Digital Dictionaries of South Asia A Digital Pashto-English Dictionary with Audio
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Pashto-English dictionaries have been published since the mid-nineteenth century. Differences among dictionaries in script, transcriptions and the sequence of letters have reflected the development of Pashto script, the linguistic training and dialect familiarity of the compilers, and conventions of particular literary organizations. For the abbreviations, a description of the entries, the script and transcriptions used at this site, and a grammatical sketch, see the Front Matter tab of this site.

This dictionary is intended to be descriptive, not prescriptive; it utilizes a million-word Pashto textbase prepared in collaboration with the Pashto Academy (Peshawar) in the 1980s. This textbase in romanized digital format can be made available for research on request; if funding is available and permission is obtained, the texts will be available on a linked web site. A draft dictionary of about 12,000 words was also prepared but never fully edited or published; selections of material from that draft have been used for this Digital Pashto-English Dictionary project. I would like to thank the Pashto Academy (Peshawar), then under the direction of Prof. Muhammad Nawaz Tair, and the staff whom he gathered, for their help in building the textbase and the draft dictionary during the 1980s. Among these, special thanks go to Dr. Qabil Khan Afridi,[1] Dr. Gul Jan Wror Wardak,[2], and two ladies whose names, in accordance with conservative Pashto customs, will not be cited here. The textbase and early drafts were funded by the U.S. Department of Education (PO17A80076); a final three-volume report, which includes frequency lists, is available as ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 347 841 (1992).

The sound files initially prepared to accompany headwords and sentences of this Digital Dictionary were recorded with a Pakistani speaker of the Yusufzai dialect and of the Khattak dialect; if funding is available, this dictionary can be expanded to include sound files of speakers from other Pashto dialects in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. Most words with sound files are included in the list of basic Pashto words prepared by the Pashto Academy in Peshawar.[3]

The web dictionary was funded as a pilot project by the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning under a grant titled "Digital Dictionaries for Less Commonly Taught Languages of Pakistan" with Elena Bashir and James Nye as Project Co-directors. The Yusufzai sound recordings were made at the University of Pennsylvania's Multi-Media Laboratory. In 2005, the Pakistani Languages Department of Allama Iqbal Open University was extremely helpful in quickly finding a Khattak speaker and providing a sound-proof room and technical help with recording equipment.


1 His unpublished doctoral dissertation on Amir Hamza Shinwari provides excellent insights into modern Pashto literature,

2 author of "Pashto Teacher", who constantly reminded me that the Pashto of Afghanistan was not always the same as that of Pakistan.

3 Bunyadi Pushto Aw Da Kar Kisb Tiki. Pashto Academy, Peshawar University, Peshawar, 1977.

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