Afghanistan has two official languages – Pashtun and Dari.
Like everything in Afghanistan, language, not surprisingly, is a sensitive topic. Although the largest percentage of people in Afghanistan speak Pashtun, being ethnically Pashto, Dari is actually the most widely spoken language, and is the preferred way for different groups to communicate with each other. To put it very simply – Dari is kind of like the English of Europe, or Russian in Central Asia.
Other than Pashtun and Dari, Afghanistan is home to over 40 languages, with hundreds of dialects. The biggest regional languages are Uzbek, Turkmen, Baloch, Pashayi and Nuristani.
Being the language most used for different groups to communicate with each other, Dari of course is the most useful language to know when in Afghanistan. For that reason we'll focus on Dari here, as this is the language you should use if you don't know either.
What is Dari?
Dari is a variant of Persian. It is also known as Afghan Persian or Dari Persian. Although the written language is almost identical to Persian, the spoken language can have some significant differences. “Dari” was first made the legal name of the Afghan variation of Persian in 1964. Before 1964 it was also just called Farsi, the same as the language of Iran.
English language in Afghanistan
English on the whole is fairly uncommon in Afghanistan. Most people you will come across will know a few phrases or words, however not many will be able to have conversations with you. This is especially the case when travelling around, as you're unlikely to find the upper and middle classes out on the streets. Those who speak English will usually be the ones who have been to university and had the opportunity to travel abroad.
What writing system/script do they use in Afghanistan?
Dari is written using the Perso-Arabic script, the same as you would see in Iran. Pashtun also uses a variant of the Perso-Arabic script.
Some useful phrases in Dari
|How are you?||Chi tor hasti? Chi hal dari?||چي حال داري؟|
|Fine, thankyou||Khob, tashakor||خوب تشكر|
|What is your name?||Nametan chist?||نامتان چيست؟|
|My name is _____||Naame ma _____ ast||نام من _____ است|
|Nice to meet you||Khoshaal Shodom az mulaqat e shuma||خشحال شدم از ملاقات شما|
|You're welcome||Qabele tashakor nest||قابل تشکرنيست|
|Excuse me (getting attention)||Bebakhshin||بيبخشين|
|Excuse me (begging pardon)||Mebakhshen||ميبخشين|
|I'm sorry||Mazrat Mekhwaham||محذرت ميخواهم|
|Goodbye||Khuda Hafez||خدا حافظ|
|Goodnight (informal)||Shab ba khayr||شب بخیر|
|I can't speak Dari well||Ma dorost dari yad nadaraom||من درست درى ياد ندارم|
|Do you speak English?||Aaya Shuma Englisi Yaad Daren?||آيا شما انگريسي ياد دارن؟|
|Is there someone here who speaks English?||Aaya da inja kase hast ke englisi yaad dashta basha?||آيا انجا کس است کە انگليسي ياد داشتە باشه؟|
|I don't understand||Mann namefahmam||من نميفهيم|
|Where is the toilet?||Tashnab kojast?||تشناب کجااست؟|
Afghanistan uses Persian numerals, the same as we do in English.