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An Analysis of the Conflict of Pashto and Dari Languages of Afghanistan

Dr. Muhammad Ali,

University of Peshawar, Pakistan

Afghanistan is a multi-cultural and multi-lingual country. According to world languages database (Ethnologue) there are forty one languages in Afghanistan. In article sixteen of the constitution of Afghanistan, Pashto and Dari have been declared as official languages of Afghanistan. Before the declaration of Pashto as official language, Persian was official language of Afghanistan. Persian was not considered a language of a particular ethnic group rather it was considered a language of culture and esteem. Even the Pashtun aristocracy considered Persian as a language of culture. For the first time Zahir Shah declared Pashto as official language with Persian in 1936. Later on it was confirmed in the constitution of 1964. For the first time officially, the word ‘Dari’ was used for the Persian language (dialect) of Afghanistan in the constitution of 1964. Although Pashto and Dari both are official languages of Afghanistan but they are unequal partners in many regards. Firstly, Pashto is a language of the identity of a particular ethnic group i.e. Pashtuns but Dari is not the language of a particular ethnic group but many ethnic groups speak Dari as their first language. Secondly, Speakers of Pashto as their first language have a better command on Dari as their second language while those who speak Dari as their first language don’t have full command on Pashto language. Thirdly, both of the languages are different with regard to their degree of standardization. Dari has a highly standardized and sophisticated official style while Pashto is still lacking a unified orthography. Fourthly, Speaking Dari in rural areas is considered as a symbol of modernity but Pashto doesn’t have such an attribute. Fifthly, Pashto has only lexical influence on Dari while Dari has influenced Pashto not only lexically but also phonologically. Last but not the least both of the languages have unequal partners that are out of Afghanistan. On the one side Dari has a partner like Iran, where Persian is an official language which has influenced and is influencing Dari to its maximum level. On the other side Pashto is a regional language in Pakistan but it has no official status. All these mentioned and other factors show an ethnic and linguistic consciousness in Afghanistan. This article particularly discovers the implications and prospects of the conflict of Pashto and Dari languages of Afghanistan. This article will also describe status, planning and policies regarding Dari and Pashto languages in Afghanistan.

The above abstract is a part of the article which was accepted at The Third International Conference on Current Issues of Languages, Dialects and Linguistics (WWW.LLLD.IR), 31 January-1February 2019 , Iran-Ahwaz.