoneme is two ways. Firstly, as /ḓ/ with the oral cavity
filled with air before releasing the airstream, and with no
Pharyngealization. The lips are rounded to complete the
phoneme. Secondly, the /ḓ/ sound is pronounced as /z/ by
some speakers and the /z/ phase is followed by rounded
lips.

The Nasal Sounds of Pashto

If the soft palate is down so that air can still go out


through the nose, there is said to be a nasal stop. There is
as such no pure nasal sound in Pashto which is produced
in the nasal cavity. It is only the effect of nasalization on
the phonemes produced in the oral cavity that we term
them as nasal sounds otherwise without the help of the
articulators in the oral cavity the nasal cavity cannot
produce sounds on its own. Pashto has the following nasal
sounds, three of which are nasal stops and one is tap, with
the IPA symbols given against each nasal plosive:

‫ ﻡ‬/m/
‫ ن‬/n/
‫ ڼ‬/ɳ/
‫ ﻨګ‬/ŋ/

Sounds of this kind occur in the words like Mor


‫ ﻣﻮﺮ‬/mɔr/ i.e. mother, Neeka ‫ ﻧﻳﻜﻪ‬/ni:kʚ/ i.e. grandfather,
90

Manrra ‫ ﻣڼﻪ‬/mʌɳʌ/ i.e. apple, and ‫ ﺮﻧګ‬/rʌŋ/ i.e. color etc.


Many authorities refer to these two articulations as stops,
meaning oral stops (raising of the soft palate to form a
velic closure) and nasals, meaning nasal stops (closure of
the articulators in the oral tract).

Plosives have been discussed above. Plosives are


not continuants unlike the fricatives, some of which are
continuants. Continuants are those sounds which we can
continue making them without any interruption as long as
we have air in our lungs. Let us now discuss fricatives in
general and then the fricatives of Pashto.

The Fricatives

A fricative sound, as the very name suggests, is


based on friction of articulators in the oral cavity. It
involves the close approximation of two articulators, so
that the airstream is partially obstructed and a turbulent
airflow is produced. The air escapes through a small
passage and after release the articulator is left leaving a
hissing sound. The most common example of fricative
sound, which is present in almost every world language,
is the /s/. Some fricatives can be continuants and others
are not. For the sake of practice, if we start producing the
sound /s/ continuously and slowly lower the tip of the
tongue then the air passage gets released in a large
quantity and thus the fricative stops as soon as the hissing
stops. Fricatives are the sounds which, as displayed in the
IPA Chart, are most frequent in world languages. They are
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the most discussed and yet the most problematic sounds


of a language.

Pashto Fricatives

The Pashto language has the following fricatives:

‫ ﻒ‬/ɸ/

‫ س‬/s/

‫ ش‬/ʃ/

‫ ز‬/z/

‫ ﮋ‬/ʒ/

‫ خ‬/χ/

‫ غ‬/ʁ/ and also /ɣ/

‫ ښ‬/X/

‫ ص‬/sˤ/

‫ ﻆ‬/zˤ/

‫ث‬/θ/

‫ ذ‬/ð/

‫ه‬/ɦ/
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‫ ﺡ‬/ħ/
‫ ﻉ‬/ʕ/

Let us briefly discuss the articulatory features of


these sounds separately.

‫ ﻒ‬/ɸ/

It is the voiceless bilabial fricative which is


produced in the manner of fricative sounds by allowing
the narrow puff of air through the upper and the lower lip
without any blowing or voicing. If the lips are close
enough to make a stricture for the narrow escape of the air
stream, the /ɸ/ is pronounced for as long as the lower lip
and the upper lip are close to each other. It is a type
of consonantal sound, used in many spoken languages
other than English such as Pashto, Japanese and Spanish
etc. The symbol in the International Phonetic
Alphabet that represents this sound is /ɸ/. For English-
speakers, it is easiest to think of the sound as the /f/ sound
made only with the lips, instead of the upper teeth and
lower lip, or a blowing sound as is the case with the
English phoneme /f/. Here it is worth mentioning that this
phoneme exists in Arabic, Urdu and Hindi also. The
realization of /ɸ/ in Arabic and Urdu or Hindi might be
slightly different. Some speakers tend to produce a puff of
air while producing the /ɸ/. It means that it becomes
aspirated. Arabic speakers put more force in the
production of /ɸ/ and that is why the air stream is released
with force and with a slight friction heard after the
93

phoneme is produced. But the case with Pashto speakers


is different. According to one research, conducted by
Ghani Rahman, a comparative study of the consonants of
English and Pashto, the writer says, ‘In informal speech
is pronounced as /p/, and /q/ is pronounced as /k/ by
Speakers of Pashto.’ The /ɸ/ phoneme is very problematic
for the speakers of the Peshawari dialect, particularly for
those speakers who are not educated and who have no
knowledge of the Quran. Thus in informal and casual
speak most of the speakers of the Peshawari dialect tend
to make the /ɸ/ as /p/.

‫ س‬/s/
‫ ﺰ‬/z/

These two fricatives of Pashto have been grouped


together on the basis of their manner and place of
articulation. The place of articulation for each sound is
exactly the same, although /s/ is voiceless and /z/ is
voiced. Both the sounds are alveolar because the tip of the
tongue is felt closer to the alveolar region though not
touching it. The air stream is released through a narrow
passage along the tip of the tongue. As soon as the tip of
the tongue is lowered from the alveolar region, the
fricative stops. Both these alveolar fricatives are
continuants and can be produced for as long as the air
stream continues to flow though the narrow passage
formed by the position of the tongue. Examples in Pashto
are sam ‫ ﺴﻢ‬/sʌm/ i.e. correct and zam ‫ ﺰﻡ‬/zʌm/ i.e. going.
94

‫ ش‬/ʃ/
‫ ﮋ‬/ʒ/

These fricative sounds are called palatal fricatives


of Pashto. During their production the tongue touches the
hard palate on either sides while the tip of the tongue is
flattened to let the air escape through the centre of the
tongue. The passage for the air to pass is not as narrow as
in the case of /s/ and /z/ but rather wider for the production
of the /ʃ/ and /ʒ/. The Pashto phonemes have slightly
different phonetic characteristics than the English
counterparts /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ which are more liquid and soft in
realization. These Pashto phonemes are much harder and
heavier comparatively due to the amount of air contained
by the tongue and due to the much closer and harder
contact of the two sides of the tongue with the hard palate.
The /ʃ/ phoneme is voiceless while the /ʒ/is voiced.
Examples in Pashto are shpag ‫ ﺸﭘګ‬/ʃpʌɡ/ i.e. six and Jabba
‫ ﮋﺑﻪ‬/ꞌʒʌbǝ/.

‫ ﺥ‬/χ/
‫ ﻍ‬/ʁ/

These phonemes ‫ ﺥ‬/χ/ and ‫ ﻍ‬/ʁ/ are also typical


uvular sounds just like many sounds of the Arabic
language. Few Pashto consonants which are borrowed
from Arabic and Persian are also typically uvular. For the
production of this sound the back of the tongue is touched
to the uvula further back than the velum. The air passage
95

is released through a narrow stricture formed for the


production of the sound. A special phonetic effect gives a
distinct phonemic characteristic to this consonant which
is the quality of vibration despite the fact that fricative ‫ﺥ‬
/χ/ is a voiceless fricative sound. The resonating effect in
the uvular region creates that special effect of sort of
harshness in the production of this phoneme which tends
to be more sonorous than musical. The similar is more the
case with the ‫ ﻍ‬/ʁ/ fricative which is produced in the same
region as the ‫ ﺥ‬/χ/ but this phoneme is voiced and
accompanied by the air stream. It retains the quality of
continuation as typical fricatives in that it can be
continued as long as there is air stream available.
Examples in Pashto are khandaa ‫ ﺨﻧﺪا‬/χǝnḓɑ:/ i.e. smile
and gham ‫ ﻏﻢ‬/ʁʌm/ i.e. sorrow. I have given the IPA
symbol ɣ for this sound and I had a reason for this. Some
speakers of Pashto, particularly the speakers from Kabul
Afghanistan and the southern districts of the Khyber
Pukhtunkhwa pronounce the sound in more a Pukhtoon
phonetic feature rather than Arabic although the sound is
Arabic. These speakers have Pukhtunized few sounds of
the Arabic and this sound is also one of those.

‫ ښ‬/X/

The Pashto phoneme ‫ ښ‬/X/ is deliberately


discussed separately on account of two reasons. The first
reason is that its manner and place of articulation of this
phoneme is different than the rest of the fricatives. And
the second reason is that it is the original sound of Pashto
language which is not borrowed but rather used in Pashto
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language since the time when it was not named as Pashto.


The historical reason for this fact is that this alphabet is
found even in the oldest scripts of Pashto poetry found.
As for the articulation of this sound, it is palato-velar
sound which is produced in the area between the hard
palate and the velum but the tongue is closer to the velum
more than it is towards the hard palate. This sound
considered to be an alternative for the /ʃ/ sound of the
‘soft’ dialect of Pashto which is spoken in the southern
regions of the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province. In the
script of Peshawari dialect the ‫ ښ‬alphabet is used for the
words in which the soft dialect would use the ‫ ش‬alphabet.
The difference of pronunciation between the words like
Pukhtoon and Pashtoon, and Pukhto and Pashto is all
because of the difference of the use of this alphabet. The
Pashto speakers easily understand the difference and
accept both the pronunciations. It is because of the fact
that the southern accent is called the soft dialect that the
foreign learners or speakers of Pashto understand and can
easily pronounce the word Pashto whereas it is difficult
for them to pronounce the word Pukhto. Pashto speakers,
however, get both the sounds easily and use them
according to the accent they speak at one time. Examples
of the sound ‫ ښ‬/X/ in Pashto are Pukhto ‫ ﭘښﺗﻭ‬/pʊXṱɔ/ i.e.
the Pashto language and the code of life of the Pashto
speakers. Another example is the word ‘Kha’ ‫ ښﻪ‬/Xʌ/ i.e.
good or ok.

‫ ﺹ‬/sˤ/

This phoneme is an Arabic phoneme which is


denti-alveolar emphatic phoneme in Arabic, meaning that
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it is produced with the tip of the tongue touching the back


of the upper teeth and the lamina touching the alveolar
ridge. After the alveolar contact is complete, the back of
the tongue is raised to the velum to create a velar effect
for the completion of this phoneme. The back of the
tongue does not touch the velum though but rather makes
a closure with it to restrict the air passage for creating the
friction. The case with this phoneme in Pashto is slightly
different. The speakers of the Peshawari dialect
pronounce it with slight variation. In Pashto it is not denti-
alveolar but rather alveolar and velar. It is somewhat like
the /s/ phoneme which is produced with the help of the
tongue which touches the alveolar ridge and the air is
released near the alveolar ridge on the tip of the tongue.
However, it has the additional feature of velarization after
the /s/ part is produced. The back of the tongue is raised
towards the velum for producing the rest of the phoneme
just like in the production of the Arabic phoneme. This
production is made by the speakers of the Peshawari
dialect in formal speech though, and only in writing to
differentiate the lexical item from the ones which might
carry similar meaning to the one in which this phoneme
occurs. For example in words like Sabar, ‫ ﺻﺒﺭ‬/sʌbǝr/ i.e.
patience, the ‫ ﺹ‬is not written as ‫ س‬because the word
becomes ‫ ﺴﺒﺮ‬which is incorrect and carries no meaning.
This is because the word is borrowed from Arabic and that
is why the lexical item is supposed to be written in the
phonemes of Arabic language. An interesting fact about
the ‫ ﺹ‬phoneme in Pashto is that it is written in the Arabic
calligraphic form but the speakers do not pronounce it like
it is pronounced by the Arabic speakers. The speakers of
the Peshawari dialect pronounce the ‫ ﺹ‬more like /s/
98

which is incorrect in principles but the fact is that they


either pronounce it as /s/ or with more slight variation by
rounding the lips at the time of producing the phoneme to
give the phonetic feature of the Arabic speakers. It is
important for the sake of Pashto calligraphy to retain the
original calligraphic form of the phoneme because the
semantic value of the lexical items will be changed if this
phoneme is replaced by any other, which is very much
distinct in Arabic. Pashto words like ‫ ﺻﻓﺕ‬/sɪфǝt/ , ‫ﺻﻧﻢ‬
/sǝꞌnʌm/, ‫ ﺻاﺒﺭ‬/sɑ:bɪr/ etc are all words of the Arabic
language which are the in the lexical inventory of Pashto
as well. Thus while writing such words the phoneme ‫ﺹ‬
must be used for differentiating it with the rest of the
phonemes.

‫ ﻆ‬/zˤ/

In Classical Arabic and Modern Standard


Arabic it is a valorized or pharyngealized voiced dental
fricative [ðˤ]. However, it is acceptable to pronounce it as
a pharyngealized or valorized voiced alveolar
fricative /zˤ/. That is why this phoneme is pronounced in
Pashto not that emphatic or typical like the Arabic
phoneme but rather more liquid and easy from the
phonetic point of view. The Pashto speakers can easily
pronounce the /zˤ/ phoneme. It is just the same as the /z/
phoneme which is alveolar voiced and is produced with
the help of the tongue and the alveolar ridge. However,
the velar feature is added to the /z/ sound when
immediately after producing it, the back of the tongue is
raised towards the velum but not touching it. Since the
phoneme has been borrowed from Arabic therefore
99

certain lexical items of Arabic which make use of this


phoneme are part of the Pashto lexical inventory and
while writing such lexical items, this phoneme is
mandatory to be used as it is used in the Arabic lexical
items. Thus the speakers of the Peshawari dialect know
the way how to use this phoneme in written form. The
spoken form of this phoneme is also not misunderstood
by the educated listeners of the Peshawari dialect. The
uneducated listeners might not misunderstand it too as
long as the pronunciation is not highly typical of the
Arabic phoneme. Examples of this phoneme in Pashto are,
‫ ﻆﻓﺮ‬/zǝꞌфʌr/ i.e. victory, ‫ ﻆﻠﻢ‬/zʊlǝm/ i.e. cruelty, and ‫ﻆﺎﻠﻢ‬
/zɑ:lɪm/ cruel.

‫ ث‬/θ/
This is a voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative. It
is familiar to English speakers as the 'th' in thing. The
symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that
represents this sound is /θ/. The IPA symbol is
the Greek letter theta, which is used for this sound in post-
classical Greek, and the sound is thus often referred to as
"theta".
The dental non-sibilant fricatives are often called
"interdental" because they are typically produced with the
tongue between the upper and lower teeth, and not just
against the back of the upper or lower teeth, as they are
with other dental consonants. The case with the Pashto
speakers of the Peshawari dialect is the latter though.
Most speakers place the tip of the tongue between the
upper and the lower teeth but the tip of the tongue is not
conspicuous as is the case with the English and Arabic
100

speakers when they pronounce this phoneme. Pashto


language uses this phoneme when making the calligraphy
of those lexical items which have been borrowed from
Arabic. For example Pashto words like ‫ ثمﺮ‬/ꞌθʌmǝr/ i.e.
‫ ثﺒﻮﺕ‬/θǝbu:ṱ/ i.e. proof, and‫ ثﺎﺑت‬/θɑ:bɪṱ/ i.e. to prove or
complete.

‫ ﺫ‬/ð/

This is a voiced dental fricative which is used in


English as the ‘th’ sound in ‘this’. Its symbol in
the International Phonetic Alphabet is eth, or [ð] and was
taken from the Old English and Icelandic letter eth, which
could stand for either a voiced or unvoiced interdental
non-sibilant fricative. This sound is frequent in Arabic.
Since Pashto has borrowed lexical inventory from Arabic,
this phoneme is also very frequent in Pashto. The Arabic
way of producing this phoneme is to put the tip of the
tongue between the upper and the lower teeth and produce
a voiced fricative. The speakers of the Peshawari dialect
however produce it with slight variation in that they place
little part of the tip of the tongue between the teeth.
Examples of this phoneme in Pashto are, ‫ ﺬاﺕ‬/ðɑ:ṱ/, i.e.
nature, ‫ ﺫﻜﺭ‬/ðɪkǝr/ i.e. invocation and ‫ ﺬﮪﯦﻦ‬/ðǝɦi:n/ i.e.
intelligent. A surprising fact is that most of the Peshawari
speakers, particularly the less educated ones, pronounce
this phoneme as /z/ in day to day informal speech. But in
formal writing, or in formal conversation, particularly
while talking about, or from, the Holy book, the Quran,
they pronounce the ð phoneme in the Arabic
pronunciation.
101

‫ ﻉ‬/ʕ/
The voiced pharyngeal fricative is a consonant
that Pashto seems to have borrowed from Arabic because
many Pashto speakers face problems in producing this
phoneme. The Arabic phonology has this phoneme as a
regular item though and its speakers face no difficulty in
producing it. The symbol in the International Phonetic
Alphabet that represents this sound is /ʕ/.

Although traditionally placed in the fricative row


of the IPA chart, [ʕ] is usually an approximant. No
language is known to make a phonemic distinction
between fricatives and approximants at this place of
articulation. There are certain phonetic features of this
voiced pharyngeal sound which I would rather call a
fricative than approximant. I have a reason for claiming
so. If we go by the Arabic way of producing it, this is a
fricative for sure. Though the Pashto speakers tend to
produce it with certain features missing which we realize
when the Arabic speakers produce this phoneme. As far
as the manner of articulation is concerned, it is produced
by narrowing the vocal tract at the place of articulation, so
much as to produce enough turbulence in the airstream.
Its place of articulation is pharyngeal, which means it is
articulated with the tongue root against the back of the
throat (the pharynx). Its phonation is voiced, which
means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation. It is
an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape
not through the nose but rather the mouth only. The sound
is not produced with airflow over the tongue, therefore,
the central–lateral dichotomy is not under consideration.
102

Lastly, the airstream mechanism is pulmonic, and it is


articulated by pushing the air solely with
the lungs and diaphragm. Thus this phoneme is more a
fricative than approximant if produced in the Arabic
phonation. however, the Pashto speakers do not produce
it with the same phonetic features that is why it can be
placed in the category of approximants and even in
vowels. This book, on account of the phonetic features of
this phoneme places it in the voiced fricative category.
Examples from Pashto are, ‫ ﻋمﻞ‬/ ʕǝꞌmʌl/ i.e. act, and ‫ﻋﺎدﺕ‬
/ ʕǝꞌḓʌṱ/ i.e. habit.

‫ ﺡ‬/ħ/
This is a voiceless pharyngeal fricative, the same
as the phoneme discussed above but this is voiceless. It is
produced slightly in the upper pharynx. It is often
a whispered sound which resembles the English sound /h/
as in the word ‘hat’ but the English /h/ is voiced whereas
this sound is voiceless. The symbol in the International
Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is an h-bar,
/ħ/. The rest of the features of this voiceless pharyngeal
fricative is the same as the [ʕ] phoneme. Most of the
speakers of the Peshawari dialect can easily pronounce
this phoneme in the due manner but in informal speech
some speakers tend to make it less pharyngeal and
pronounce like the voiced glottal /ɦ/ in day to day speech.
Some speakers like those of district Buner and the
adjacent regions even make it the /x/ phoneme. Examples
in Pashto for the /ɦ/ phoneme are ‫ ﺤﺎﻞ‬/ ħɑ:l / i.e. condition
or the present tense, ‫ ﺣﻜﻡ‬/ꞌ ħʊkǝm/ i.e. order, and ‫ ﺣﻜﻳﻢ‬/
ħǝꞌki:m/ etc.
103

‫ﻩ‬/ɦ/
This is a breathy-voiced glottal sound which is
a voiced glottal fricative. It lacks the
usual phonetic characteristics of a consonant but is not
considered a vowel either. Particularly in Arabic and
Pashto, it is realized more as a fricative consonant than a
vowel, although it shares the feature of being voiced just
like a vowel. The symbol in the International Phonetic
Alphabet that represents this sound is /ɦ/ which is
different than previous phoneme /ħ/ in that it is voiced. It
is different than the English phoneme /h/ due to the fact
that it is voiced. In many languages, [ɦ] has no place or
manner of articulation. Thus, it has been described as
a breathy-voiced counterpart of the following vowel from
a phonetic point of view. Its characteristics are also
influenced by the preceding vowels and whatever other
sounds surround it. Therefore, it can be described as a
segment whose only consistent feature is its breathy
voice phonation in such languages.
The case with Pashto is different though. In Pashto
this phoneme has a real glottal constriction which makes
it a fricative. The glottis is felt to be vibrating sufficient
enough to make this sound having more consonant
phonation rather than the phonation of a vowel.
Its phonation type is breathy voiced, or murmured, which
means the vocal cords are loosely vibrating, with more air
escaping than in a modally voiced sound. As for the
general features of this phoneme, it is an oral consonant,
which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth
only. Since this phoneme requires the passage of airflow
104

over the tongue, the central–lateral dichotomy does not


apply. Some speakers of the Peshawari dialect even make
this phoneme a /x/ phoneme or vice versa. Some speakers
of district Charsada pronounce /ɦ/ in place of /x/ and vice
versa. Examples in Pashto are ‫ﮪﻐﻪ‬/ɦǝꞌʁʌ/ i.e. he, she, that
etc. and ‫ ﮪﻮا‬/ɦǝꞌwɑ:/ i.e. the air.

The Pashto affricates

Affricates are the sounds which start as plosives


and end as fricatives but with a slight difference from
both. Affricates are not like plosives in that the plosives
need total obstruction of the air passage at the articulators,
the affricates have to quickly give way to the fricatives
otherwise they will remain plosives. The affricates are
slightly different than the fricatives in that the fricatives
are continuants while the affricates are not. In one way
they are very complex sounds. Following are the
affricates of Pashto language:

‫ چ‬/ʧ/
‫ ﺝ‬/ʤ/

‫څ‬/ʦ/
‫ځ‬/ʣ/

The first pair of the four phonemes of Pashto


consists of the two sounds which most of the phoneticians
will call as alveolar affricates i.e. the /tʃ/ and /dʒ/. It is due
to the fact that the English affricates /tʃ/ and /dʒ/ are
alveolar. I would rather differ with them in the case of
105

Pashto affricates particularly these two sounds. As far as


the Pashto /tʃ/ and /dʒ/ are concerned, the phonetic
category is the same as those of the English alveolar
affricates, as they are affricates, but they are slightly
different in their quality of articulation. These Pashto
affricates are produced more in the alveolar ridge in that
the tip of the tongue is touching the alveolar ridge but the
rest of the tongue, i.e. the two sides of the tongue touch
the area behind the alveolar ridge. It is the closer and
much tighter contact of the tongue with the upper palate
that gives the phonemic quality to these Pashto affricates
which makes them more sonorous than the counterpart
English affricates, which are softer and more liquid and
which use little area of the tongue to produce them. The
phoneme /tʃ/ is voiceless and /dʒ/ is voiced just like the
English counterparts.

‫څ‬/ʦ/
‫ځ‬/ʣ/

The second pair of Pashto affricates are dento-


alveolar. Both sounds are produced with the help of the
teeth and the alveolar ridge. The first part of the sound
‫څ‬/ʦ/ is produced when the tip of the tongue is placed
behind the teeth touching the upper teeth, while the
second part of the sound is produced when the tip of the
tongue is immediately brought back to the alveolar ridge
for producing the /s/ fricative. Both the parts of the
phoneme are produced in quick succession without any
delay. This phoneme is voiceless although it needs the air
stream to help it even when it is pronounced silently.
Example in Pashto is the word ‘Sa’ ‫ څﻪ‬/ʦǝ/ i.e. what.
106

The ‫ځ‬/ʣ/ is also produced in the same fashion with


the help of the teeth and the alveolar ridge but this sound
is voiced. Example in Pashto is the word ‘zwan’ ‫ځﻮان‬
/ʣwɑ:n/.

Here it is worth mentioning that the speakers of


the Peshawari dialect use these phonemes most of the
times in either formal speech or written form. The
alphabets ‫ څ‬and ‫ ځ‬are used in writing to differentiate
between these alphabets and the other alphabets like /s/
and /z/ because in writing if the ‫څ‬/ʦ/ phoneme is replaced
by /s/, the meaning of the word is changed. The similar is
the case with ‫ځ‬/ʣ/ also which is sometimes replaced by
/z/ sound in speech in if used in the similar way in writing,
then the meaning of the word is changed. The fact is also
surprising that the speakers of the Peshawari dialect even
find it difficult to pronounce the sounds ‫څ‬/ʦ/ and ‫ځ‬/ʣ/ in
day to day speech and prefer to speak the phonemes /s/
and /z/ in place of these affricates ‫ څ‬and ‫ځ‬. It is only in the
formal speech and writing that the actual phonemic
sounds of ‫څ‬/ʦ/ and ‫ځ‬/ʣ/ are utilized. However, the
speakers of the Peshawari dialect do understand the
formal and informal use of these affricates. On the other
hand in the central and southern dialects of Pashto these
two phonemes i.e. ‫څ‬/ʦ/ and ‫ځ‬/ʣ/ are used in day to day
speech by the speakers and feel no difficulty in
pronouncing them in the typical phonetic articulation.

‫ ږ‬/ɡʲ/
107

This phoneme is dealt with separately from both


the plosives and fricatives of Pashto due to two reasons.
Firstly, the IPA considers this sound as the most
mysterious sound among all the sounds of world
languages and seems reluctant to place it in any category.
Since this sound is not much frequent in English or any
other European languages, the IPA has not taken it that
seriously and refers to it as belonging to the Indic
languages. However, the IPA has shown a way forward
for its description and has also proposed the transcription
symbol for it. Secondly, this sound is produced in two
different ways by the speakers of Pashto particularly by
the speakers of the Peshawari dialect and the rest of the
dialects of Pashto.

This sound falls in the category of post palatal but


not velars in the phonetic articulation of Pashto. As for the
place of articulation, it is a post-palatal voiced sound. As
for the manner of articulation, it contains both the
qualities of plosive and affricate. It carries phonetic
feature of affricates because the air stream is stopped for
such a brief while that it does not fulfill the criterion of
being a plosive. However, since it is a native phoneme to
the Pashto language, it is easy for the speakers to identify
the sound and place it correctly in the calligraphic
category. As for the non natives, the IPA proposes the
symbol /ɡʲ/ for this phoneme. Being a native speaker of
the Peshawari dialect I have known to pronounce this
sound since my childhood. I have also heard this sound in
my surroundings from Peshawari speakers since then. But
it was surprising for me to hear the different pronunciation
of this sound from the non Peshawari speakers who make
108

it a /ӡ/ sound rather than a /ɡʲ/. The description of this


sound separately was important for me keeping in view
the calligraphic significance of this phoneme since it is
most frequently used in the day to day speech and the
written form of this sound is also most frequently used. It
forms an essential part of the plural personal pronoun of
Pashto which is equivalent of the ‘we’ pronoun in English.
It is written in the Peshawari Pashto as ‘Moonga’ i.e. ‫مﻮﻨږﻩ‬
/ꞌmu:ŋɡʲʌ/. The non Peshawari speakers pronounce it as
/mʊӡʌ/ which is more simple and easy to pronounce. It is
because of such vocal difficulties that the Peshawari
dialect is called the ‘hard’ dialect as compared to the soft
dialects of the southern Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.

In the description of this sound, the IPA also


considers it a difficult sound to pronounce because it is
difficult to get the tongue to touch just the hard palate
without also touching the back part of the alveolar
ridge. Surprisingly it is easy for the Peshawari speakers to
pronounce it not only easily but also quite frequently in
connected speech. Examples of this phoneme in Pashto
are ‫ ﺯﻣﻮﻨږﻩ‬i.e. /zʌꞌmu:ŋɡʲʌ/ in English ‘ours’, ‫ ږﻳﺮﻩ‬/ꞌɡʲi:rʌ/
in English ‘beard’.

Approximants

Approximants are produced when one articulator


approaches another but does not make the vocal tract so
narrow that a turbulent airstream results. The
109

terms frictionless continuant, semivowel, and glide are


sometimes used for some of the sounds made with this
manner of articulation. The consonants ‘w’ and ‘y’ in the
English words ‘we’ and ‘you’ are examples of
approximants.

The following are the Pashto approximants;

‫ ﻭ‬/w/
The voiced labio-velar approximant is a type
of consonantal sound, used in certain spoken languages,
including English and Pashto. The symbol in
the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this
sound is /w/. In inventory charts of languages with
other labialized velar consonants, /w/ will be placed in the
category of consonants. When consonant charts have only
labial and velar columns, /w/ may be placed in the velar
column, (bi) labial column, or both. The placement may
have more to do with phonological criteria than phonetic
ones because this phoneme usually does not replace a
vowel and, it is not 'syllabic' i.e it does not form the
nucleus of a syllable.
Let us see few phonetic features of this phoneme
and then discuss the Pashto realization of this phoneme.
Its manner of articulation is approximate, which means it
is produced by narrowing the vocal tract at the place of
articulation, but not enough to produce a turbulent
airstream. The type of approximant is glide or semivowel.
The term glide emphasizes the characteristic of
movement (or 'glide') of /w/ from the /u/ vowel position
to a following vowel position. The
110

term semivowel emphasizes that the sound is vocalic in


nature. Its place of articulation is labialized velar, which
means it is articulated with the back part of
the tongue raised toward the soft palate (the velum)
while rounding the lips. Its phonation is voiced, which
means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
Examples in Pashto Peshawari dialect are ‫ﻭﺯﻦ‬
/ꞌwʌzǝn/ i.e. weight, ‫ ﻭﺯﺮ‬/wǝꞌzʌr/ i.e. feather, ‫ ﺯﻣﺎ‬/zʌꞌmɑ:/
i.e. my or mine.

‫ ﻱ‬/ʎ/

Many phoneticians who have worked on Pashto


language phonetics and phonology consider this phoneme
to be alveolar or post alveolar approximant and prescribe
the phonetic symbol /j/ to it as they consider it equivalent
to the /j/ sound in English words like ‘yellow’ and ‘you’
etc. I consider it a palatal lateral approximant due to a
reason. In IPA this is a type of consonantal sound used in
some spoken languages and gives this sound the phonetic
symbol of /ʎ/, a rotated lowercase letter /y/ (not to be
confused with lowercase lambda, /λ/). There is no
dedicated symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet
that represents the alveolo-palatal lateral approximant. I
would prefer to use the symbol /ʎ/ for this phoneme of
Pashto. Its manner and place of articulation is somewhat
similar to the /j/ phoneme of English but it is not exactly
the same as that, though the manner and place of
articulation apparently seem similar. The English
phoneme is produced with the tip of the tongue too close
to the alveolar ridge making a narrow passage for the air
111

to escape through the tip of the tongue when the tip is


lowered to complete the sound. The case with Pashto
sound is that it is produced with the help of the blade of
the tongue which is slightly raised to the post alveolar
region of the upper palate while the air escapes through
the sides of the tongue. Unlike the English phoneme /j/
there is very little role of the tip of the tongue in producing
the /ʎ/ and it can be produced even when the tip of the
tongue placed behind the lower teeth or left flat. Thus the
air passage is not contained to the extent of creating
friction under the alveolar ridge as is the case with English
/j/.
Examples of this phoneme in Pashto are, ‫ ﻳﻭ‬/ʎǝw/ i.e.
‘one’, ‫ ﻳﺎﺪ‬/ʎɑ:d/ i.e. remembrance. Remember that this
sound not only occurs in the initial position in words in
Pashto phonology. Here we described this phoneme when
it occurs in the initial position. This phoneme occurs in
the medial and final position also which, in some words,
adopts the shape of a vowel sound. Usually it is typically
an approximant in initial and final position though. We
will discuss detail about its occurrence in Pashto in the
phonology chapter.

‫ ﻝ‬/l/
This is an alveolar lateral approximant. It is a type
of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages.
The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that
represents dental, alveolar, and post
alveolar lateral approximants is /l/. Lateral approximants
112

are nearly always voiced. The voicing typically starts


about halfway through the hold of the consonant. In a
number of languages, including English, the
phoneme /l/ becomes velarized ("dark l") in certain
contexts. By contrast, the non-velarized form is the
"clear l" (also known as: "light l"), which occurs before
and between vowels in certain English standards. Some
languages have only clear l.
Pashto has clear l usually in day to day use by the
Peshawari speakers. This happens in informal day to day
speech. But again the influence of Arabic is felt in formal
speech when the speaker has to recite the Holy Qur’an, he
has to follow the rule of dark and light ‘l’ of the Arabic.
Examples in Peshawari Pashto are, ‫ ﻠﻮﺭ‬/lu:r/, i.e.
daughter and ‫ ﻟﻭﻨﺪ‬/lu:nḓ/ i.e. wet.

‫ ﺮ‬/ r/

Before discussing this sound let us make clear


what phonetic category this sound belongs to. It belongs
to the Rhotic consonants In phonetics, rhotic consonants,
or "R-like" sounds, are liquid consonants that are
traditionally represented orthographically by symbols
derived from the Greek letter rho, including /R/ and /r/.
They are transcribed in the International Phonetic
Alphabet by upper- or lower-case variants of Roman
/R/,/r/: r, ɾ, etc.
This class of sounds is difficult to characterize
phonetically; from a phonetic standpoint, there is no
single articulatory correlate (manner or place) common
113

to rhotic consonants. Rhotics have instead been found to


carry out similar phonological functions or to have certain
similar phonological features across different languages.
Being "R-like" is an elusive and ambiguous concept
phonetically and the same sounds that function as rhotics
in some systems may pattern with fricatives,
semivowels or even stops. In Pashto this phoneme has two
different realizations if we discuss the phonological
distribution of this sound. It will be discussed in the
chapter on phonology. Presently, we can give a brief
description of both. The first, and the most frequent is the
/r/ realization which is more liquid and light. It is
produced with the tip of the tongue closer to the post
alveolar region and letting the air escape above the tip of
the tongue with the phonetic feature of quick vibration in
the tip of the tongue. This needs a voiced air stream which
means it is a voiced sound. It is placed in the category of
approximants and the IPA symbol for this sound is /ɹ/.
Another realization is that of a trilling r sound
which is produced by placing the tip of the tongue against
the alveolar ridge and the air stream is let through the tip
as well as the sides of the tongue while wagging the tip of
the tongue like the tail of the rattle snake with a vibration.
The air stream is voiced. It belongs to the trill manner of
articulation.
Let us briefly discuss the trill feature. A trill results
when an articulator is held loosely fairly close to another
articulator, so that it is set into vibration by the airstream.
The tongue tip and blade, the uvula, and the lips are the
only articulators than can be used in this way. Tongue tip
trills occur in some forms of Scottish English in words
114

such as rye and ire. Uvular trills are comparatively rare


but are used in some dialects of French. Trills of the lips
are even rarer but do occur in a few African languages.
Thus the /r/ in Pashto is produced as trill by some
speakers also, though the phoneme does not change when
the realization is changed to trill from a non trill r. this trill
phoneme is phonetically transcribed in IPA as /r/.
There is yet another realization of this sound
which is the retroflex production. The IPA symbol for the
retroflex r is / ɻ/. There is an additional feature of lip
rounding in this realization of r. The use of all such
realizations is frequent among speakers of the Peshawari
dialect and they use any realizations according to the
phonological context when they occur. For example
sometimes the trill is required for making it emphatic
while on other occasions the same is produced without a
trill. It depends on the choice of the speaker as well as the
phonological distribution. But the natives are home in the
usage of all these allophones. For the sake of avoiding
confusion and making our job easy, we will use the
symbol /r/ for this phoneme in our transcription of Pashto
words for all allophones of r. in narrow transcription, the
difference might be made by using the respective symbol
for either trill, non trill or liquid r. Examples of r phoneme
in Peshawari Pashto are, ‫ ﻜﺎﺭ‬/kɑ:r/ i.e. work, ‫ ﺭﻭﺭ‬/rɔr/ i.e.
brother, ‫ ﻭﺮ‬/wʌr/ i.e. door.

Chart of the Pashto Consonants as presented by the


Pashto Linguists of the Pashto Academy
‫‪115‬‬

‫ځ‬ ‫ﺝ‬ ‫ث‬ ‫ټ‬ ‫ت‬ ‫پ‬ ‫ب‬ ‫ا‬


‫ځيم‬ ‫جيم‬ ‫ېي‬ ‫ېي‬ ‫ېي‬ ‫ېي‬ ‫ر ېي‬ ‫الﻒ‬
‫ر‬ ‫ذ‬ ‫ډ‬ ‫د‬ ‫خ‬ ‫ﺡ‬ ‫څ‬ ‫چ‬
‫رې‬ ‫ذال‬ ‫ډال‬ ‫دال‬ ‫چ‬ ‫ے‬ ‫چ‬ ‫چ‬ ‫چ‬
‫ې‬ ‫ې‬ ‫ې‬ ‫ې‬
‫ص‬ ‫ښ‬ ‫ش‬ ‫س‬ ‫ږ‬ ‫ژ‬ ‫ز‬ ‫ړ‬
‫صاد‬ ‫ښيے‬ ‫شيے‬ ‫سيے‬ ‫ږې‬ ‫ژې‬ ‫زې‬ ‫ړې‬
‫ک‬ ‫ق‬ ‫ف‬ ‫غ‬ ‫ﻉ‬ ‫ظ‬ ‫ط‬ ‫ض‬
‫کاف‬ ‫قاف‬ ‫ے ېف‬ ‫غيے‬
‫ې‬ ‫عيے‬ ‫ې‬ ‫ط‬‫ې‬
‫ے‬ ‫ط‬‫ې‬ ‫ضاد‬
‫ي‬ ‫ه‪ /‬ه ـ‬ ‫و‬ ‫ڼ‬ ‫ن‬ ‫م‬ ‫ل‬ ‫ګ‬
‫معروفه‬ ‫ه‬‫ې‬ ‫واو‬ ‫نوڼ‬ ‫نون‬ ‫ميم‬ ‫الم‬ ‫ګاف‬
‫ي ېي‬
‫ے‬ ‫ئ‬ ‫ۍ‬ ‫ې‬
‫مخصوصه تانيث امر ي ېي مجهوله‬
‫ے‬ ‫ي ېي‬ ‫ي ېي‬

‫‪IPA Symbols for each phoneme of Pashto‬‬

‫ټ ﺕ ﭖ ﺐ‬ ‫څ ﺥ ﺡ چ ځ ﺝ ث‬
‫‪/b/ /p/ /ṱ/ /ʈ/‬‬ ‫‪/θ/ /ʤ/ / ʣ/ /ʧ/ /ħ/ /χ/ /ʦ/‬‬
116

‫ډ ﺪ‬ ‫ ﺫ‬/ð/ ‫ﮋ ﺰ ﺮ‬ ‫ښ ش س ړ ږ‬
/ḓ/ /ɖ/ / r/ /z/ /ʒ/ /ɡʲ/ /ɽ/ /s/ /ʃ/ /X/

‫ﻝ ګ ک ق ﻒ ﻍ ﻉ ﻆ ﻁ ﺽ ﺹ‬
/sˤ/ /dˤ/ /tˤ/ /zˤ/ /ʕ/ /ʁ/ /ɸ/ /q/ /k/ /ɡ/ /l/

‫ﻡ‬ ‫ ن‬/n/ ‫ﻩ ﻭ ﻨګ ڼ‬ ‫ﻱ‬


/m/ /ɳ/ /ŋ/ /w/ /ɦ/ /ʎ/

The Total No of Pashto Consonants is 40. (One


consonant i.e. /ŋ/ is additional to the total
consonants presented by the Pashto Academy.)

De
La Denti- Alv Ret Post-
nta
bia alveol eol rof alveol
l
l ar ar lex ar

Nasal ‫ ڼ‬/ɳ/
‫ ﻡ‬/m/ ‫ ن‬/n/
117

‫ ث‬/θ/
voiceles
‫ پ‬/p/ ‫ ت‬/ṱ/ ‫ ط‬/tˤ/
s ‫ ټ‬/ʈ/

Plosives/
Stops ‫ ﺫ‬/ð/
‫ض‬
voiced ‫ ب‬/b/
‫ ﺪ‬/ḓ/ /dˤ/ ‫ډ‬/ɖ/

voiceles
‫څ‬/ʦ/ ‫ چ‬/ʧ/
s
Affricate
‫ځ‬
voiced ‫ﺝ‬/ʤ/
/ʣ/

‫س‬
/s/
Fricative voiceles ‫ﻒ‬
‫ ش‬/ʃ/ ‫ ص‬/sˤ/
s /ɸ/
118

‫ ز‬/z/
voiced ‫ ﮋ‬/ʒ/
‫ﻆ‬
/zˤ/

‫ﻝ‬ ‫ ﻱ‬/ʎ/
Approximant ‫ و‬/w/
/l/

Rhotic/Trill ‫ ر‬/ r/

The Manner and Place of Articulation of


Pashto Consonants of the Peshawari Dialect

Chapter 5
The vowels of Pashto
The Vowel
119

A vowel is a sound during the production of which


there is no obstruction in the oral cavity to the air
passage by any articulator. Vowels are produced with
an open vocal tract; they are median which means
the air escapes along the middle of the tongue. They
are oral (at least some of the airflow must escape
through the mouth) frictionless and continuant. In
the phonological definition, a vowel is defined
as syllabic, the sound that forms the peak of a
syllable.

The traditional view of vowel production, reflected for


example in the terminology and presentation of
the International Phonetic Alphabet, is one of articulatory
features that determine a vowel's quality as distinguishing
it from other vowels. Daniel Jones developed the cardinal
vowel system to describe vowels in terms of the features
of tongue height (vertical dimension),
tongue backness (horizontal dimension)
and roundedness (lip articulation). These three
parameters are indicated in the schematic quadrilateral
IPA vowel diagram which is given at table below. There
are additional features of vowel quality, such as
the velum position (nasality), type of vocal fold vibration
(phonation), and tongue root position.
120

The IPA Handbook concedes that "the vowel


quadrilateral must be regarded as an abstraction and not a
direct mapping of tongue position.
Nonetheless, the concept that vowel qualities are
determined primarily by tongue position and lip rounding
121

continues to be used in pedagogy, as it provides an


intuitive explanation of how vowels are distinguished.
The International Phonetic Alphabet defines seven
degrees of vowel height, but no language is known to
distinguish all of them without distinguishing another
attribute:
● close (high)
● near-close (near-high)
● close-mid (high-mid)
● mid (true-mid)
● open-mid (low-mid)
● near-open (near-low)
● open (low)

The letters [e, ø, ɵ, ɤ, o] are typically used for either


close-mid or true-mid vowels. However, if more precision
is required, true-mid vowels may be written with a
lowering diacritic [e̞ , ø̞, ɵ̞, ɤ̞, o̞] in the IPA. We will see if
Pashto also uses any of these symbols for representing the
vowels which differ in height with the English vowels.
Although English contrasts six heights in its vowels,
they are interdependent with differences in backness, and
many are parts of diphthongs. The parameter of vowel
height appears to be the primary cross-linguistic feature
of vowels in that all spoken languages that have been
researched till now use height as a contrastive feature. No
other parameter, even backness or rounding (see below),
is used in all languages. Pashto makes use of the height
feature as well as those of backness and rounding.
122

Backness
Vowel backness is named for the position of the
tongue during the articulation of a vowel relative to the
back of the mouth. The International Phonetic
Alphabet defines five degrees of vowel backness:
● front
● near-front
● central
● near-back
● back

To them may be added front-central and back-central,


corresponding to the vertical lines separating central from
front and back vowel spaces in several IPA diagrams.
However, front-central and back-central may also be used
as terms synonymous with near-front and near-back. No
language is known to contrast more than three degrees of
backness nor there is a language that contrasts front with
near-front vowels nor back with near-back ones.
Roundedness
Roundedness is named after the rounding of the
lips in some vowels. Because lip rounding is easily
visible, vowels may be commonly identified as rounded
based on the articulation of the lips.
In most languages, roundedness is a reinforcing
feature of mid to high back vowels rather than a
distinctive feature. Usually, the higher a back vowel, the
more intense is the rounding. However, in Pashto, the
123

roundedness is independent from backness, such as


French and German (with front rounded vowels).
The lip position of unrounded vowels may be
classified separately as spread and neutral (neither
rounded nor spread). Others distinguish compressed
rounded vowels, in which the corners of the mouth are
drawn together, from compressed unrounded vowels, in
which the lips are compressed but the corners remain apart
as in spread vowels.

Let us discuss the vowels of Pashto in a little


detail. In order to understand the vowel system of
Pashto, we must have a knowledge of Arabic vowels also
because Arabic has a great influence on Pashto vowel
system on account of the introduction of pure Arabic
vowels into Pashto which did not exist in Pashto but
which it has borrowed from Arabic although certain
features are missing in Pashto. In English language, we
have regular vowel phonemes with distinct alphabets
and phonetic characters but the problem in Pashto
language is that certain sounds are pronounced in
combination with other phonemes but these sounds do
not have distinct characters of their own in writing like
English which are used in writing and pronunciation at
the same time.

In English there are distinct characters during


writing but in Arabic, Urdu and Pashto, they are called
124

the ‘Harakaat’ i.e. the movements. There are three basic


movements of such sounds which are common in Arabic,
Urdu and Pashto. Apart from Arabic, no other languages
in Pakistan use these movements in writing. In Pashto,
just like Arabic, most the vowels have been derived from
one letter namely the Alif Alphabet i.e. the Pashto or
Arabic “ ‫ ” ا‬the Alif.

In Pashto, these movements accompany other


phonemes which must be pronounced but which do not
have their representation through phonetic characters.
The Alif Alphabet is the very first Alphabet among the
Pashto Alphabets which can have a ‘Zabar’, which is Zwar
in Pashto, or a ‘Zer’ which is a Zer in Pashto as well, or a
‘Pesh’ which is a Pesh in Pashto as well. These
movements of sound have varying lengths in Arabic and
Pashto. The Zwar Movement, which is typical of Arabic,
is the realization like the English schwa /ǝ/. The Zer
movement on Alif is like the English /ɪ/ as in words like
ship and big. The Pesh movement is like the English /ʊ/
as in words like put and good. The shorter length of a
Zwar is called a zwarakay, that of a Zer is called a Zerakay
and that of a Pesh is called Peshakay. These movements
are placed with over all consonants of Pashto, with the
exception of ‫ نګ‬/ŋ/ and in some contexts over the /n/
phoneme. Difference exists among linguists over these
phonemes whether they are Pashto phonemes or
125

borrowed from other languages like Arabic or Urdu etc.


but that is not the debate to be addressed in the scope
of this book. If, for example, the above movements are
realized on the phoneme /p/, the following sounds are
pronounced;

‫ َپ‬/pə/

‫ ِپ‬/pɪ/

‫ ُپ‬/pʊ/

Children are taught early on in their language


teaching about these movements of Zabar, Zer and Pesh
and the various lengths they have in different contexts
on different words. All the consonants of Arabic and
Pashto are taught to children in schools in the same
pattern as mentioned above. Similarly, approximants,
which are placed by some linguists in the group of semi
vowels, like Wao (‫ )و‬and Ya (‫ )ي‬immediately turn into
vowel sounds when they are realized in some
phonological contexts, when placed next to consonants.
I would rather leave this discussion to a more
appropriate time and place. To be more exact, there is
only one single basic vowel sound in Pashto which can
stand on its own and that is the word Alif (‫)ا‬. The rest of
the vowels in Pashto are the various movements of the
sound Alif with varying degrees. They are either Zwar, Zer
126

or Pesh with varying lengths. The derived forms vary in


length and in few cases in quality of the vowel sound with
respect to frontness, backness and the height of the
tongue.

It is to be remembered that the sound /ʊ/ is the


representation of the ‫ ﯘ‬i.e. waw pesh and not the ‫ و‬waw
alphabet. It has more to do with the movement of the
word upon which the waw pesh occurs and not for the
alphabet itself. It is not necessary for the ‘Pesh’ to occur
only above the Alif. The Pesh can occur on any consonant
in Pashto except the sound ‫ نګ‬/ŋ/. The concept of such
movements will be discussed along with every consonant
because it is not essential for a vowel sound to occur only
upon the vowel letter or alphabet in Pashto. At the
moment the concept of Pesh is relevant because in the
given examples the movement of Pesh is essential for the
production of the /ʊ/ sound. Unlike English alphabets,
where the /ʊ/ is used for the ‘u’, or ‘o’ or ‘oo’ in alphabets
when it occurs in words like ‘put’, ‘hook’ and ‘shoe’ etc,
the Pashto ʊ is dependant more on the movement of
‘Pesh’ rather than on the alphabet itself which is the
most difficult part of the phonology of Pashto to
understand. And this movement has been borrowed
from Arabic which is distinct in its pronunciation.
127

Starting from the routine reading of Pashto, the


very first Alphabet is Alif which is a vowel. It has basic
three movements of Zwar, Zer and Pesh which have
shorter, short, long and longer lengths. The first vowel
derived from the alphabet Alif, which is common in
English as the schwa sound, is the most common vowel
in Pashto as well. The detail is given as under:

1. The short vowel Zwarakay /ə/ َ


The first vowel derived from the Alif Vowel in
Pashto is the shortest possible vowel sound which is a mid
central vowel (also known as schwa in the IPA). It is a
type of short vowel sound, used in Pashto as well as
English. The symbol in the International Phonetic
Alphabet that represents this sound is /ə/, a rotated
lowercase letter e.
The symbol /ə/ is often used for any unstressed
obscure vowel, regardless of its precise quality. For
instance, the English vowel transcribed /ə/ is a central
unrounded vowel that can be close-mid [ɘ], mid [ə] or
open-mid [ɜ], depending on the environment. The similar
is the case with Pashto where the production and
roundness of this vowel depends on the region and choice
of the speaker. Even within the speakers of the Peshawari
dialect, the different realizations are there but the quality
of shortness and roundness is intact in the standard
Peshawari dialect.
Following are the phonetic features:
128

● Its vowel height is close-mid, also known as high-


mid, which means the tongue is positioned halfway
between a close vowel (a high vowel) and a mid
vowel.
● Its vowel backness is central, which means the
tongue is positioned halfway between a front
vowel and a back vowel.
● It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not
rounded.
Examples from Pashto are words like ‫ اﻣﻳﻞ‬/ǝmel/ i.e.
garland, and ‫ اﻜﺒﺭ‬/ǝkbʌr/ i.e. the greatest.

2. The Zwar sound (ʌ)

The second vowel sound in the Alif Zwar category


is the sound which is relatively longer in length than the
/ǝ/ discussed above. In the IPA this is the open-mid back
unrounded vowel, or low-mid back unrounded
vowel, which is a type of vowel sound, used in many
world spoken languages. In the International Phonetic
Alphabet this sound is represented by the character /ʌ/, a
small-capital /ᴀ/ without the crossbar.

Following are its features:


● Its vowel height is open-mid, also known as low-mid,
which means the tongue is positioned halfway
between an open vowel (a low vowel) and a mid
vowel.
● Its vowel backness is back, which means the tongue
is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth
without creating a constriction that would be
129

classified as a consonant. Unrounded back vowels


tend to be centralized, which means that often they
are in fact near-back.
● It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not
rounded.
As compared to English ʌ the Pashto realization is just a
little bit shorter. Example words are Amjad, /ʌmdʒʌḓ/ ‫اﻣﺟﺪ‬
and Arshad, /ʌrʃʌḓ/ which are Arabic proper nouns of
male persons borrowed by Pashto. Other words from
Pashto are Sahar ‫ سﺤﺮ‬/sʌhʌr/ i.e. morning, Mazigar ‫ﻣﺎﺯﻳګﺮ‬
/mazigʌr/ i.e. dusk, Manrra ‫ ﻣڼﻪ‬/mʌɳʌ/ i.e. apple and Nar
‫ ﻧﺮ‬/nʌr/ i.e. brave etc.

3. The Alif sound with /ä/ realization

The third vowel sound derived from the phoneme Alif is


the sound that is relatively longer than the previous sound
/ʌ/. This is an open central unrounded vowel used in
Pashto just as in many world spoken languages. While
the International Phonetic Alphabet officially has no
dedicated letter for this sound between front /a/ and
back /ɑ/, it is normally written by using diacritics, such as
centralized /ä/.

It has the following features:


● Its vowel height is open, also known as low, which
means the tongue is positioned as far as possible
from the roof of the mouth – that is, as low as
possible in the mouth.
● Its vowel backness is central, which means the
tongue is positioned halfway between a front
130

vowel and a back vowel. This often subsumes open


(low) front vowels, because the tongue does not
have as much flexibility in positioning as it does for
the close (high) vowels; the difference between an
open front vowel and an open back vowel is equal to
the difference between a close front and a close
central vowel, or a close central and a close back
vowel.
● It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not
rounded
Examples of this vowel in Pashto are in words like Plaar
‫ ﭘﻼﺭ‬/plär/ i.e. father, Kaar ‫ ﻛﺎﺭ‬/kär/ i.e. work and, Maar ‫ﻣﺎﺭ‬
/mär/ i.e. snake.

4. The Alif sound with /ɒ/ realization


The same vowel sound derived from the Alif vowel is the
long vowel sound with a slightly different pronunciation
by the different accents of the same Peshawari dialects. It
is an open central rounded vowel, or low central rounded
vowel which tends to be more back vowel than front.
The International Phonetic Alphabet officially has no
dedicated letter for this sound but it is normally written
/ɒ/. If precision is required, it can be specified by using
diacritics, such as centralized /ɒ̈/.
It has the following features:
● Its vowel height is open, also known as low, which
means the tongue is positioned as far as possible
from the roof of the mouth – that is, as low as
possible in the mouth.
131

● Its vowel backness is central, which means the


tongue is positioned halfway between a front
vowel and a back vowel.
● It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not
rounded but rather spread or relaxed.
● An additional feature of this sound is its glottal effect
which makes it more back than front vowel
particularly among the speakers who are familiar
with Arabic.

Example words from Peshawari dialect of Pashto are ‫ﺒﺎﻍ‬


i.e. Bagh /bɒ̈ʁ/,
‫ ښـﺎﺥ‬i.e. Khaakh /Xɒ̈χ/, ‫ ﺪاﻍ‬i.e. Daagh /ḓɒ̈ʁ/etc.

It is pertinent to mention here that some speakers


of the Peshawari Dialect tend to pronounce this vowel
with slight variation. Particularly those speakers who are
under the influence of the Arabic language and who are
quite used to reciting the Holy Qur’an. These speakers
tend to make this vowel more an open front unrounded
vowel, or low front unrounded vowel which is one of the
eight primary cardinal vowels, in the IPA vowel chart.
The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)
that represents this sound is /a/. This vowel has been
analyzed acoustically as an extra-open/low unrounded
vowel at a position where the front/back distinction has
lost its significance.
Its phonetic features are:
132

● Its vowel height is open, which means the tongue is


positioned as far as possible from the roof of the
mouth – that is, as low as possible in the mouth.
● Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue
is positioned as far forward as possible in the mouth
without creating a constriction
● It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not
rounded

It must not be considered that these are two


different long vowel sounds in Peshawari Pashto. They
are the different realizations of the same long vowel
sounds i.e. they are allophones. Some speakers prefer
one while other prefer the other but both the allophones
are understandable for the speakers of the entire
Pukhtunkhwa community of the Pashto language.

5. The short vowel Zerakay /I/ i.e. the ِ


The Zer is different movement of the Alif Vowel in
Arabic and Pashto. Its phonetic realization is that of a
close front unrounded vowel, or high front unrounded
vowel. It can occurs upon all consonants except the
sound ‫ نګ‬/ŋ/ and the ‫ ڼ‬/ɳ/. For example with the
phoneme ‫ ِپ‬/pɪ/. See that there is no ‫ ي‬after the ‫ ِپ‬but
the zerakay occurs. It can occur over another consonant
like ‫ ﻉ ف ق‬without any ‫ ي‬following them. Words like
‫ عرفان‬/ʕIrɸän/,‫ فکر‬/ɸIkər/ and ‫ قبله‬/qIblʌ/ are examples.
133

But the discussion here is not as simple as it seems to be.


It will be elaborated when discussing the ‫ ي‬phoneme
when it is realized as a vowel later on.

6. The Zer sound and its different


realizations

When it comes to the Zer sound, the sound slightly


longer than a Zerake, there is always a tremendous debate
over the transcription of these phonemes among the
various dialects of Pashto mainly the North Eastern and
the South Western speakers of the Pashto language.

In order to understand the zer movement upon


Pashto alphabets, we must consider understanding the
semi vowel sound ‘ye’ i.e. ‫ ى‬and its different forms as
used in Pashto. Note that this ‫ ى‬is still a bone of contention
for the Pashto linguists of the North east and the South
West where the former prefer to use one form of the same
‫ ى‬in writing while the latter another. No conclusion has
yet been reached about the final transcription of this
phoneme. In my personal opinion, if the ‫ ى‬without any dot
or dots under it, is considered to be the base form for the
‘ye’ sound, then its different realizations may be
transcribed differently, although an agreement could be
reached by the linguists of the ‘Lara’ i.e. the lower and the
‘Bara’ i.e. the upper Pukhtunkhwa over this issue. The
Following are the different forms in which the base form
of the ‘ye’ i.e. ‫ ى‬is used:

‫ۍ‬
134

It is called the Tanees ye or the Khazeena ye i.e.


the ye used specifically for feminine genders.

‫ﻱ‬

The Linguists of Pashto call it the Maroofa ye or


Sarganda ye i.e. the distinct Ye or the clear ye with two
side by side dots under it.

‫ې‬

It is called the Makhsoosa ye or the Ogda ye i.e.


the Specific or the Longer ye with two dots one above the
other under it.

‫ے‬

It is called the Majhoola or Prata ye or the Narma


ye i.e. the Horizontal or the Soft ye with no dots under it.
This phoneme is owned by the linguists of the Khyber
Pukhtukhwa while those of Kabul and the rest of the
Afghanistan and the Pukhtoons of the southern Parts of
Pakistan disown it and claim that it does not exist in
Pashto. But historical evidences from the Book of Pir
Rokhan i.e. Bayazid Ansari show that this phoneme was
used in his days. It is yet to be accepted by the Pashto
Linguists of Afghanistan though.

‫ئ‬
135

It is called the Amar ye or the Hamza Wala ye i.e.


the Imperative ye or the Ye with a Hamza (‫)ء‬. Remember
that any of these phoneme occurring in the initial positions
in Pashto words don’t make a pure vowel sound but rather
semi vowels or approximants. Although in the medial and
final positions in Pashto words, these five phonemes
derived from the base phoneme ‫ ى‬adopt the character of
vowels. This is perhaps the reason why it poses difficulty
even for the natives of Pashto while they learn to write.

This Let us look at the realizations of vowel sounds


produced by the ‫ ى‬phoneme in different phonological
contexts.

7. The sound /ɛ/ as used for the phoneme


‫ۍ‬

It is a phoneme in Pashto with the Zer movement.


It is the mid-open front unrounded vowel, or near-low
front unrounded vowel. It is found in English, Pashto and
many other spoken languages of the world. The symbol in
the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this
sound is /ɛ/.
The Pashto /ɛ/ in phonetical features is exactly like
the English /ɛ/ but the English /ɛ/ is slightly glottal while
the Pashto /ɛ/ is totally unglottalized.
Example words in Pashto are ‫ ﺟﻳﻧــۍ‬Jeenay /ʤinɛ/,
‫ څــپــﻠــۍ‬Saplay /ʦʌplɛ/.
In practice, /ɛ/ is sometimes used to represent the mid
open front unrounded vowel with the following features:
136

● Its vowel height is mid-open, which means the


tongue is positioned similarly to an open vowel, but
is slightly more constricted – that is, the tongue is
positioned similarly to a low vowel, but slightly
higher.
● Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue
is positioned as far forward as possible in the mouth
without creating a constriction. It can be produced
even while putting the tip of the tongue behind the
lower teeth meaning thereby the back part of the tip
is stressed and the tip itself is totally free from any
stress while producing /ɛ/.
● It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not
rounded but rather relatively spread.
This sound is produced with slight variations by
the speakers of the Peshawari dialect in different regions
of the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province. Some speakers
tend either to shorten or prolong the later part, depending
upon the other sounds surrounding it in connected speech,
while other speakers even make a glide towards the end
by making it a diphthong that sounds like /ai/. It will be
discussed in the diphthongs in slight detail.
It is worth remembering, however, that this
phoneme usually occurs in the end of Pashto words, as
evident from the given two example words.

8. The (relatively) long vowel /i:/

The Zerake when followed by a semi vowel


phoneme ‫ ي‬in the medial position in words, it changes its
137

length and becomes yet a more lengthy vowel. When the


/I/ occurs in Pashto words immediately before the semi
vowel ‫ي‬, while it can occur in the initial, medial or final
position of words, it is represented in the International
Phonetic Alphabet by the symbol /i/ followed by
diacritics. It is similar to the vowel sound in
the English word meet. In Pashto, as in English, this
sound has additional length (usually being represented
as /iː/) but in English it is realized as a slight diphthong,
while in Pashto it is a pure vowel sound.

It has the following features:


● Its vowel height is close, also known as high, which
means the tongue is positioned as close as possible
to the roof of the mouth without creating a
constriction.
● Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue
is positioned as far forward as possible in the mouth
without creating a constriction.
● It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not
rounded.
Example words are Teet ‫ ﮢﻳﭧ‬/ti:t/ i.e. less heighted, and
Geera ‫ ږﻳﺮﻩ‬/ɡʲi:rʌ/ i.e. beard.
Some words have even a longer /i:/ by some speakers for
instance in words like Sheen ‫ﺸﻴﻦ‬/ʃi:n/ i.e. green and Breed
‫ ﺑﺮﻳﺪ‬/bri:ḓ/ i.e. boundary.
138

Sometimes, especially in broad transcription, this


vowel is transcribed with a simpler symbol i, which
technically represents the close front unrounded vowel.
Features
● Its vowel height is near-close, also known as near-
high, which means the tongue is not quite so
constricted as a close vowel (high vowel).
● Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue
is positioned as far forward as possible in the mouth
without creating a constriction that would be
classified as a consonant. Note that rounded front
vowels are often centralized, which means that often
they are in fact near-front.
● It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not
rounded.

9. The e vowel in the phonemes ‘‫ ’ے‬and ‘‫’ې‬

In Pashto the ‘‫ ’ے‬with no dots under it, and the ‘‫’ې‬


with two side by side dots under it, are the phonemes
which are problematic phonemes both for natives and
foreign learners of Pashto when it comes to writing these
phonemes. In certain contexts it is a semi vowel while in
others it is typically a vowel sound. There is still a debate
going on between linguists of the north east and the rest
of the Pashto speaking community of, say the south west
139

or the centre i.e. Afghanistan who agree to use the ‘‫ ’ې‬but


are reluctant to use the ‘‫’ے‬.
The Linguists of Peshawari dialect have
unanimously decided upon this phoneme and have
provided clear description for this phoneme in their
decisions made after the Barra Gali Conference. Let us
differentiate between these two sounds.

The ‘‫ ’ے‬phoneme as used in ‫ سړے‬i.e. Man

The close-mid front unrounded vowel, or high-


mid front unrounded vowel, is a vowel sound, used in
some world spoken languages as well. The symbol in
the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this
sound is /e/.

In Pashto it is used in all dialects for denoting


masculine nouns for instance in words like ‘Spe’
/spe/‫ سپے‬،‫ سړے‬/sʌɽe/i.e. Man, dog, Small cooking pot
which are all masculine nouns.

The following are the features of this vowel:


● Its vowel height is close-mid, also known as high-
mid, which means the tongue is positioned halfway
between a close vowel (a high vowel) and a mid
vowel.
● Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue
is positioned as far forward as possible in the mouth
without creating a constriction that would be
classified as a consonant. Note that rounded front
vowels are often centralized, which means that often
they are in fact near-front.
140

● It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not


rounded.

10. The vowel ‫ ې‬used in ‫ ښځې‬i.e. women

The phoneme ‫ ې‬is a vowel used in Pashto words


which denotes female nouns or adjectives e.g. Taudey
/tʌʊḓe̞ / ‫ ﺗﻮدې‬i.e. Hot, Khazey ‫ښځې‬/χʌʣe̞ / i.e. women, and
‫ سړې‬/sʌɽe̞ / i.e. cold (water).

As per IPA it is a mid front unrounded vowel which


is a type of vowel sound that is used in some
spoken languages of the world. There is no dedicated
symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that
represents the exact mid front unrounded vowel between
close-mid [e] and open-mid [ɛ], but it is normally written
/e/ as enunciated above. For the sake of precision and
differentiation with the preceding vowel, which is
required, diacritics may be used, such as /e̞ /. This book
shall use diacritics, such as /e̞ / to differentiate between the
two phonemes which will help those writers in
differentiating these phonemes and will be able to write
the correct form of the phoneme wherever applicable in
the Pashto writing.
Following are the features of this vowel:
● Its vowel height is mid, which means the tongue is
positioned halfway between a close vowel and
an open vowel.
141

● Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue


is positioned as far forward as possible in the mouth
without creating a constriction that would be
classified as a consonant. Note that rounded front
vowels are often centralized, which means that often
they are in fact near-front.
● It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not
rounded.

11. The /e/ vowel with a varied realization of


/ɛ/ by some dialects of Pashto

Some speakers of the Peshawari dialect also prefer


to make a varied pronunciation of the /e/ sound for
example, the typical Peshawari speakers make it a close-
mid /e/, but speakers from northern and north eastern
Khyber Pukhtunkhwa tend to make it an open-mid /ɛ/
rather than a close mid /e/, but it is equally understandable
for the speakers of the northern, central or southern
dialects.
The open-mid front unrounded vowel, or low-mid
front unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound used in
some dialects of Pashto. This sound is typically found in
the dialects spoken in regions like Swat, Dir, Swabi and
Buner. The symbol in the International Phonetic
Alphabet that represents this sound is a Latinized variant
of the Greek lowercase epsilon, /ɛ/.
Following are the phonetic features of this phoneme,
which is the allophone of the phoneme /e/:
● Its vowel backness is front, which means the tongue
is positioned as far forward as possible in the mouth
142

without creating a constriction that would be


classified as a consonant.
● It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not
rounded but rather spread.
It shares its features with the /e/ vowel but differs in
the following Features:
● Its vowel height is open-mid, also known as low-
mid, which means the tongue is positioned
halfway between an open vowel (a low vowel)
and a mid vowel.
It is worth mentioning here that some speakers prefer
to pronounce this vowel as a diphthong. For example
speakers from north and north eastern accent may
pronounce ‘Sarre’ i.e. ‘man’ as ‘sarrai’ or ‘pe’ i.e. milk as
‘Pai’. But the vowel somehow is equally understandable
for all the speakers and they never mistake one vowel for
the other. For details of such allophones, separate book on
the accents of the Peshawari Pashto will be composed.
Here our discussion should be restricted only to the
standard dialect of Pashto which the Peshawari Pashto for
this book. The use of IPA symbols in this book will solve
the problem of those writers who have confusion about
using the masculine ‘‫ ’ے‬and the feminine ‘‫’ې‬during
writing.

12. The vowel sound /ɜ/ in zwarake

The open-mid central unrounded vowel, or low-


mid central unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound,
used in some spoken languages. The symbol in
143

the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this


sound is /ɜ/.
This vowel seems to be an allophone of the /ʌ/ but
in fact it is a distinct vowel used by Pashto speaker in
Pashto words like,
Safar, ‫ سفﺮ‬/səɸɜr/ and Khabar ‫ خﺒﺮ‬/χʌbɜr/ etc.
● Its vowel height is open-mid, also known as low-mid,
which means the tongue is positioned halfway
between an open vowel (a low vowel) and a mid
vowel.
● Its vowel backness is central, which means the
tongue is positioned halfway between a front
vowel and a back vowel.
● It is unrounded, which means that the lips are not
rounded.

The Peshakay i.e. the ُ


It is not a phoneme in itself but rather a movement
upon a phoneme. It means it can occur with /p/, /b/ and
any other consonant or vowel in Pashto and indicated by
the movement above the phoneme. near-close near-back
rounded vowel. The IPA symbol that represents this
sound is /ʊ/. It is informally called "horseshoe u".
Sometimes, in English, especially in broad transcription,
this vowel is transcribed with a simpler symbol /u/, which
technically represents the close back rounded vowel.
144

This vowel of Pashto typically copies the English


/ ʊ/ as in words like ‘put’. As mentioned earlier the
peshakay, which is the shortest Pesh sound, can occur
upon any consonant of Pashto. It is rather a vowel sound
which is a sort of movement dedicated to a specific
phoneme. It resembles the waw ‫ ﻭ‬phoneme in its phonetic
features but it is never the waw ‫ ﻭ‬phoneme. The ‫ ﻭ‬in itself
depends upon the zwar, zer and pesh of the movements of
sounds in Pashto language. Examples are:

‫ َﻭ‬/wə/
‫ٍﻭ‬ /wɪ/
‫ُﻭ‬ /wʊ/

13. The sound ʊ in Pashto

The sound /ʊ/ is not necessarily the waw ‫ ﻭ‬phoneme. It is


in fact the Pesh sound which has different lengths to be
realized as the peshakay, Pesh or the longer /u:/ phoneme
which depends on the context in which it occurs. Let us
discuss the /ʊ/ sound in a slight detail.

Following are the features of this vowel:


● Its vowel height is near-close, also known as near-
high, which means the tongue is not quite so
constricted as a close vowel (high vowel).
● Its vowel backness is back, which means the tongue
is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth
without creating a constriction that would be
classified as a consonant. Unrounded back vowels
145

tend to be centralized, which means that often they


are in fact near-back.
● It is rounded, which means that the corners of the
lips are drawn together.

In Pashto, it is a sound in which the lips are slightly


rounded not fully. Examples are in words like ‫ ګټ‬/ɡʊt/
i.e. corner and ‫ ګته‬/ɡʊṱʌ/ i.e. finger. In the given words
the as in ‫ ګټ‬/ɡʊt/ and ‫ ګته‬/ɡʊṱʌ/ apparently there is no
vowel sound after the ‫ ګ‬phoneme in its written form
but the movement ‘pesh’ occurs above it which is
transcribed as /ʊ/ in transcription. The similar is the case
with the other word also which has the movement of
Pesh above it.

There is another realization of the same vowel among the


northern and north eastern accent of Peshawari Pashto
which must be taken into account while analyzing the
speech of those speakers. Instead of simple / ʊ/ they
tend to make the same sound as /gwa/ for example in
the words given above, ‫ګټ‬/ɡʊt/ and ‫ ګته‬/ɡʊṱʌ/, these
speakers tend to make it ‫ ګوټ‬/ɡwʌt/ and ‫ګوته‬/ɡwʌṱʌ/
which does not affect the meaning of the word though.
The pronunciation is changed but the meaning remains
the same. We can say that they use an allophone of the
vowel /ʊ/. But the standard in Peshawari Pashto is the
146

phoneme /ʊ/ which is used by majority of the speakers


and written without the ‘waw’ which is pronounced in
the allophone by certain speakers.

14. The long vowel /o/ in the ‫ﻭ‬

The phoneme ‫ ﻭ‬has a number of realizations. When it


occurs in the initial position in Pashto words it is
pronounced as /w/. The details of /w/ are already known
to the readers. In medial and final position the phoneme ‫ﻭ‬
can be pronounced differently. Let us analyze the medial
position of this phoneme.
The ‫ ﻭ‬phoneme is pronounced as the the mid back
rounded vowel in the IPA chart which is a type
of vowel sound used in some other world
spoken languages too. While there is no dedicated symbol
in the International Phonetic Alphabet, it is normally
written /o/. while in English it tends more to be glottal but
in Pashto it is not glottalized. Following are some of the
features of this vowel phoneme:
● Its vowel height is mid, which means the tongue is
positioned halfway between a close vowel and
an open vowel.
● Its vowel backness is back, which means the tongue
is positioned far back in the mouth without creating
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a constriction that would be classified as


a consonant.
● As in other languages, this sound is 'endolabial' which
means the lips are protruded. In Pashto
its roundedness is slightly protruded, which means
that the corners of the lips are drawn together, and
the inner surfaces exposed. In English the protrusion
is more visible while in Pashto it is not as conspicuous
but the roundedness is still realized.
In Peshawari Pashto its examples are words like;
● ‫ﻣﻮﺭ‬/mor/
● ‫کﻮﺭ‬/kor/
● ‫ﺗﻮﺭ‬/ṱor/
● ‫ﺯﻭﺭ‬/zor/
● ‫ ﺯﻭړ‬/zoɽ/
● ‫ ﻧﻮﺭ‬/nor/

15. The /u/ phoneme in Pashto

This vowel of Pashto is produced when the


phoneme ‘‫ ’و‬i.e. ‫ واو‬occurs in combination with other
phonemes such as the vowel Alif or other consonants
such as ‫ ت‬،‫ پ‬،‫ب‬، etc. in words like‫ پور‬،‫ اوښ‬،‫‘ بوټ‬Pur’,
‘ukh’ and ‘boot’. The vowel here in these words is a close
back rounded vowel, or high back rounded vowel. It is a
type of vowel sound used in Pashto, as in many other
spoken world languages such as English etc. The symbol
148

in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents


this sound is /u/. In most languages, this rounded vowel
is pronounced with protruded lips, which means this is
an endolabial vowel. In Pashto it is also pronounced with
endolabial feature by common speakers.

It is pertinent to mention here that this close back


rounded vowel is almost identical featurally to
the approximant /w/ but it slightly differs from /w/ in the
rounding of lips.

Features:

● Its vowel height is close, also known as high, which


means the tongue is positioned as close as possible
to the roof of the mouth without creating a
constriction that would be classified as a consonant.
● Its vowel backness is back, which means the tongue
is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth
without creating a constriction that would be
classified as a consonant. Unrounded back vowels
tend to be centralized, which means that often they
are in fact near-back.
● Its roundedness is protruded, which means that the
corners of the lips are drawn together, and the
inner surfaces exposed.

The Diphthongs in Pashto


149

Diphthongs are vowel sounds which start as one


vowel and end as another. Technically speaking in
diphthongs one vowel glides into another vowel sound
without any pause between the two vowels. As like other
world languages, Pashto also has a set of diphthongs
which is discussed below.

1. The Diphthong /ʌi/ in the phoneme ‫ئ‬


This diphthong is the combination of two vowels
i.e. /ʌ/ and /I/. In Pashto the sound made by the
phoneme ‫ ئ‬is an example. Words like /räzʌI /
‫ ﺭاځئ‬/kʌwʌI/ ‫ځئ کﻮئ‬/zʌI/ are typical examples
of this diphthong.

2. The diphthong /äI/ in words like


‫ چائ‬Chaaye /ʧäI / i.e. tea
‫ ځائ‬Zaaye / ʣäI / i.e. place
‫ ښائست‬Khayist /XäIsṱ / i.e. beauty

3. The diphthong /äʊ/ in words like;

‫ تاو‬Taao /ṱäʊ/ i.e. jealousy and anger

‫ غاو‬ghaao /ʁäʊ/ i.e. grief and problem

‫ هاو‬haao /ɦäʊ/ i.e. yes

4. The diphthong /əʊ/ in words like;


‫ هو‬hao / ɦəʊ / i.e. yes
‫ لو‬lao /ləʊ/ i.e. collective harvesting
150

‫ يو‬yao /ʎəʊ/ i.e. one


5. The diphthong /əu/ in words like;
‫ کو‬kaoo /kəu/ i.e. we are doing
‫ بو‬baoo /bəu/ i.e. a monster

6. The diphthong /Iä/ in words like;


‫نيا‬ Nia / nIä /i.e. Grandmother
‫دنيا‬ Dunya /dunIä / i.e. the world
‫رښتيا‬Rikhtya / rIXṱIä / i.e. the truth
‫بيا‬ bya /bIä /i.e. again

7. The diphthong /uʌ/ in words like;


‫ اووه‬Owa /uʌ/ i.e. seven
‫ اوولس‬Owalas /uʌlʌs/ i.e. seventeen

8. The diphthong /uä/ in words like;


‫ دعا‬Duaa /ḓuä/ i.e. supplication
‫ شعاﻉ‬/ʃuäʕ/ i.e. beam/rays
9. The diphthong /Iʌ/ in words like;
‫ ديت‬Diat /ḓIʌṱ/ i.e. death compensation
‫ نيت‬Niat /nIʌṱ/ i.e. intention
10. The diphthong /iə/ in words like;
‫ زويه‬Zwia /zwiə/ i.e. O my son
‫سيه‬
‫ ړ‬Sarria /sʌɽiə/ i.e. O man
151

‫ پرديه‬Pradia /prʌḓiə/
11. The diphthong /iu/ in words like;
‫ تريو‬treeu // i.e. sour
‫ ښيو‬Kheeu // i.e. we are good
12. The diphthong /eʊ/ in words like;
‫ ديو‬deiw /ḓeʊ/ i.e. a male jinni
‫ غريو‬Ghreiw /ʁreʊ/ i.e. extremely sorrowful situation

Chapter 6

A note for the Teachers of Pashto Language


152

The teaching of language at any level requires


knowledge of the language. A teacher who teaches
English language in class rooms must be equipped with
the essentials of English language teaching. A pre-
requisite for the teaching of language is the knowledge
of that language and its system i.e. the competence in
the words of Noam Chomsky or the Langue in the words
of Ferdinand d Saussure. The after having a sound
knowledge of the system of language, the language
teacher can apply that in classrooms to impart
knowledge of the language. The teaching of language is
almost a universal phenomenon with exception to few
world languages like Chinese etc the system of which is
slightly different than the rest of world languages. Almost
all world languages are governed by certain structural,
semantic and stylistic rules which a teacher needs to
grasp. Particularly the phonetics of every language is a
matter of great concern for the non native speakers of a
language. The same is highly important for the teaching
of Pashto as well, which like English language poses
difficulties to foreign learners particularly in matters of
pronunciation. The spoken forms may not be in
conformity with the written forms in certain places. That
is where the difficulty arises. Thus the knowledge of
phonetics and phonology is essential for the teachers of
Pashto language, particularly for those who teach Pashto
153

to non native speakers like Chinese, English and German


speakers. It is advisable for teachers of Pashto language
to master the rules of the phonetic and syntactic
structure of Pashto, along with its morphological aspect,
if they want to be successful as a teacher and instructor
of Pashto.

This book has adopted the description method of


Peter Roach. The teachers must have a close reading of
the Book ‘English Phonetics and Phonology’ by Peter
Roach in order to fully grasp the concepts involved in the
description of the vowels and consonants, the
diphthongs and triphthongs and the supra-segmental
features, which are significant in the teaching of
language. Unless the teachers clarify their concepts, they
cannot guide their students properly in the class rooms.

I have observed in the society that who teaches


Pashto, is under some sort of psychological inferiority in
front of those who teach, say, English or any other
language. I am not sure about its reasons, but one thing I
must say here, which is, every language is worthy of
respect, because it is a medium with which the members
of a community share ideas, information and feelings and
emotions. No language in the world is inferior or superior
but our own thinking makes it so. If someone speaks fast
and accented English, it never means he is very learned
154

or scholarly. If someone prefers to speak Pashto,


although he might be scholarly and highly intellectual, it
is the choice that s/he makes. And making such choices a
highly complex social, psychological, economic and
socio-religious phenomenon which is not easy to define
or understand. So I would advise all teachers of Pashto to
be equally proud of being the teacher of Pashto as the
teachers of other languages feel proud. It is a fact that
nobody can speak as well in Pashto as you can, since you
are its native speakers. No matter a PhD in Pashto, who
is English by birth, cannot have the competence of
Pashto language which you possess, no matter how
beautifully he speaks Pashto. Therefore, teaching any
language is a job worthy of extreme respect and honor
and it demands scholarship and erudition on part of the
teacher. As a teacher of Pashto, you can earn as high a
place and respect in the society, as the teacher of English
or any other language. So, enhance your knowledge
about Pashto, its structure, its meanings, its expressions,
its literary and non literary styles, its rich literature, both
in the form of prose and poetry, and make research in
the Pashto language without any thought of fame or
success but with a thought to serve your mother tongue.
I believe respect is in serving our own mother tongue
rather than preferring to choose a career in any foreign
language as a teacher. As far as learning English is
155

concerned, it is a global language, and every type of


information and knowledge can be accessed with its
help, so everyone must have its knowledge.

As far as research in English language is


concerned, the English nation has done a tremendous job
in expansion of English and it has become a global
language due to their untiring effort. One among the
many reasons of its popularity is the fact that thousands
and thousands of books from other languages have been
translated into English, which has enhanced the English
language to the extent that it adopted the status of
global language. If the Pukhtoons work to enhance their
language, the day is not far that our language Pashto will
be among the renowned languages of the world. Effort
and dedication is needed. Please do justice to your
mother tongue and work for its development in
whichever capacity you can.
156

References:

1. Anne Boyle, Descriptive Grammar of Pashto and Its Dialects, University of


Maryland, 2014.
2. Dr Abdullah Jan Abid, A Critical Study of Printed Texts of Khair-Ul- Bayan. Pashto
vol. 56 S. No. 654 July-Dec, 2017
(In the light of established principles of textual criticism)
3. Dr Majeed, Memon Abdul Sindhi. Lisaniyat-ePakistan. Muqtadra qaumi zuban,
Islamabad. 1992.
4. D. N. MacKenzie, A Standard Pashto, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African
Studies, University of London, Vol. 22, No. 1/3 (1959), 231-235
5. Dr. Dinakhel, Muhammad Ali. (2018). ‫خب‬ ‫نسخ ې‬‫وړومت قلم ے‬ ‫کښ موجود د پښتو د‬‫ے ے‬
‫ې‬ ‫ر ۍ ي‬ ‫جرمت ر ې‬
‫ي‬ ‫په‬
‫ر‬
‫ البيان ېپبندګلو‬An Introduction of the first Pashto Manuscript Khair-ul-Bayan Present in
Germany.
6. Grierson, A Linguistic Survey of India, 1921:69
7. Habibullah Tegey, Barbara Robson, A Reference Grammar of Pashto, Washington
D.C. 1996
8. Himayatullah Yaqubi, Bayazid Ansari and Roushaniya Movement: J.R.S.P., Vol. 50,
No. 1, 2013
9. Hallberg, G. D. (1992). Sociolinguistic Survey of Northern Pakistan Volume 4 Pashto
10. Henderson, M. T. (1983). Four Varieties of Pashto. Journal of the American
Oriental Society, 103 (2), 595-7.
11. Madiha Ijaz, Phonemic Inventory of Pashto, pp 83-88
12. María Isabel, Bakht Munir, Journal of Research (Humanities)
13. Pakhto Lik Laar, 1991, The Pashto Academy, University of Peshawar
14. Penzle, H. (1955). A Grammar of Pashto: a descriptive study of the dialect of
Khandahar, Afghnistan. Washington, D.C: American Council of Learned Society.
15. The following web sources were used in this book:

a. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/afghanistan-vi-pasto
(Encyclopedia Iranica)
b. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPA_vowel_chart_with_audio
c. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pashto_phonology
d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_phonology#Consonants
e. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_phonology
f. http://gen.lib.rus.ec/
g. www.pbs.gov.pk
h. www.pndkp.gov.pk
157

i. Wikipedia.com
j. www.iranianlanguages.com
k. www.googlescholar.com

About the Author

Amjad Hussain Nassir is a civil servant, a


teacher, a poet and author of three books of
Pashto Poetry. He is a Master in English
Literature with BEd from the University of
Peshawar. He is a Master in Pashto
Literature with specific interest in Pashto
Linguistics. He is also MBA Finance from
158

NUML, Peshawar. Since his first Masters he


has been in touch with Teaching. He has
taught at different places such as The
University of Peshawar, City University of
Science and IT, Peshawar, The University of
Malakand, Qurtuba University, Govt Degree
College Muhmand Agency, and in many
professional coaching academies. He is
currently Deputy Director of Audit under the
Auditor General of Pakistan since 2010 after
having being selected through CSS 2008. He
is a dedicated professional in the field of
Audit & Accounts and alongside, he has
been in touch with teaching Business
Communication as a subject since 2005
when he was visiting faculty where he taught
subjects like Language and Linguistics,
Phonetics and Phonology, Stylistics and
History of The English Language. Currently
he is teaching CSS/PMS Preparatory
Classes of Pashto, Islamic Studies, Current
Affairs. English Essay, English General etc.
to aspirants. He has a tremendous love for
Communication and Presentation Skills and
is guiding students for career counseling in
various fields such as CA, ACCA, all types of
competitive examinations and MPhil/PhD
with honesty and dedication. The Aim of his
159

life is to serve humanity in any capacity he


can serve.