Concept

Yaghnobi language

Summary
Yaghnobi is an Eastern Iranian language spoken in the upper valley of the Yaghnob River in the Zarafshan area of Tajikistan by the Yaghnobi people. It is considered to be a direct descendant of Sogdian and has sometimes been called Neo-Sogdian in academic literature. There are some 12,500 Yaghnobi speakers, divided into several communities. The principal group lives in the Zafarobod area. There are also resettlers in the Yaghnob Valley. Some communities live in the villages of Zumand and Kůkteppa and in Dushanbe or its vicinity. Most Yaghnobi speakers are bilingual in Tajik. Yaghnobi is mostly used for daily family communication, and Tajik is used by Yaghnobi-speakers for business and formal transactions. A Russian ethnographer was told by nearby Tajiks, long hostile to the Yaghnobis, who were late to adopt Islam, that the Yaghnobis used their language as a "secret" mode of communication to confuse the Tajiks. The account led to the belief by some that Yaghnobi or some derivative of it was used as a secret code. There are two main dialects: a western and an eastern one. They differ primarily in phonetics. For example, historical *θ corresponds to t in the western dialects and s in the eastern: met – mes 'day' from Sogdian mēθ . Western ay corresponds to Eastern e: wayš – weš 'grass' from Sogdian wayš or wēš . The early Sogdian group θr (later ṣ̌) is reflected as sar in the east but tir in the west: saráy – tiráy 'three' from Sogdian θrē/θray or ṣ̌ē/ṣ̌ay . There are also some differences in verbal endings and the lexicon. In between the two main dialects is a transitional dialect that shares some features of both other dialects. Yaghnobi was unwritten until the 1990s, but according to Andreyev, some of the Yaghnobi mullahs used the Arabic script for writing the language before 1928, mainly when they needed to hide some information from the Tajiks. In recent times, Sayfiddīn Mīrzozoda of the Tajik Academy of Sciences has used a modified Tajik alphabet for writing Yaghnobi.
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