Endangered Languages


Khorog, Tajikistan – Capital of Gorno-Badakhshan, home of Shugni and Pamir culture

2015-16 Global UGRAD Didor Marodaseynov, East Tennessee State University, Tajikistan

Language is a unique way of communicating to people because it carries our ideas and emotions. In order to understand a culture it is important to know the language so we can recognize the uniqueness of that culture. As we look back in history, an enormous number of nations have lost their native language. For example, A. J. Simonson points to the Hunnic language which was spoken in parts of Europe and Asia and has rapidly disappeared. When a language disappears it causes a loss of cultural information, linguistic information, and cultural identity. All these factors are essential for every culture and individual within that culture. Bruce Cole used to say language is the “DNA” of a culture. The Shugni language is also in danger of disappearing. Shugni is a language of the Pamir region, also known as Badakhshan, located in eastern Tajikistan. The official language of Tajikistan is Tajik. Therefore all official documentation and educational sources are written in Tajik. Due to the promotion of a single language in the country, the Shugni language is slowly disappearing. Some have tried throughout the centuries to create a vocabulary and grammar book for Shugni; however, because of the many scattered sources of the language, most scholars have yet to compile one comprehensive resource. Shugni is considered a cultural and significant language in the isolated Pamir region.

As a linguist and speaker of Shugni, I have a dream of collecting all of the information about the history, vocabulary, and grammar of the language, creating reliable and easily accessible sources for Shugni. My plan consists of three steps. In the first step I am going to collect the books which contain the information about Shugni language. As previously mentioned there are some people who have created vocabulary books for the Shugni language. These books were written many years ago and contain outdated words and/or ones that have been replaced by Tajik or Russian words. I am planning to compile an exhaustive amount of resources of modern Shugni vocabulary books to create one organized and reliable book. Besides creating a well-organized vocabulary book, I will document the grammar rules of the Shugni language and begin drafting a grammar book. A group of linguists at the University of Kentucky in 2007 were collaborating with a group of language scholars from Khorog State University to produce a comprehensive grammar book of the Shugni language. It would be extremely important to cooperate with the project team in order to synthesize our results. I also wish to create a free online directory for the Shugni language. The website will include information about the vocabulary, grammar, and the history of the language. My final step is to carry out the idea of teaching Shugni language in Badakhshan schools. It is noteworthy that in Pamirian schools we learn Tajik, Persian, Russian, and English but not our own native language. This is the major reason why the Shugni language is disappearing. In order to preserve the language it is essential to teach it in school so that new generations have an understanding of their own language. I hope that this work one day will be applied into reality, and will bring positive results to my country, region and future generations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *