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Submitted to Mrs Aatika Salam By Saleem Akhtar Diploma TEFL Course 5656 Sociolinguistics Roll No. AH 526832 AIOU ABBOTTABAD Spring 2010 ABSTRACT

This project report discusses the inseparability of language and c ulture. The intimate relationship between Pashto language and Pakhtun culture is strikingly illustrated by the survey, which confirms the view that language and culture cannot exist without each other.

Language and culture are closely linked to each other, and througho ut history, they have grown in tandem; in the first instance, however, the rudim ents of language were necessary for the establishment of culture. If culture can be likened to a living cell, then language is its DNA, encoding cultural inform ation and making possible its transmission.

Language is the source of culture, and in the end, it is also its essence. Langu age permits the organization, transmission, and evolution of culture, gradually changing as behaviour changes.



Language is the unique possession of man. It is God’s gift to mankind . Without language human civilization as we know it would have remained an impos sibility. Language is ubiquitous. It is present everywhere-in our thoughts and d reams, prayers and meditations, relations and communications, and rituals. Besid es being a means of communication, and a storehouse of knowledge, it is an instr ument of thinking as well as a source of delight (e.g. singing). Language dissip ates superfluous nervous energy, directs motion in others, both men and animals, sets matter in motion as in charms and incantations, transfers knowledge from o ne person to another, from one generation to another. Language is also the maker and unmaker of human relationships. It is the use of language that makes a life bitter or sweet. Without language man would have remained only a dumb animal. I t is our ability to communicate through words that makes us different from anima ls. Because of its omnipresence, language is often taken for granted. But many a time it has become the serious concern not only of linguists but also of philos ophers, logicians, psychologists, scientists, and literary critics, to name a fe w.


Language is a very complex human phenomenon; all attempts to define i t have proved

inadequate. In a nutshell, language is an ‘organized noise’ used in actual social si tuations.

That is why it has also been defined as ‘contextualized systematic sounds’

In the Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol.13, language is defined as “a syste m of conventional, spoken or written symbols by means of which human beings, as members of a social group and participants in its culture, communicate.”

Some other definitions which are currently popular in linguistic circles are cit ed below:

1) “Language is a primarily human and non-instinctive method of communicating idea s, emotions and desires by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols.” Sapir. Language, 1921

2) “Language may be defined as the expression of thought by means of speech-sounds .”

Henry Swee t, The History of Language

3) According to Transformational Generative linguists like Noam Chomsky, languag e is the innate capacity of native speakers to understand and form grammatical s entences.


Culture is an integral part of every society. It is a learned patte rn of behaviour and ways in which a person lives his or her life. Culture is ess ential for the existence of a society, because it binds people together. In the


explicit sense of the term, culture constitutes the music, food, arts and litera ture of a society. However, these are only the products of culture followed by t he society and cannot be defined as culture.

According to English anthropologist Edward B Taylor, culture is tha t complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.

Culture is something that a person learns from his family and surro undings, and is not ingrained in him from birth. It does not have any biological connection because even if a person is brought up in a culture different from t hat in which he was born, he imbibes the culture of the society where he grows u p. It is also not a hidden fact that some people feel the need to follow the bel iefs and traditions of their own culture, even though they might be not subscrib ing to certain ideologies within.

Culture is a complex tool which every individual has to learn to sur vive in a society. It is the means through which people interact with others in the society. It acts in a subconscious way and whatever we see and perceive, see ms to be normal and natural. Sometimes, other societies and people seem to be a little odd because they have a different culture from ours. We must remember tha t every society has a distinct culture that forms the backbone of the society. C ulture does not remain stagnant, on the other hand it is evolving constantly and is in fact somewhat influenced by other cultures and societies.

Every society has a different culture, where people share a specific language, traditions, behaviours, perceptions and beliefs. Culture gives them a n identity which makes them unique and different from people of other cultures. When people of different cultures migrate and settle in another society, the cul ture of that society becomes the dominant culture and those of the immigrants fo rm the subculture of the community. Usually, people who settle in other nations imbibe the new culture, while at the same time strive to preserve their own.

Although every society has a specific culture, there are certain ele ments of culture that are universal. They are known as cultural universals, in w hich there are certain behavioural traits and patterns that are shared by all cu ltures around the world. For instance, classifying relations based on blood rela tions and marriage, differentiating between good and bad, having some form of ar t, use of jewellery, classifying people according to gender and age, etc., are c ommon in all cultures of the world.

Culture is necessary to establish an order and discipline in the soc iety. It is not only a means of communication between people, but also creates a feeling of belonging and togetherness among people in the society.


Language is the verbal expression of culture. A culture s language contains everything its speakers can think about and every way they have of thin king about things. For example, the Latin language has no word for the female fr iend of a man (the feminine form of amicus is amica, which means mistress, not f riend) because the Roman culture could not imagine a male and a female being equ als, which they considered necessary for friendship. Another example is that Esk imos have many different terms for snow...there are nuances that make each one d ifferent.


Language and culture are interrelated and therefore cannot be separ ated. This is why translators always have problems in translating idiomatic expr essions which are largely influenced by the culture and social behaviour of a pe

ople. For example the Chinese expression: 放馬過來, literally, "put horse come here" is rath er meaningless in its English translation and expression. In Chinese, it is a se

ntence uttered to challenge someone to a duel. It is equivalent to "I dare you!" But what has "setting horses free" got to do with challenging someone to a figh t? It has to do with the culture and social behaviour of the Chinese at the time this expression became common usage and is now part of the Chinese lingo.


Pakistan has two official languages: Urdu, which is also the national language and Pakistan s lingua franca, and English. Additionally, Pakistan has f our major provincial languages: Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, and Balochi, as well as two major regional languages: Saraiki and Kashmiri


Urdu is Pakistan s national language and the lingua franca of Pakist an. Only about 8% of the population of Pakistan has Urdu as its mother tongue. I t is written in a modified form of the Arabic alphabet. The first recorded poetr y in Urdu was by the Persian poet Amir Khusro (1253); the first published Urdu b ook, Dah Majlis, was written in 1728. The first time the word "Urdu" was used wa s in 1751, by Sirajuddin Arzoo.


Punjabi is spoken as a first language by 45% of Pakistanis. It is a n important language as about 70% of Pakistanis can speak or understand it. Howe ver, Punjabi does not have any official status in Pakistan.

Sindhi is spoken as a first language by about 14% of Pakistanis, mos tly in the Province of Sindh and the southeastern parts of the Province of Baloc histan. Sindhi is known for its very rich literature and is taught in schools in the province of Sindh. The Sindhi language is rich in vocabulary and is conside red one of the oldest languages in the Indus valley. Currently the Sindhi Abjads contain a grand total of 53 alphabets. Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai is considered t he most influential and famous poet of the Sindhi language. The largest Sindhi-s peaking city is Hyderabad, Pakistan, however it is spoken throughout the provinc e.

Balochi is spoken as a first language by about 4% of Pakistanis, mo stly in the Province of Balochistan. The name Balochi is not found before the te nth century. It is believed that the language was brought to its present locatio n in a series of migrations from Northern Iran, near the Caspian Shores. Rakshan i is the major dialect group in terms of numbers. Sarhaddi, is a sub-dialect of Rakshani. Other sub-dialects are Qalati, Chagai-Kharani, Panjguri. Eastern Hill Balochi or Northern Balochi is very different from the rest.


Pashto language is as old as the “Pakhtuns” because Pashto is not only th e name of a language that has a very rich history, but a language with deeply ro oted norms, values, and traditions. Pashto language has a very rich, traditional culture dating back almost 7000 years. In fact, the “Pakhtuns” are considered to ha ve branched off from “Aryan”— a civilization that existed around 3000 BC.


in 1400 B.C., have also been found to contain references to Pashto and the “Pashtu n” peoples (Khan, 1964). Herodotus, a Greek historian who wrote his biography from 486-521 BC, mentions the word Paktika — a province in northern Afghanistan. From such compilations of artifacts and historical data, the majority of researchers now believe that the Pashto language is roughly 3500 to 2500 years old. This ass ertion has also been confirmed by Afghan Researcher Abdul Hai Habibi in his book “Pata Khazana” (Habibi, 2001).

The roots of the Pashto language and foundations of Pakhtun culture de veloped in very interesting ways. Jebi in his thesis notes that “Lwekan”, which rule d Ghazni and Baltistan in 960 B.C., contains the root “Lway” which translates to big and powerful in Pashto (Jebi, 1960). Furthermore, archeologists have discovered that some Pashto letters contain mud stamps in the area of Swat, which belonged to the Asori Regime that ruled in 700 B.C. In his book “Da Pashto Tarikh” (History of Pashto), Muhammad Younus Khan points out that in Japanese emperor Mikado’s libr ary there were many books on the teachings of Buddhism that were simultaneously written in Pashto. Accordingly the current writing style of Pashto can be traced back 2500 years ago (Khan, 1964).

Pashto is also considered to be a part of other language families. A uthor Jebi in his research “Pakhwani Pakhto Dwa Neem Zara Kala Makhkay” (Old Pashto 2500 years before) writes that Iran was ruled by Darwesh around 486 BC to 522 BC . Darwesh was a ruler well-known for his leadership skills and the legislative r eforms. After passing away, poems were written praising the qualities of the rul er, with most of these poems written in Pashto (Jebi A. R., 1974). Since then, P ashto has been world-renowned for its poetry. Perhaps this is the reason that nu merous historians and Iranica (Encyclopedia of Iran) believe that the Pashto lan guage belongs to the Eastern Iranian family of languages (Williams, 2010).

On the basis of above discussions, one could argue that Pashto is as old as many other historic languages like Sanskrit and Osta. According to the mo st reliable sources and facts, its roots can be traced back some 3500 years to 2 500 years ago.


Pashto is the first language of about 15.42% of Pakistan s 170 milli on people. It is the main language of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and northwestern Balochistan, but also spoken in parts of M ianwali and Attock districts of the Punjab province as well as by Pakhtuns who a re found living in different cities throughout the country. Modern Pashto-speaki ng communities are also found in the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh. W ith close to 7 million ethnic Pakhtuns by some estimates, Karachi has the larges t Pakhtun population in the world.

Other communities of Pashto speakers are found in northeastern Iran, p rimarily in South Khorasan Province to the east of Qaen, near the Afghan border, and in Tajikistan. There are also Pakhtun communities in the southwestern part of Jammu and Kashmir as well as in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Sizable Pashto-speaking communities also exist in the Middle East, e specially in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as in the United States, United Kingdom, Thailand, Canada, Germany, Netherland, Sweden, Qatar an d Australia



The Pakhtuns have several ways of greeting and salutation. Strange rs passing on a road or thoroughfare exchange courtesies such as "Starrey ma she y" (May you not be tired) and "Pa khair raghley" (welcome). This is answered by "Khudai de mal sha" (May God be with you), "Pa khair ossey" (May you live in pea ce) and "Ma khwaraigey" (May you not be poor). The Pakhtuns usually embrace thei r friends and relatives when they meet them after a long absence and warmly rece ive each other by a hearty handshake. This is followed by a train of questions a bout each others welfare like "Jorr yey" (Are you alright?), "Khushal yey" (Are you happy?), "Takkrra yey" (Are you hale and hearty?) "Warra Zagga Jorr di" (Ar e your family members hale and hearty?) and "Pa Kor key Khairyat de" (Is every b ody well at home?).

A visitor entering a village Hujra is greeted with the traditional s logan of "Har Kala Rasha" (May you always come) and he replies "Har kala ossey" (May you always abide). Friends while parting commit each other to the care of G od by saying "Pa makha de kha" (May you reach your destination safely), and "Da khudai pa aman" (To the protection of God).

When meeting a pious or an elderly person, a Pakhtun bows a little and keeps his hands on his chest as a mark of veneration. When talking about a dece ased person, they often say "Khudai de obakhi" (May God forgive him). If a man s uddenly appears at the time of conversation between some or more persons about h im, they immediately exclaim "Omar de ziyat de, Oss mo yadawalay" (You have a lo ng life, we were just talking about you). The Pakhtuns very often use the word " Inshallah" (God Willing) "Ka Khudai ta manzura wee" "Ka Khair Wee" (if all goes well) when they promise to accomplish a task at a particular time.


A Rabab is the most prominent amongst all the musical instruments us ed in Pashto music. It can be heard in almost all melodies and songs, whether as a sole stringed instrument, or as an accompaniment. Its construction is "drum l ike" because the mane of a Rabab is skin covered like a drum with the exception of the permanent tension on the skin, whereas on a drum the tension is adjustabl e. Its sound can be heard from quite far away. A Rabab is popularly played, also in Kashmiri and Baluchi music.


A Chatralay Sitar is a very simple and very old musical instrument wi th the most magical sound, directly influencing the solar plexus. It is not loud and can barely be heard in a mix of musical instruments, but heard being played and accopmanied by Mangay, it is pure tranquility. Even though it is played ove r a vast region, including Afghanistan, parts of Iran and in two provinces of Pa kistan, namely Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, it carries the name "Chatrala y Sitar", meaning the sitar from Chitral (a small but beautiful, and one of the north western-most areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan.


A Baja is an organ type instrument. It is very popularly played in Pa shto music, and is usually used by singers as an enhancement to vocal rehearsals . Its keys are played with one hand while the other hand is used to pump air int o the instrument. It is played very commonly in all the countries of the Indian sub-continent and Afghanistan.


A Shpelai is a common bamboo flute used almost all over the world. I t has a very special place in Pashto music and is loved by almost everyone, espe cially when faintly heard from far away in the quiet of a moon-lit summer night. It is frequently played by sheep herders, just like it has been played by sheep herders through thousands of years.


A Banjo is a very unusual musical instrument. (It is totally unlike th e American banjo). This stringed instrument is pick-strummed and is keyed like a Baja (Harmonium). A very pleasant sounding instrument which is quite popular am ongst Pashto music listeners, but unfortunately not too many people play this in strument professionally, hence it is not as common as some of the other musical instruments used in Pashto music. It is played throughout Pakistan but not too m uch, despite its pleasant sound.


A Sarinda is an un-common stringed and bowed instrument. It has a ve ry high pitched but enchanting sound and is commonly used in Pashto music. It is played while sitting on the ground just like most South Asian instruments. It i s generally played joyously but can be played otherwise.


This instrument is without any doubt unusual, not just because the o nly person (Zarnosh) that plays it has also invented it. But the whole instrumen t is two six-inch wheat stems not even attached to one another. Both the stems a re flattened on one end, (like a reed) and a constant flow of air is blown throu gh the flattened ends. One of the stems has just three frets and the other has n one. It is played by maintaining a pocket of air in the mouth which is blown int o the stems and simultaneously taking in air through the nasal passage to mainta in a constant sound. It sounds like an Indian snake charmer s wind instrument (B een)


Duprai/Dukrai is the Indian Tabla. It is a pair of percussion instru ments played by highly skilled players. It is very commonly used throughout the world. It is played a little bit differently in Pashto music, since most of Pash to music has a Greek/Macedonian type beats. Tabla players around the Pashto musi c listening areas are commonly observed as pasting dough onto the center of the larger of the drum pair to improve the sound.


A Mangay is a recepticle used for the storage of water, and has been us ed as such for thousands of years. It has a wide belly with about a four inch op ening at the neck. It is used as a musical instrument only when completely dry. It is played with the flat palm of one hand, trapping and releasing air in the M angay, producing a booming sound, and with the other hand, softly striking its o utside either with a finger-ring, a coin or a pebble. To produce a greater boom, a sheet of inner auto-tyre tube rubber is tightly tied onto the neck of the Man gay and is beaten with the hand like a drum. To further enhance the sound, it is accompanied by a "Cheelum" (the base of a hubble-bubble or a water-pipe) into w hich water is poured, proportionate to sound desired, and is beaten with a soft shoe sole producing a sharper and higher pitched boom. Played together with a Ch atralay Sitar, it is transcendental.



A dhol is a two sided percussion instrument, which comes in many size s, It is sometimes played by striking it with bare hands and sometimes with wood en sticks. It is widely used all over the Indian sub-continent. In Pashto speaki ng areas, it is commonly used by the Khattak tribe, to a distinct beat, of which the Khattak dance is performed. It can be, and is used as a stand-alone instrum ent which accompanies wedding songs sung generally by women in the many thousand s of villages and towns of south Asia.


Besides the musical instruments mentioned above, there are many othe rs, like Cheng, Dutara, Gungru, Naghara, Santoor, Surna, Tambal, etc. that are u sed in Pashto Music, including most European and eastern ones.


Tappa is the oldest and most popular genre of the Pashto poetry. The Tappa is a composition of two unequal meters, in which the first line is shorter than the succeeding one, yet it reflects all human feelings and aspirations ele gantly. Be it labourers, peasants, or women; all sentiments find expression in t he Tappa. It is also common among the Pakhtuns that a boy of school would sing i t, the elders in their Hujras, the women in their home and Godar alike. It is th e only song sung in the time of grief and on the occasion of marriage. In music it is sung with the traditional Pashto musical instruments Rabab and Mangay. Tap pa has up to 16 different models of harmony and is being sung with full orchestr a. In Hujra it is sung with Rabab and Sitar.


Charbetta is another popular genre, which consists of an epic poem w ith special rhythms. There are four kinds of Charbetta. Normally, it is a poem o f four lines but might also have six or eight lines. All aspects of life are dis cussed in it. That includes the heroic deeds and heroism by legendary figures an d sometimes expresses the romantic feelings. The tempo is usually very fast and is sung by two or more singers as part of a chorus in which one singer reads the first line while the others follow the remaining. The singing or recitation of a Charbetta is called Tang Takore. Traditionally Charbetta is started just after the finishing of a Tappa.


Neemakai has many different forms and normally women compose it. It is usually very short (1 to 3 lines). The first lines are repeated in the middl e of the song and Tappa is usually added according to the subject and circumstan ces. Most of these songs in Pakhtun culture have been expressed in different are as about daily life and love.


Loba is very popular among the masses and are added within Tappas occ asionally. This is a form of folk music in which a story is told. It requires tw o or more persons who reply to each other in a poetic form. The two sides are us ually the lover and the beloved (the man and woman).


Shaan is sung during happiness such as marriages and on the birth of a child, and also sung in private congregations and social gatherings.


Badala is a professional form of folk music and consists of an epic poe m or a ballad. Instruments used include the Rabab, Harmonium, Drums and Tabla. I n Badala, tribal traditions are the main theme as well as heroism, tragedies and romance. Badala consists of variations, because each couplet is varied in rhyth ms from other. It is sung traditionally at night.


Pakhtun are zealous participants in various physical forms of art w hich include traditional Pakhtun dance, sword fighting and other physical feats. One of the most prominent dances in Pakhtun culture is ‘Attan’. This dance is perfo rmed by enthusiasts with musicians playing dhols (drums), Tablaas (percussions) and a wooden flute. Another type of Attan known as Braghoni require much more sk illed performers due to the use of up to three swords and spinning nature of the dance. It is common to see young Pakhtun girls entertaining at wedding ceremoni es with the help of tambourine.

Choral singing is part of the Pakhtun culture. Pakhtuns have a folk song tradition that includes special songs for marriages and funerals. Poems kno wn as ‘matal’are very popular. Pakhtun women are known for their handicrafts, which are popular worldwide. The Pakhtuns in the city sew unique designs on their clot hes and wear small hats made of silk.


The Pakhtun women wear simple dress. It consists of a Partoog (Trouse rs), Qamees (Shirt) and a Dupatta (chaddar or scarf). Old women prefer loose and baggy trousers, long shirts with wider sleeves and coloured clothes. Fashionabl e clothes and footwear are now becoming popular among the new generation owing t o constant intermingling of the people with the inhabitants of cities. New dress es are becoming common, as girls are not averse to modern comforts and fashions. With the march of time, old heavy silver ornaments have been discarded and repl aced by modern and delicate ones. The Pakhtun women use a variety of jewellery s uch as pendants, bracelets and necklaces. The pendants include Paizwan, Nata or Natkai (large nose rings), Chargul, Peeta and Maikhakay (small nose ornaments), Wallai, Jarmootey, Dewadi and Duroona (large ear rings), and Teek worn on the fo rehead. The bracelets comprise of Wakhi, Bavoo, Karrey and Bangri or bangles. Ha ar and Taweezoona may be mentioned among necklaces. Besides the use of silver or naments called Sangley (Pazaib) worn round feet near ankle, Ogey or neclet, Zanz eer or chain and finger rings, are also in common use.

The Paizwan is suspended below the nostril edge. Chargul and Nata ar e worn on the right side of the outer part of the nose and Maikhakai and Peeta, comparatively smaller ornaments, are worn on the left side of the nose. Haar and Taweezoona consist of three to five flat silver pieces about one and half inch squares each, are worn over the breast. The Zanzeer, a silver ornament about ten inches in length and imbedded with shining stones, is also suspended from the s hirt collar on the breast.


There are two Muslim religious festivals, Warookay Akhter (Eid ul F itr) and Loy Akhtar (Eid ul Adha). The word Eid is an Arabic word that means “fest ivity”. Eid, like other parts of the Muslim world is celebrated with religious zea l. Eid is held according to the lunar calendar. The event marks the end of Ramad an (the name of month in which Muslims observe fasting) and the start of Shawal (the 9th month according to the lunar calendar). Fasting during Ramadan is a sy


mbolic reminder of the starving, hungry and needy people, and encourages Muslims to donate generously to the poor.

Pakhtuns start the Eid festival with the Akhtar Moonz (Eid Prayer) which is considered Wajib (compulsory). Eid Prayer is a congressional prayer tha t is often offered in open air atmosphere, mosque or in halls. The Eid prayer is followed by the Khutbah (Sermon) and then a Dua (Supplication) in which people ask for Allah’s forgiveness, mercy, peace and blessings for all living beings acro ss the world. Besides offering prayers for their own prosperity, Pakhtuns offer special prayers for the prosperity and well-being of all people living in their country. After the end of prayers, all the people greet each other with Akhtar d ey Mubarak Sha (“Happy Eid Greetings”). People visit their relatives and friends to exchange Eid greetings and celebrate the festival. Usually special gifts or cas h are offered to the children. Special meals are cooked for the festival, includ ing Maichay (a kind of noodle), Kabalee Polaw (rice prepared in Afghan Style), K arahi (roasted mutton), and Methayee (sweets).


The Pakhtun social structure, which has attracted the attention of m any scholars is mainly governed by conventions and traditions and a code of hono ur known as "Pakhtunwali". This unwritten code is the keystone of the arch of th e Pakhtuns social fabric. It exercises a great influence on their actions and h as been held sacrosanct by them generation after generation. In a broad sense, h ospitality, magnanimity, chivalry, honesty, uprightness, patriotism, love and de votion for the country are the essential features of Pakhtunwali.


Jirga is an assembly of tribal elders called for various purposes wh ether waging war or composing peace, tribal or inter-tribal. The Jirga usually d eals with inter-tribal affairs and serves as an instrument for dispensing speedy and cheap justice. After careful consideration, the Jirga decides the disputes on the basis of available evidence.

The Jirga assembles in a Hujra or a village mosque or in an open fie ld outside the village under a shady tree. The Jirga members usually sit in a ci rcle without any presiding officer. This Round Table Conference like a meeting w ithout a chairman clearly reflects their love of democracy and principle of equa lity irrespective of birth, wealth etc.


Pakhtuns solve their social problems through an institutional arrang ement called “Jirga”. The Jirga system essentially serves as Shura (a council) where notables of the society through mutual consultation make their best efforts to solve various socio-economic and political problems and social disputes confront ing Pakhtuns in a particular area. The rules of dispute resolution are called Na rkh. Narkh may be regarded as all those informal and unwritten rules and regulat ions that are based on precedent. The word Narkh literally means “price” because eac h decision involves certain costs. The members of the Jirga commonly referred to as Narkhis are mostly comprised of the village notables, Khan or Malik (landlor ds) Speengeri (the elders) Mulvi Sahib (the priest) and educated people like doc tors, lawyers and businessmen. To become a Narkhi, a person should have some so und understanding of the culture and tradition specific to that area, and of the particular tribe in general.

In most of the areas where Pakhtuns live including Afghanistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan disputes that arise between the various segments of the society are solved in accordance with the guidance of Narkh. It


is worth mentioning, due to such laws and customs the crime rate in Pakhtun soc iety is very minimal as compared to other parts of the world. Because of such cu stoms one also finds that there is usually absence of formal government, as disp utes between the members of the society are resolved by members of the society r ather than by government officials.


Maraka may be described as a narrow foundation of dispute resoluti on that has as a feature a widespread (time and space-bound) Narkh (institutiona lized custom), and a body of Marakachian (elders of the Khail who work as a gove rning body) whose Prikra (decision) about a dispute is binding on the parties in volved. Maraka is essentially an informal Jirga that exists at the village level . Maraka exists in Pakhun society to help people solve their disputes and develo p a consensus on issues of common interest. There is a slight difference between the concept of Jirga and the concept of Maraka. Jirga investigates and settles disputes between the members of a particular region that are of relatively small importance. By contrast, Marakas are for dispute resolution efforts, or develop ing a consensus over an issue that is more important. An example of Maraka may be a dispute between two Khails (kinship groups).

Jirga is usually comprised of different stakeholders like Khan and Maliks (landlord of the village), Molvi Sahib (Priest), religious scholars, pol itical figures, and educated people. On the other hand Maraka members are usuall y elders of a Khail who permanently hold the position to solve disputes between members of a particular kinship group.

A Khail is usually comprised of several immediate kinship groups tha t are called Plarana or Plarganay. In turn, the Plarana includes several extende d families that are related to one another by a common ancestor and whose member s have strong shared association amongst themselves. In Pakhtun society, member s of several Plarana usually live in a single village, and they usually share pu blic facilities like Jumat (Mosque), Oba Khwar (water canal), Cheena (water spri ng), and Jranda (mill). A dispute between the members of the Plarana often arise s because a vast number of Pakhtuns earn their livelihood directly or indirectly through agriculture and farming in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as in Afghanistan . While interacting with each other using these shared village facilities, dispu tes between the members of different Khail can arise, and Maraka is the platform that helps members of the society to solve these disputes.

There are three essential elements of Maraka. As per our above-state d discussions, the three essential elements of Maraka are Narkh (institutionaliz ed rituals), Marakchian (Kinship groups) and Prikra (decision that is binding on the members), and together these elements are referred to as Maraka. Thus, a ga thering of a Khail’s members lacking the manifestation of one or more of these ele ments may well be considered just an ordinary meeting, rather than a true Maraka .


Hujra is a common sitting or sleeping place for males in the villag e. Visitors and unmarried young men sleep in the Hujra. Expenses are usually sha red by the village. Almost every Hujra has a mosque adjacent to it in the villag e structure.

The Hujra, which represents the social character of the Pakhtuns, is a useful institution and it plays a pivotal role in their daily life. It serves a s a club, dormitory, guest house and a place for rituals and feastings. It is a center for social activities as well as a Council Hall for the settlement of fam


ily and inter-tribal disputes. It is used as a male dormitory where bachelors of the village sleep. It is a guesthouse where guests are jointly entertained by v illage folk and a community center for betrothals, marriages and social function s. Even condolences are offered in the Hujra on the demise of a person and sympa thy expressed with the bereaved family. It is a place of public resort where vil lage elders and youngsters get together in their leisure hours to discuss tribal , national and international affairs and matters of mutual interest. The guests and strangers are fed and sheltered free of all charges in the village Hujras. CHEELUM

It is said that all the credit of the beautification of the Hujrah go es to the Cheelum, i.e., without it the Hujrah will be incomplete and dull. The cheelum is simply a water-pipe (called Sheesha in the Arab World and Hookah/Chee lum in the sub-continent and Afghanistan).


Melmastia is the mechanism by which a Pakhtun offers lodging, foods , as well as gifts to those who visit. The person who is served need not to be a relative, friend or acquaintance of the Pakhtun; he can also be a stranger. Rel atives and acquaintances are served in the Pakhtun’s house while alien persons and friends are served in Hujra (a sort of guest room that is constructed as annex to a Pakhtun’s house). In addition a Pakhtun’s honour is strengthened by the hospita lity, as Melmastia increases the number of social networks to which he has acces s. The larger the social network, the more legislative authority a Pakhtun will have.

Hujra (guest room) serves the purpose of Melmastia on a day-to-day basis, as every village in the Pakhtun belt has at least one Hujra where guests come on regular intervals. Most of the guests that reside in the Hujra are outsi de guests. Usually the Khan or the Malik (the landlord of the village) of the ar ea provides all the facilities, including Kut (Beds), Balakhtona (pillows) and C heelum (Hubble-bubble) and food servings on regular intervals.


The term Gundi literally means “party”, “faction”, “bloc”, or “group of people”. di is a mechanism in Pakhtun society that is used to maintain the balance of pow

er between members within a society. It may be regarded as an agreement between two tribes or a concord within the same tribe living in different regions of a g eographic region where each party is responsible for ensuring the safety of the other. In case fighting erupted between segments of the Gundi and another party, the tribe that has a bilateral agreement with the party involved is required to help its allies in the fight against the enemy. Essentially, the tradition of G undi serves as a safeguard system for the interest of the parties involved. It should be noted that if a tribe has a Gundi with another tribe, a nd any person from the two has been killed by a third party, the Badal of that p erson is that both parties involved in Gundi must participate in the revenge or rectification process.

Through the tradition of Gundi, Pakhtun society develops informal re lationships and a social network between the different tribes or the same tribe living in different regions of Pakhtun society. These informal relationships are very strong, however, and in the event of seeking support, a tribe may receive help when requested as a result of these connections.


Through the custom of Gundi, Pakhtuns create social networks to help each other in times of both happiness and extreme sorrow. The rapport is uncond itional, as those who form Gundi are always present to share the successes and a dversity of its allies. They are also there to assist each other financially whe n needed. If a party in a Gundi must make arrangements for the dowry of a member’s daughter, it is very likely that the allies in the Gundi will help in the form of monetary contributions and other assets.

In some cases the relationship between the two parties that are usu ally established as a result of Gundi are transformed into “blood” relationships. Pa khtun society may be regarded as a very close society where marriages are strong ly encouraged across the allied communities. This further strengthens the relati on between the two parties involved. Moreover, the relation of Gundi is al so used for political purpose, and usually if a person who belongs to an allianc e Gundi contests election, the other party in Gundi has to ensure that all his t ribes or at least all his family members vote in the favour of his Gundi allies.


The word Namoos is an Arabic word meaning “law”, “honour” or “customs.” Howeve r in Pakhtun society Namoos is used in its contextual meaning to mean “chastity.” Th

e Namoos of man essentially depends on the Namoos of woman whether she is his wi fe, sister, mother, or daughter. In Pakhtun society it is duty of a man to prote ct the Namoos of his family women and protect them from any sexual harm. This ha s a lot to do with why Pakhtun society has very strict rules and customs in the form of Parda (seclusion), Tor, Nang and Ghairat, and why the role of women in t he society has been kept to a minimum compared to what one sees in Western socie ty or even other parts of Pakistan. This is also a reason why the majority of t he marriages in Pakhtun society are arranged marriages where the parents decide when and to whom a girl will be married.

Pakhtun society has very strict rules and regulations, and an act th at is considered decent in other parts of the world is considered against the Na moos of all Pakhtuns. For example if a woman wears very tight clothes, this is c onsidered an act against the Namoos of the Pakhtuns. Moreover Pakhtuons historic ally celebrate the birth of boys, however the birth of a girl especially if it i s the first child is considered against the Namoos of Pakhtun. A man has full ri ghts to safeguard the Namoos of his family, and to this end, has full control ov er the female family members. Depending on the extent of one’s Namoos lost in the eyes of the community, even very severe punishments such as forced abortion, ev en death, are considered options. The punishment of death for infidelity, or “hono ur killing,” emerges from the concept of Namoos, and a woman can be put to death i f family members think that she has had an unlawful relation with a male.


In Pushto the word "Swara" is used for that female who is riding on a horse/camel or any conveyance (carriage). Since in good old days as there were no other means of carriage except animals, so the palanquins in the marriages we re used to be carried on horse/camel. In the same way the female ( given in comp romise to rival party) were send to her "New House" on the back of camel/horse a nd for this reason the word "Swara" got popular.

The customary act of Swara is largely prevalent in various parts of t he country, by the virtue of which, instead of giving blood money as "badl-e-sul ha" an accused family gives their girl or girls in marriage to an aggrieved fami ly as "compensation" to settle blood feud between them.


Generally, girls are given Swara in marriage as compensation for murd er, adultery, abduction and kidnapping committed by the men of the family. Women are compelled to sacrifice their father, brother or uncle for the crime they ha ve committed. Jirga decides the fate of women and the pronouncement of Swara wit hout the consent of the women concerned. These Jirgas constitute only the male m embers of the village or community.

This practice of handing over a female in reconciliation to a male of an enemy s family is exercised in different circumstances. The most popular cir cumstance where a young girl is given as a compensation is that of homicidal dis pute consisting of a murder committed either by her brother, father or even uncl e. In order to settle down the rivalries and disputes and bring peace between th e rival families, the Jirga (a council or jury of the tribal elders) is often ap proached. It strives for reaching a reconciliation and compensation that may end in the form of a monetary payment or the handing over of a female of the guilty party to the aggrieved and affected party.

As in most parts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas, the J irga system is still in vogue for the settlement of disputes, including conflict ing claims to land and water, intra-tribal or inter-tribal murders, inheritance and alleged breaches of the honour code. This Jirga mostly consists of the rever ed, noble and influential personalities of the area or tribe which after listeni ng to the arguments and comments of both the parties involved in the dispute pas ses its judgement. The Jirga usually consists of the male members of both the ac cused and the deceased parties. Both the parties have to accept the judgement pa ssed by the Jirga, otherwise the party not abiding by the decision is held liabl e. In order to settle the dispute and to make a truce, the Jirga may fix some ca sh money, a piece of land, animals, guns and one or two or more maidens to be gi ven by the accused party to the aggrieved party. A female given in such a compro mise is called "Swara".

The use of women as part of a compensation is thought to be an effe ctive way of putting a permanent end to enmity as the link of marriage brings th e families together and the offspring of such a wedlock keeps the two families a way from further fighting. If the Swara is adult or mature, she is handed over t o the rival party, but in case she has not attained maturity, she is kept in tru st at her parent s home. It is totally at the discretion of the aggrieved party which decides whether to perform the Nikah then or later at its own will to furt her disgrace her family. On such occasions, even the concerned female is not con sulted as to whether she consents to be handed over or not.

The other circumstance where Swara is given is that of settling the dispute which arises due to the marriage of own will where the girl is put to f light with her lover. This is considered by the girl s family as kidnapping and a severe blow to its honour. Therefore it demands a Swara in compensation.

The Swara custom is also practised in circumstances where the victi m or the heirs of a murdered victim whose case is settled in the court can lawfu lly withdraw a criminal charge by accepting some monetary or other compensation. This compensation is mostly accepted in the form of Swara. In this way the crim inal can be pardoned at any stage before the execution of the sentence by the sa crifice of a woman. The court is obliged to accept the compromise if the deal be tween the victim s family and the perpetrators is presented to it.

The Swara agrees to going to the enemy s house in a bid to secure the lives of the male members of her family. Once a girl is given away as Swara, there is little chance of a happy life for her for there is no honour for such girls. The treatment meted out to the Swara at her "new house" is horrifying. Sh e is taunted at every moment and is cursed for being a swara. She lives a life w orse even than a maid servant. The innocent Swara has to bear the brunt of a cri


me she has never committed for the rest of her life. Her ordeal is heart-wrenchi ng as such a woman usually does not enjoy the full rights of a married woman. Sh e is treated as a slave who has no say in her own life. She remains stigmatised till her death. She is destined to go through immense torture because she is not respected by her in-laws and is treated ignobly. There have been reports of the Swara victim committing suicide in order to escape the wrath of her in-laws.

Although the practice was originally used to end feuds between enemie s as the blood ties thus established were expected to create a blood bond which would put an end to the feud, looking into the growing trend of Swaras and the t reatment mated out to the Swara is really deplorable and must be put to an end. GHAYRAT AND NANG

Ghayrat may be defined as the actions taken to safeguard a Pakhtun’s ho nour. Nang is the set of practices that a Pakhtun has to follow while fighting o r confronting an alien intruder. We can say that Nang is the set of behavioural traits that a Pakhtun is obliged to display when fighting takes place between hi s tribe and outsiders.

Ghayrat and Nang are two sets of normative practices; honourable act ions in battle and proper defense of honour. Norms of battle include rules about who may or may not be attacked (e.g., not civilians) as well as the accurate di vision of war “rewards”. In Pakhtun society, Izzat (honor) is given to those who sho w fighting skills. However it is not unusual for women to engage in combat — altho ugh more often their role is to support the male fighters by displaying their Pa ronnay (head shawl) to spur on the fight. They also rebuff disgraceful battalion and reward honourable fighters, the latter of which earns distinction different ly depending on the community in question.

The second form of chivalrous norms—Ghayrat involves the protection of honour against embarrassment caused by another person. A harsh affront, act, or situation that hurts somebody’s feelings requires that a Pakhtun defend his honou r as stipulated by Pakhtunwali principles. According to Fredrik Barth, “this resis tance requires a show of superior force by the insulted person”. Defense of honour is often displayed through Badal (revenge), and as long as the revenge is not e xcessive, the Jirga (the local council or assembly) does not obstruct or object that such actions are taken. As Ahmad has pointed out in his book Millennium and Charisma among Pathans, “for every man killed the code demands compensatory Badal … and that Badal may even be a deterrent in homicidal tendencies”.

Thus the concepts of Ghayrat and Nang serve as mechanisms that guaran tee social justice and order in Pakhtun society. Everyone in the society is expe cted to live within his parameters. If one lives within those parameters set for th by Pakhtunwali, there will be no need for extreme action.


Seyali (competition) and Turborwali (rivalry) in Pakhtun society a also very noteworthy. Pakhtun society is an honour-based society, and efforts a

re constantly made to get ahead of one’s rival. Unlike other parts of the world, t he first cousin (Turbor) in Pakhtun society is regarded as a rival and a strong opponent. Each side of the family makes their best efforts to get ahead of its T urbor, and two important concepts evolve from this, known as Seyali and Turborwa

li. The term “Turbor” literally means “first cousin,” however it also denotes the rivalr y between two cousins. On the other hand, “Seyali” literally means “to compete.” The con cept of Seyali is not only practiced with Turbor, but also with those who live i


n the village and have an equal social standing. For example, a Malik of the vil lage will have Seyali with other Malik, and a Khan with another Khan.

Seyali is always practiced with those who have the same standing. An example of Seyali might be if a Khan bought a brand new Mercedes Benz, the other Khan, who has Seyali with the aforementioned Khan, will also buy a Mercedes Ben z or in some cases even look for another model that is superior and has more pre stige and value. If a Malik sends his son to a doctorate program in England, the other Malik may send his son for one in the USA. It is worth mentioning that in most of the cases, both parties do not have the resources to practice Seyali, a s most of the village-dwelling people in Pakhtun society have agriculture-based income that is usually just enough to cover the day-to-day expenses of the house . However, when there is Seyali, a Khan or a Malik or a tribal leader may sell a plot of land, take a loan from a relative or a financial institution, or in som e extreme cases may even mortgage his house; but he will not get behind his oppo nent in terms of Seyali.

The Turborwali is a slightly different concept than Seyali. Usually S eyali is practiced with outside people who might be the same tribe, living in th e same region, or have some political enmity. However, the Turborwali is practic ed with the first cousin. Usually the Turborwali gets started with the unfair an d unjust division of inherited land or other resources owned by the grandfather that are usually distributed between the two uncles. This usually leads to long-lasting feelings of bitterness between the two segments of the same family.


Pakhtuns are very sensitive about the honour of their women folk. S light molestation of the women is considered a solemn and unbearable offense. Th e cases of infidelity and illegitimate relations between a Pakhtun man and woman are put down with an iron hand. No stone is left unturned in avenging the culpr its — whether male or female. Throwing a malevolent eye on women is synonymous to risking one’s life in a Pakhtun society. Both sexes, therefore, carefully keep awa y from immoderation when regarding immoral practices.

If a Pakhtun discovers that a particular person is having relations with any female belonging to his house, then he neither spares the life of the f emale nor that of her seducer. This concept is termed as Tor in Pashto. The term

Tor literally means “black” but may be used to mean “public disgrace” and “defamation”. Som e regard it as a form of stigmatization of a male and female who are both found

guilty of illicit amour on sufficient evidence. Both the man and woman are put t o death according to the customary law. This type of extreme notoriety, abuse, a nd slander are wiped out — justified, if you will — with the blood of the culprits. Besides adultery, the death penalty is also prescribed for elopement which also falls under the purview of the Tor.

In cases of Tor, murder is not accounted for and the woman relatives are justified by the tribal law to kill their female relation as well as her par amour. In case any of the persons guilty of adultery succeed in absconding, the heirs of the female have every right to kill him/her whenever and wherever an op portunity presents itself. Otherwise the matter remains in a state of Paighor (R eproach/disapproval) for the Pakhtuns living in Pakhtun society.

The second aspect of Tor is that if the infidelity of a woman or the a lleged involvement of adultery of both male and female is proved, then both are put to death. Such punishments are used as deterrents for ignominious acts, prev enting both sexes from daring to indulge in adulterous fornication in Pakhtun so


ciety. Although the concept of Tor appears quite extreme and unforgiving to the eyes of most Westerners, for the Pakhtuns it is an act of trying to maintain hon our by encouraging fidelity and ensuring social justice by reprimanding public d isgrace whenever and wherever it occurs. Such practices are tied deeply to the c oncept of Pakhtuwali and date back thousands of years in cultural traditions and daily life.


It is generally agreed that language and culture are closely relat ed. Language can be viewed as a verbal expression of culture. It is used to main tain and convey culture and cultural ties. Language provides us with many of the categories we use for expression of our thoughts, so it is therefore natural to assume that our thinking is influenced by the language which we use. The values and customs in the country we grow up in shape the way in which we think to a c ertain extent.


1) Sociology by M Iqbal Chaudhry

2) An Introduction to the Study of Linguistics by Prof. Munawar Ali Malik 3) The Study of Language by George Yule

4) Sociolinguistics Supplementary Reading Material for Diploma TEFL 5) Sociolinguistics Course Book for Diploma TEFL

6) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia 7) www.khyber.org

8) www.forgottendiaries.org 9) www.scribd.com


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