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Pashto, an Eastern Iranian language, is one of the national languages of Afghanistan, and a regional language in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. The implications of this are that the language is more developed in education and a literary tradition in Afghanistan, while it is only a spoken language in Pakistan. Vocabulary in Afghan Pashto draws on the Persian language, while vocabulary in Pakistani Pashto draws on Urdu. Pashto in the tribal and border areas tends to be the least affected by these other languages. The different Pashtos not only draw on different sources for vocabulary, but use different degrees of grammatical structures, varying from simple to complex. With almost 17 million speakers spread out over Afghanistan, Pakistan, and a few in Iran, the major Pashto speaking cities are Qandahar, Jalal Abad, Kabul, Peshawar and Quetta.

Pashto has a literary tradition of classical poetry, historical texts, and especially 20th century short stories. But perhaps its greatest literary wealth lies in its popular culture, available in written, oral and limited video formats.

Instruction at the University of Pennsylvania combines a fluent non-native speaker for presenting the language complexities and understanding texts, with a native speaker for expanding varieties of spoken genres geared to different contexts.

Students are encouraged to take a proficiency exam at the end of their second year.

SAST-430 Beginning Pashto

Also cross-listed as AMES-017/517
MW- 4.00pm-6.00pm
Willliams 305 

We open by placing Pashto within the realm of Indo-Iranian languages.

The first semester is focused on mastering the writing system, basic structures, and simple conversation using texts, writing samples, and numerous structure and dialogue drills.We remain within the present and future tenses only, developing vocabulary with lessons and discussions centered around greetings, family, weather, foods, and directions. Students use the Manual, along with the cassettes.

The second semester, we cover more advanced structures with reinforcing drills, and begin reading longer texts of an assorted variety, mostly short stories and some news articles.The past tense is introduced, as well as longer more complex texts.

We memorize dialogues and begin conversing within simple simulated contexts (taxi, hotel, restaurant, food shopping, time, family). We use the memorized portion as a base from which to grow on.Short writing exercises and dictations are expected at this time, as well as simultaneous translations to and from Pashto.

We also continue to train the ear with the Manual and Tapes.

Grades at the Beginning level are based on regular tests every three weeks, totaling 5 per semester.Grades are also based on assignments and class preparation.

Online Resource

sas Online Resources for Pashto