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.
The Kite Runner Vocabulary
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.'
This is a common word used in The Kite Runner.
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.
Kabul: a city in Afghanistan
Kabul is the capital city of Afghanistan and is where the story first begins.
Rahim Khan is like a father to Amir. He is called Kaka Rahim in the book.
Mashallah: praise God
After Rahim Khan reads one of Amir's story, he writes to Amir, 'Amir jan, I enjoyed your story very much. Mashallah, God has granted you a special talent.'
Naan: a type of bread
This is a food that Amir mentions often. Sometimes he has a slice of naan with tea, and sometimes Hassan puts some marmalade on naan for him.
Salaam is a common greeting used in The Kite Runner.
Tashakor: thank you
Hassan has a cleft lip, but Baba agrees to pay for Hassan to have surgery to fix the lip. After the surgery, Hassan smiles and says, tashakor.
Watan: native country or homeland
Baba and Amir move to California, and Amir mentions later how it was difficult for Baba to move from his watan, his native country of Afghanistan.
In this lesson we examined and defined some of the Dari words used in The Kite Runner. You can use the vocabulary from this lesson to increase you understanding of The Kite Runner and the words it contains.
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