Shughni-Rushani: Language group within the family of Pamir languages, which belong to the Modern Eastern Iranian languages. Languages of the Shughni-Rushani group are spoken in the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan, particularly in the autonomous region of Badakhshan; in the Afghan province of Badakhshan; and in Xinjiang in China.

The Shughni-Rushani language group consists of five languages: Shughni, with the Bajuv and Shahdara dialects; Rushani, with the Xuf dialect; Bartangi; Roshorvi; and Sariqoli, which is spoken in China.

Shughni is the most important language in the Shughni-Rushani group, being the language of the capital of Tajik Badakshan, Khorog, and a lingua franca within Badakhshan. None of the languages of the Shughni-Rushani group has achieved the status of a written language, although recently attempts have been made to design a suitable script for Shughni; Tajik or Persian is generally used for writing.

The majority of the speakers of Shughni-Rushani are Ismailis, for whom Persian is also important as a language of religion. There are no recent reliable data regarding the number of speakers of Shughni-Rushani: a very rough estimate is around three hundred thousand people. Descriptions of these languages and most of the dialects are available in Russian.

This article by Gabrielle van den Berg was originally published in The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, 2004.


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Dr. Gabrielle Van den Berg