Yaghnobi language

Yaghnobi language

name=Yaghnobiyaγnobī́ zivók / яғнобӣ зивок
region=originally from Yaghnob Valley, in 1970s relocated to Zafarobod, in 1990s some speakers returned back to Yaghnob

The Yaghnobi language [Also transcribed as: Yaghnabi, Yagnobi or Yagnabi.- yaγnobī́ zivók (in Tajik variant of cyrillic script яғнобӣ зивок [jæʁnɔ:'bi: zɪ̆'vo:kʰ] , Russian ягнобский язык "/jagnobskij jazyk/", Tajik забони яғнобӣ "/zabon-i yaġnobî/", Persian زبان یغنابى "/zæbān-e yæġnābī/", Ossetic ягънобаг æвзаг "/jaγnobag ævzag/", German Jaghnobisch, Czech jaghnóbština, Slovak jagnóbčina, Ukrainian ягнобська мова "/jahnobs’ka mova/", Polish jagnobski język; linguistic abbreviation: YAGH] is a living Northeastern Iranian language (the only other living member being Ossetic). Yaghnobi is 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 often been called Neo-Sogdian in academic literature. [ Bielmeier. R. Yaghnobi in Encyclopedia Iranica [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/ot_grp10/ot_yaghnobi_20060303.html] ]

There are some 12,500 Yaghnobi speakers. They are divided into several communities. The principal group lives in the Zafarobod area. There are also re-settlers in the Yaghnob valley. Some communities live in the villages of Zumand and Kůkteppa and in Dushanbe or in its vicinity.

Most Yaghnobi speakers are bilingual in Tajik. Yaghnobi is mostly used for daily family communication, while Tajik is used by Yaghnobi speakers for business and formal transactions. The fact that a single 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 has led to the belief by some (especially those reliant solely on Russian sources) that Yaghnobi or some derivative of it was used as a code for nefarious purposes.Fact|date=February 2007

There are two main dialects, a western and an eastern one. These dialects differ primarily in phonetics. For example, to historical "*θ" corresponds "t" in the western dialects and "s" in the eastern, e.g. "met" - "mes" 'day' from Sogdian "mēθ" . To western "ay" corresponds eastern "e", e.g. "wayš" - "weš" 'grass' from Sogdian "wayš" or "wēš" . The early Sogdian group "θr" (later "š") is reflected as "sar" in the east but "tir" in the west, e.g. "saráy" - "tiráy" 'three' from Sogdian "θrē"/"θray" or "šē"/"šay" <δry>. "t/s" and "ay/e" are not the only features recognised as relevant to distinguish those two dialects, there are also some differences in verbal endings and in the lexicon. In between these two main dialects there is a transitional dialect. It shares some features of the western language and some features of the eastern one.


Yaghnobi was a scriptless language until 1990s [The Cyrillic Tajik alphabet-based writing were invented by Sayfiddīn Mīrzozoda in 1990s. ru icon [http://www.kyrgyz.ru/forum/index.php?showtopic=876 Ягнобцы - Форум «Центральноазиатского исторического сервера»] ] , but according to some ethnographers the Yaghnobis used a modified form of the Arabic alphabet. Nowadays the language is transcribed by scholars using a modified Latin alphabet, with the following symbols:

a (á), ā (ā́), b, č, d, e (é), f, g, γ, h, ẖ, i (í), ī (ī́), ǰ, k, q, l, m (m̃), n (ñ), o (ó), p, r, s, š, t, u (ú), ū (ū́), ʏ (ʏ́), v, w (u̯), x, x°, y, z, ž, ع

In recent times Sayfiddīn Mīrzozoda form the Tajik Academy of Sciences uses a modified Tajik alphabet for writing Yaghnobi. This alphabet is quite unsuitable for Yaghnobi - it does not distinguish short and long vowels, the difference v/w or does not mark stress etc. Yaghnobi alphabet follows with Latin equivalents given in parenthesis: А а (a) Б б (b) В в (v, w) Г г (g) Ғ ғ (γ)Д д (d) Е е (e/ye) Ё ё (yo) Ж ж (ž) З з (z)И и (i, ī) Ӣ ӣ (i, ī) й (y) К к (k) Қ қ (q)Л л (l) М м (m) Н н (n) О о (o) П п (p)Р р (r) С с (s) Т т (t) У у (u, ū, ʏ) Ӯ ӯ (ū, ʏ)Ф ф (f) Х х (x) "Хв хв" (x°) Ҳ ҳ (h, ẖ) Ч ч (č) Ҷ ҷ (ǰ)Ш ш (š) Ъ ъ (ع) Э э (e) Ю ю (yu, yū, yʏ) Я я (ya)

Notes to the Cyrillic alphabet:

1) Letter "й" does not have capital form, it never appears at the beginning of a word. Words beginning with "ya-", "yo-" and "yu-/yū-/yʏ-" are written as "я-", "ё-" and "ю-"; in a similar way are these combinations written in the middle of the word, f.ex. "viyóra" is "виёра" [vɪ̆ˈjɔ:ra] .

2) The usage of letters "ӣ" and "ӯ" is not exactly known, it appears, that those letters can be used to distinguish two similar sounding words by orthography (f.ex. "иранка" and "ӣранка", "рупак" and "рӯпак"). Maybe letter "ӣ" is also used as a stress marker as it is also in Tajik. Letter "ӯ" can also be used in Tajik loanwords to indicate a Tajik vowel /ů/ [ɵː] , but it can have some other usage that is not known yet.

3) In older texts Yaghnobi alphabet did not use letters "Ъ ъ" and "Э э" - instead of Tajik "ъ" is used Yaghnobi letter "’" and Yaghnobi "е" covered both Tajik "е" and "э" for value /e/; in later notation those letters were integrated into the alphabet - so the older writing "етк" was changed into "этк" to represent pronunciation [ˈe:tkʰ] (and not " [ˈje:tkʰ] "), older writing "ша’мак" was chaged to "шаъмак" [ʃʲæʕˈmak] .

4) Letter combinations /yi/ and /ye/ are written as "е" and "йи", but those combinations appear rarely in Yaghnobi. Yaghnobi letter "и" never has value /yi/ as it can have in Tajik. Letter "е" has two values - in word-initial position and after a vowel it is pronounced [je:] , in position after a consonant it means [e:] - "еб" [je:b] × "мен" [me:n] , please note that /ye/ is rare in Yaghnobi - it can be found only in Tajik or Russian loans, the example "еб" is the only one recorded example with /ye/ in Yaghnobi, this word itself is a Tajik loanword.

5) Russian letters "Ц ц", "Щ щ", "Ы ы" and "Ь ь", that can be used in Tajik loans from Russian are not used in Yaghnobi - the Russian words are written as they are pronounced by the Yaghnobi speakers, not as they are written originally in Russian (f.ex. "aeroplane" is "самолет/самолёт" in Russian, written "самолёт" in Tajik and pronounced [səmʌˈʎot] in Russian and similar in Tajik, in Yaghnobi it is written as "самалиёт" respecting Yaghnobi pronunciation [samalɪˈjo:tʰ] or [samajlˈo:tʰ] ; word "concert" is borrowed to Yaghnobi from Russian "концерт" [kʌnˈʦe̠rt] in form "кансерт" [kʰanˈse:rtʰ] ).

6) By consultation with Sayfiddīn Mīrzozoda distinction between sonds /v/ and /w/ is needed to be established - for the sound /v/ letter "в" will be used but for /w/ another letter should be adopted. By the agreement letter "Ў ў" would be the best choice - it appears almost in all fonts useful for writing Tajik, also its appearance similar to /y/ "Й й" seams to be systematic by phonetic representation of those sounds - both /y/ and /w/ are approx­imants. Also for representation of /x°/ letter combination "Хў хў" should be used. In some texts Mīrzozoda used Latin letter "w" in Cyrillic texts, this notation was unfortunately inconsistent. Yet no texts using "Ў ў" were published, this is only a proposal for better representation of Yaghnobi phonology in "its own" alphabet [The usage of letter "Ў ў" for /w/ is nowadays used in Belarusian language, it was once used also in Ossetic, an Iranian language related to Yaghnobi] .


Yaghnobi includes 9 vowels - 3 short, 6 long - and 27 consonants.


short: i [i-ɪ-e] , a [a(-æ)] , u [(y-)u-ʊ-o] (all short vowels might be reduced approximately to [ə] in pretonic positions)

long: ī [i:] , e [ɛ:(-e:)] , ā [a:] , o [(ɒ:-)ɔ:(-o:-u:)] , ū [u:] , ʏ [(u:-)y:(-i:)]

diphthongs: ay [ai̯] "(ay in native words appears only in the western dialects, in the eastern it changes to e, ay can also appear in the eastern dialect, but by different etymology)", oy [ɔ:i̯] , uy [ʊi̯] , ūy [u:i̯] , ʏy [y:i̯] , iy [ɪi̯] ; ow [ɔ:u̯] , aw [au̯]


1) Please note that long "e", "o" and "ʏ" are conventionally not written with the lengthening sign.

2) Long ā is recognised, but it appears only as a result of secondary lengthening (f.ex. "ǰām" < "ǰaعm" < "ǰamع").

3) In recent borrowings from Tajik ů and/or Uzbek also [ɵ:] can appear, but it's pronunciation usually merges with ū)

4) Vowel "ʏ" is recognised by some authorities, by some other not. It seams that it is an allophone of "ū". The origin of "ʏ" comes from historical stressed *"ū", but historical *"ō", changed in Yaghnobi to "ū", remains unchanged. It seams, that the status of "ʏ" is unstable and it is not recorded in all varieties of Yaghnobi, while "ʏ" is often realised as "ū", "ūy/ūy", "uy/uy" or "ʏ". In summary: *"ū́" "(under stress)" > "ū/ūy/uy/ʏ" or "ū", *"ō" > "ū" (f.ex. "vʏz/vūz", goat; Tajik "buz", Avestan "buza-"). By some authorities "ʏ" can be transcribed as "ü".

5) Vowel "o" can change to "ū" in front of a nasal (cf. "Toǰīkistón" × "Toǰīkistū́n", "nom" × "nūm").

6) Vowel "e" is considered as a long vowel, but in front of "h" or "ع" its pronunciation is somewhat shorter - so than "e" is realised as a half-short (or even short) vowel. Etymologically this "short" "e" in fornt of "h, ع" comes from older *"i", in pronunciation of Yaghnobi we can see alternation "e/i" in front of "h/ع" - in case when the historical cluster "*ih" or "*iع" appears in a closed syllable, than "*i" changes to "e", in open syllable this change does not take place (this development is similar to Tajik one) - this change can be seen in case of verb "dih-/deh-": infinitive "díhak" × 3rd sg. present "déhči".

7) In Yaghnobi dialects there can be seen a different development of historical svarabhakti vowel: in the Western and Transitional dialects this is rendered as "i" (or "u" under certain circumstances) but in the Eastern dialects it changes to "a" (but also "i" or "u"): f.ex. "*θray" > "*θəráy" > W./Tr. "tiráy" × E. "saráy" but "*βrāt" > "*vərāt" > W./Tr./E. "virót"; when the second vowel is a back vowel "*ə" usually changes to "u" in Western or Transitional dialects: "*(čə)θβār" > "*tfār" > "*təfór" > W./Tr. "tufór" (but also "tifór") × E. "tafór", "*pδūfs-" > "*bədū́fs" > W./Tr./E. "budū́fs-". The later change appears also in morphology: verb "tifárak" (the form is same in all three dialects) has form in 3rd sg. present "tufórči" < "*təfár-" < "*tfar-" < "*θβar-". Alternation "i/a" can be seen also in Tajik loans where an unstressed vowel can undergo this change: W./Tr. "širī́k" × E. "šarī́k" < Tajik "šarīk /šarīk/", W./Tr. "xipár" × E. "xapár" < Tajik "xabar /xabar/". The former svarabhakti vowels are often ultra-short or reduced in pronunciation, in some cases they can disappear in a fast speech: "xišáp /xišáp × xišáp × xšap/" < "*xəšáp" < "*xšap".

8) Vowel "a" changes to "o" in verbal stems of the type -Car- when an ending containing historical "*θ" or "*t" is added: "tifár-", infinitive "tifárak", 1st sg. present "tifarómišt" but 3rd sg. present "tufórči" (ending "-či" comes from older "-tišt"), 2nd pl. present W./Tr. "tufórtišt" E. "tufórsišt", "x°ar-: x°árak : x°arómišt : xórči : xórtišt/xórsišt" (please note also that when "a" changes to "o" after "x°", "x" looses its labilisation). This change takes place with all verbs of Yaghnobi origin and also in case of older loans from Tajik, in case of new loans "a" remains unchanged, f. ex.: "gudár(ak) : gudórči" × "pár(ak) : párči" - the first verb is an old loan from Tajik "guzaštan < guδaštan", the later is recent loan from "parrīdan".


stops: IPA|p, IPA|b, IPA|t, IPA|d, IPA|k, IPA|ɡ, IPA|q (IPA|k and IPA|ɡ can be palatalised to IPA|k’ and IPA|ɡ’ respectively before a front vowel or after a front vowel at the end of a word)

fricatives: IPA|f, IPA|v, IPA|s, IPA|z, IPA|ʃʲ <š>, IPA|ʒʲ <ž>, IPA|χ , IPA|ʁ <γ>, χʷ , IPA|h (also "IPA|ɦ" can appear sa an allophone between vowels or voiced consonants), IPA|ħ <ẖ>, IPA|ʕ <ع>

affricates: IPA|ʧ <č>, IPA|ʤ <ǰ>

nasals: IPA|m, IPA|n (also IPA|ŋ and IPA|ɱ can occur as allophones of "m" and/or "n" before "k"/"g" or "f"/"v")

trill: IPA|r

lateral: IPA|l

approximant: IPA|β̞ , IPA|j

The 2nd person plural, "šumóx" also finds use as the polite form of the 2nd person.

Oblique case:

Personal endings - preterite (with augment "a-"):

By adding the ending "-išt" to the preterite a durative preterite is formed.

Participle: Present participle is formed by adding "-na" to the verbal stem. Past participle (or perfect participle) is formed by addition of "-ta" to the stem.

Infinitive is formed by addition of ending "-ak" to the verbal stem.

Negation is formed by prefix "na-", in combination with augment in preterite it changes to "ni-".

Copula - Present:


Present knowledge of Yaghnobi lexicon comes from three main works - from a Yaghnobi-Russian dictionary presented in Yaghnobi texts by "Andreyev" and "Peščereva" and then from a supplementary wordlist presented in Yaghnobi grammar by "Xromov". The last work is Yaghnobi-Tajik dictionary compiled by Xromov's student "Sayfiddīn Mīrzozoda". What is now known, in Yaghnobi Tajik words represent the majority of lexicum (some 60%), then come words of Turkic origin (up to 5%, mainly from Uzbek) and few Russian words (approx. 2%; note that through Russian language also many international words came to Yaghnobi). So only about one third of the lexicon is Eastern-Iranian origin, those words can be easily comparable to those known from Sogdian, Ossetian, Pamir languages or Pashto.

ample text

"Fálγar-at Yáγnob asosí láf-šin ī-x gumū́n, néki áxtit toǰīkī́-pi wóvošt, mox yaγnobī́-pi. 'Mʏ́štif' wóvomišt, áxtit 'Muždív' wóvošt." [IPA|ˈfalʁæratʰ ˈjæʁnɔːb asɔːˈsiː ˈlafʆin ˈiːχ gʊˈmuːn ˈneːcʰe ˈæχtʰɪtʰ tʰɔːʤiːˈcʰiːpʰe ˈβ̞oːˀɔːʆtʰ moːʁ jæʁnɔːˈbiːpʰe ˈmyːʆtʰɪf ˈβ̞oːˀɔːmɪʆtʰ ˈæχtʰɪtʰ mʊʒˈdɪv ˈβ̞oːˀɔːʃtʰ]

"In Falghar and in Yaghnob is certainly one basic language, but they speak Tajik and we speak Yaghnobi. We say 'Müštif', they say 'Muždiv'."

(In edited Cyrillic orthography it could have been written this way: "Фалғарат Яғноб асосӣ лафшин ӣх гумӯн, неки ахтит тоҷӣкӣпи ўоошт, мох яғнобӣпи. 'Мӯштиф' ўоомишт, ахтит 'Муждив' ўоошт.")



* [http://yaghnobi.wordpress.com/2007/07/26/yaghnobi-texts-and-a-dictionary-by-andreyev-and-peshchereva/ М. С. Андреев, Е. М. Пещерева, Ягнобские тексты с приложением ягнобско-русского словаря, Москва - Ленинград 1957] .(M. S. Andrejev, Je. M. Peščereva, Jagnobskije teksty s priloženijem jagnobsko-russkogo slovarja, Moskva - Leningrad 1957) "(in Russian)"

*М. Н. Боголюбов, Ягнобский (новосогдийский) язык. Исследование и материалы. Автореферат на соискание ученой степени доктора филологических наук, Ленинград 1956(M. N.Bogoljubov, Jagnobskij /novosogdijskij/ jazyk. Issledovanija i materialy. Avtoreferat na soiskanije učenoj stepeni doktora filologičeskix nauk, Leningrad 1956) "(in Russian)"

*С. Мирзозода, Яғнобӣ зивок, Душанбе 1998.(S. Mirzozoda, Yaġnobī zivok, Dušanbe 1998) "(in Tajik)"

*С. Мирзозода, Луғати яғнобӣ - тоҷикӣ, Душанбе 2002.(S. Mirzozoda, Luġat-i yaġnobī - tojikī, Dušanbe 2002) "(in Tajik)"
* [http://yaghnobi.wordpress.com/2007/03/29/translation-of-a-l-khromovs-yagnobi-language/ А. Л. Хромов, Ягнобский язык, Москва 1972.] (A. L. Xromov, Jagnobskij jazyk, Moskva 1972) "(in Russian)"

External links

* http://www.eki.ee/books/redbook/yaghnabis.shtml
* http://www.iles.umn.edu/faculty/bashiri/Tajling%20folder/yaghnob.html
* [http://yaghnobi.wordpress.com Yaghnobi blog & online Yaghnobi-Tajik-English lexicon]

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