Sarikoli Language
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Sarikoli Language
tujik ziv ( )
Native toPeople's Republic of China
Native speakers
16,000 (2000)[1]
Uyghur Arabic alphabet (unofficial)[2]
Language codes
Sarikoli Language in Xinjiang.png
Xinjiang province. Light blue are areas where Sarikoli is spoken.
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The Sarikoli language (also Sariqoli, Selekur, Sarikul, Sariqul, Sariköli) is a member of the Pamir subgroup of the Southeastern Iranian languages spoken by Tajiks in China. It is officially referred to in China as the "Tajik language", although it is different from the related Iranian language spoken in Tajikistan.


Sarikoli is officially referred to as "Tajik" (Chinese: ?, T?jíkèy?) in China.[4] However, it is not closely related to Tajik as spoken in Tajikistan.[5] It is also referred to as Tashkorghani,[6] after the ancient capital of the Sarikoli kingdom (now Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County in Xinjiang, China); however, this usage is not widespread among scholars.

The earliest written accounts in English, from the 1870s, generally use the name "Sarikoli".[7] Modern Chinese researchers would often mention both Sarikoli and Tajik names in their papers.[8][2]

Distribution of speakers

The number of speakers is around 35,000; most reside in the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County in Southern Xinjiang province, China. The Chinese name for the Sarikoli language, as well as the usage of Sarikol as a toponym, is Sàléikuòlè y? (). Speakers in China typically use Chinese and Uyghur to communicate with people of other ethnic groups in the area. The rest are found in the Pakistani-controlled sector of Kashmir, closely hugging the Pakistan-Chinese international borders.


The language has no official written form. Gawarjon, publishing in China, used IPA to transcribe the sounds of Sarikoli in his book and dictionary,[5][9] while Pakhalina, publishing in Russia, used an alphabet similar to that of the Wakhi language in hers.[10][11] The majority of Sarikoli-speakers attend schools using Uyghur as the medium of instruction.

In recent years, Sarikoli speakers in China have used Uyghur Arabic alphabet to spell out their language.[2]



Sarikoli vowels as used in Russian works (IPA values in brackets):

a [a], e [e], ?y [?i?] (dialectal æy or ay [æi? / ai?]), ?w [?u?] (dialectal æw or aw [æu? /au?]), ? [?], i [i], o [o / ?], u [u], ? [?] (dialectal ? [?]). In some dialects also long variants of those vowels can appear: ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, , . (citation?)


Sarikoli has 29 consonants:

Sariqoli consonants according to Russian Iranologist transcription (IPA values in bracelets): p /p/, b /b/, t /t/, d /d/, k /k / c/, g /? ~ ?/, q /q/, c /ts/, ? /dz/, ? /t?/, ? /d?/, s /s/, z /z/, x? /x/, /?/, f /f/, v /v/, ? /?/, ? /ð/, x /?/, ? /?/, ? /?/, ? /?/, w /w/, y /j/, m /m/, n /n, ?/, l /l/, r /r/


Most words receive stress on the last syllable; however, a minority receive stress on their first syllable. Also, several noun declensions and verb inflections regularly place stress on their first syllable, including the imperative and interrogative.[5]


Although to a large extent the Sarikoli lexicon is quite close to those of other Eastern Iranian languages, there are a large number are words unique to Sarikoli and the closely related Shughni that are not found in other Eastern Iranian languages like Wakhi, Pashto or Avestan.

Lexical comparison of eight Iranian languages together with an English translation[5]
English gloss Persian Tajik Wakhi Pashto Shughni Sarikoli Ossetic Avestan
one jæk () jak () ji jaw () jiw iw iw () a?uua-
meat ?u?t (?) ?u?t (?) ?u?t ?waxa, ?wa?a (?) ?u:xt xt zizä () gao- (N. g?u?)
son pesær () pisar () putr zoi () puts p?ts frt (?) pu?ra-
fire ?te? () ota? (?) rni? or () jo:ts juts ärt () ?tar-
water ?b () ob () jupk ob? (?) xats xats don () ap-
hand dæst () dast (?) ðast l?s () ðust ð?st k'u? (?) zasta-
foot p? () po () p?ð pxa, p?a () po:ð peð fäd () pa?a-, pa-
tooth dænd?n () dandon () ð?nð?k x, () ðinð?n ðanðun d?ndäg () da?t?n-
eye t?æ?m () t?a?m (?) tm st?r?a () tsem tsem st (?æ) d?i?ra-; caman-
horse æsb () asp () ja? ?s () vo:rd? vurd? b () aspa-
cloud æbr () abr () mur urjadz () abri varm ?vrä? (æ) / mi? (?) abda-; a?ra-, a?r?-; maa-
wheat ?ændom (?) ?andum () dim ?anam () ?indam ?andam m?n?w (?æ?æ?) ga?tuma-
many besj?r () bisjor () t?qi ?er, pura (? ?) bisjo:r p?r bir? (æ) paoiri-
high bolænd (?) baland () b?land lwa? () biland b?land b?r?ond (?o) b?r?za?t-
far dur () dur () ðir l?re () ðar ðar därd (?) d?ra-
good ?ub () ?ub () baf x?, () ?ub t?ard? ?or? (?) va?ha-
small kut?ik (?)) ?urd (?) dz?qlai l, l () dzul dz?l gss () kasu-
to say ?oft () ?uft (?) x?nak waj?l () l?vd levd zurn () vac-; aoj-; mr?-; sa?h-
to do kærd () kard (?) ts?rak kaw?l () t?i:d t?ei? k?nn (?æ) kar-
to see did () did () wi win?m (?) wi:nt wand wnn () d?-, vi?-


  1. ^ Sarikoli at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ a b c Yang, Yi-fang; Tursun, Abdurahman; Zangbek, Aray; Qian, Wei-liang (2017). ""?"" [Research of protection and inheritance of Sarikoli Tajik language and characters]. Journal of Juamjusi Education Institute (in Chinese). doi:10.3969/j.issn.1000-9795.2017.04.176. ?,
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Sarikoli". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ A wide variety of transcriptions of the name "Sarikoli" are used in linguistic discussions, such as , Sàl?kù?ry?, , Sàléikuòlèy?, , Sèlèkù?ry? or , S?l?k?l?y?.
  5. ^ a b c d Gawarjon (/G?o ?rqi?ng) (1985). Outline of the Tajik language (/T?jíkèy? Ji?nzhì). Beijing: Nationalities Publishing House.
  6. ^ Rudelson, Justin Jon (January 2005). Lonely Planet Central Asia Phrasebook: Languages Of The Silk Road. Lonely Planet Publications. ISBN 1-74104-604-1.
  7. ^ Shaw, Robert (1876). "On the Ghalchah Languages (Wakhi and Sarikoli)". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Asiatic Society of Bengal. XIV.
  8. ^ Kurban, Xiren; Zhuang, Shu-ping (2008). "" [A Probe into China-Tajik Selekur Dialect]. Language and Translation (in Chinese). doi:10.3969/j.issn.1001-0823.2008.01.003. ISSN 1001-0823.
  9. ^ Gawarjon (/G?o ?rqi?ng) (1996). (T?jíkè-Hàn Cìdi?n) Tujik ziv - Hanzu ziv lughot. Sichuan: Sichuan Nationalities Publishing House. ISBN 7-5409-1744-X.
  10. ^ Pakhalina, Tatiana N. (1966). The Sarikoli Language ( ?/Sarykol'skij Jazyk). Moscow: Akademia Nauk SSSR.
  11. ^ Pakhalina, Tatiana N. (1971). Sarikoli-Russian Dictionary (-? ?/Sarykol'sko-russkij slovar'). Moscow: Akademia Nauk SSSR.

Further reading

External links

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