Tajik and Persian Farsi: Similarities and Differences

Tajik is the Southwestern Iranian language that very closely resembles Persian Farsi and Dari. This is the primary language of Tajikistan and it is, generally, mutually intelligible with Iranian Farsi though it is considered to be a variety of the Persian language. Whether or not these two languages are two distinct languages is a very political matter that will not be debated here, but the point is; if you were to go to Tajikistan as a Persian Farsi speaker, you would be amazed at the amount of Tajik you don’t understand.

Due to Tajikistan’s location, in the relatively isolated mountains of Central Asia, the Tajik language has diverged from the forms of Persian spoken in Iran and Afghanistan and has been greatly influenced by a standardization process and the influence of Russian and Turkic languages. Tajik has retained many archaic elements of speech and pronunciation from earlier forms of Persian and differs from Iranian Persian in the sense that it uses vocabulary that exists in Persian, but has generally fallen out of popular use. Most loan words in Tajik come from Russian, unlike Iranian Persian, which derives the majority of its loan words from Arabic. The introduction of Russian loanwords into the Tajik language was largely justified under the Soviet policy of modernization when Tajikistan was a member of the Soviet Union.

Tajik is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, while Persian is written in a modified Arabic script. Tajik’s word stress generally falls on the first syllable in finite verb forms and on the last syllable in nouns and noun-like words. Much like Iranian Persian, Tajik’s word order is generally subject–object–verb (SOV) and its grammar is almost identical to standard (classical) Persian grammar. The most notable difference between classical Persian grammar and Tajik Persian grammar is the construction of the present progressive tense in each language. In Tajik, the present progressive form consists of a present progressive participle, from the verb истодан istodan ‘to stand’, and a cliticized form of the verb =acт =ast ‘to be’.

Ман мактуб навишта истода-ам
man maktub navishta istoda=am
I letter write 1st person singular present progressive tense verb meaning “to be”
‘I am writing a letter.’
In Classical Persian, the present progressive form consists of the verb دار dār ‘to have’ followed by a conjugated verb in either the simple present tense, the habitual past tense, or the habitual past perfect tense.

من دارم کار کنم
man dār-am kār kon-am
I have-1sg.PRS work 1st person singular present tense verb meaning “to do”
‘I am working.’
Here are some Tajik terms compared to their equivalent terms in Persian:

Tajik Persian Transliteration English Meaning
оташ آتش Atesh fire
оринҷ آرنج Aranj elbow
асорат اسارت Esarat Captivity/bondage
искана اسکنه Eskene chisel
оғил آغل Aghol Enclosure/housing
афтодан افتادن Oftadan To fall
аморат امارت Emarat Emirate
бистар بستر Bastar bed
баланд بلند Boland Tall/long
падар پدر Pedar father
таҷриба تجربه Tajrobe Experience


Jan 8, 2016 5:51 AM