What Languages Are Spoken In Tajikistan?

Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.
Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.

Tajikistan is a Central Asian landlocked country with a mountainous terrain. As of 2013, about 8 million people live in the country. For centuries, the region that is now Tajikistan was occupied and invaded by several kingdoms and their armies. People of different ethnicities have lived in the region over a period of centuries. The languages of Tajikistan thus reflect a great influence of the languages of the ethnically diverse population of Tajikistan. The use of Russian in Tajikistan became popular during the Soviet period. After the country gained independence following the break-down of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan became and independent country.

The Official Language Of Tajikistan

The Tajik language serves as the official language of Tajikistan. The language is used widely in government administration, education, business, courts, and daily lives of the people of Tajikistan. Many consider the Tajik to be a variety or dialect of Persian. However, others doubt this fact. In fact, there is great debate regarding the relation between the Tajik and Persian languages. The Tajik is believed to have evolved separately from Persian due to the geographical isolation and political barriers and also the influence of Russian and other languages. A number of archaic elements are still used in the Tajik language.

Russian, A Major Language Spoken In Tajikistan

Russian is another important language spoken in Tajikistan. It is a legacy of the Soviet rule in the country. It is widely used for formal and informal communication in the country. The Constitution of Tajikistan does not mention Russian as an official language but mentions that this language can be used for communication between people belonging to different ethnic communities (as a lingua franca). In 2009, it was believed that an amendment was made to the Constitution removing any mention of Russian. However, the language was again returned to its original status at a later time. The number of speakers who speak Russian as their first language has, however, fallen in the country in the past few decades due to the large-scale emigration of ethnic Russians from Tajikistan to their homeland in Russia.

Major Minority Languages In Tajikistan

Other than Russian, several other minority languages are spoken in Tajikistan. Uzbek, a Turkic language and Uzbekistan’s official language is spoken by about 900,000 people in Tajikistan. The official language of Kyrgyzstan, the Kyrgyz language, is spoken by the Kyrgyz ethnic minority of Tajikistan. It is spoken by about 60,000 people in the country. Tajikistan also has about 50,000 Persian speakers as well Arabic and Pashto-speaking communities.

Other Minority And Regional Languages Of Tajikistan

Other minority languages or regional languages of Tajikistan which are lesser known and have few speakers include Yaghnobi, Parya, Shughni, Wakhi, etc. The Shugni language is the most widely spoken among these languages and is spoken by about 40,000 people in the country as a first language. Yaghnobi is spoken in Yaghnob valley of the country by about 12,000 speakers. Parts of the Tajikistan-Uzbekistan border hosts a community of Parya speakers.

Immigrant Languages Spoken In Tajikistan

The various immigrants to Tajikistan from the neighboring countries and beyond speak their own languages for intra-community communication. These languages have a few thousand to a few hundred speakers in the country. Examples of the immigrant languages spoken in Tajikistan include Armenian, Belarusian, Lithuanian, Romanian, Turkish, Western Balochi, Korean, Kazakh, etc.


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