CALL title banner
Handbook 10-10
Nov 2009

Chapter 5

Languages

"You need to teach Pashtu to units going to Pastun areas."

-First lieutenant, police mentor team S3/S4

While English is the official language established by the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the International Security Assistance Force to be the common language for those working to assist the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IROA), it is not the common language of Afghans. Dari is the official IROA language, but Pashtu is the language of the Pashtuns, the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. However, while many Afghans may not know, understand, or speak English, many do know English numbers.

Major Ethnic Groups

Afghanistan consists of unique and diverse tribes as shown on the following map:

Graphic showing Tribal regions in Afghanistan
Figure 5-1. Tribal regions in Afghanistan1

The map does not show the complexity of the tribal dispersion through Afghanistan. Within each of the geographic areas are enclaves of almost every tribe. Notice how much of the country is Pashtun and how that ethnicity covers western Pakistan.

Note: The boundary marking the border between Afghanistan and northwest India, which is now Pakistan, was established by the British in 1893 to ensure the Khyber Pass, the Khojak Pass, and the important cities of Peshawar and Quetta were on the India side of the border between Afghanistan and India. This border divided the Pashtun people who are Afghanistan's dominant ethnic group and the world's largest remaining tribal-based society.2

Pashtuns consider themselves true Afghans, and it is in their areas of Afghanistan that are the most unsecure areas and in which agriculture development teams (ADTs) are currently working. Having a translator who speaks Pashtu is beneficial when dealing with farmers and others in the agribusiness community. However, the majority of Afghans do understand Dari.

While Pashtu is the primary language in the ADT area of operations, ADT Soldiers unfortunately received Dari language training and not Pashtu. If possible, find a program that teaches Pashtu. Keep in mind there are some commonalities in Dari and Pashtu.

The following table shows the English to Dari and Pashtu translations of some common phrases:

English

Dari

Pashtu

Hello

Sa-laam

Salaam-alay-kum

Goodbye

Baa-maa-ne khu-daa

Khu-die-pa-amaan

Thank you

Ta-shak-kur

Mo-te-shak-ker-am

Yes/No/Ok

Ba-ley/ney/Du-rust

Ba-le/nah/sa-hee

Please

Lut-fan

Meh-ra-baa-ne

Excuse me/I'm sorry

Bu-bakh-sheyn

Wo-bakha

My name is

Na-me ma… as

Z-maa noom

What is your name?

Naa-met chees?

Staa num tsa de?

How are you?

Che-tor has-tee?

Tsenga-ye?

I am fine, thanks, and you?

Khoob has-tum, ta-shak-kur, too che-tor has-tee?

Za-xa-yum, ma-na-na, te-tsenga-ye?

Do you speak English?

Eng-lee-see yaad-daa-ree?

Ta lng-li-si sha-ba-ri ka-wo-lie she?

Good/bad

Khoob/bad

Xa/bad

Left/right

Chap/du-rust or raast

Chap/raast-ta

North/South/East/West

Sha-maal/ju-noob/sharq/gharb

Sha-maal/ju-nub/sharq/gharb

Help me

Ku-ma-kem ko

Help!

Ma-ras-ta

Do you need help?

Too ba ku-mak za-roo-rat daa-ree?

Maa sara marasta wuka

We are Americans

Maa am-ree-kaa-yee has-teym

Mung-Amrikaa-yan-yu

Stop/come here

Es-taad sho/een-ja be-yaa

Wo-d'a-ri-ga/del-ta raa-sha

Stay where you are

Da jaa-yet baash

Pa dzai de wo-da-ri-ga

Put your weapon down

Sa-laa-he-ta ba za-meen baan

Topak de-par-mi-dzaka ki-xiz-de

Lie on your stomach

Roo-ye she-kam da-raaz be-kash

Par makh pre-wo-za

Do not move

Sor na-kho

Har-kat ma-ka-wa


Figure Table 5

Additional words that could be useful to learn in both Dari and Pashtu include the following:

  • Agriculture products: Rice, wheat, barley, alfalfa, vegetables, eggs, and pomegranates.
  • Measurements: Bushel, kilogram, liter, feet, acre, inch, jerib, hectare, centimeter, and meter.
  • Animals: Donkey, chicken, camel, cows, sheep, and cashmere.

Endnotes

1. Image taken from Web site "www.hopeforafghanistan.com".

2. Stephen Tanner, "Indomitable Afghanistan," Military History Magazine, August/September 2009.



 

Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012

 
          |   Privacy and Security Notice   |     |   Accessibility Help   |   External Link Disclaimer   |   No Fear Act   |
 
|   U.S. Army   |   Tradoc   TRADOC   |   iSALUTE   | Ft. Leavenworth   |   Site Map   |   FOIA   |   USA.GOV   |   This is an official U.S. Army Site   |