Hazaragi dialect

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Native to Afghanistan[1] Nowadays also spoken and understood by large numbers of Hazara diasporeans mainly in Pakistan and Iran but also elsewhere.
Native speakers
unknown (2.2 million cited 1993–2000)[2]
Persian alphabet
Language codes
ISO 639-3 haz
Glottolog haza1239[3]

Part of a series on
People of Bamyan-3.jpg Hazara people

Hazaragi (Persian: هزارگی) is a dialect of the Persian language,[4][5] more precisely a part of the Dari dialect continuum (one of the main languages of Afghanistan),[6] and is mutually intelligble with Dari.[7] It is spoken by the Hazara people primarily in an area of central Afghanistan known as the Hazarajat, as well as other Hazara-populated areas of their native living ground of Afghanistan. It is also spoken by the Hazara diasporeans in Pakistan and Iran and elsewhere as part of the much larger Afghan diaspora.


The primary differences between Dari Persian and Hazaragi are the accent[6] and Hazaragi's greater array of Mongolic loanwords.[8] Despite these differences, Hazaragi is mutually intelligible with Dari,[7] of the main languages of Afghanistan.

Academic estimates of the Hazaragi-speaking population range from 1.8[8] to over 2.2 million[2] speakers.

Hazaragi is (ultimately) a dialect of the Persian language, with loanwords borrowed from Mongolic.[9] It is a member of the Iranian branch of the Indo-European family and is closely related to Dari Persian (the Persian dialect in Afghanistan). Hazaragi in the Daykundi Province has a significant admixture of Mongolic influence in the language via Karluk.

Geographic distribution and diaspora

Hazaragi is spoken by Hazara people who mainly live in Afghanistan (the Hazarajat and also in major urban areas), with diaspora communities in Pakistan (particularly Quetta) and Iran (particularly Mashhad),[10] Eastern Uzbekistan, Northern Tajikistan, the Americas, Europe and Australia.[11]

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 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 neighbouring languages would be penalised in testing.[12]


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 during the time of the Mongol king Babur, who came to Afghanistan in the 16th century, many well established scholars like Bacon[13] and Schumann[14] believe that the original language of Hazaras was Dari Persian from the beginning. A distinct Hazara Persian dialect began to emerge amongst the people of the Hazarajat in the late 18th century. The Hazara spoke Mongolian until the late 18th century. During the time of King Babur Hazaras spoke the Mongolic language of their ancestors. It is not certain when Mongolic died out as a living language in the Hazarajat. Dulling[15] states that, “they ceased to be Mongolic speakers by the end of eighteenth century at the latest, and were then speaking Tajik of a sort”.[16]

Decline of the Mongolic language

There seem to be two main reasons that caused the demise of Mongolic language and emergence of Hazaragi amongst the people of the Hazarajat. The first was the civilization of Persia, their knowledge, art and culture which strongly affected the people living in the mountains of central Afghanistan. The second major reason was the religion of Islam and the role of the Persian language in Islam.[original research?]

Persian art and culture

The Persian language extended and spread out of the boundaries of Iran and supplanted the language of Mongols.[when?] After the Mongol assault in Iran from 1219 to 1221[17] and slaughter of the learned men,[who?] some of them[who?] fled and went out to Greater Khurasan (now northern Afghanistan), of whom a large number also took refuge in sub-continent (current India and Pakistan). It is said that the “Soofis” both Iranian and non-Iranian left indelible memories in the propagation of Persian language.

The second generation[clarification needed] of Mongolians, in order to maintain control of a Persian-speaking country,[which?] of necessity adapted to the Persian culture and language. The linking and love of Iranian culture and language so enamored the Mongol rulers that they themselves, became the best proponents of the Iranian culture and language.[citation needed] The courts of Mughal kings such as Akbar,[which?] Shah Jahan, Jahangir attracted many Iranian poets and men of learning.[citation needed]

When Nadir Shah Afshar conquered Kandahar in 1150 A.H,[clarification needed] in order to propagate the Persian language in Afghanistan, he planted settlements from Iran and moved a number of people from Afghanistan, whom he settled by grants of land in the middle of Iran. The Qizilbash People are from these[which?] new settlers.[18]

Persian and Islam

One of the reasons behind the demise of Mongolic language 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 the continent.[19]

Timur, though he committed many great 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.[20]

Similarly the Ilkhanate Mongols (one main tribe of the ancestors of 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 language of Persia with them along with Shi'a Islam.[21]

There are some Mongol-speaking Moghol people, mainly in Karez and Kundur between Maymana and Herat (northwestern and western Afghanistan) who still speak the Mongolic language that other Hazaras do not understand.[when?][22]

Mongolic influence

Modern Hazaragi contains a number of Mongolic words.[19][23] Over time the Mongolian language has died out in Afghanistan as living language amongst the Hazara people. The very first known language of Hazara people, inherited from the Mongols is being supplanted by the ambience[clarification needed] the speakers are living in.[original research?] Such as Afghanistan: where the Hazaragi speakers are adding more and more Dari to their language, whereas in Pakistan the Hazara are adding more Urdu and English words to Hazaragi. A number of Hazara people live in the United States, Europe and Australia where they adapt the language culture of their respective countries.

Dulling says in his book "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.”[24]

The existence of Mongolic 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.[25]

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, their own Mongolian ceased to exist owing the passage of time.

Grammatical structure

The grammatical structure of Hazaragi[26][27][28] is practically identical with that of Kabuli Persian.[29][30] The most striking feature of this dialect is its lexicon that includes many notable items of uncertain origin. G. K. Dulling[31] considers “the present dialect to consist of three strata:

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

He is probably right when he asserts so[32] and that: “Although these dialects are essentially forms of modern Tajik [more properly modern Dari; they are nevertheless lexically distinctive enough to merit their local special name of ‘Hazaragi’”.[33] Examples of the vocabulary are: 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”];[34]


As a group of eastern Persian (Dari) varieties which are considered the more formal and classical varieties of Persian, Hazara retains the voiced fricative [γ] and the bilabial articulation of [w] has borrowed the (rare) retro flexes [ṭ] [ḍ] example: [buṭ meaning boot] vs. [but meaning idol] (Persian. Bot); and rarely articulates [h].[35] The convergence of voiced uvular stop [ɢ] (ق) and voiced velar fricative [ɣ] (غ) in Iranian Persian (probably under the influence of Turkic languages like Azeri and Turkmen),[36] is still kept separate in Hazara.

Diphthongs are [ay], [aw], and [ēw] (Persian [-ab]-[āb]-[ûw]). The vocalic system is typically eastern Persian characterized by the loss of length distinction, the retention of the mid vowels, and the rounding of [ā] [å/o], alternating with its merger with [a], or [û] (Persian-ān).[35]

Stress is dynamic and similar to that in Dari Persian[37] and Tajik[38] Persian, and not variable.[39] 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, example: [pashm (pašm)] to [pashum (póšum)] meaning [wool] and final devoicing, example: [Khod (ḵût)] meaning [self, own].[35]

Nominal morphology

The most productive derivative marker is [-i] the plural markers are [-o] (Persian [-hā]), example: [kitab-o meaning books] and animate [-û] (Persian [-ān]) example: [birar-û meaning brothers]. The emphatic vocative marker is [û] and [-o], the indefinite marker is [-i], and the specific object marker is [-(r)a]. The comparative marker is [-tar], example: [kalû meaning big] az u (kada) kalû-tar bigger than that one. Dependent adjectives and nouns follow the head noun and are connected by [-i], example: kitab-i mamud the book of Maḥmud; topicalized possessors precede the head noun marked by the resumptive personal suffix, example, Zulmay ayê-ši literally Zulmay her mother. Prepositions include, in addition to the standard Persian ones, [khun/ḵun(i) meaning with, by means of,] [da meaing in] (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, example: [kudam meaning which, someone].[35]

Pronouns in Hazaragi[35] [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

These include [atê/arê meaning yes]; [amma, liken, wali meaning but]; [balki meaning however]; [shayadi/šaydi meaning perhaps];[ale meaning now,]; [wuḵt-a meaning then]. These are also marked by distinctive initial stress.[35]

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

Verb morphology

The imperfective marker is [mi-] (assimilated variants m-, mu-, m-, mê-), example: [mi-zan-um] I hit, I am hitting; the subjunctive and imperative marker is [bi-] (with similar assimilation); the negation is [na-], example: [na-mi-zad-um] I was not hitting. These usually attract stress.[35]


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 Persian zada am), which has largely lost its non-modal use;
  • the potential, or assumptive, which is marked by the invariant [ḵot/khad] (Persian ḵāh-ad it is wanted, intended) 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].[40] 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].[35]

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, zadabud-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 are 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, e.g., 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/-ḵu] topicalizes parts of speech, [-di] the predicate; e.g., i-yši raft, ma-ḵu da ḵona mand-um “He himself left; I, though, I stayed.”[35]

See also


  1. Culture and Customs of Afghanistan.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hazāragī at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Hazaragi". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "HAZĀRA iv. Hazāragi dialect". Retrieved 5 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Attitudes towards Hazaragi". Retrieved 5 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 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
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Attitudes Towards Hazaragi". Retrieved 4 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Charles M. Kieffer, "HAZĀRA iv. Hazāragi dialect," Encyclopedia Iranica Online Edition, December 15, 2003, available at [1]
  9. "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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Area Handbook for Afghanistan, page 77, Harvey Henry Smith, American University (Washington, D.C.) Foreign Area Studies
  11. Barbara A. West. "Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania". pp 272. Info base Publishing, 2009. ISBN 1438119135
  12. Accreditation by Testing: Information booklet. NAATI, VERSION 1.10- August 2010
  13. Bacon E: The Hazara Mongols of Afghanistan: A study in social organization, PhD Dissertation, University of California, 1951, page 6.
  14. H.F. Schurmann: The Mongols of Afghanistan: an ethnography of the Mongols and related people of Afghanistan, University of California 1962, page 25-26
  15. Dulling G.K. The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian. London, Central Asian Research Center 1973
  16. Dulling G.K. The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian. London, Central Asian Research Center 1973:13
  17. "The Islamic World to 1600: The Mongol Invasions (The Il-Khanate)". Ucalgary.ca. Retrieved 2013-12-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "A Sociological Study of Hazara Tribe in Balochistan (An Analysis of Socio-Cultural Change) University of Karachi, Pakistan July 1976 p.304". Eprints.hec.gov.pk. Retrieved 2013-12-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 "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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Iranian Magazine (Sukhan, no. ix Khurdad 1325 solar, Khanlari 1325:3) under the title Ba Deedar e Yaran
  21. A Sociological Study of Hazara Tribe in Balochistan (An Analysis of Socio-Cultural Change) University of Karachi, Pakistan July 1976 p.305
  22. Elphinstone, Mountstuart (Kingdom of Caubul) with a new introduction by Sir Olaf Caroe, London and New York, Oxford University press, 1972
  23. Encyclopædia Britannica II p.199.
  24. Dulling, G. K. The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian. London: Central Asian Research Center, 1973: 13.
  25. Hayat Mohammad Khan (1381 Hijri, 1865). Hayat Afghan. (999)
  26. Valentin Aleksandrovich Efimov, Yazyk afganskikh khazara: Yakavlangskii dialect, Moscow, 1965. pp. 22-83
  27. Idem, “Khazara yazyk,” in Yazyki mira. Iranskiĭ yazyki I: yugo-zapadnye iranskiĭ yazyki, Moscow, 1997, pp. 154-66.
  28. G. K. Dulling, The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian: A Preliminary Study, Central Asian Monograph 1, London, 1973. pp. 29-41
  29. 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.
  30. Idem, The Spoken Dari of Afghanistan: A Grammar of Kāboli Dari (Persian), Compared to the Literary Language, Kabul, 1975
  31. G. K. Dulling, The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian: A Preliminary Study, Central Asian Monograph 1, London, 1973 pp. 14
  32. G. K. Dulling, The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian: A Preliminary Study, Central Asian Monograph 1, London, 1973 pp. 12
  33. G. K. Dulling, The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian: A Preliminary Study, Central Asian Monograph 1, London, 1973 discussion on pp. 47-99
  34. Valentin Aleksandrovich Efimov, Yazyk afganskikh khazara: Yakavlangskii dialect, Moscow, 1965. pp. 22-23
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 35.4 35.5 35.6 35.7 35.8 Charles M. Kieffer. "HAZĀRA iv. Hazāragi dialect". Iranica. p. 1. Retrieved September 15, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. A. Pisowicz, Origins of the New and Middle Persian phonological systems (Cracow 1985), p. 112-114, 117.
  37. 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
  38. V. S.Rastorgueva, A Short Sketch of Tajik Grammar, tr. Herbert H. Paper, Bloomington, Ind., and The Hague, 1963, pp. 9-10
  39. G. K. Dulling, The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian: A Preliminary Study, Central Asian Monograph 1, London, 1973. p. 37
  40. G. K. Dulling, The Hazaragi Dialect of Afghan Persian: A Preliminary Study, Central Asian Monograph 1, London, 1973. pp. 35-36

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