Native toAfghanistan
Ethnicityperhaps 5,000 (no date)[1]
Native speakers
(undated figure of 100)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3tra

Tirahi is a nearly extinct if not already extinct[2] Indo-Aryan language[3] spoken in a few villages in the southeast of Jalalabad in the Nangarhar Province of eastern Afghanistan. It is spoken by older adults, who are likewise fluent in Pashto.[1]

The Tirahis were expelled from Tirah in the present-day Khyber District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, by the Afridi Pashtuns.[4] Georg Morgenstierne claimed that Tirahi is "probably the remnant of a dialect group extending from Tirah through the Peshawar district into Swat and Dir."[5]

Geographic distribution

Spoken in the Nangarhar Province of Northeastern Afghanistan, there are about 100 native speakers today, if any. This is mainly due to the majority of the Tirahi people having assimilated into the dominant Pashtun culture. Tirahi is also spoken in a couple of villages southeast of the Afghan city of Jalalabad,[6] such as Jaba, Mitarani, and Bara-khel.[7]


Tirahi is an Indo-Aryan language.[8] Further, Tirahi is part of the sub-group of Kohistani languages along with languages such as Bateri, Chilisso, Gowro, and others. However, Tirahi also shares with languages spoken further to the east, such as Kashmiri.[8] As a Dardic Language, Tirahi strongly preserves some vocabulary of spoken Sanskrit (cow - dēn in Tirahi, dhēnuh in Sanskrit, hand - ast in Tirahi, hastah in Sanskrit).[8] Being a language spoken in Afghanistan, Tirahi shares various words and grammatical constructs with Pashto, a language spoken throughout Afghanistan to which many Tirahi speakers have become accustomed to speaking. Since Tirahi is entirely separated from the other Dardic languages, located south of the Kabul River and west of the Khyber Pass, rendering it wholly encased by Pashto.[6] Tirahi also shares some vocabulary with Kashmiri and Shina such as the Tirahi mala, for a father, the Kashmiri mol, and the Shina malo.[9]


Tirahi shows much influence from Pashto in phonology, lexicon and even morphology. However, its vocabulary exhibits a connection to Kohistani dialects. Therefore, Tirahi seems to occupy an intermediate position between Pashto and the Kohistani group.[10] Morgenstirne claims that Tirahi is "probably the remnant of a dialect group extending from Tirahi through the Peshawar district into Swat and Dir."[5]

Nouns and adjectives

Tirahi is an inflected language, having 5 cases: Nominative, Oblique, Genitive, Dative, and Ablative. Adjectives, verbs, and nouns usually agree according to gender. Consonant-final nouns add e or a along with their traditional endings.[11] There appears to be an indefinite article, added to the end of the word as an -ī, similar to Farsi.[8]

Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative mala - 'father' mala adam - 'man' adam-a
Oblique mala mal-an adam-a adam-an
Dative mala-s mala adam-a-s adam-an
Ablative mala-si mala-si adam-a-si adam-an
Genitive mala-ma mala-si adam-a-ma adam-an-si


1st person pronouns:

Singular Plural
Nominative au, ao mā, ao
Oblique mēn
Dative ma-si ma-si
Genitive myāna (m), myāni (s), myāna (p?) N/A

2nd person pronouns:

Singular Plural
Nominative tu, to tao
Dative ta-si N/A
Genitive cā-na (m), cā-nī (m), cā-nī (f), cā-na (mfp) tāma, tema


  1. Non finite forms
    1. Infinitive: stem + an (karan - 'to do/make')
  2. Tense-aspect forms
    1. Imperative Singular: stem, Imperative Plural: stem + V
    2. Present-future: root + endings - 1st: - m, 2nd: -s, 3rd: -e, 1st plural: -en
    3. Definite Present: da/de + present-future

Example sentences


  1. ^ a b c Tirahi at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005) Closed access icon
  2. ^ "Tirahi". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2016-04-27. It is very likely that this language is extinct. The Tirahi are "a group of unclear origin, almost completely assimilated by Pashtun" (Pstrusinska and Gray 1990).
  3. ^ Prakāśaṃ, Vennelakaṇṭi (2008-01-01). Encyclopaedia of the Linguistic Sciences: Issues and Theories. Allied Publishers. p. 143. ISBN 9788184242799.
  4. ^ Konow, Sten (1933). Acta Orientalia, Volumes 11-12. Munksgaard. p. 161.
  5. ^ a b Turner, R. L. (1934-01-01). "Review of Report on a Linguistic Mission to North-Western India". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 66 (4): 801–803. doi:10.1017/S0035869X00112675. JSTOR 25201006.
  6. ^ a b Voegelin, C.F.; Voegelin, F.M. (1965). "Languages of the World: Indo-European Fascicle One". Anthropological Linguistics. 7: 286.
  7. ^ Stein, Aurel (Jul 1925). "Notes on Tirahi. The Speakers of Tirahi". The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 3: 401–402.
  8. ^ a b c d Grierson, George (March 1925). "On The Tirahi Language". The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (3): 408. JSTOR 25220761.
  9. ^ Grierson, G. (1925). On the Tirahi language. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (New Series), 57(03), 405-416.
  10. ^ Jain, Dhanesh; Cardona, George (2003-01-01). The Indo-Aryan Languages. Routledge. p. 857. ISBN 9780700711307.
  11. ^ Jain, Dhanesh; Cardona, George (2003-01-01). The Indo-Aryan Languages. Routledge. pp. 857–9, also for all grammatical information below. ISBN 9780700711307.