Pashto phonology

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Amongst the Iranian languages, the phonology of Pashto is of middle complexity, but its morphology is very complex.[1]

Consonants[edit]

Consonant phonemes of Pashto[2]
Labial Denti-
alveolar
Alveolar Retroflex Post-
alveolar
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n[i] ɳ[ii] ŋ
Plosive prenasalized ⁿd̪ ᵑɡ
voiceless p[iii] [iii] ʈ[iii] k[iii]
voiced b ɖ ɡ
Affricate prenasalized ⁿdʒ
voiceless t͡s [iii] t͡ʃ[iii]
voiced d͡z d͡ʒ
Fricative prenasalized ᵐz
voiceless s ʂ[iv] ʃ ç[iv] x h[v]
voiced z ʐ[iv] ʒ ʝ[iv] ɣ
Approximant l j w
Rhotic r[vi] ɺ̢ [vii]
  1. ^ /n/ has non-phonemic allophones: [ŋ] before /k/ and /ɡ/, [ɳ] before /ʈ/ and /ɖ/, [ɲ] before /t͡ʃ/ and /d͡ʒ/, and [m] before /b/ and /p/.
  2. ^ /ɳ/ is a voiced retroflex nasal flap, narrowly transcribed [ɽ̃]
  3. ^ a b c d e f Voiceless stops and affricates /p, t, ʈ, t͡s, t͡ʃ, k/ are all unaspirated, like Spanish, other Romance languages, and Austronesian languages; they have slightly aspirated allophones prevocalically in a stressed syllable, almost like English.
  4. ^ a b c d /ʂ~ç/ and /ʐ~ʝ/ are dialectal allophones (represented by ښ and ږ), The retroflex variants [ʂ, ʐ] are used in the Southwest dialects whereas the palatal variants [ç, ʝ] are used in the Wardak and Central Ghilji dialects. Some Northern dialects merge them with the velar /x, ɣ/.
  5. ^ /h/ is dropped in most Southwest dialects and Waṇētsī.
  6. ^ /r/ is a voiced alveolar flap, single in most dialects.
  7. ^ /ɺ̢ / is a voiced retroflex lateral flap, which does not have a dedicated IPA symbol.

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Phonotactics[edit]

Pashto syllable structure can be summarized as follows; parentheses enclose optional components:

  • (C1 (C2)) (S1) V (S2) (C3 (C4))

Pashto syllable structure consists of an optional syllable onset, consisting of one or two consonants; an obligatory syllable nucleus, consisting of a vowel optionally preceded by and/or followed by a semivowel; and an optional syllable coda, consisting of one or two consonants. The following restrictions apply:

  • Onset
    • First consonant (C1): Can be any consonant, including a liquid (/l, r/).
    • Second consonant (C2): Can be any consonant. (see #Consonant Clusters below)
  • Nucleus
    • Semivowel (S1)
    • Vowel (V)
    • Semivowel (S2)
  • Coda
    • First consonant (C3): Can be any consonant
    • Second consonant (C4): Can be any consonant

Consonant clusters[edit]

Pashto also has a liking for word-initial consonant clusters in all dialects; some hundred such clusters occurs. However consonant gemination is unknown to Pashto.[3]

Examples
Two Consonant Clusters /t̪l/, /kl/, /bl/, /ɣl/, /lm/, /nm/, /lw/, /sw/, /br/, /t̪r/, /ɣr/, /pr/, /d̪r/, /wr/, /kɽ/, , /wɽ/ /xp/, /pʃ/, /pʂ/, /xr/, /zb/, /zɽ/, /ʒb/, /d͡zm/, /md͡z/, /t͡sk/, /sk/, /sp/, /ʃp/, /ʂk/, /xk/, /ʃk/, /kʃ/, /kx/, /kʂ/, /ml/, /gr/, /gm/ and /ʐm/ etc.
Three Consonant Clusters /sxw/, /xwɽ/, /xwl/, /nɣw/ etc.

Vowels[edit]

Most dialects in Pashto have seven vowels and seven diphthongs.[4]

Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e ə o
Open a ɑ

Diphthongs[edit]

Front Central Back
High [uɪ]
Mid [əi] [oɪ]
Low [aɪ], [aw] [ɑi], [ɑw]

Orthography of diphthongs[edit]

Initial Medial Final
ای َيـ َی
əɪ ۍ
اوی ويـ وي
اوی ويـ وي
aw او َو َو
ɑi آي اي اي
ɑw آو او او

Dialectal Vowels[edit]

Waziri vowels[edit]

In Waziri dialect the [ɑ] in Standard Pashto becomes [ɔː] in Northern Waziri and [ɒː] in Southern Waziri.[5]

In Waziri dialect the stressed [o] in Standard Pashto becomes [œː] as in the word [lor] meaning 'sickle' becomes [lœːr] and [ɛː] as in the word [oˈɽə] meaning 'flour' becomes [ɛːˈɽə].[6] The [o] in Standard Pashto may also become [(j)e] as in the word [jeˈʒa] meaning 'shoulder' from [oˈɡa] or [oˈʐa].[7]


Front Central Back
Unrounded Rounded
Close i
Close-mid e ə
Open-mid ɛ œ ɔ
Open a ɒ

Apridi vowels[edit]

In the Apridi dialect the [a] in Standard Pashto becomes [ɑ] as in [las] becomes [lɑs]. The [ɑ] in Standard Pashto becomes [ɒː] or [] as in [plɑr] becomes [plɔːr] or [ploːr].

Borrowed vowels[edit]

Few short vowels occur in speech in borrowed words and in the Peshawar dialect.

Vowels
[ɪ]
[ʊ]

Diphthongs in dialects[edit]

The diphthongs varies according to dialect. The stressed diphthong [aɪ] changes to [æɪ] in the Mohmand dialect and [a] in Wanetsi.

The diphthong [əɪ] used to indicate feminine noun gender changes to [i] in Wanetsi and [ʌi] in Kâkaṛi.

The long diphthongs [ɑi] and [ɑw] becomes [ɑe] and [ɑo], respectively, in most Northeastern dialects.[8]

Standard Apridi Yusupzai Waziri Mohmand Bannu
ʌɪ
ʌː
aˈɪ aˈɪ æɪ
əˈɪ ijeˈ aˈɪ iˈjɛ
waɪ oːi
œːi
uiː joˈjə
aw aw
ɑi ae
ɑw ao

Stress[edit]

Pashto has phonemic variable stress, unique amongst Iranian languages.[9]

For instance the pronouns are differently inflected:

Pronoun Meaning Pronoun Meaning
haɣá that, he háɣa that one, he (emphatic)
daɣá this, he dáɣa this one, he (emphatic)

In verbs to distinguish aspect:

Verb Meaning Verb Meaning
kẍenɑstə́ləm I was sitting kẍénɑstələm I sat down
ba kẍenə́m I shall be sitting ba kẍénəm I shall sit

In verbs to distinguish mood:

Verb Meaning Verb Meaning
pregdə́m I leave prégdəm that I leave

References[edit]

  1. ^ Josef Elfenbein (1997). Alan S. Kaye, ed. Phonologies of Asia and Africa: Including the Caucasus. Eisenbrauns. p. 736. ISBN 978-1-57506-019-4. 
  2. ^ Tegey, Habibullah; Robson, Barbara (1996). A Reference Grammar of Pashto (PDF). Washington: Center for Applied Linguistics. p. 15. 
  3. ^ Josef Elfenbein (1997). Alan S. Kaye, ed. Phonologies of Asia and Africa: Including the Caucasus. Eisenbrauns. p. 737. ISBN 978-1-57506-019-4. 
  4. ^ Anne Boyle David (2013). Descriptive Grammar of Pashto and Its Dialects. Walter de Gruyter. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-61451-303-2. 
  5. ^ Alan S. Kaye (1997). Phonologies of Asia and Africa: Including the Caucasus. Eisenbrauns. p. 748. ISBN 978-1-57506-019-4. 
  6. ^ Alan S. Kaye (1997). Phonologies of Asia and Africa: Including the Caucasus. Eisenbrauns. p. 748. ISBN 978-1-57506-019-4. 
  7. ^ Alan S. Kaye (1997). Phonologies of Asia and Africa: Including the Caucasus. Eisenbrauns. p. 749. ISBN 978-1-57506-019-4. 
  8. ^ Josef Elfenbein (1997). Alan S. Kaye, ed. Phonologies of Asia and Africa: Including the Caucasus. Eisenbrauns. pp. 751 to 753. ISBN 978-1-57506-019-4. 
  9. ^ Josef Elfenbein (1997). Alan S. Kaye, ed. Phonologies of Asia and Africa: Including the Caucasus. Eisenbrauns. p. 737. ISBN 978-1-57506-019-4.