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Яғнобӣ зивок
Yaghnobī zivok
Native toTajikistan
Regionoriginally from Yaghnob Valley, in 1970s relocated to Zafarobod, in 1990s some speakers returned to Yaghnob
EthnicityYaghnobi people
Native speakers
12,000[citation needed] (2004)[1]
Early form
  • Eastern Yaghnobi
  • Western Yaghnobi
Cyrillic script
Latin script
Perso-Arabic script
Language codes
ISO 639-3yai
Yaghnobi-speaking areas and enclaves of Yaghnobi-speakers among a Tajik majority
Yaghnobi is classified as Definitely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger (2010)[4]
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.

Yaghnobi[a][b] 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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

There are two main dialects: a western and an eastern one. They differ primarily in phonetics. For example, historical corresponds to t in the western dialects and s in the eastern: metmes 'day' from Sogdian mēθ ⟨myθ⟩. Western ay corresponds to Eastern e: wayšweš 'grass' from Sogdian wayš or wēš ⟨wyš⟩. The early Sogdian group θr (later ṣ̌) is reflected as sar in the east but tir in the west: saráytiráy 'three' from Sogdian θrē/θray or ṣ̌ē/ṣ̌ay ⟨δry⟩. 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,[8] 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.[9]

In recent times, Sayfiddīn Mīrzozoda of the Tajik Academy of Sciences has used a modified Tajik alphabet for writing Yaghnobi. The alphabet is quite unsuitable for Yaghnobi, as it does not distinguish short and long vowels or v and w and it does not mark stress.[citation needed]

А а (a), Б б (b), В в (v), Ԝ ԝ (w), Г г (g), Ғ ғ (ğ), Д д (d), Е е (ye), Ё ё (yo), Ж ж (j), З з (z), И и (i), Ӣ ӣ (î), 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), Ӯ ӯ (û), Ф ф (f), Х х (x), Хԝ хԝ (xw), Ҳ ҳ (h), Ч ч (ç), Ҷ ҷ (c), Ш ш (ş), Ъ ъ (’), Э э (e), Ю ю (yu), Я я (ya)

Cyrillic script

The Yaghnobi Alphabet was same as Tajik but with Ԝ.

А а Б б В в Ԝ ԝ Г г Ғ ғ
Д д Е е Ё ё Ж ж З з И и
Ӣ ӣ Й й К к Қ қ Л л М м
Н н О о П п Р р С с Т т
У у Ӯ ӯ Ф ф Х х Ҳ ҳ Ч ч
Ҷ ҷ Ш ш Ъ ъ Э э Ю ю Я я

Notes to Cyrillic:

  1. The letter й never appears at the beginning of a word. Words beginning with ya-, yo- and yu- are written as я-, ё- and ю-, and the combinations are written in the middle of the word: viyóra is виёра [vɪ̆ˈjoːra].
  2. Use of ӣ and ӯ is uncertain, but they seem to distinguish two similar-sounding words: иранка and ӣранка, рупак and рӯпак. Perhaps ӣ is also used as a stress marker as it is also in Tajik, and ӯ can also be used in Tajik loanwords to indicate a Tajik vowel ⟨ů⟩ [ɵː], but it can have some other unknown use.[citation needed]
  3. In older texts, the alphabet did not use letters Ъ ъ and Э э. Instead of Tajik ъ, Yaghnobi and е covered both Tajik е and э for /e/. Later, the letters were integrated into the alphabet so the older етк was changed into этк to represent the pronunciation [ˈeːtkʰ] (and not *[ˈjeːtkʰ]). Older ша’мак was changed to шаъмак [ʃʲɑʕˈmak].
  4. /je/ and /ji/ are written е and и. Yaghnobi и can be */ji/ after a vowel like in Tajik, and ӣ after a vowel is */jiː/. Also, е has two values: word-initially and after a vowel, it is pronounced [jeː], but after a consonant, it is [eː]. /je/ is rare in Yaghnobi and is only in Tajik or Russian loans, the only example for /je/ is Европа [ˈjeːvrɔpa], a Russian loanword.
  5. Russian letters Ц ц, Щ щ, Ы ы and Ь ь, which can be used in Tajik loans from Russian, are not used in Yaghnobi. They are written as they are pronounced by the Yaghnobi speakers, not as they are written originally in Russian: aeroplane is самолет/самолёт in Russian, written самолёт in Tajik and pronounced [səmɐˈlʲɵt] in Russian and in Tajik. In Yaghnobi, it is written as самалиёт and follows the Yaghnobi pronunciation [samalɪˈjoːtʰ] or [samajˈloːtʰ]. The word concert is borrowed from Russian концерт [kɐnˈtsɛrt] in the form кансерт [kʰanˈseːrtʰ]). Compare with Tajik консерт.


Yaghnobi includes 9 monophthongs (3 short, 6 long), 8 diphthongs, and 27 consonants.


Front Back
short long short long
Close и/ӣ /ɪ/ ӣ // у/ӯ // у /ʊ/ у/ӯ //
Mid е/э /ɛː/ о /ɔː/
Open а /a/ а /ɑː/

The diphthongs in Yaghnobi are /ai̯, ɔːi̯, ʊi̯, uːi̯, yːi̯, ɪi̯, ɔːu̯, au̯/. /ai̯/ only appears in native words in the western dialects, eastern dialects have /ɛː/ in its place, except in loanwords.


Labial Alveolar Post‐
Velar Uvular Pharyngeal Glottal
plain lab.
Nasal м /m/ н /n/
Stop voiceless п /p/ т /t/ [c] к /k/ қ /q/
voiced б /b/ д /d/ [ɟ] г /ɡ/
Affricate voiceless ч //
voiced ҷ //
Fricative voiceless ф /f/ с /s/ ш /ʃʲ/ х /χ/ хԝ /χʷ/ ҳ /ħ/ ҳ /h/
voiced в /v/ з /z/ ж /ʒʲ/ ғ /ʁ/ ъ /ʕ/
Approximant ԝ /β̞/ л /l/ й /j/
Trill р /r/


W, E and Tr. refer to the Western, Eastern and Transitional dialects.


Case endings:

Case Stem ending is consonant Stem ending is vowel other than -a Stem ending is -a
Sg. Direct (Nominative) -a
Sg. Oblique -i -y -ay (W), -e (E)
Pl. Direct (Nominative) -t -t -ot
Pl. Oblique -ti -ti -oti



Person Nominative Singular Oblique Singular Enclitic Singular Nominative Plural Oblique Plural Enclitic Plural
1st man man -(i)m mox mox -(i)mox
2nd tu taw -(i)t šumóx šumóx -šint
3rd ax, áwi, (aw), íti, (īd) -(i)ş áxtit, íštit áwtiti, ítiti -šint

The second person plural, šumóx is also used as the polite form of the second person pronoun.


Eastern Yaghnobi Western Yaghnobi Tajik loan
1 ī ī yak, yag, ya
2 [10] du
3 saráy tⁱráy se, say
4 tafór tᵘfór, tⁱfór čor
5 panč panč panǰ
6 uxš uxš šiš, šaš
7 avd aft haft
8 ašt ašt hašt
9 nau̯ nau̯ nuʰ
10 das das daʰ
11 das ī das ī yozdáʰ
12 das dū das dʏ dᵘwozdáʰ
13 das saráy das tⁱráy senzdáʰ
14 das tafór das tᵘfór / tⁱfór čordáʰ
15 das panč das panč ponzdáʰ
16 das uxš das uxš šonzdáʰ
17 das avd das aft habdáʰ, havdáʰ
18 das ašt das ašt haždáʰ
19 das nau̯ das nau̯ nūzdáʰ
20 bīst[11]
30 bī́st-at das bī́st-at das
40 dū bīst dʏ bīst čil
50 dū nī́ma bīst dʏ nī́ma bīst pinǰóʰ, panǰóʰ
60 saráy bīst tⁱráy bīst šast
70 saráy nī́ma bīst tⁱráy nī́ma bīst, tⁱráy bī́st-u das haftód
80 tafór bīst tᵘfór / tⁱfór bīst haštód
90 tafór nī́ma bīst tᵘfór / tⁱfór nī́ma bīst navád
100 sad
1000 hazór


Personal endings – present:

Person Singular Plural
1st -omišt -īmišt
2nd -īšt -tišt (W, Tr.), -sišt (E)
3rd -tišt (W), -či (E, Tr.) -ošt

Personal endings – preterite (with augment a-):

Person Singular Plural
1st a- -im a- -om (W), a- -īm (E, Tr.)
2nd a- a- -ti (W, Tr.), a- -si (E)
3rd a- a- -or

By adding the ending -išt (-št after a vowel; but -or+išt > -ošt) to the preterite, the durative preterite is formed.

The 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.

The 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 nē-.

The copula is this:

Person Singular Plural
1st īm om
2nd išt ot (W, Tr.), os (E)
3rd ast, -x, xast, ásti, xásti or


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 word list presented in Yaghnobi Grammar by Xromov. The last work is Yaghnobi-Tajik Dictionary compiled by Xromov's student, Sayfiddīn Mīrzozoda, himself a Yaghnobi native speaker. Yaghnobi Tajik words represent the majority of the lexicon (some 60%), followed by words of Turkic origin (up to 5%, mainly from Uzbek) and a few Russian words (about 2%; through the Russian language, also many international words came to Yaghnobi). Only a third of the lexicon is of Eastern-Iranian origin and can be easily comparable to those known from Sogdian, Ossetian, the Pamir languages or Pashto.[citation needed]

Sample texts

A group of Yaghnobi-speaking schoolchildren from Tajikistan
Latin Falgharat Yaghnob asosī lafzshint īkh gumun, neki akhtit tojikipī woosht, mokh yaghnobipī. 'Mūshtif' woomisht, akhtit 'Muzhdiv' woosht.
Cyrillic Фалғарат Яғноб асосӣ лафзшинт ӣх гумун, неки ахтит тоҷикипӣ ԝоошт, мох яғнобипӣ. 'Мӯштиф' ԝоомишт, ахтит 'Муждив' ԝоошт.
IPA [ˈfalʁɑratʰ ˈjɑʁnɔˑb asɔˑˈsiː ˈlafzʃʲɪntʰ ˈiːχ ɡʊˈmoːn ˈneːcʰe ˈɑχtʰɪtʰ tʰɔˑdʒʲiˑˈcʰiːpʰe ˈβ̞oːˀɔˑʃʲtʰ moːʁ jɑʁnɔˑˈbiːpʰe ˈmyːʃʲtʰɪf ˈβ̞oːˀɔˑmɪʃʲtʰ ˈɑχtʰɪtʰ mʊʒʲˈdɪv ˈβ̞oːˀɔˑʃʲtʰ]
Translation In Falghar and in Yaghnob, it is certainly one basic language, but they speak Tajik and we speak Yaghnobi. We say 'Müštif', they say 'Muždiv'.

An anecdote about Nasreddin

Latin Cyrillic IPA Translation
Nasriddin ī khūd chi bozor ukhsh tangai akhirin. Насриддин ӣ хӯд чи бозор ухш тангаи ахирин. [nasre̝ˈdːiːn ˈiː ˈχuːd ˈtʃɪ̞ bɔˑˈzoːr ˈʋ̘χʃʲ tʰaŋˈɟa̝jĕ̝ ɑχĕ̝ˈriːn] Nasreddin bought a tubeteika at the bazaar for six tangas.
Kakhik wokhurdsh avī, chawi apursosht: Кахик ԝохурдш авӣ, чаԝи апурсошт: [cʰaˈχecʰ β̞ɔˑˈχʋˑrdʃʲ aˈve̝ː | ˈtʃaβ̞e apʰʋrˈsoːɕt] Everyone he met asked him:
"Khud chof pul akhirinī?" "Худ чоф пул ахиринӣ?" [ˈχuːd ˈtʃoːf ˈpʰuːl ɑχĕ̝ˈriːne̝ˑ] "How much money have you bought the tubeteika for?"
Nasriddin īipish jawob atifar, duipish jawob atifar, tirayipish jawob atifar, aghor: Насриддин ӣипиш ҷаԝоб атифар, дуипиш ҷаԝоб атифар, тирайипиш ҷаԝоб атифар, ағор: [nasre̝ˈdːiːn ˈiːjĕ̝pʰe̝ʃʲ dʒaˈβ̞oːb atʰĕ̝ˈfar | ˈdʋ̘je̝pʰe̝ʃʲ dʒaˈβ̞oːb atʰĕ̝ˈfar | tʰɪ̆ˈraje̝pʰe̝ʃʲ dʒaˈβ̞oːb atʰĕ̝ˈfar | ɑˈʁoːr] Nasreddin answered to the first of them, he answered to the second of them, he answered to the third of them, than he said,
"Hamaipi jawob tifarom, ziq vomisht." "Ҳамаипӣ ҷаԝоб тифаром, зиқ вомишт." [ˈhama̝jĕ̝pʰe̝ dʒaˈβ̞oːb tʰĕ̝faˈro̝ːm | ˈze̝ˑqʰ ˈvo̝ːmɪʃʲtʰ] "If I answer to everyone, I will go crazy."
Akh khūdsh chi sarsh anos, bozorisa adaw, fayrod akun: Ах хӯдш чи сарш анос, бозориса адаԝ, файрод акун: [ˈaχ ˈχuːdʃʲ ˈtʃɪ̞ ˈsarɪ̆ʃʲ aˈnoːs | bɔˑˈzoːrɪsa aˈdau̯ | fai̯ˈroːd aˈkʰʋn] He took the tubeteika off his head, ran to the bazaar, and cried,
"E odamt! "Э одамт! [ˈeː ɔˑˈdamtʰ] "Hey, people!
Daraw-darawi maydonisa shawt, īyoka ja’m vūyt! Дараԝ-дараԝи майдониса шаԝт, ӣёка ҷаъм вӯйт! [darˌau̯-daˈraβ̞e mai̯ˈdoːne̝sa ˈʃʲau̯tʰ | iˑjˈoːcʰa ˈdʒɑːm ˈvyːtʰ] Go quickly to the square, gather somewhere over there!
Kattiti shumokhpī arkshint ast!" Каттоти шумохпӣ аркшинт аст." [cʰaˈtʰːoːtʰe̝ ʃʲʋ̆ˈmoːχpʰe̝ ˈarcʃʲɪ̞nt ˌastʰ] The Big Ones have something to deal with you."
Odamt hamash maydoni īyoka ja’m avor, ani shahri hichukhs naapirakhs. Одамт ҳамаш майдони ӣёка ҷаъм авор, ани шаҳри ҳичухс наапирахс. [ɔˑˈdamtʰ haˈmaʃʲ mai̯ˈdoːne̝ iˑjˈoːcʰa ˈdʒɑːm aˈvoːr | ˈane̝ ˈʃʲahrɪ he̝ˑˈtʃʋ̝χs ˌna̝ˀa̝pʰĕ̝ˈraχs] Everyone had gathered somewhere at the square, no one else had remained in the city.
Nasriddin balandii sari asan, fayrod akun: Насриддин баландии сари асан, файрод акун: [nasre̝ˈdːiːn balanˈdiːjĕ̝ ˈsare̝ aˈsan | fai̯ˈroːd aˈkʰʋn] Nasreddin came upon a high place, and cried:
"E odamt, ghirift, nihish khūd man ukhsh tangai akhirinim." "Э одамт, ғирифт, ниҳиш хӯд ман ухш тангаи ахириним." [ˈeː ɔˑˈdamtʰ | ʁĕ̝ˈre̝ftʰ | nĕ̝ˈhe̝ˑʃʲ ˈχūd ˈman ˈʋ̘χʃʲ tʰaŋˈɟa̝jĕ̝ ɑχĕ̝ˈriːne̝m] "Hey people, to let you know, I bought this tubeteika for six tangas."


  1. ^ Also rendered as Yaghnabi, Yagnobi or Yagnabi; endonym: Яғнобӣ зивок, Yaghnobī zivok, pronounced [jaʁnɔːˈbiː zɪ̆ˈvoːkʰ]; Tajik: Забони яғнобӣ, romanizedZaboni yağnobî, pronounced [zɐˈbɔːnɪ jɐʁnɔːˈbiː]
  2. ^ Linguistic abbreviation: YAGH


  1. ^ Yaghnobi at Ethnologue (23rd ed., 2020) closed access
  2. ^ Gernot Windfuhr, 2009, "Dialectology and Topics", The Iranian Languages, Routledge
  3. ^ Paul Bergne (15 June 2007). The Birth of Tajikistan: National Identity and the Origins of the Republic. I.B.Tauris. pp. 6–. ISBN 978-1-84511-283-7.
  4. ^ "Atlas of the world's languages in danger". p. 40. Retrieved 2023-03-02.
  5. ^ Bielmeier. R. Yaghnobi in Encyclopedia Iranica
  6. ^ Kazakevich, Olga; Kibrik, Aleksandr (2007). "Language Endangerment in the CIS". In Brenzinger, Matthias (ed.). Language Diversity Endangered. Berlin, New York: De Gruyter Mouton. p. 238. doi:10.1515/9783110197129.233.
  7. ^ See С. И. Климчицкий: Секретный язык у ягнобцев и язгулёмцев. In: Академия наук СССР – Труды Таджикистанской базы, т. IX – 1938 – История – язык – литература. Akademijaji Fanho SSSR: Asarhoji ʙazaji Toçikiston, çildi IX – Tarix – zaʙon – adaʙijot. Москва – Ленинград (: Издательство Академии наук СССР), 1940. 104–117.
  8. ^ The Cyrillic Tajik alphabet-based script was invented by Sayfiddīn Mīrzozoda in the 1990s.
  9. ^ М. С. Андреев, Материалы по этнографии Ягноба, Душанбе (Дониш) 1970, pp. 38–39
  10. ^ Ronald Emmerick, Iranian, in Indo-European Numerals (1992, →ISBN, edited by Jadranka Gvozdanovic), page 312
  11. ^ Ronald Emmerick, Iranian, in Indo-European Numerals (1992, →ISBN, edited by Jadranka Gvozdanovic), page 312.

Further reading

(M. S. Andrejev, Je. M. Peščereva, Jagnobskije teksty s priloženijem jagnobsko-russkogo slovarja, Moskva – Leningrad 1957) (in Russian)

(M. N.Bogoljubov, Jagnobskij /novosogdijskij/ jazyk. Issledovanija i materialy. Avtoreferat na soiskanije učenoj stepeni doktora filologičeskix nauk, Leningrad 1956) (in Russian)

(M. N. Bogoljubov: Jagnobskij jazyk. In: V. V. Vinogradov (ed.): Jazyki narodov SSSR. Tom pervyj: Indojevropejskije jazyki. Moskva, 1966, p. 342–361) (in Russian)

(S. Mirzozoda, Yaɣnobī zivok, Dušanbe 1998) (in Tajik)

(S. Mirzozoda, Luɣat-i yaɣnobī – tojikī, Dušanbe 2002) (in Tajik)

(Ľ. Novák: Yaghnobi-Czech Dictionary with an Outline of Yaghnobi Grammar. Praha 2010) (in Czech)

(A. L. Xromov, Jagnobskij jazyk, Moskva 1972) (in Russian)

(A. L. Xromov, Jagnobskij jazyk. In. V. S. Rastorgujeva (ed.): Osnovy iranskogo jazykoznanija. Novoiranskije jazyki II. – Vostočnaja gruppa. Moskva 1987, p. 644–701.) (in Russian)