Introduction to Afghan Persian (Dari) Part 2 – Vocabulary and Expressions

Posted  06 Nov 2020

Having become acquainted with the phonology of Afghan Persian, it is time to learn some of the differences in vocabulary between it and Iranian Persian.

Again, learners must always keep in mind the complex linguistic backgrounds of Afghan Persian speakers. While the official register of Persian in Afghanistan differs little from that in Iran, a good number of daily words and expressions are not always the same, and the same words and expressions many not be used in the same way or with the same frequency. The vocabulary of an Afghan Persian speaker, like the phonology, depends on their ethno-linguistic background, regional identity, and migration history. A speaker from Mazar-i Sharif may use a different word from a speaker from Herat for the same concept/object while still maintaining mutual comprehension, as both words are within the parameters of Afghan Persian vocabulary as a whole. The ethnic majority of the country, the Pashtuns, may or may not have Pashto-influenced vocabulary when they speak Persian – and indeed, some Pashto words have been officialised in Afghan Persian as the standard terms, although many other ethnic groups may reject the use of these words. Another interesting phenomenon I have observed over the years is that many Afghans subconsciously use Urdu-isms in their speech, given the huge influence of Bollywood cinema and Hindustani/Indian music in Afghan pop culture, as well as a sizeable community of Afghan expats in Pakistan who have grown up being educated in Urdu. I am yet to meet an Afghan, from Afghanistan or the diaspora, who does not at least have a basic understanding of Urdu and Hindi. This cultural input from the subcontinent has had a significant impact on Afghan Persian vocabulary. Many educated Afghans, when speaking formally, adopt Iranianisms, as the Persian terms for many concepts belonging to the higher registers were coined in Iran. Therefore, this week’s post is by no means an exhaustive survey of Afghan Persian vocabulary, as such a task would require a whole thick volume if it is to cover all the nuances and varieties; rather, we will look at only a few salient features of Afghan Persian vocabulary and typical expressions.

 

  1. Afghan

I start this week’s post with the word افغان Afghān, not only because it stands at the core of the present topic, but also because it causes many controversies. The etymology of the word is obscure, and it is most certainly not connected with the homophonic word افغان afghān, meaning ‘cry, scream, wailing’. The renowned Iranologist Johnny Cheung has a good article on the etymology of the ethnonym Afghān (On the Origin of the Terms “Afghan” & “Pashtun” (Again), Cheung 2017, downloadable on academia.edu), and I will not delve into it here.

The first point I wish to make is that one should never use the term افغانی afghānī to call an Afghan person, despite the fact that such a designation is quite common among Iranians as well as English-speakers. Afghani is the official currency of Afghanistan; the ethnonym for the Afghan people, however, is Afghān. Many Afghans find the term ‘Afghani’ used as an ethnonym not only wrong, but offensive.

The second point is that people from Afghanistan have different understandings of the word ‘Afghan’. While many happily accept it as a valid ethnonym for themselves, many others see it as a term that refers exclusively to the Pashtuns. Indeed, there appears to be a strong link between the term Afghān and the Pashtuns (or at least the ancestors of the Pashtuns), and many non-Pashtuns in what is now Afghanistan have never identified themselves, or been identified by the Pashtuns, as Afghān. It is worth noting that the Tajiks of Afghanistan – the second biggest ethnic group of the country – have historically been referred to as فارسیوان Fārsīwān ‘Persian-speakers/Persianates’. The other ethnic groups have also been referred to by names other than Afghan. The term ‘Afghan’ as a demonym for any citizen of Afghanistan, regardless of ethnicity, then, represents a recent semantic shift. The acceptance of the self-designation ‘Afghan’ varies from individual to individual among non-Pashtuns; some may feel rather offended when they are called ‘Afghan’ and prefer the names of their own ethnic groups or the term ‘Afghanistani’. One should therefore be conscious of this fact and be sensible when using the word.

 

  1. گپ gap

For many, گپ gap is often the first Afghanism they notice when talking in Persian with Afghans. In Afghanistan, as well as among Central Asian Tajiks, ‘to speak, to talk’ is not حرف زدن harf zadan or صحبت کردن sohbat kardan, but گپ زدن gap zadan. Unlike حرف and صحبت, which are imported from Arabic, گپ is a native Persian word that originally means ‘chit-chat’. In Afghan as well as Tajik Persian, it is used to say ‘to speak (a language)’: فارسی گپ میزنم Fārsī gap mēzanom ‘I speak Persian’. گپ زدن also simply means ‘to talk’, although more formally, صحبت کردن or even the very Iranian (from an Afghan perspective)حرف زدن  can also be used, depending on the speaker’s background.

 

  1. Beautiful/ugly

Like in Tajik Persian, the Iranianism قشنگ qashang is not commonly used in speech or in writing. The most common word for ‘beautiful’ in Afghan Persian is مقبول maqbūl, which literally means ‘accepted’ in the original Arabic. The Persian word زیبا zēbā is also frequently used. The Iranian word خوشگل khoshgel is understood, but not used. خوشتیپ‘handsome’ is only used in Iran, as تیپ comes from the French type.

The colloquial word for ugly – perhaps my favourite word in Afghan Persian – is بدرنگ badrang, which literally means ‘bad-coloured’. More on this word can be found in this article on my personal blog: https://vajabaz.wordpress.com/2018/11/07/ بدرنگ-badrang/ .

 

  1. Very

In Afghan Persian, خیلی is rarely used in speech. Instead, بسیار bisyār is preferred. خیلی in Afghan Persian belongs to a rather formal register and is pronounced as khaylē rather than kheylī.

 

  1. To finish

Afghan Persian speakers tend not to say تمام کردن tamām kardan for ‘to finish, to complete’, but خلاص کردن khalās kardan. The passive form, logically, is خلاص شدن khalās shodan.

 

  1. Big/small

 As is the case with Tajik Persian, Afghan Persian has preserved the older Persian words کلان kalān ‘big’ and خرد khurd, when it comes to size and age. The word بزرگ bozorg is only used in the sense of ‘great’, such as دانشمند بزرگdāneshmand-e bozorg ‘a great scholar’; کوچک kū(ō)chi(a)k can also be used to refer to size, but is not as common as خرد. ‘A big house’ is therefore خانهٔ کلان khāna-e kalān, and ‘when I was little’ is وقتی مه خرد بودم waqtē ma khurd būdom.

 

  1. To look at

Another obvious difference between Afghan Persian and Iranian Persian is that Afghans almost never say نگاه کردن negāh kardan to mean ‘to look (at)’, although you may meet this word in writing. In speech, ‘to look at’ is سیل کردن sayl kardan. ‘Look!’, the imperative, therefore, is سیل کو sayl kō.

 

  1. To eat

In Afghan Persian, the word نان nān (never, ever pronounced as the Tehrani nūn, cf. last week’s post) means more than just ‘bread’. It can also designate ‘food, meal’ in general. Hence نان خوردی؟ nān khōrdī means ‘have you eaten?’, ای رستوران نانش خوب اس ī restūrān nānesh khūb as ‘the food of this restaurant is good’, etc.

 

  1. To know (a language)

The word بلد balad ‘possessing the knowledge of, able, knowing (how to)’ is not common in Afghan speech. ‘To know (how to do something)’ is not commonly بلد بودن balad būdan, but یاد داشتن yād dāshtan – the extended meaning of یاد yād ‘memory’ is ‘knowledge’ (cf. the common Persian phrase یاد گرفتن yād giriftan ‘to learn’ and یاد دادن yād dādan ‘to teach’). The Afghan word for the know-how fits in the semantic field of ‘to take yād’ and ‘to give yād’. Thus, ‘I know Persian’ is من فارسی یاد دارم man fārsī yād dārom and not the more Iranian من فارسی بلدم man fārsī baladam.

 

  1. To like

Like Iranians, Afghans also use دوست داشتن dōst dāshtan in the sense of ‘to like’ or ‘to love’. In speech, however, Afghan Persian prefers خوش داشتن khōsh dāshtan for ‘to like’. The phrase خوشِ (کسی) آمدن khōsh-e kasē āmadan ‘(something) to be pleasing to (someone)’ is used both in Afghan and Iranian Persian as ‘to like’.

 

  1. To know

Afghans prefer the verb فهمیدن fahmīdan for ‘to know’ over the more standard دانستن dānestan. In colloquial speech, as I mentioned last week, the h often drops and lengthens the a that precedes it, resulting in the pronunciation fāmīdan. Thus, ‘I know’ is میفهمم mēfāmom.

‘To tell someone something, to make someone know something’ is a compound verb with خبر khabar ‘news’. But rather than the more commonly Iranian خبر دادن khabar dādan (lit. ‘to give news’), Afghan Persian prefers the auxiliary verb کردن kardan. Thus, مره خبر کرده mara khabar ka(r)da is ‘he (has) told me’. The passive form خبر شدن khabar shudantherefore means ‘to be told, to be made aware’: خبر شدم که… khabar shudam ki… ‘They told me that…/I have been told that…’. A simple خبر استی? Khabar astī? asks the question ‘Do you know?/Are you aware?’

 

  1. Kind/sort

The words این جوری īn jūrī ‘like this, this kind of’, آن جوری ān jūrī ‘like that, that kind of’ and چه جوری che jūrī ‘how, like what, what kind of’ are not used in Afghan Persian. In short, the word جور jūr meaning ‘kind, sort’ does not appear in common Afghan usage. Instead, Afghan Persian uses the word قسم qisim to mean ‘kind’.

Another word for kind/sort is the Arabic loanword نوع naw’, which also exists in Iranian Persian. But as جوری does not exist in Afghan Persian, نوع is used by Afghans more than Iranians.

 

  1. Toilet and hospital

I will talk more about individual words in the miscellaneous section, but the names of two establishments in particular deserve special mention. ‘Toilet’ (‘bathroom’ in the US and Australia) is not دستشو dastshū (lit. ‘hand-wash’) in Afghan Persian, but تشناب tashnāb (of which the only etymology I can think of is تشنه tashna ‘thirsty’ + آب āb ‘water’). In Tajik Persian, the word is حاجتخانه hājatkhāna (lit. ‘necessity-house’).

‘Hospital’ in Afghan Persian is شفاخانه shefākhāna (lit. ‘cure-house’). I personally prefer it to the Iranian بیمارستانbīmārestān (lit. ‘sick-house’) – after all, a hospital is where you go to get cured instead of a place where the sick gather… and then what?

 

  1. Money

Afghans mostly use the word پیسه paysa instead of پول pūl for ‘money’.

 

  1. Name

The most commonly used word for ‘name’ is the native Persian نام nām instead of the Arabic اسم ism. ‘What’s your name’ is therefore نام شما چیست nām-e shomā chist instead of the more Iranian-sounding اسم شما چیه esm-e shomā chiye.

 

  1. Fruits and vegetables

A number of fruits and vegetables in Afghan Persian have different names to Iranian Persian:

Watermelon: Afg. تربوز tarbōz vs. Ir. هندوانه hendvāne. The word تربوز is also used in Tajik Persian, Uzbek, Uyghur (in the form of تاۋۇز tawuz), and Urdu, which suggests that it is more historical than the Iranian word.

Pear: Afg. ناک nāk vs. Ir. گلابی golābī. Although ناک also appears in Iranian Persian, common Iranian usage prefers the compound گلابی, which literally means ‘rose-watery’.

Potato: Afg. کچالو kachālū vs. Ir. سیب زمینی sīb zamīnī. Potatoes are not native to either Afghanistan or Iran, and the difference in terminology is understandable. The Afghan word appears to be a combination of کج kaj ‘slanted, crooked’ and آلو ālū ‘plum’, whilst the Iranian word is certainly a calque on the French pomme de terre ‘earth-apple’.

Tomato: Afg. بادنجان رومی bā(di)njān rūmī (lit. ‘Roman aubergine’) vs. Ir. گوجه فرنگی gūje farangī (lit. ‘Frankish plum’).

Cucumber: Afg. بادرنگ bādrang vs. Ir. خیار kheyār. Although both words come from Middle Persian, they seemed to mean different plants in the past: بادرنگ (pronounced in Tajik Persian as bādiring) originally designated a citrus-type fruit and خیار may have referred to cucumber itself, or a plant close to the cucumber.

Carrot: Afg. زردک zardak vs. Ir. هویج havīj, although  زردک  also seems to appear in Iranian Persian.

Spinach: Afg. سبزی sabzī vs. Ir. اسفناج esfanāj. The Iranian word is the origin of the English ‘spinach’ as well as its equivalent in many other European languages, whereas the Afghan word literally means ‘the green thing’. سبزی in Iran means green vegetables in general (cf. قرمه سبزی qorme sabzī, the famous Iranian dish).

 

  1. Kinship terms

Afghan Persian has a few kinship terms which do not occur in standard Iranian Persian. Paternal uncle is کاکا kākā rather than the Iranian عمو amū (which is from Arabic), and maternal uncle is ماما māmā rather than the Iranian دایی dāyī (from the native Iranian word ‘mother’). کاکا  and ماما seem to be shared by Kurdish in the forms of kāk and mām. The word for ‘elder brother’ is لالا lālā. The words عمه ama ‘paternal aunt’ (from Arabic) and خاله ‘maternal aunt’ (also from Arabic) are the same as in Iranian Persian.

The colloquial Afghan word for ‘family’, interestingly, is فامیل fāmīl, evidently from English. خانواده khānawāda, more commonly used in Iranian Persian, sounds rather formal in Afghan Persian.

 

  1. Tarof and other words and expressions of politeness

The Persian-speaking world is a world of تعارف (commonly transliterated as tarof) and ادب adab ‘good manners’. Although not over-the-top flowery as Iranian tarof-y expressions can sometimes be, Afghan Persian still has many such expressions, some of which are said slightly differently from their Iranian counterparts. Here are some of the basic formulae:

  • Jān/Sāheb/Janāb

Name + جان jān is commonplace in many Persianate cultures, but whereas Iranians tend mostly to call out someone’s name with جان if they know that person well, Afghans also call someone they do not know well جان after their name as a sign of respect. It is not uncommon to hear guests at interviews and formal gatherings addressed with their names plus جان, for example.

The word آقا āqā, ubiquitous in Iranian Persian when addressing a male person formally, although also used in Afghan Persian, is not as common as the formula name + صاحب sāheb (some people pronounce it as sāhab), which is also the Hindi/Urdu expression of formality. The use of آقا, however, seems to be gaining more ground in Afghanistan at the moment.

If you want to call a stranger ‘sir’ or ‘mister’, Iranians use آقا, but Afghans tend to use جناب janāb, which can sound a little too formal and outdated in Iranian Persian.

The words خانم khānom and بانو bānū, used to address a female person politely, are used in the same way in Afghan Persian as in Iranian Persian. In more traditional settings, however, a lady may also be referred to as بیبی bībī + name.

  • Thank you/You are welcome

Bear in mind that Afghans do not use the French word mersi, unlike Iranians. The expression ممنون mamnūn (lit. ‘obliged’) can be used, although not common and may be an Iranian import. The most common Afghan word for ‘thank you’ is تشکر tashakkor, which may sound formal to the Iranian ear. تشکر زیاد tashakkor-e ziyād is the Afghan Persian equivalent of the Iranian خیلی ممنون kheylī mamnūn ‘thank you very much’. The formal expression سپاسگزارم sepāsgozāramis not commonly heard in speech in either Iranian or Afghan Persian.

In reply to ‘thank you’, Afghans also point out that whatever their interlocutor is thanking them for is not worthy (قابلqābel) of it, but the Afghan expression is قابلش نیست qābelesh nēst whereas the Iranian one is قابلش ندارد qābelesh nadārad. خواهش میکنم khāhesh mīkonam (lit. ‘I plead’) is not a common phrase in Afghan Persian.

  • Humility

Like Iranians, Afghans also have expressions about sacrificing themselves for you, as a sign of polite humility. The most common one is قربانت\قربانتان شوم qorbānet/qorbānetān shawom ‘may I be sacrificed for your’. The Iranian on the other hand equivalent uses the auxiliary verb رفتن raftan ‘to go’ – قربانت\قربانتان برم qorbānet/qorbānetān beram. The Tehrani pronunciation of قربان as qorbūn does not occur in Afghan Persian.

I have heard other less common expressions, which may belong to the older generation, such as خاکستر دیگدانت شومkhākistar-e dēgdānet shawom ‘may I be the ash under your stove’ or even کورت شوم kōret shawom ‘may I be blind for you’. The truth is that Persian speakers from all parts of the Persian-speaking world are extremely creative when it comes to tarof expressions and you may not hear the same expressions used by two different individuals.

  • Bakhayr

Afghans use the Arabic expression بخیر bakhayr quite frequently. Aside the meaning of ‘well (in terms of health and condition)’ and ‘good’ in greetings such as صبح بخیر sob(h) bakhayr ‘good morning’ and شب بخیر shab (actually pronounced as شو shaw) bakhayr ‘good night’, it is also specifically used to describe a journey politely – for example, in the frequently used phrase کجا بخیر kujā bakhayr? ‘Where are you going/off to?’ – probably packing in the sense of ‘safe/blessed journey’.

  • Nām-e Khodā

My all-time favourite Afghan expression. نام خدا nām-e khodā, literally, ‘God’s name’, is used frequently in situations where ماشالله māshallāh could also be used.

  • The evil eye

To wish the evil eye away from someone, Afghans use most frequently use the expression نظر نشه nazar nasha (<نشودnashawad), whereas Iranians have a preference for چشم بد دور chashm-e bad dūr.

 

  1. Urdu words

As a result of Afghanistan’s historical political, cultural, and linguistic ties with Urdu-speaking areas of the Indian subcontinent as well as the immense influence of South Asian culture, especially Bollywood, in the country as well as in the Afghan diaspora around the world, many Urdu words have entered daily and even literary Afghan Persian usage. The majority of these Urdu words, however, are indeed of Perso-Arabic origin, but are either not used in the same way in Iran and Tajikistan or simply do not exist as such at all in more standard Persian.

Some Urdu/Indic words have become standard lexical items in Afghan Persian, such as چوکی chawkī ‘chair’ (Afghans do not say صندلی sandalī) and prefer کلکین kilkīn to پنجره panjara for ‘window’. The word کلکین kilkīn is interesting, as it appears to be of Iranian (language family, I mean, not the nation state of Iran) origin and is used dialectally in Iran, although I personally have not heard any Iranian use the word.

Urdu-isms which are not standard lexical items but may be used alongside their more standard Persian equivalents, especially in everyday speech, include, for example, the word امیر amīr used in the sense of ‘rich’, غریب gharīb in the sense of ‘poor’ (I have always found the Dari/Urdu use of these two words poetic, as they evidently come from the Sufi metaphorical dualism between the king and the beggar – the top and the bottom of society), پریشان parēshān ‘worried, upset’ (a literary word in Persian that Urdu speakers use in daily communication), غصه ‘anger’ (which means ‘sorrow, grief’ in Persian), دلچسب dilchasb ‘interesting’ (an Urdu-ism of Persian origin but not used in more standard Persian, literally meaning ‘heart-sticking’), لسان lisān ‘language’ (from Arabic, but used more in Urdu than in Persian, although the native Persian زبان zubān is equally used, of course), ذمه‌داری zemadārī ‘responsibility’ (which exists in Persian, too, but is confined to a specific literary register, whereas it is the standard word for ‘responsibility’ in Urdu), مگر magar in the sense of ‘but, however’ (which is an extension of the more classical meaning ‘except’, but in Urdu it is mainly ‘but’), etc. Some Afghan Persian speakers, especially those who have grown up and been schooled in Pakistan, may even use some non-Perso-Arabic words in Urdu which their other compatriots would not use – I have heard the word سمندر samandar ‘sea, ocean’ instead of دریا daryā used by Afghan Persian speakers as well as the word میله mēla ‘picnic, informal gathering, fair’.

This said, the use of Urdu-isms largely depends on a speaker’s background, and their more common Persian equivalents are well alive in Afghanistan.

 

  1. Pashto words

 Historically, the Pashto language has had little influence on Persian spoken in what is now Afghanistan. The Pashto influence may be felt in the pronunciation of Afghan Persian, but almost never in the language itself, especially the written language. Pashtun nationalism since the establishment of the modern Afghan state, however, has introduced a few Pashto words into the standardised Persian used there. The best-known example is the word پوهنتون pōhantūn, ‘university’, which is preferred over the ‘more Iranian’ دانشگاه dāneshgāh, on an official level. In speech, however, many Afghans do understand and actively use the word دانشگاه. Another example is the word الوسوالی uluswālī, which designates an administrative division equivalent to the Iranian شهرستان shahrestān and is commonly translated as ‘district’; although etymologically not a Pashto word (ulus ‘people, nation’ comes from Mongolian and wālī ‘governor’ comes from Arabic), it did come into Afghan Persian via Pashto.

On an unofficial level, Pashto speakers who do not speak Persian well may indeed use Pashto words spontaneously when they speak Persian, but such cases are not ‘officialised’ Pashto lexical items in Afghan Persian.

 

  1. English words

 Among the many linguistic factors that divide the three modern varieties of the Persian language, western loanwords for modern objects and concepts constitute perhaps the most significant one. Iranian Persian has imported words mainly from French, Afghan Persian mostly from English, and Tajik Persian exclusively from Russian. Although many of these western words are shared among their source languages, many others are not, and with the distortion of local pronunciations, they are not always immediately comprehensible to speakers of another variety of Persian.

A few common modern terms in Afghanistan are borrowed from English, whereas their Iranian equivalents would be from French. The word for ‘car’ in Afghanistan is موتر mōtar, from the English ‘motor’ (vs. the Iranian ماشین māshīn, from the French machine), ‘lift’ (‘elevator’ in US English) is لیفت (vs. Iranian آسانسور āsānsōr, from the French ascenseur) ‘fashion’ is فشن (vs. the Iranian مد mod, from the French mode), etc. Sometimes, the Iranian word would be a neologism from Persian lexical sources, whereas the Afghan one comes from the English, such as the word for ‘bicycle’ – دوچرخهdōcharkhe in Iran, and بایسکل bāyskal in Afghanistan. The truth is, apart from a few fixed lexical items such as the ones listed above, Anglicisms tend to be spontaneous in colloquial Afghan speech, i.e. speakers, depending on their backgrounds, may use an English word in conversation where a Persian equivalent exists in a more formal context; many of these ‘pure Persian’ equivalents of modern concepts have been imported from Iran. The influence of the Indian subcontinent is also significant here: English words and even phrases and sentences are freely used in informal and formal Urdu and Hindi, and many Afghans who have extensive exposure to the subcontinental English-speaking culture may share the same linguistic behaviour.

 

  1. Miscellaneous

What I have mentioned above only includes the most striking lexical differences that learners of Persian should bear in mind when communicating with Afghan Persian speakers. A few other lexical items that are hard to categorise are also worth mentioning:

اشتک ushtuk: is the Afghan word for ‘(small) child’. As far as I am aware, it is not used in Iranian or Tajik Persian, nor is it of Pashto origin. I have heard that one of the Pamiri languages has a word similar to it that also means ‘child’, though. Another word that Afghans use for a small/young child is the Arabic طفل, pronounced as tu(i)fi(e)l. اولاد awlād can also be used to mean ‘child’ in Afghan Persian. And of course, the universal Persian word بچه bacha is also wildly used.

پس آمدن pas āmadan: is used more in colloquial speech to mean ‘to return’, instead of the more formal-sounding برگشتنbargashtan.

پنجه panja: is the Afghan Persian word for ‘fork’, which is also used by some Tajiks.

تیار tayyār: Afghans and Tajiks both use تیار to mean ‘ready’, whereas Iranians use حاضر hāzer.

جور jōr: ‘in order, in good state’, used in many situations: جور استی? Jōr astī? ‘Are you well?’, جور باشی Jōr bāshī ‘Stay well’, جور کردن ‘to make ready, to repair’, etc.

چکر chakar: is a wonderful word with the general meaning of ‘going out and about, having a walk/stroll, have fun outside’.

چتل chatal: ‘dirty’. This word only exists in Afghan Persian (as far as I am aware) and enjoys more common usage than کثیف kasīf which is used by Iranians.

چرسی charsī: is the Afghan colloquial equivalent of the Iranian معتاد mo‘tād ‘addict(ed)’, where چرس chars refers to what Iranians would generally call علف alaf or مواد mavād.

خیر است khayr ast: is another pet favourite of mine among Afghan expressions. It an informal expression that can be used to cut a long dialogue or monologue short (when it is ending but drags on), or as the equivalent to the English ‘it’s alright/that’s ok/don’t worry’ when someone apologises for doing something that slightly wrong to you.

صباح sabā(h): rather than فردا fardā, is the common word for ‘tomorrow’ in Afghan Persian.

طیاره tay(y)āra: rather than هواپیما havāpeymā, is the common Afghan Persian word for ‘airplane’. It is the same word in Arabic. ‘Airport’ is میدان هوایی maydān-e hawāyī (lit. ‘air square’) instead of فرودگاه forūdgāh (lit. ‘descent-place’), which is used in Iranian and Tajik Persian.

غلط ghalat: is the common word for ‘mistake(nly), wrong’, rather than the more Iranian اشتباه eshtebāh.

محفل mahfel: is the word for ‘party’ in Afghan Persian. The Iranian مهمانی mehmānī is not used. محفل in Iranian Persian, however, means ‘(social, academic, political, etc) circle’. The Afghan meaning is closer to the Arabic root, cf. Arabic حفلةhafla ‘fest’.

مذاق mazāq: is the Afghan word for ‘joke’, instead of شوخی shūkhī.

مست mast/نشه nasha: in colloquial Afghan Persian, مست denotes an exciting ambiance, or a flamboyant, energetic person (بسیار مست نفر است! Bisyār mast nafar ast!), or very ‘dance-y’, fast music. This meaning of مست is also in Urdu and Hindi. It is not the preferred word for ‘drunk’. Most Afghans in Afghanistan, in fact, do not consume alcohol. The word for ‘drunk’ or better, ‘intoxicated’ (from alcohol or from other substances), is نشه nasha, which is also the name for weed (drug).

مانده mānda: means tired in Afghan Persian, as it does in Classical Persian, where خسته khasta means ‘wounded’. The Afghan مانده نباشی mānda nabāshī is therefore the equivalent of the Iranian خسته نباشی khaste nabāshī.

واز wāz/بند band: ‘open/close’. The verbs are واز کردن wāz kardan ‘to open’ and بند کردن band kardan ‘to close’. واز and بازare two variants of the same word and they are interchangeable already in the classical period, but Afghans prefer واز. In colloquial Afghan Persian, بستن bastan is not the common word for ‘to close’, and the compound verb بند کردن is preferred. Similarly, when Afghans say something is closed, the adjective is بند rather than بسته.

 

خیر است, this has been quite enough for this week. Next week I will continue with some grammatical peculiarities of Afghan Persian.

Iskandar Ding

 

[featured image: Mountains of Kabul — https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mountains_of_Kabul_(square).jpg]