Yazgulyam language
The Yazgulyam language is a member of the Pamir
Pamir languages
The Pamir languages are a group of the Eastern Iranian languages, spoken by numerous people in the Pamir Mountains, primarily along the Panj River and its tributaries. This includes the Badakhshan Province of northeastern Afghanistan and the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province of eastern Tajikistan...

 subgroup of the Iranian languages
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

, spoken by ca. 4,000 native speakers (as of 1994) along the Yazgulyam River
Yazgulyam River
The Yazgulyam River is a tributary of the Panj in Vanj district, western Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan....

, Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

. Together with Shugni, it is classified as the Shugni-Yazgulami subgroup of the Pamir languages. Virtually all speakers are bilingual in the Tajik language
Tajik language
Tajik, Tajik Persian, or Tajiki, is a variety of modern Persian spoken in Central Asia. Historically Tajiks called their language zabani farsī , meaning Persian language in English; the term zabani tajikī, or Tajik language, was introduced in the 20th century by the Soviets...


The Yazgulami language consists of two dialects, one of these is spoken higher in the mountains, the other lower. The differences are not significant and are limited to the vocabulary. Differences in the vocabulary are also detectable between the languages used in different villages in the lower mountains. The Vanji language (also Vanži) is a close relation to Yazgulami, which has become extinct now. Other languages spoken in the Pamirs differ greatly from the Yazgulami language. The disparities are the largest in the vocabulary.

The language was first recorded by Russian traveller G. Arandarenko in 1889, listing 34 Yazgulami words recorded in 1882. The language was described in greater detail by French linguist Robert Gauthiot
Robert Gauthiot
Robert Gauthiot was a French Orientalist, linguist, and explorer.He interrupted his exploration of the Pamir Mountains in July 1914 to return home to serve as a captain in the infantry during World War I. Gauthiot received the Croix de guerre before he was mortally wounded at the Second Battle of...

 in Notes sur le yazggoulami, dialecte iraniren des Confins du Pamir (1916).

The Yazgulyam people are an exception among the speakers of Pamir languages in that they do not adhere to Ismailism.

In 1954 the Yazgulami living on the mountain slopes were resettled, about 20% of them forcibly, to the Vakhsh
Vakhsh River
The Vakhsh has been intensively developed for human use. Electricity, aluminum, and cotton are the mainstays of Tajikistan’s economy, and the Vakhsh is involved with all three of these sectors. Hydroelectricity provides 91% of the country’s electricity as of 2005, and 90% of that total comes from...

 valley, where they live dispersed among the Tadjiks, Uzbeks, Russians and other ethnic groups.


The phonology of the Yazgulyam language differs from the basic "Shugni-Roshani" type its system of dorsal consonant
Dorsal consonant
Dorsal consonants are articulated with the mid body of the tongue . They contrast with coronal consonants articulated with the flexible front of the tongue, and radical consonants articulated with the root of the tongue.-Function:...

s: In addition to the velar and uvular stops g, k, q and fricatives x̌, γ̌, x, γ,, Yazgulami has a palatalized and a labialized series, transcribed as ḱ, ǵ (palatalized velars), k° g° x̌° (labialized velars, there is no labialized velar voiced fricative) and q° x° γ° (labialized uvulars). A significant number of labialized consonants etymologically correspond to Proto-Iranian *Cv or *Cu, e.g. x̌°arg < *hvaharā- "sister", while others are unrelated to Proto-Iranian v, e.g. sk°on < skana- "puppy".

This threefold system of articulation of dorsals has been compared typologically to the three reconstructed rows of dorsals in the Proto-Indo-European language
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...



  • Ėdel’man, D.I. Jazguljamskij jazyk. Moskva: Nauka, 1966.
  • Ėdel’man, D.I. Jazguljamsko-russkij slovar’. Moskva: Nauka, 1971.
  • Zarubin, I.I.
    Ivan Ivanovich Zarubin
    Ivan Ivanovich Zarubin was a Soviet specialist of Iranian languages, particularly Pamir languages.-Life:...

    . Two Yazghulāmī Texts. Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London, 1936, vol. 8, no. 2/3, p. 875-881.
  • Payne, John, "Pamir languages" in: Rüdiger Schmitt (ed.), Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum, 417–444. Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1989.

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