Languages of Afghanistan

Languages of Afghanistan
OfficialDari Persian, Pashto
RegionalUzbek, Turkmen, Balochi, Pashayi, Hazaragi, Nuristani
MinorityArabic, Urdu, English, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Sindhi
SignedAfghan Sign Language

Afghanistan is a multilingual country in which two languages – Pashto and Dari – are both official and most widely spoken.[1]

Dari is the official name of the variety of Persian language spoken in Afghanistan. It is often referred to as the Afghan Persian.[2][3] Although still widely known as Farsi (Persian: فارسی; "Persian") to its native speakers, the name was officially changed to Dari in 1964 by the Afghan government.[4] Dari has been the preferred language of government for centuries, despite the domination of politics by Pashtuns, whose native language is Pashto.[5]

According to CIA World Factbook, Dari Persian is spoken by 78% (L1 + L2) and functions as the lingua franca, while Pashto is spoken by 35%, Uzbek 10%, English 5%, Turkmen 2%, Urdu 2%, Pashayi 1%, Nuristani 1%, Arabic 1%, and Balochi 1% (2021 est). Data represent the most widely spoken languages; shares sum to more than 100% because there is much bilingualism in the country and because respondents were allowed to select more than one language. The Turkic languages Uzbek and Turkmen, as well as Balochi, Pashayi, Nuristani, and Pamiri are the third official languages in areas where the majority speaks them.[6]

Both Persian and Pashto are Indo-European languages from the Iranian languages sub-family. Other regional languages, such as Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi, Pashayi and Nuristani, are spoken by minority groups across the country.

Minor languages include: Ashkunu, Kamkata-viri, Vasi-vari, Tregami and Kalasha-ala, Pamiri (Shughni, Munji, Ishkashimi and Wakhi), Brahui, Arabic, Qizilbash, Aimaq, and Pashai and Kyrgyz, and Punjabi.[7] Linguist Harald Haarmann believes that Afghanistan is home to more than 40 minor languages,[8] with around 200 different dialects.

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference AO was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: prs". 18 January 2010. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  3. ^ "The World Factbook: Afghanistan". Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  4. ^ R. Farhadi and J. R. Perry, Kaboli, Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition, originally in Vol. XV, Fasc. 3, pp. 276–280, 2009.
  5. ^ "Uncommon tongue: Pakistan's confusing move to Urdu". BBC News. 11 September 2015.
  6. ^ The World Factbook
  7. ^ Wahab, Shaista; Youngerman, Barry (2007). A Brief History of Afghanistan. Infobase Publishing. p. 18. ISBN 9781438108193. Afghan Hindus and Sikhs speak Hindi or Punjabi in addition to Pashto and Dari.
  8. ^ Harald Haarmann: Sprachen-Almanach – Zahlen und Fakten zu allen Sprachen der Welt. Campus-Verl., Frankfurt/Main 2002, ISBN 3-593-36572-3, S.273–274; Afghanistan

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