LanguagesA brief introduction
Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic country, apparently, with none making a majority. That makes it also multi-lingual. There are 3 main languages spoken in Afghanistan, namely, Dari (Persian), Pashto and Uzbeki. There are ofcourse other local languages spoken by smaller communities in different parts of the country. For information about those, and also for detailed information about the above named languages, please click on their names on the side bar. In this short intro we stand by the ones named above. Note: if you have any material about any of the languages spoken in Afghanistan, we would be very glad and thankful to receive them
Dari, also known as Persian, Farsi, Parsi and Tajiki, is the main language in the group. It is the only language spoken and understood by a majority in all ethnic groups, by all educated people, and in every city in the country. Especially the cities of Kabul, Mazar, Herat and Ghazni, being Dari speaking cities, have been important centers of nurturing and developing Dari language and literature for more than a thousand years. Dari is practically the sole means of inter-communal and inter-ethnic communication in Afghanistan. In other words, without Dari, the different ethnic groups in this country would not be able to communicate with one another. This means that with an exception of Dari speakers, an absolute majority of the membres of all other ethnic groups in Afghanistan are bi-lingual, speaking Dari next to their native language to be able to communicate with others. Dari is also the academic language of almost all major universities and colleges. Though its native speakers, comprised of multiple ethnic groups (Tajiks, Hazaras etc) live mainly in west, north, north-east and central Afghanistan, including Kabul, one can still say that around 95% of the entire population of Afghanistan are able to comunicate through this language. All these give Dari actually the status of the national language in the multi-ethnic/lingual country of Afghanistan, though officially that term is not used for any of the languages there. It does enjoy the status of the national language in both Iran and Tajikistan under the names Farsi and Tajiki, respectively. Tajiki is also spoken by millioins of Tajiks living in and around Bukhara and Samarqand in Uzbekistan.
The word Dari is the shortened form of the word “Darbari” which means “of the courts of kings”. “Darbar” itself means “the court of a king”. That made Dari the “Darbari” version of the Persian or Farsi language. This is because Dari enjoyed being the chosen language of the courts of kings in different dynasties in central and south Asia, and in the middle-east, for more than 1000 years. It is worth mentioning that this happened while many of these royal families were non-native Dari speakers, who adopted Dari as their language along the course of time. An example could be the Mughul dynasty in India. This feature of the language did result in the creation of the rich old Dari literature we have today, some of which has been translated to several major European languages. Dari belongs to the Indo-Iranian sub-family of the Indo-European family of languages.
Pashto rates second in the group of the main languages in Afghanistan. It is the native language of the Pashtun ethnic group and is spoken mainly by them only. Pashto is spoken majorly in the southern and south-eastern provinces of the country. It is also spoken by a majority of the Pashtuns who migrated to Dari speaking regions of the country in central and north Afhanistan at the end of the 19th century and in the course of the 20th. Though a sizeable number of these migrants have adopted Dari as their language with the passage of time. According to CIA website Pashto is spoken by 34% op the population of today's Afghanistan.
Pashto too belongs to the Indo-Iranian sub-family of the Indo-European family of languages.
Uzbeki is the 3rd in the group. It is the native language of the Uzbeks living mainly in the provinves of Juzjan, Faryab and Sarepol in central north. It is spoken by them and also by smaller Uzbek communities in north-eastern Afghanistan. It belongs to the Turkik family of languages. According to governmental data, and some historians, about 8% of the population of Afghanistan speak this language. But since there has never been a population census in Afghanistan, these percentages are not very reliable. Uzbeki is the official language of Uzbekistan and is also spoken in parts of some other central Asian countries.