The official language of Tajikistan is Tajik, the most widely spoken language in the country. All official communications domestically must take place in Tajik. The language can also be called Tajiki Persian as the dialect is a regional variation of Persian which evolved with a distinctly Russian influence and can be seen in the Tajik alphabet which is written very similarly to Russian. Russian is also routinely used for business as well as international communications and diplomacy. The Constitution of Tajikistan states that Russian is an acceptable language for law-making as well as inter-ethnic communication in the country.

There are just over 8.7 million people currently living in Tajikistan, and the overwhelming majority speak Tajik. Around 80 percent of the population are native Tajikis, and the majority of the rest of the population knows the language. An estimated 99.5 percent of the population can read and write the Tajik language; this is due to the old system of free education under the Soviets which has continued. The geographic isolation of Tajikistan leads most, if not all, immigrants in the country to learn Tajik.

The Tajik language has a similar pronunciation as the Arabic, and Persian dialects and Tajik also contains elements of Russian. Hello in Tajik is pronounced “sa-lom,” similar to the greeting “salaam,” in Arabic and also similar to the Hebrew word for peace, “shalom.” Thank-you is pronounced "rah-mat," or "ta-sha-koor," this phrase is straightforward to learn and much appreciated by locals. The language takes practice to pronounce, and a native English speaker may have trouble learning to read Tajik.

Other than Russian, several different minority languages are spoken in Tajikistan. Uzbek, the language of Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz language of Kyrgyzstan are some of the most significant minority languages in the nation. Tajikistan also has pockets of Persian speakers as well Arabic and Pashtun speaking communities. There are also native regional languages which are spoken in Tajikistan and surrounding countries such as Parya, Shughni, Wakhi, and Yaghnobi. Small populations of migrants in Tajikistan speak Armenian, Belorussian, English, Korean, Lithuanian, Turkish, and Western Balochi among others.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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