Similarities between Iranian Persian and Tajik

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Just how similar are they?
From looking at the dictionary I can infer some rough basic rules: like substituting a for o, e for i, o for u but how far do the differences in grammar and vocabulary go? Will I, let us say, be able to understand Iranians and will they be able to understand me on the basis of my knowledge of Tajik?
  • Bienvenidos

    Senior Member
    This is a very interesting far as I know Eastern Persian is closer to the Tajik (of course I may be wrong). It's like a Spanish speaker speaking to an Italian....thinks work out in the end.

    I'm no expert on this topic, but that's my two cents.


    Senior Member
    I don't think there is a big different between them.
    Tajik is also a dialect of Farsi.
    There is no change in grammar. Yeah some local words are differenced.
    Of course if you learn Tajiki, you would understand all Farsi Dialect.
    But Farsi Pronunciation is really difficult for foreigners


    Senior Member
    US English
    The Iranian and Afghanistan varients of Pesrian use the Persoarabic alphabet, Tadjik uses the Cyrilic.

    Spectre scolaire

    Senior Member
    Maltese and Russian
    One critical difference would perhaps be the way in which the two languages have enriched their respective vocabularies. This seems to be a relevant argument for a number of language cases in which two national languages are basically the same, but through factors like national borders, religion and/or supra-national ideology they have been split into two. Take Serbian and Croatian, Hindi and Urdu, North and South Korean, German and Yiddish, North and South Ossetic – and the present thread.

    The case of Arabic triggers the question of vernacular versus written language. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is, for all intents and purposes, not a “modern language”, whereas its numerous dialects have been lexically enriched in very different ways according to region. This has nothing to do with active enrichment of vocabulary - Arabic dialects are not standardized in writing - so this case would be relevant only for the purpose of delimiting the thread to the written version of Persian in Iran and Tadzhik in Tadzhikistan.:)


    One critical ..........
    Well said and good examples.Tajiki is more like Afghan persian.In some Province of Afghanistan like Badakhshaan,tajiki is more comman than Dari(persian in Afghanistan).Tajiki to me is very Informal Persian. Obiousely it would not be difficult for Afghans to understand it.Though I have not heard any TAjik or Irani talking, I can understand the songs and the movies very well specially Irani songs.

    Spectre scolaire

    Senior Member
    Maltese and Russian
    MOST-WANTED said:
    Tajiki to me is very informal Persian.
    I wonder if this actually boils down to the question of Arabic loanwords in Persian versus Tajiki. Arabic loanwords are omnipresent in all “Muslim” languages, but during Soviet rule, Arabic words that had a tradition in the classical Arabic-Persian literature but did not exist in the modern vernacular of the Tajiks, would not be considered as Tajiki words. Even the two volume dictionary “Persian-Russian” published in Moscow has eliminated a great number of Arabic “ghost words” (which are registered in Steingass’ “Persian-English Dictionary”). The Soviets wanted to register the language as it was spoken, not as it was traditionally perceived. Of course, this could easily be considered as cross-border linguistic prescriptivism, but in the Soviet Republic of Tajikistan, God was officially not present. Any language policy was a corollary of this.

    The result we see today when MOST-WANTED considers Tajiki as more informal than Iranian Farsi.

    A striking parallel is Urdu which is considered by many Hindi speakers of today as more corresponding to the vernacular language “Hindustani” of pre-independent India. When considering written Hindi and Urdu of today, the first may be, in the worst of cases, almost gongoristic in its sanskritized mould while Urdu on the other hand, enriching in principle its vocabulary from Arabic, never really embarked on reintroducing traditional Arabic words as post-Khomeini Modern Persian has been doing. Urdu has remained, to a large extent, “Hindustani”.

    The fact that Tajiki is written with Cyrillic letters whereas Persian uses the Arabic alphabet is equally an auxiliary to eliminating ghost words of Arabic origin. It works like this: When writing an Iranian language with Arabic letters, each word of Arabic origin has to be written in this Indo-European language(!) like it is written in Arabic – even if it is pronounced differently. The reason for this is religious. A written Arabic word cannot be changed; it has to assume the same shape as it has in the Koran. Otherwise it would be a kind of “lexical heresy”. Writing a “Muslim” language with another alphabet – in countries other than former Soviet satellites, post-kemalist Turkey is the most notorious example – you simply cannot emulate the Koran! A great number of those words which do not exist in the vernacular, will therefore automatically be eliminated. When you see a word written with Cyrillic letters that you don’t recognize, you are not likely to use it yourself.

    In Iran, it is more difficult to pinpoint which word of Arabic origin is colloquial and which is not. A written language lives a life of its own, and you simply recognize the shape of Arabic loanwords as a part of your Islamic heritage – even if many words are gibberish. My Persian textbook devotes exactly one third to Arabic! –which is next to preposterous from a language teaching point of view. Much of the reason for this is that you have to learn how to write Arabic loanwords as they are originally written in the Koran. The textbook reflects the written language more than the spoken.

    I have never seen a textbook of Tajiki, but it is my guess that (Classical!) Arabic is not a prerequisite for learning Tajiki.:)


    Senior Member
    Persian - Iran
    The difference between Iranian and Tajik Persian is in dialectical level. We understand each other well and in case of any problem we can switch to bookish Persian which is identical everywhere.

    As for grammar, I know these differences:

    1 - continuous (progressive) tenses are formed differently:
    1.1 - we say dâram miram; they say rafta ēstōda-am (rafte istâde-am).

    1.2 - we say dâštam miraftam; they say rafta ēstōda budam (rafte istâde budam).

    2. they have apparently three separate tenses for presumptive mood which we don't have. We use the same subjunctive tenses. Example from simple present presumptive

    pedaram pagâh az Moskow miâmadagist (šâyad fardâ pedaram az Moskow biyâd)

    {its formula: mi+past participle+gi+perfective endings. So it's conjugated regularly for all verbs.)

    Here you can listen to a text spoken in some different dialects of Persian including Tajiki. It demonstrates pronunciation differences of course.

    You can also read this article

    I have never seen a textbook of Tajiki, but it is my guess that (Classical!) Arabic is not a prerequisite for learning Tajiki.:)
    As a side note, Arabic is not prerequisite (Cambridge: something which must exist or happen before something else can exist or happen) for learning any form of Persian. Is Latin or French prerequisite for learning English on grounds that English has loanwords from these languages? One can directly go and learn Persian.

    Spectre scolaire

    Senior Member
    Maltese and Russian
    Thank you, Alijsh, for this informative answer!:)

    What you call “presumptive mood” is probably inferential, an inherent feature of the Turkish verb. As Albanian took up this feature in the Balkans, it is not surprising if Tajiki incorporated it in Central Asia. Both places were subject to a heavy Turkish/Turkic adstrat. Inferential mood appears to me as a conspicuous difference between Persian and Tajiki! But does it change the perception of Persian and Tajiki being basically the same language?

    You exemplify the fact that “continuous (progressive) tense” is formed differently in Persian and Takiji. I am thinking of Turkish and Azeri which have differences in the formation of past tense. And yet intercomprehension is high, much higher than between Turkish and its dialect spoken in the hinterland of Trabzon.

    I am trying to save my parameters...:D But I wouldn’t do so at any cost.:) I don’t know whether Tajiki is based on a dialect in Tajikistan or whether written Tajiki would only mirror the obvious fact that local dialects must be different from the dialect upon which literary Farsi of Iran is based. But how much of a grassroot approach would be a prerequisite for writing Tajiki? The Italian writer and 1934 Nobel price winner Luigi Pirandello still wrote Italian even if his novels are heavily coloured with Sicilian.(which for all intents and purpuses should be considered as a separate language). And when it comes to loanwords, -while Tajiki has imported loads of words from Russian, Persian in Iran had recourse to other sources for its vocabulary enrichment.

    alijsh said:
    in case of any problem we can switch to bookish Persian [my highlighting] which is identical everywhere.
    Could you define this concept? Do children learn “bookish Persian” in Tajikistan?

    Alijsh said:
    Arabic is not prerequisite (
    Alijsh said:
    Cambridge: something which must exist or happen before something else can exist or happen) for learning any form of Persian. Is Latin or French prerequisite for learning English on grounds that English has loanwords from these languages? One can directly go and learn Persian.
    Webster sub voce prerequisite, “something that is necesssary to an end [...]”. The end is in this case to learn Persian. Would you say that Ann K.S. Lambton in her textbook from 1961 made a mistake by including such a comprehensive annex devoted to Arabic? Or is she just reflecting “bookish Persian”? As this textbook was written long before Khomeini, would you say that the “chapter” in question was premonitory for what was about to come?

    I have never seen a comprehensive chapter of Latin or French in any textbook of English. What I said about the impact of Arabic loanwords in Persian (and indeed in Ottoman Turkish, another language unrelated to Arabic!) should perhaps be reread.:tick: It is true that Latin formerly was a holy language in England, but the Anglican Church has long been separated from the Valican! Here we are talking about a rarely considered religious factor on written language.

    I once read an article about the introduction of Latin letters for writing Persian. Following the harf inkılâ, [lit.:] “letter revolution”, in Turkey in 1928, both in Greece and Iran projects were launched to follow in the footsteps of Atatürk. This would have eliminated diglossia in Greece - and the need for Lambton to include her chapter on Arabic...

    Alijsh's own perception of Tajiki as an “informal language” may very well be due to the fact that this language was isolated within an “atheistic state” for more than two generations.

    I hope the discussion so far doesn't discourage Setwale_Charm from using her Tajiki dictionary in Iran. By the way, I wouldn't mind later to have some Iranian comments on her choice!:)
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