Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Pashto and Dari are the two official languages of Afghanistan . Both languages are of interest from a language point of view. Dari, is considered to be the same as Farsi or Persian. Pashto is interesting for a different reason. Pashto is according to the ISO-639-3 a macro language. This means that there are three languages that all fit in under the banner of Pashto. They are Central, Northern and Southern Pashto. According to Ethnologue Southern Pashto is the Afghan National language.

In BetaWiki we try to offer the best possible user interface and consequently, when people say that they speak Pashto, we need to know what is meant by that. When it is indicated that they speak Pashto, meaning the official language of Afghanistan, we assume they write Southern Pashto. The feedback that we got that there are several dialects but that there is only one form of written Pashto.

The Ethnologue information on Northern Pashto says something different. It indicates that there is a rich literary tradition in this language. Consequently, we cannot say that written Pashto is all encompassing and this makes the use of the ps code for Pashto problematic. On the other hand the people who tell us that they speak Pashto do not appreciate that there language is split by people from the west.

What to do? The best what we can do is ask some people that are in the know. In the mean time we are happy that in BetaWiki the localisation for Pashto is improved. But we do need to know how to deal with this.
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