Published On: Thu, Aug 4th, 2016

Tajikistan to fine journalists using words unfamiliar with readers


DUSHANBE, TAJIKISTAN - APRIL 01: Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan, waits for German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (not pictured) on April 01, 2016 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Frank-Walter Steinmeier visits in three days Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for political conversations. (Photo by Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images)

Tajikistan, one of central Asia’s most reclusive states, is to start fining journalists caught using “incomprehensible” words, a government official has said.

“There are cases when journalists use as many as 10 words in one day that the simple reader, viewer or listener cannot comprehend,” said Gavhar Sharifzoda, the head of state language committee, in comments carried by Russia’s Interfax news service.

“This grossly violates the norms of state language.”

The move is the latest attempt by Tajikistan’s government to boost the Tajik language. It comes after the country’s veteran president Emomali Rahmon made Tajik the sole language in 2009, ending the use of Russian for official purposes.

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Impoverished, and dependent on remittances from Tajiks working in Russia, the country of eight million has been trying to defend its national identity from what are seen as unhelpful foreign influences.

The authorities have recently complained of the encroachment of Farsi and Dari, which are spoken in Iran and neighbouring Afghanistan respectively. The “incomprehensible” ban is on imported Farsi words, Russian news sites suggested.

An expert group will now monitor compliance by the media. Sharifzoda said fines for individuals will range from $75 to $100, while state officials and organisations will have to pay up to $200.

It remains unclear when the new regulations will come into force.

Tajik is the sole state language in Tajikistan although Russian is constitutionally recognised as a language of “inter-ethnic communication” and is widely spoken in the ex-Soviet republic, especially in the capital Dushanbe and among the country’s educated classes.

Until the 1920s Tajik was considered to be a dialect of Farsi. Modern-day Iranians understand most of it. Its script was originally Arabic. In 1929 it was Latinised, but in 1939 got the Cyrillic script used today. The language includes numerous Russian and Turkic loan-words.

The landlocked country has in the past adopted restrictive legislation, including bans on Russia’s version of Father Christmas and large public celebrations.

It has also discouraged the use of non-Tajik names for newborn babies. Earlier this year the authorities said that parents registering names for their new babies would have to use Tajik endings (such as “zod”) rather than Russian ones (such as “ov” for boys or “ova” for girls).

Citizens were also told to avoid names that “humiliated the honour and dignity of the person.” Suggested examples of inappropriate names included “stone”, “axe” and “wolf”.

Similar regulations exist in other post-Soviet states, as they aim to curb the influence of Russian.

President Rahmon has also taken a stand against creeping Islamic radicalisation. Reports of bans on the sale of Islamic clothing in certain cities and forced beard shavings by police in the secular country are widespread.

News Source The Guardian

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology