Bookmark and Share

Open the online Arabic language course

Index / Languages / Iranian /

Pashto writing

By country
Figures in 1000.
150 0.2%
Southern Pashto
150 0.2%
United Arab Emirates
400 8.3%
Northern Pashto
370 7.7%
Southern Pashto
30 0.6%
550 0.1%

Total is calculated to the MENA total of 490 million.

Iranian language native mainly to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but spoken by a minority in Iran counting 150,000, and immigrants with Pakistani citizenship in the United Arab Emirates, counting 400,000. Estimates for Pashto speakers in all countries vary between 25 and 40 million.
In Iran, the Pashto language is often referred to as Afghani, and is spoken by the Pashtun people in South Khorasan Province to the east of Qaen, near the border to Afghanistan.
Pashto has a fairly complex verb system, with 5 tenses. The vocabulary is largely derived from the same origin as other eastern Iranian languages, but is also rich in unique words. Pashto has borrowed many new words from Arabic, Persian, Urdu and English.
Pashto uses a modified form of Arabic script. Only standard Arabic letters have been used, but dots are added to allow the writing of sounds like "p", "g" and more specialized sounds. All in all Pashto employs 44 letters, compared to the 28 in standard Arabic.
Despite formal similarities, Pashto and Persian speakers will not understand each other, except for a few words.

By Tore Kjeilen