PUSHTU, the language of the Pathan races of Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier province of India. It belongs to the Iranian group of the Indo-European languages, but possesses many Panjabi words. In Afghanistan it is the dominant language, but is not spoken west of the Helmund. In India it has two main dialects, the northern, hard or Pukhtu, and the southern, soft or Pushtu. The dividing line of the two dialects runs eastwards from Thai through the Kohat district almost to the Indus, but it then turns northwards, as the speech of the Akhora Khattaks belongs to the Pushtu or southern dialect. Thus Pukhtu is spoken in Bajour, Swat and Buner, and by the Yusufzais, Bangash, Orakzais, Afridis and Mohmands; while Pushtu is spoken by the Waziris, Khattaks, Marwats and various minor tribes in the south. The language division corresponds roughly with the tribal system of the Pathans, who are aristocratic in the north and democratic in the south. The classical dialect of Pukhtu is that of the Yusufzais, in which the earliest works in the language were composed. The Orakzai dialect differs from that of the Afridis, in that it is broader but less guttural and spoken more rapidly. The standard dialect is that of Peshawar. The literature is richest in poetry, Abdur Rahman, of the lyth century, being the best-known poet. Pushtu was spoken in the North- West Frontier province in 1901 by 1,142,011 persons, or 54% of the population.
See Grierson, Linguistic Survey of India; Roos-Keppel, Manual of Pushtu (1901) ; Lorimer, Grammar of Waziri Pushtu (1902).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)