The Kite Runner Vocabulary

Instructor: Rachel Noorda
This lesson will cover some of the vocabulary in the Afghan language of Dari that is seen throughout 'The Kite Runner'. Familiarize yourself with certain words for a better understanding of the text.

Introduction to The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, is the story of Amir, a boy living in Afghanistan, and his friend, Hassan. The story begins in Kabul and follows Amir throughout his life. It is a fictional story set against the background of historical events, such as the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Because The Kite Runner is set in Afghanistan, there are many words in the novel that are in Dari, one of the official languages of Afghanistan. The vocabulary words for this lesson are primarily Dari words, which might be unfamiliar to you, but which are important for understanding the plot, culture, and feel of the novel.

Map of Kabul, Afghanistan

The Kite Runner Vocabulary

Agha: mister

Hassan calls his friend 'Amir agha' or Mr. Amir.

Ahesta boro: wedding song

Amir describes how his soon-to-be wife, Soraya, had never had the ahesta boro sung for her yet.

Ahmaq: foolish, stupid, awkward

Baba tells Amir, 'I am not an ahmaq, so don't play stupid with me.'

Aush: a kind of soup in Afghanistan

Amir mentions 'a pot of cauliflower aush'.

Awroussi: wedding ceremony

Amir talks about preparations for his wedding to Soraya. 'Baba spent $35,000, nearly the balance of his life savings, on the awroussi, the wedding ceremony.'

Ayat: sign or miracle

After Baba dies, Amir uses the term ayat when describing a situation at the gravesite. 'Earlier, at the gravesite in the small Muslim section of the cemetery, I had watched them lower Baba into the hole. The mullah and another man got into an argument over which was the correct ayat of the Koran to recite at the gravesite.'

Azan: call to prayer in the Islamic faith

When Amir describes his hometown, he says that there are various sounds you can hear, including, 'in the early evening, you would have heard azan'.

Bachem: my child

Soraya's father, Amir's future father-in-law, tells Amir, 'You know, bachem, I have grown rather fond of you.'

Balay: yes

This is a common word used in The Kite Runner.

Biwa: widow

At one point in The Kite Runner when Amir is captured and thinks that he is going to die, he says, 'There was a very realistic chance that I was going to render Soraya a biwa, a widow, at the age of thirty-six.'

Burqa: a full-body garment worn by Muslim women

In The Kite Runner, many of the women characters wear burqas.

Dostet darum: I love you

These are the words that Amir first says to his future wife, Soraya.

Hadj: pilgrimage to Mecca

The Hadj is one of the pillars of the Islam religion. Islam is an important part of the characters, story and setting of The Kite Runner and so it is important to understand the word when it is mentioned in the story.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it now
Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account