Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Context and Culture

Talking Pashto 2: 40 countries, two options

Thomas Ruttig < 1 min

We continue our series of mini Pashto lessons, not with a poem or a proverb this time, but with a short and striking sentence I heard from a campaigner for one of the woman candidates in Paktia yesterday.

‘Da de tsalwexht pe sha-o-khwa hewaduna dwa lare lari:
De edari fasad per zed mubareza – ya taxhtedel.’(*)

(Those 40 something countries(**) have two options:
Fight against administrative corruption(***) – or leave (****).

(*) I use ‘xh’ here for the distinct Pashto (actually Paxhto) consonant that is somewhere between ‘sh’ (shower) and ‘kh’ (the German ach-Laut, close to the German ich-Laut). Please call any Pashtun you know and he can demonstrate it for you over the phone. But don’t take a Kandahari (they pronounce it ‘sh’, Pashto) or Nangrahari (they turn it into ‘kh’, Pakhto, the Pakhtuns etc.) Some even use ‘xh’ as a non-disruptive interjection in conversation to show that they listen. In this case, ‘xh’ is short for ‘xhe’ (‘good’ or ‘okay’).

(**) He refers to the countries contributing troops to ISAF.

(***) Note: He does not talk about corruption in general, much different from many of us (see: New York Times 14 September, ‘U.S. Debates Karzai’s Place in Fighting Corruption’)

(****) The verb ‘taxhtedel’ also can mean ‘to run away’, ‘to flee’.