The “sh” and “kh” in Pashto: on Pashto dialects – and Pashto-learning materials

I’m pasting the below from the old blog. Click here to read the comments there; they might be useful for a better understanding of this dialect business.

A good Formspring question!

Who says Peshawar and who says Pekhawar? It seems some accents in Pashto say the -sh- as -kh- like I heard a song with dushman as dukhman. Tell us about Pashto dialects/accents 🙂 Thanks.

There are two (main) dialects in Pashto, soft and hard. The soft dialect is spoken in Quetta, Waziristan, Kandahar, and other southern Pashtun areas; the hard one is spoken in northern areas, like Peshawar, Swat, Mardan, Dir (in Pakistan) and Nangarhar, Kabul, Jalalabad (in Afghanistan). The map below should help with identifying the northern and southern Pashto-speaking regions.

Pashto-speaking regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan together are called Pashtunistan, highlighted in green above. P.S. This map is not perfect.
That said, the “kh” (Pekhawar, Pukhtun, Pukhto, Pakhto, kha) is used in the hard dialect. The soft dialect uses “sh” for the same words: Peshawar, Pushtun/Pashtun, Pashto/Pushto, sha.
You see, in Pashto, we have more letters than we do in Arabic. One of the ones not included in Arabic is “khin” ( ښ ), and that’s the “kh” sound you hear in the hard dialect. The “sh” sound is the same as “sheen” ( ش ). Pashto and Arabic both have the letter “kha”/”khey” ( خ ), however, so ښ does not replace kha/khey.
Me, since I’m from northern Pashtunkhwa, I use the “kh” dialect, but since “kh” is a hell of a difficult letter for most westerners or others who don’t have the letter in their languages, I prefer to use “sh” when talking to a non-Pashtun audience. With my family, though, using “sh” instead of “kh” sounds really weird.
There are other differences in the dialects, too. For instance, the soft dialect uses “zh” where the hard dialect uses “g” (e.g., mung vs muzh (both mean we)).
You may find more information about the dialects in this article called “Four Varieties of Pashto” by Michael M. T. Henderson. The article, available on JSTOR, shows that it’s actually far more complicated than innocent me is making it! But, hey, this is basically what it all comes down to, I swear.
P.S. Here are some nice sites for learning Pashto (I know it looks disorganized and you don’t really know where to begin and all, but the moment I find site that starts from the very basics, I’ll share it with you. Promise!)

 And the list below is of books and other Pashto-learning/Pashto-improvement resources.

Advertisements

About Orbala

I want it to rain on my wedding day, pliss.
This entry was posted in Afghans, Books, Pashto, Pashtuns and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The “sh” and “kh” in Pashto: on Pashto dialects – and Pashto-learning materials

  1. Ghar Baba says:

    in terms of grammar, some dialects like wazirwola and waneci differ from most dialects…

    Like

  2. FAYAZ HILALZAI says:

    PLEASE LEARN ALL THE DILECTS AND THE HISTORY OF PASHHTO LANGUAGE..ITS NOT SHEEN OF ARABIC ,,ITS PRONOUNCED AS HKHH..OR SIMPLY GHAZNI,PAKTIA,TAGAB,KUNAR HAVE THE ORIGINAL ONE..WE SOUTH N NORTH ARE TWO EXTREAMS MAKING IT KH OR SH.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Orbala says:

      Calm down, man. Chill. Pashto, like Arabic and Persian and Urdu, has a “sheen” written the same way in these languages. Then there’s a “kh” sound that’s different from the khe/kha of Arabic/Persian/Urdu, written like a seen with a dot on top and dot on bottom. See above.

      Like

  3. sajjusk says:

    One is Kha sound other is Sha sound. These are not in pashto grammar but they sound like other meaningful words of pashto !

    Like

Well? What you say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s