Tajikistan is an inland country without sea access, situated in the heart of Central Asia, where the Pamir Mountain Range covers the majority of land’s area.
The history of the country made a significant impact on the spoken languages in Tajikistan. The former region used to be occupied by various kingdoms and people of different ethnicities. The historical and cultural diversity resulted in a few languages used currently in Tajikistan.
The considerable influence on the country and language itself especially had the rules of Russians in times of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from which Tajikistan gained independence not a long time ago, in 1991.
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE IN TAJIKISTAN – TAJIK
The Tajik language is closely related to the Persian language (farsi). Nevertheless, the classification of this language is a disputed issue due to political factors. Some people consider those two languages as two dialects of the same language. At the same time, their opponents claim that differences between them are so numerous that Tajik and Persian should be treated as two separate languages.
The Tajik language acquired a lot of words from Russian. On the other hand, Tajik had evolved on the territory of classical new-Persian. Hence, the influence of classical new-Persian is quite visible in the Tajik language too.
Nowadays, more than 4 million people speak the Tajik language, mainly in Tajikistan, where it is the official language, as well as in Uzbekistan. The official Tajik language is based on the Dushanbe dialect.
Until the 1920s, the language had an Arabic alphabet that was replaced with the Latin one under the Soviet rule. In 1940, they finally introduced the Russian alphabet that is used until today.
Alongside the Tajik language, Russian is another primary language spoken in the country. Even though it isn’t formally stated in the country’s constitution that Russian is the second official language, it is considered a lingua franca used for communication, both formal and informal.
The effects of long years of Russian regime in Tajikistan are still visible in the country. Hence, it’s rather impossible to cease the usage of Russsian among Tajik people, the majority of which can speak it.
MINORITY LANGUAGES IN TAJIKISTAN
We can also hear some minority languages in Tajikistan spoken by ethinc minorities residing there. The first of such languages is Uzbek, the official language of Uzbekistan, which is spoken by c. 900,000 nationals.
Another ethnic minority living in Tajikistan are Kyrgyz people. About 60,000 Kyrgyzs residing in Tajikistan speak the Kyrgyz language, while only 10,000 fewer people in Tajikistan are Persian, Arabic, and Pashto-speaking minorities.
REGIONAL LANGUAGES IN TAJIKISTAN
There are also some regional languages spoken only in particular parts of the country. The following languages have few speakers in Tajikistan: Yaghnobi, Shughni, Wakhi, Parya.
IMMIGRANT LANGUAGES IN TAJIKISTAN
Tajikistan is also the country where people of various nationalities immigrated. They obviously speak their own languages. The most considerable number of immigrants come from Armenia, Belarus, Lithuania, Romania, Turkey, Western Baloch, Korea, and Kazakhstan. Coming to Tajikistan, those nationalities tend to communicate with each other speaking their languages, though to communicate with native Tajiks they need to speak Russian or Tajik.
ENGLISH AND CHINESE IN TAJIKISTAN
Despite the dominance of the Russian language, which is actually a second language spoken in Tajikistan, travelers to Tajikistan can easily communicate with the local people in English, practically in the whole country. Little wonder, since English is a lingua franca worldwide.
Apart from English, Chinese is quite a common foreign language among Tajik people. Especially, Tajik students consider learning Chinese as the chance for future career and greater opportunities on the job market. Pekin has been interested in the economic and cultural expansion of Central Asia for years. Hence, many Tajiks treat the knowledge of Chinese as the ticket to a better world.
As you see, Tajikistan isn’t a country of one language. Planning your trip to this country, you don’t need to learn a new language. If you happen to know Russian, you’re on the winning side. You won’t have any problems communicating with practically everyone in Tajikistan. If you don’t speak Russian, it’s not the end of the world. Probably, you will manage to communicate with the locals using only English.
So don’t give up your travel plans to Tajikistan and remember that when speaking English, you can communicate with nearly all people worldwide. Get your e-visa and go on your Tajikistan trip!