Tajik, the main language of Tajikistan

Tajik is the national language of Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic of around seven million people located just to the north of Afghanistan and to the east of China. The language is also used in Uzbekistan, where two of the biggest Tajik-speaking cities, Samarkand and Bukhara, are found.

It is mutually intelligible with Persian, the language of Iran. This means that one person talking in Tajik can have a conversation with another person talking in Persian without too much difficulty, much as is the case with Norwegian- and Swedish-speakers.

Some notable differences between the two are that Tajik normally uses the Cyrillic script—the local name for the language is written забони тоҷикӣ, [zaˈbɔːnɪ tɔdʒɪ'ki]—and that the sound in Persian often transcribed <aa> in the Roman alphabet has become [ɔː], the vowel of English ‘ball.’ The everyday greeting салом [salɔːm] is thus the Tajik rendering of the Persian and Arabic سلام, ‘peace.’

This page—and those linked from it on this server—is where I make notes and do exercises related to learning the language. Firstly, I’m transcribing into Cyrillic those example sentences and words in Michael Korotkow’s Tadschikisch Wort für Wort that are given only in the Roman alphabet, and giving an English translation for them. In the later sections I cross reference to Olson, R.B. and Olson, R.B., Standard Tajik-English Dictionary, Bishkek: Star Publications; Al Salam Publishing House, 2000, and for historical information on Persian, Steingass, Francis Joseph. A Comprehensive Persian-English dictionary, including the Arabic words and phrases to be met with in Persian literature. London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1892.

Serendipitously, from John R. Perry, A Tajik Persian Reference grammar; Brill: Leiden and Boston, 2005; p20, a bit of very dry humour:

/i/ > /e/: The vowel /i/ is lowered to /e/ before /h/ or the glottal stop in a closed or word-final syllable: деҳ دِه ‘give!’ (Imper. sg.; contrast диҳed دِهیـد ‘give!’, Imper. pl., open syllable; cf. неҳ نِه /neh/ and نِهید /nihed/ ‘put!’, Fig. 3.3a–c); Фотеҳ فاتِح /foteh/ (man’s name) but фотиҳа فاتحه /fotiha/ ‘opening surah of the Koran’; тасҳеҳ تصـحـیح ‘correction (of copy), proofing’, but тасҳиҳот تصحیحات ‘corrections’.²
² Тасҳеҳот in Raximi & Uspenskaia 1954 stands in need of correction.”

Pages 1–26— Foreword, instructions for use, phonetic script and pronunciation, nouns, demonstratives, adjectives, comparatives.

Pages 27–35— Verbs and tenses, «ҳастам» ‘to be,’ «доштан» ‘to have,’ tense forms for regular verbs, the present and near future, the perfect, and the imperfect.

Pages 36–48— Questions, orders, auxiliary verbs meaning can, may, must, should, phrasal verbs, conjunctions, pre– and postpositions, showing case relationships.

Pages 49–62— Adverbs, numbers and counting, quantifiers, ordinal numbers, measurement and quantities, time and date, adverbs of time, days of the week, months of the year, some aspects of politeness and some details on name construction.

Pages 62–76— Greetings, taking one’s leave, asking for something, offering something, thanking people, giving your best wishes, idioms and turns of phrase, agreement, disagreement, begging pardon, commentary, […], where you’re from, reasons for your visit, occupation, visiting.

Pages 77—92— Visiting, celebrations, eating food as a guest, family situation, family members, asking for directions, taxis, baggage, trains, planes, eating, drinking.

Pages 99—115— Eating and drinking, buying and haggling, at the market, groceries, going out, taking photos, smoking, police, customs, and other officials, at the post office.

Aidan Kehoe
Last modified: Mon Jan 2 01:24:59 GMT 2012