Pashto, Southern


A language of Afghanistan

Alternate Names
Kandahar Pashto, Qandahar Pashto, Southwestern Pashto
پښتو‎‎ (Pax̌tō)

6,000,000 in Afghanistan (2008). Total users in all countries: 10,878,800.


Badghis, Farah, Helmand, Herat, Kandahar, Nimroz, Uruzgan, and Zabul provinces.

Language Status

1 (National). Statutory national language (2004, Constitution, Article 16(1)).


Durani. Lexical similarity: 80% between northern and southern varieties of Pashto. A member of macrolanguage Pushto [pus].


SOV; noun head final; gender (masculine/feminine); no articles; case-marking (3 cases); verb affixes mark person, number, gender of subject; passives; tense and aspect; causatives.

Language Use

Afghan government has worked since 1930s to standardize and publicize it. All domains. Used by all. Positive attitudes. Some also use Dari [prs], especially those who are educated or have business in Dari-speaking provinces. A few also use Urdu [urd].

Language Development

Pashto is one of two national languages taught in schools. Low literacy rate, especially in non-urban locations and among women. Taught in primary and secondary schools. Literature. Newspapers. Periodicals. Radio. TV. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Texts. Bible portions: 2011.


Arabic script, Naskh variant [Arab], used in print. Arabic script, Nastaliq variant [Aran], used in handwriting and for book titles.

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