This is one of those occasions when I spend so much time and energy correcting an annoying error that I am compelled to post about it here. I ran across a reference to the Kashmir Smast caves and, being me, wanted to know what that odd-looking “Smast” was from. After far too much work, I learned that it was supposedly the Pashto word for ‘cave.’ Well, as it happens, I have a Pashto-Russian dictionary, but I couldn’t find such an entry; looking around, though, I found سمڅ смəц (i.e., sməts). Aha, someone had mistranscribed the Pashto word at some point! So I added the following footnote (with three references, just for full assurance):
“Smast” is a mistranscription of the Pashto word for ‘cave,’ which is actually smats (Pashto: سمڅ). See Pashto – English Larg Dictionary; M.G. Aslanov, Pushtu-russkii slovar (Moscow: “Russkii yazyk”, 1985), p. 522 (سمڅ смəц); and, e.g., Edward George G. Hastings, Report of the Regular Settlement of the Peshawar District of the Punjab (Central Jail Press, 1878), p. 16: “Smats is the Pashto word for cave.”
Not only is it annoying that the mistake was made in the first place, but some blockhead is quoted in the Wikipedia article as writing “‘Smast’, or ‘Smats’ as it was referred to by colonial sources, is the Pushtu word for ‘cave’.” Yeah, it was referred to by colonial sources that way because that’s the Pashto word, doofus. And furthermore, the Wikipedia article is obviously a vanity production, or started that way, and needs serious editing, but it’s not going to be by me. I’ve done my bit.