Hazaragi dialect

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Native toAfghanistan,[1] also spoken and understood by many in the Hazara diaspora in Pakistan, Iran, Europe, North America, and Oceania
Native speakers
(2.2 million cited 1993–2000)[2]
Arabic script, Latin alphabet[3][4]
Language codes
ISO 639-3haz

Hazaragi (Persian: هزارگی‎, Hazaragi: آزرگی‎, Azaragi) is an eastern variety of Persian[6][7] that is spoken by the Hazara people, primarily in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, as well as other Hazara-populated areas of their native living ground of Afghanistan. It is also spoken by the Hazaras of Pakistan and Iran and also by Hazara diaspora living elsewhere. It is mutually intelligible with Dari,[8] one of the two official languages of Afghanistan.[9]


Hazaragi is (ultimately) an eastern variety of Persian (Dari) that has been classified as both a separate language and as a dialect of Persian, with significant borrowings from Mongolic and Turkic.[10][11] It is a member of the Iranian branch of the Indo-European family, and is closely related to Dari, another eastern variety of Persian and one of the two main languages in Afghanistan. The primary differences between Dari and Hazaragi are the accents[9] and Hazaragi's greater array of Mongolic and Turkic loanwords.[12] Despite these differences, they are mutually intelligible.[8]

In Daykundi Province, Hazaragi has a significant admixture of Altaic influence in the language via Karluk.

Geographic distribution and diaspora[edit]

Academic estimates of the Hazaragi-speaking population range from 1.8[12] to over 2.2 million[2] speakers. Hazaragi is spoken by the Hazara people, who mainly live in Afghanistan (predominantly in the Hazarajat region, as well as in major urban areas), with a significant population in Pakistan (particularly Quetta) and Iran (particularly Mashhad),[13] and by Hazara diaspora in eastern Uzbekistan, northern Tajikistan, the Americas, Europe, and Australia.[14]

In recent years, a substantial population of Hazara refugees have settled in Australia, prompting the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to move towards an official recognition of the Hazaragi language. Currently, NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters) holds interpreting tests for Hazaragi as a distinct language, noting in test materials that Hazaragi varies by dialect, and that any dialect of Hazaragi may be used in interpreter testing as long as it would be understood by the average speaker. The test materials also note that Hazaragi in some locations has been significantly influenced by surrounding languages, and that the use of non-Hazaragi words assimilated from neighboring languages would be penalized in testing.[15]


The history of the language of the Hazara people has been an issue of some debate. While some scholars believe that the Hazara originally spoke a Mongolic language, some well-established scholars like Bacon[16] and Schumann[17] believe that the original language of the Hazaras was Dari from the beginning.

During the time of king Babur, who came to Afghanistan in the 16th century, the Hazaras spoke the Mongolic language of their ancestors. A distinct Hazara Persian dialect began to emerge amongst the people of the Hazarajat in the late 18th century. It is not certain when Mongolic died out as a living language in the Hazarajat. According to G. K. Dulling,[18] "they ceased to be Mongolic speakers by the end of eighteenth century at the latest, and were then speaking Tajik of a sort".[19]

Persian and Islam[edit]

One of the reasons behind the demise of Mongolic was the religion of Islam. The Persian language became so much part of the religion of Islam that it almost went wherever Islam took roots.[citation needed] Persian entered, in this way, into the very faith and thought of the people embracing Islam throughout South Asia.[20]

Timur, though committed many depredations,[clarification needed] was brought up according to the Iranian culture and patronized the learned to such an extent that Samarkand and Herat became seats of Iranian learning.[21]

Similarly, the Ilkhanate Mongol (one main tribe of the ancestors of the Hazara[citation needed]) rulers became so involved with Persian that after Iskan Khan,[clarification needed] when the Mongols went to the mountains of present Hazarajat, they took the Persian language and Shia Islam with them.[22]

There are some Mongolic-speaking Mongols, mainly in Karez and Kundur between Maymana and Herat (northwestern and western Afghanistan), who still speak the Mongolic language that Hazaras do not understand.[when?][23]

Mongolic and Turkic influence[edit]

Over time, the Mongolic and Turkic languages has died out in Afghanistan as a living language amongst the Hazara people. However, Hazaragi contains a considerable number of Mongolic and Turkic words.[20][24] The very first known language of the Hazara people, inherited from the Mongols, is being supplanted by the ambiance[clarification needed] the speakers are living in.[original research?] In Afghanistan, the Hazara are adding more and more Dari to their language, whereas in Pakistan, they are receiving more Urdu and English words.

According to Dulling, "Grammatically the Mongolian was probably fairly pure, it contained a certain amount of original language, Persian and its substratum. It would seem, too, that because the long period that separated the initial and final Mongol settlements, the Mongolic language itself was not homogeneous, containing as it did not only Middle Mongol but also modern Mongol elements."[25]

The existence of Mongolic and Turkic languages is discussed in Hayat Mohammad Khan's Hayate Afghan:

It seems difficult to classify the language spoken by them as it is an amalgam of various dialects. From the Persian spoken by them it cannot be ascertained definitely as to what qaum [race, people] they belong to. Their language resembles to that of Zabulis. Baber in his memoirs has sometimes written that they are Mongols and Mongolian words are in their language; and at another place he (Baber) calls them Hazara Turkomans, Turkish words are also found in their language. If they are Turks, why is there such a profusion of Mongolian in their language? Considering that their neighbor in the north are Turks of Turkestan and in the south, there are Pashto dialects. It is strange that the people in between have a Persian language of their own.[26]

Khan concludes that, because of their connection in the government in Zabul, their language underwent a change into a dialect of Persian spoken by the Zabulis, and their own Mongolian ceased to exist over time.

Grammatical structure[edit]

The grammatical structure of Hazaragi[27][28][29] is practically identical with that of Kabuli Persian.[30][31] The most striking feature of this dialect is its lexicon that includes many notable items of uncertain origin. G. K. Dulling[32] considers "the present dialect" to consist of three strata:

  1. pre-Mongol Persian, with its own substratum;
  2. Mongolic language;
  3. and modern Tajik, which preserves in it elements of (1) and (2).

He is probably right when he asserts so,[33] and that "[a]lthough these dialects are essentially forms of modern Tajik [more properly, Dari]; they are nevertheless lexically distinctive enough to merit their local special name of 'Hazaragi'".[34]

Examples of the vocabulary include:

  • Mongolic: Modern Mongolian ber, Hazaragi beri ("bride"). Modern Mongolian alga, Hazaragi alagha ("palm (of hand)"). Modern Mongolian hulgai, Hazaragi qulaghay ("thief").
  • Turkic: ata ("father"); kaṭa ("big, large"); qara ("black"); bai ("rich"); beg ("wealthy and great"); bola ("cousin"); taka ("male goat"); qash ("eyebrow"); kirpak ("eyelash").[35][36]


As a group of eastern Persian (Dari) varieties which are considered the more formal and classical varieties of Persian, Hazaragi retains the voiced fricative [γ], and the bilabial articulation of [w] has borrowed the (rare) retro flexes [ṭ] and [ḍ]; as in buṭ (meaning "boot") vs. but (meaning "idol") (cf. Persian bot); and rarely articulates [h].[37] The convergence of voiced uvular stop [ɢ] (ق) and voiced velar fricative [ɣ] (غ) in Western Persian (probably under the influence of Turkic languages),[38] is still kept separate in Hazara.

Diphthongs include [ay], [aw], and [ēw] (cf. Persian ab, āb, ûw). The vocalic system is typically eastern Persian, characterized by the loss of length distinction, the retention of mid vowels, and the rounding of [ā] and [å/o], alternating with its merger with [a], or [û] (cf. Persian ān).[37]

Stress is dynamic and similar to that in Dari[39] and Tajik varieties of Persian,[40] and not variable.[41] It generally falls on the last syllable of a nominal form, including derivative suffixes and a number of morphological markers. Typical is the insertion of epenthetic vowels in consonant clusters (as in pašm to póšum; "wool") and final devoicing (as in ḵût; "self, own").[37]

Nominal morphology[edit]

The most productive derivative marker is -i, and the plural markers are -o for the inanimate (as in kitab-o, meaning "books"; cf. Persian -hā) and for the animate (as in birar-û, meaning "brothers"; cf. Persian -ān). The emphatic vocative marker is û or -o, the indefinite marker is -i, and the specific object marker is -(r)a. The comparative marker is -tar (as in kalû-tar, meaning "bigger"). Dependent adjectives and nouns follow the head noun and are connected by -i (as in kitab-i mamud, meaning "the book of Maḥmud"). Topicalized possessors precede the head noun marked by the resumptive personal suffix (as in Zulmay ayê-ši, literally "Zulmay her mother"). Prepositions include, in addition to the standard Persian ones, ḵun(i) (meaning "with, by means of", da (meaning "in"; cf. Persian dar); the latter often replaces ba (meaning "to") in dative function. Loaned postpositions include comitative -qati (meaning "together with") and (az) -worî (meaning "like"). Interrogatives typically function also as indefinites (as in kudam, meaning "which, someone").[37]

Pronouns in Hazaragi[37] [English] (Persian - Ironik)
Singular/Plural First person Second person Third person
singular ma [me, I] (man) tu [you] (tu) e/u [this/that] (w)
plural [we, us] (mo) šimû/šumû (cumo) yo/wo [these/those] (icon)
singular -um [mine] -em -it/khu/–tû [your/yours] (-et) -iš/-(i)ši [his/hers] (-ec)
plural -mû [ours] (-emon) –tû/-šimû/šumû [your/yours] (-eton) -iš/-(i)ši [their] (-econ)

Particles, conjunctions, modals, and adverbials[edit]

These include atê/arê, meaning "yes"; amma or wali, meaning "but"; balki, meaning "however"; šaydi, meaning "perhaps"; ale, meaning "now"; and wuḵt-a, meaning "then". These are also marked by distinctive initial stress.[37]

Hazaragi particles, conjunctions, modals, and adverbials
Hazaragi Persian/Dari English
Amyale aknun now
dalil'dera dalil darad maybe

Verb morphology[edit]

The imperfective marker is mi- (assimilated variants: m-, mu-, m-, mê-; as in mi-zan-um, "I hit, I am hitting"). The subjunctive and imperative marker is bi- (with similar assimilation). The negation is na- (as in na-mi-zad-um, "I was not hitting"). These usually attract stress.[37]


The tense, mood, and aspect system is typically quite different from western Persian. The basic tense system is threefold: present-future, past, and remote (pluperfect). New modal paradigms developed in addition to the subjunctives:

  • The non-seen/mirative that originates in the resultative-stative perfect (e.g., zad-ēm; cf. Persian zada(e) am), which has largely lost its non-modal use;
  • the potential, or assumptive, which is marked by the invariant ḵot (cf. Persian xāh-ad or xād, "it wants, intends") combined with the indicate and subjunctive forms.

Moreover, all past and remote forms have developed imperfective forms marked by mi-. There are doubts about several of the less commonly found, or recorded, forms, in particular those with ḵot.[42] However, the systematic arrangement of all forms according to their morphological, as well as semantic, function shows that those forms fit well within the overall pattern. The system may tentatively be shown as follows (all forms are 1st sing), leaving out complex compound forms such as zada ḵot mu-buda baš-um.[37]

In the assumptive, the distinction appears to be not between present versus past, but indefinite versus definite. Also, similar to all Persian varieties, the imperfective forms in mi-, and past perfect forms, such as mi-zad-um and zada bud-um, are used in irreal conditional clauses and wishes; e.g., kaški zimi qulba kadagi mu-but, "If the field would only be/have been plowed!" Modal verbs, such as tan- ("can"), are constructed with the perfect participle; e.g., ma bû-r-um, da čaman rasid-a ḵot tanist-um, "I shall go, and may be able to get to Čaman". Participial nominalization is typical, both with the perfect participle (e.g., kad-a, "(having) done") and with the derived participle with passive meaning kad-ag-i, "having been done" (e.g., zimin-i qulba kada-ya, "The field is ploughed"; zamin-i qulba (na-)šuda-ra mi-ngar-um, "I am looking at a plowed/unplowed field"; imrûz [u ḵondagi] tikrar mu-kun-a, "Today he repeats (reading) what he had read"). The gerundive (e.g., kad-an-i, "to be done") is likewise productive, as in yag čiz, ki uftadani baš-a, ma u-ra qad-dist-ḵu girift-um, tulḡa kad-um, "One object, that was about to fall, I grabbed, and held it". The clitic -ku or -ḵu topicalizes parts of speech, -di the predicate; as in i-yši raft, ma-ḵu da ḵona mand-um, "He himself left; I, though, I stayed".[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Culture and Customs of Afghanistan.
  2. ^ a b Hazāragī at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ https://www.omniglot.com/writing/hazaragi.htm
  4. ^ https://glottolog.org/resource/reference/id/58210
  5. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Hazaragi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  6. ^ "HAZĀRA iv. Hazāragi dialect". Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  7. ^ "Attitudes towards Hazaragi". Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Attitudes Towards Hazaragi". Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  9. ^ a b Schurmann, Franz (1962) The Mongols of Afghanistan: An Ethnography of the Moghôls and Related Peoples of Afghanistan Mouton, The Hague, Netherlands, page 17, OCLC 401634
  10. ^ "Language of the "Mountain Tribe": A Closer Look at Hazaragi - Languages Of The World". Languages Of The World. 2011-12-12. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  11. ^ "A Sociological Study of Hazara Tribe in Balochistan (An Analysis of Socio-Cultural Change) University of Karachi, Pakistan July 1976 p.302". Eprints.hec.gov.pk. Retrieved 2013-12-08.
  12. ^ a b Charles M. Kieffer, "HAZĀRA iv. Hazāragi dialect," Encyclopedia Iranica Online Edition, December 15, 2003, available at [1]
  13. ^ Area Handbook for Afghanistan, page 77, Harvey Henry Smith, American University (Washington, D.C.) Foreign Area Studies
  14. ^ Barbara A. West. "Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania". pp 272. Info base Publishing, 2009. ISBN 1438119135
  15. ^ Accreditation by Testing: Information booklet. NAATI, VERSION 1.10- August 2010
  16. ^ Bacon E: The Hazara Mongols of Afghanistan: A study in social organization, PhD Dissertation, University of California, 1951, page 6.
  17. ^ H.F. Schurmann: The Mongols of Afghanistan: an ethnography of the Mongols and related people of Afghanistan, University of California 1962, page 25-26
  18. ^ Dulling G.K. The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian. London, Central Asian Research Center 1973
  19. ^ Dulling G.K. (1973), The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian, London, Central Asian Research Center, p. 13
  20. ^ a b "A Sociological Study of Hazara Tribe in Balochistan (An Analysis of Socio-Cultural Change) University of Karachi, Pakistan July 1976". Eprints.hec.gov.pk. Retrieved 2013-12-08.
  21. ^ Iranian Magazine (Sukhan, no. ix Khurdad 1325 solar, Khanlari 1325:3) under the title Ba Deedar e Yaran
  22. ^ A Sociological Study of Hazara Tribe in Balochistan (An Analysis of Socio-Cultural Change) University of Karachi, Pakistan July 1976 p.305
  23. ^ Elphinstone, Mountstuart (Kingdom of Caubul) with a new introduction by Sir Olaf Caroe, London and New York, Oxford University press, 1972
  24. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica II p.199.
  25. ^ Dulling, G. K. The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian. London: Central Asian Research Center, 1973: 13.
  26. ^ Hayat Mohammad Khan (1381 Hijri, 1865). Hayat Afghan. (999)
  27. ^ Valentin Aleksandrovich Efimov, Yazyk afganskikh khazara: Yakavlangskii dialect, Moscow, 1965. pp. 22-83
  28. ^ Idem, “Khazara yazyk,” in Yazyki mira. Iranskiĭ yazyki I: yugo-zapadnye iranskiĭ yazyki, Moscow, 1997, pp. 154-66.
  29. ^ G. K. Dulling, The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian: A Preliminary Study, Central Asian Monograph 1, London, 1973. pp. 29-41
  30. ^ A. G. Ravan Farhadi, Le persan parlé en Afghanistan: Grammaire du kâboli accompagnée d’un recuil de quatrains populaires de région de Kâbol, Paris, 1955.
  31. ^ Idem, The Spoken Dari of Afghanistan: A Grammar of Kāboli Dari (Persian), Compared to the Literary Language, Kabul, 1975
  32. ^ G. K. Dulling, The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian: A Preliminary Study, Central Asian Monograph 1, London, 1973 pp. 14
  33. ^ G. K. Dulling, The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian: A Preliminary Study, Central Asian Monograph 1, London, 1973 pp. 12
  34. ^ G. K. Dulling, The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian: A Preliminary Study, Central Asian Monograph 1, London, 1973 discussion on pp. 47-99
  35. ^ Valentin Aleksandrovich Efimov, Yazyk afganskikh khazara: Yakavlangskii dialect, Moscow, 1965. pp. 22-23
  36. ^ http://turkistanjenubi.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/turkce-hazaraca-sozcuk.pdf
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i Charles M. Kieffer. "HAZĀRA iv. Hazāragi dialect". Iranica. p. 1. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  38. ^ A. Pisowicz, Origins of the New and Middle Persian phonological systems (Cracow 1985), p. 112-114, 117.
  39. ^ Farhadi, Le persan parlé en Afghanistan: Grammaire du kâboli accompagnée d’un recuil de quatrains populaires de région de Kâbol, Paris, 1955, pp. 64-67
  40. ^ V. S.Rastorgueva, A Short Sketch of Tajik Grammar, tr. Herbert H. Paper, Bloomington, Ind., and The Hague, 1963, pp. 9-10
  41. ^ G. K. Dulling, The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian: A Preliminary Study, Central Asian Monograph 1, London, 1973. p. 37
  42. ^ G. K. Dulling, The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian: A Preliminary Study, Central Asian Monograph 1, London, 1973. pp. 35-36

External links[edit]