x̌ik zik, х̌ик зик
Wakhi written in Arabic script in Nastaliq style, Latin script and in Cyrillic script
Native toAfghanistan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan
Native speakers
(20,000 in Pakistan (2016);
58,000 cited 1992–2012)[1]
Early forms
Perso-Arabic, Cyrillic, Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3wbl
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Wakhi (Wakhi: وخی/В̌aхi, IPA: [waχi]) is an Indo-European language in the Eastern Iranian branch of the language family spoken today in Wakhan District, Northern Afghanistan and also in Tajikistan, Northern Pakistan and China.

Classification and distribution

Wakhi is one of several languages that belong to the areal Pamir language group. It is believed[by whom?] to be a descendant of the Scytho-Khotanese language that was once spoken in the Kingdom of Khotan.

The Wakhi people are occasionally called Pamiris and Guhjali. It is spoken by the inhabitants of the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan, parts of Gilgit-Baltistan (the former NAs) of Pakistan, Gorno-Badakhshan region of Tajikistan and Xinjiang in Western China. The Wakhi use the self-appellation 'X̌ik' (ethnic) and suffix it with 'wor'/'war' to denote their language as 'X̌ik-wor' themselves. The noun 'X̌ik' comes from *waxša-ī̆ka- (an inhabitant of *Waxša- 'Oxus', for Wakhan, in Wakhi 'Wux̌'. There are other equivalents for the name Wakhi (Anglicised) or Wakhani (Arabic and Persian), Vakhantsy (Russian), Gojali/Gojo (Dingrik-wor/Shina), Guyits/Guicho (Burushaski), Wakhigi/Wakhik-war (Kivi-wor/Khow-wor) and Cert (Turki). The language belongs, as yet to be confirmed according to studies and sources, to the southern group of the Pamir languages, in the Iranian group of the Indo-European family (450) of languages, where the Ishkashmi, Shighni/...nani and Wakhi languages are included. A very rough estimate of the population of Wakhis is 58,000 worldwide. The Wakhi live in six countries. In the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, the Wakhi people mainly live in Gojal, Ishkoman, Darkut and in Chitral District's Broghol. They also live in some parts of Wakhan in Afghanistan, Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan, the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County in China, Russia and Turkey.

In Afghanistan

In the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan, Wakhi is spoken from Putur, near Ishkashim, to the upper reaches of the Wakhan River.[5]

In Tajikistan

In Tajikistan, the Wakhi and other communities that speak one of the Pamir languages refer to themselves as Pamiri or Badakhshani and there has been a movement to separate their identity from that of the majority Persian-speaking Tajiks. Linguists universally refer to Wakhi as an East Iranian language independent of Tajik Persian, but many Tajik nationalists insist that Wakhi and other Pamir languages are actually dialects of Tajik.[6]

In Pakistan

In Gilgit-Baltistan, Wakhi is spoken in the sparsely populated upper portions of five of the northernmost valleys: Hunza, Gojal, Ishkoman, Yasin, Gupis and Yarkhun. The Hunza valley has the largest Wakhi population in Pakistan. The Wakhis of Ishkoman live primarily in the Karambar valley, in the town of Imit and beyond. In Yasin, they live mostly in the vicinity of Darkot and in Yarhkun, they are found in Baroghil and in a few other small villages in the high, upper portion of valley.

In Pakistan, the central organization of the Wakhi is the Wakhi Cultural Association Pakistan (WCA), an organization that is registered with the Government of Pakistan and which works with the collaboration of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Lok Virsa Pakistan. The Association is working for the preservation of the Wakhi language and culture, as well as documenting their poetry and music.

Radio Pakistan Gilgit relays the Wakhi radio programme "Sadoyah Boomy Dunyo", the voice of the roof of the world. The Wakhi Cultural Association has arranged more than twenty programmes since 1984, which includes cultural shows, musical nights and large-scale musical festivals with the collaboration of Lok Virsa Pakistan, the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP) and Pakistan television. In 2000, the WCA won a "Best Programme" organizer award in the Silk Road Festival from the President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf. A computerized codification of the Wakhi script has been released, which will help to promote the language development programme and documentation of Wakhi poetry, literature and history.[7]

In China

See also: Tajiks of Xinjiang

Wakhi is also spoken in the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, in Xinjiang of China, mainly in the township of Dafdar.

In Russia

There are approximately 6,000 Wakhi in Russia, Most of them have migrated from Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

In Turkey

There are some Wakhi villages in Turkey in the eastern regions, where they have migrated from Afghanistan in 1979 during the Afghan and Russian war.[8]


Traditionally, Wakhi was not a written language. Writing systems have been developed for the language using Arabic, Cyrillic and Latin scripts.

Arabic script

This Arabic alphabet is mainly used in Afghanistan and Pakistan:[9][10]

Letter ا آ ب پ ت ټ ث ج ڃ چ ڇ څ ځ ح خ د ډ ذ ر ز ږ ژ ڙ س
IPA [a], Ø [o] [b] [p] [t̪] [ʈ] [θ] [d͡ʒ] [ɖ͡ʐ] [t͡ʃ] [ʈ͡ʂ] [t͡s] [d͡z] [h] [χ] [d̪] [ɖ] [ð] [r] [z] [ɣ] [ʒ] [ʐ] [s]
Letter ښ ش ڜ ص ض ط ظ ع غ ف ڤ ق ک گ ل م ن ه و ؤ وْ ي ی
IPA [x] [ʃ] [ʂ] [s] [z] [t] [z] Ø [ʁ] [f] [v] [q] [k] [g] [l] [m] [n] [h] [w], [ə] [u] [ɨ] [i] [j], [e]

Cyrillic script

When Wakhi is written in Cyrillic, the sounds are usually represented by these letters:

Letter А а Б б В в В̌ в̌ Г г Ғ ғ Г̌ г̌ Д д Д̣ д̣ Д̌ д̌ Е е Ё ё Ж ж Ж̣ ж̣ З з Ҙ ҙ И и Й й К к Қ қ Л л М м Н н О о П п
IPA [a] [b] [v] [w] [g] [ʁ] [ɣ] [d̪] [ɖ] [ð] [e], [je] [jo] [ʒ] [ʐ] [z] [d͡z] [i] [j] [k] [q] [l] [m] [n] [o] [p]
Letter Р р С с Т т Т̣ т̣ Т̌ т̌ У у Ф ф Х х Х̌ х̌ Ҳ ҳ Ц ц Ч ч Ч̣ ч̣ Ҷ ҷ Ҷ̣ ҷ̣ Ш ш Ш̣ ш̣ Щ щ Ъ ъ Ы ы Ә ә Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я
IPA [r] [s] [t̪] [ʈ] [θ] [u] [f] [χ] [x] [h] [t͡s] [t͡ʃ] [ʈ͡ʂ] [d͡ʒ] [ɖ͡ʐ] [ʃ] [ʂ] [ʃt͡ʃ] Ø [ɨ] [ə] Ø [e] [ju] [ja]

Latin script

The new Wakhi Alphabet, which includes some Cyrillic and Greek letters, which was developed in 1984 by Haqiqat Ali:[11]

A Latin alphabet, which in some variants includes Cyrillic and Greek letters, was developed in 1953 by I.I. Zaroubine and V. S. Sokolova, and further developed by A.L Grünberg and I.M Stéblinn-Kamensky in the early 1960s:[12][13]

Letter A a Ā ā Ā̒ ā̒ B b C c Č č Č̣ č̣ D d Ḍ ḍ Δ δ E e Ə ə F f G g Ɣ γ Ɣ̌ ɣ̌ H h I i ǰ J̣̌ ǰ̣ K k L l M m N n
IPA [a] [b] [t͡s] [t͡ʃ] [ʈ͡ʂ] [d̪] [ɖ] [ð] [e] [ə] [f] [g] [ʁ] [ɣ] [h] [i] [d͡ʒ] [ɖ͡ʐ] [k] [l] [m] [n]
Letter O o Ō ō Ō̒ ō̒ P p Q q R r S s Š š Ṣ̌ ṣ̌ T t Ṭ ṭ Θ θ U u U̒ u̒ Ū̒ ū̒ V v W w X x X̌ x̌ Y y Z z Ž ž Ẓ̌ ẓ̌ Ʒ ʒ Ы ы
IPA [o] [p] [q] [r] [s] [ʃ] [ʂ] [t̪] [ʈ] [θ] [u] [v] [w] [χ] [x] [j] [z] [ʒ] [ʐ] [d͡z] [ɨ]

Sample text

Sample text from a Bible translation published in 2001 is shown below:[12]

Lord's Prayer (Luke 11:2–4)
Wakhi in Latin alphabet Wakhi in Cyrillic alphabet English (KJV)
2Yiso yavər x̌atəy: «Sayišt ʒi dəo carəv, x̌anəv: „Ey bzыrgwor Tat ki də osmonət cəy! Ti bəzыrg nung bər olam ыmыt! Ləcər dəwroni Ti podšoyi γ̌at-ət, zəmin-ət zəmon də hыkmi taw ыmыt! 2Йисо йавəр х̌атəй: «Сайишт ҙи дəо царəв, х̌анəв: „Ей бзыргв̌ор Тат ки дə осмонəт цəй! Ти бəзырг нунг бəр олам ымыт! Лəцəр дəв̌рони Ти подшойи г̌ат-əт, зəмин-əт зəмон дə ҳыкми тав̌ ымыт! 2And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
3Spo rыsq-ət rыzi sakər nəsib car! 3Спо рысқ-əт рызи сакəр нəсиб цар! 3Give us day by day our daily bread.
4Cə spo gənoən šəxs! Sak bə kuy, ki sakər šakiγ̌ cə kərk! kыx̌tər baxṣ̌əṣ̌ carən. Cə bandi nafs-ət awasən, Cə waswasayi Iblisən saki niga δыr!“» 4Цə спо гəноəн шəхс! Сак бə куй, ки сакəр шакиг̌ цə кəрк! Кых̌тəр бахш̣əш̣ царəн. Цə банди нафс-əт ав̌асəн, Цə в̌асв̌асайи Иблисəн саки нига д̌ыр!“» 4And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil."


The Wakhi lexicon exhibits significant differences with the other Pamir languages. Gawarjon's comparison of the dialects of Sarikoli and Wakhi spoken in China is reproduced below.

Lexical comparison of seven Iranian languages[14]
English gloss Persian Tajik Shughni Sarikoli Pashto Wakhi Avestan
one jæk (یک) jak (як) jiw iw jaw (يو) ji aēuua-
meat ɡuʃt (گوشت) ɡuʃt (гушт) ɡuːxt ɡɯxt ɣwaxa, ɣwaʂa (غوښه) ɡuʂt ?
son pesær (پسر) pisar (писар) puts pɯts zoi (زوی) putr puθra-
fire ɒtæʃ (اتش) otaʃ (оташ) joːts juts or (اور) rɯχniɡ ātar-
water ɒb (اب) ob (об) xats xats obə (اوبه) jupk āp-, ap-
hand dæst (دست) dast (даѕт) ðust ðɯst lɑs (لاس) ðast zasta-
foot (پا) po (по) poːð peð pxa, pʂa (پښه) pɯð pāδ-
tooth dændɒn (دندان) dandon (дандон) ðinðʉn ðanðun ɣɑx, ɣɑʂ (غاښ) ðɯnðɯk daṇt-
eye tʃæʃm (چشم) tʃaʃm (чашм) tsem tsem stərɡa (سترګه) tʂəʐm cašman-
horse æsb (اسب) asp (асп) voːrdʒ vurdʒ ɑs (masculine), aspa (feminine) (آس,اسپه) jaʃ aspa-
cloud æbr (ابر) abr (абр) abri varm urjadz (اوريځ) mur maēγa-, aβra-
wheat ɡændom (گندم) ɡandum (гандум) ʒindam ʒandam ɣanam (غنم) ɣɯdim gaṇtuma-
many besjɒr (بسيار) bisjor (бисёр) bisjoːr pɯr ɖer (ډېر) təqi pouru-
high bolænd (بلند) baland (баланд) biland bɯland lwaɻ (لوړ) bɯland bərəzaṇt-
far dur (دور) dur (дур) ðar ðar ləre (لرې) ðir dūra-
good χub (خوب) χub (хуб) χub tʃardʒ xə, ʂə (ښه) baf vohu-, vaŋhu-
small kutʃik (کوچک) χurd (хурд) dzul dzɯl ləɡ, ləʐ (لږ) dzəqlai ?
to say ɡoft (گفت) ɡuft (гуфт) lʉvd levd wajəl (ويل) xənak aoj-, mrū-, saŋh-
to do kærd (کرد) kard (кард) tʃiːd tʃeiɡ kawəl (کول) tsərak kar-
easiness ɒsɒni (آسانی) osonj (осонй) os:uni ossoni asanatiya (اسانتیا) ossony usi-
to see did (ديد)/ bin (present stem) did (дид)/ bin(бин) wiːnt wand lid (لید)/ win (present stem) wiŋɡ dī-, vaēn-



Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u
Mid e ə o
Open a


Labial Dental Alveolar Alveolo-
Retroflex Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n
Plosive p b ʈ ɖ k ɡ q
Affricate t͡s d͡z t͡ʃ d͡ʒ ʈ͡ʂ ɖ͡ʐ
Fricative f v θ ð s z ʃ ʒ ʂ ʐ x ɣ χ ʁ h
Approximant l j w
Rhotic r


In Pakistan multiple books have been published since 1980s. X̌ikwor zik by Master Haqiqat, Religious hymes by Riaz Ahmed Riaz. Qaida e Wakhi Zaban by Ahmed Jami Sakhi. Magzines and Parlon Wakhi by Karim Khan Saka. "Beyoz-e-Bulbul" by Nazir Ahmad Bulbul. A collection of old and new poems folklores compiled by Bulbulik Heritage Center, Gulmit.

See also


  1. ^ Wakhi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Frye, R.N. (1984). The History of Ancient Iran. p. 192. ISBN 9783406093975. [T]hese western Saka he distinguishes from eastern Saka who moved south through the Kashgar-Tashkurgan-Gilgit-Swat route to the plains of the sub-continent of India. This would account for the existence of the ancient Khotanese-Saka speakers, documents of whom have been found in western Sinkiang, and the modern Wakhi language of Wakhan in Afghanistan, another modern branch of descendants of Saka speakers parallel to the Ossetes in the west.
  3. ^ Bailey, H.W. (1982). The culture of the Sakas in ancient Iranian Khotan. Caravan Books. pp. 7–10. It is noteworthy that the Wakhi language of Wakhan has features, phonetics, and vocabulary the nearest of Iranian dialects to Khotan Saka.
  4. ^ Carpelan, C.; Parpola, A.; Koskikallio, P. (2001). "Early Contacts Between Uralic and Indo-European: Linguistic and Archaeological Considerations: Papers Presented at an International Symposium Held at the Tvärminne Research Station of the University of Helsinki, 8–10 January, 1999". Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura. 242: 136. ...descendants of these languages survive now only in the Ossete language of the Caucasus and the Wakhi language of the Pamirs, the latter related to the Saka once spoken in Khotan.
  5. ^ Payne, John (1989). "Pamir Languages". In Schmitt, Rüdiger (ed.). Compendium Linguarum Iranicum. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag. p. 419. ISBN 3-88226-413-6.
  6. ^ Viires, Ants; Lauri Vahtre (2001). The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire. Tallinn: NGO Red Book. ISBN 9985-9369-2-2.
  7. ^ Wakhi Tajik Cultural Association report 1991–2001. Pakistan: Wakhi Cultural Association. 2001.
  8. ^ See the book online[citation needed] "The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan in Turkey"
  9. ^ "[.m] masterhost - профессиональный хостинг сайтаwww.pamirian.ru" (PDF). www.pamirian.ru. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-05-02.
  10. ^ "ScriptSource - Wakhi written with Arabic script, Naskh variant".
  11. ^ Ali, Haqiqat (1984). Wakhi Language. Vol. 1.
  12. ^ a b Luqo Inǰil (Gospel of Luke). (in Wakhi). Bəzыrg Kitob tarǰimacrakыzg institute. 2001.: Title page, passages in Roman alphabet[1], passages in Cyrillic alphabet[2]
  13. ^ Ali, Haqiqat (1984). Wakhi Language. Vol. 1.
  14. ^ Gawarjon (高尔锵/Gāo Ěrqiāng) (1985). Outline of the Tajik language (塔吉克语简志/Tǎjíkèyǔ Jiǎnzhì). Beijing: Nationalities Publishing House.

Further reading