Some Words for Use in Pashto Linguistics


Abdul Hai Habibi


Certain words are utilized in primary languages which are in use before scientific development of the language takes place. These words are used inadvertently on different occasions but when a language develops and becomes refined scholars use these words to mean certain specific things hence such raw words are given a reformed meaning. After development and usage people get used to the meaning of the words and apply them to convey their thoughts and the use of these words becomes a necessity as they fulfill the need of people to express themselves.

For example from ancient times the accessary particle (نون noon) was used as an adverb but people were not familiar with it. When we started using such particles in names some people refused to accept them and criticized their usage. Later it was used in words such as پوهنتون pohantoon (university), روزنتون rozantoon (hospital), and درملتون darmaltoon (pharmacy) and in other names of places. We now see people use them with frequency and they are treated as familiar words.

We are in need of a large number of phrases for Pashto linguistics and grammar and instead of using phonemes, morphemes, syllable, kalema (word), kalam (speech) we need to provide Pashto equivalents of these words, which after use will become assimilated in the language and will be understood and people will get used to their usage.

For a long time we have been using the Pashto گړ garr instead of syllable and for sound we use the word ږغ zhag and we consider ږغپوهنه zhagpohana the science of understanding of sound.

There are three other such words which linguists can use to express grammatical needs. I present them with literary sources:

From the root of (wayal ويل) a word has existed from old times which we do not use now. It is possible we can use it in grammatical and linguistic context and make good use of it. Khushal Khan Khattak has used ويى waye repeatedly in his poetry and it looks as though this word was used by the Khattak tribe. For example he says:

      چه به بل تر تا را تير کړم

      دا ويى له زړه وباسه  

I will not leave you for another

Take this word away from your thoughts.


         يو ويى د دلاسا راته پرې نږدي

       ځان که هر څو خپل مين ته مرور کرم

Not a single soothing word she utters

No matter how much vexed I may be from my love.

دا ويى زما د راز دئ

دا منزل دور و دراز دئ

This is the word of my secret

This journey is long and arduous.

چي په نيم ويى يې کار کېږي د خلک

د خلاصۍ مي همېشه کاندي جدال

If you can get the work done with half a word

I shall be set free from a debate forever.


From these historical examples it seems that waye was used to mean a word in old times and it will be useful if we start using it in grammar and linguistics to mean a word.

A second word from this root is ووى wawaye. This word is also used repeatedly by Khushal Khan and it looks it was used in speech too. He says:

دا ووى مي خوښ دي چه چا ويلي دئ

ډېر مي په زړه باندي ښۀ لگيدلي دئ

I liked what was said by someone

It felt soothing to my heart.


In a quatrain he says:

دا آسمان نه دئ يو خوني پړانگ دئ

راته غړمبېږي تلتل په بانگ دئ

خوله يې سره کړې د دارا په وينو

شفق ته گوره دا ووي په ټانگ دئ

The sky is like a vicious leopard

It roars at me with great delight.

It has drunk the blood of the sovereign

Uttering words at the right moment.


      In another place he says:

دا ووى رشتيا دئ عاشقان نه مري

مجنون ژوندي دئ که ته يې وينې؟

These words are certainly true that lovers do not die

Majnun (afflicted) is alive if you can see that.


In another poem he writes:

شيطان هر گوره ښايسته روغ دئ

چه يې بد رنگ بولې دا ووي دروغ دئ

See the devil is pretty and well

These words are not true if you call him ugly.

From these historical examples we see that in the language of past people wawaye meant a sentence and in today’s grammar it can be used to mean the same.

Another word from the same root is  وينا weyna which is used in common language to mean a speech. Now we can use these linguistic phrases as such:

We can use the first short sound to mean a phoneme, a sum of sounds a (garr گړ) syllable, the sum of a number of sounds a morpheme or word, and the sum of a number of words a wawaye or sentence and the sum of sentences a speech.

When a person speaks first he utters a sound and then forms a syllable from a number of sounds and then utters words putting together a number of syllables, then words from the syllables followed by sentences and a speech.

I consider the use of the Pashto ږغ، گړ، ويى، وويي، وينا  instead of European and Arabic phrases in our grammar and linguistic more appropriate and I recommend their usage in the language. In case someone else comes up with more appropriate terms, based on linguistic and scientific reasoning, and they are found to be more appropriate terms we should accept them. This is because in such instances the initiative and thinking of a number of individuals and society is more beneficial than the work of an individual.