Editor’s note: neweurasia’s Botur Kosimi comments on a recent bill in the Tajikistan parliament that concerns the status and role of the Tajik language in the nation. This is a cross-post and translation from his personal blog (TAJ).
Recently a proposal of a new law to enhance the status and role of Tajik language has been submitted by the government to the Majlis which became a hot topic for discussions. Our friends Dariua Rajabian and Salimjon Ayobzod have expressed their views about this and other legal measures that have been undertaken in the past concerning the official language of our country. We were happy and thankful to read them as always.
Although, I have not had a chance to thoroughly acquaint myself with this new draft of law and in spite of many flaws and unclear aspects in the text of the draft that fortunately Darius has revealed for us, I believe it is still a step forward. If the attempt of government is sincere and patriotic it can be a useful and significant deed, but if this is another game of politics related to visit of Russian leader and somehow to negotiate a bargain, it will certainly further ruin the trust and reputation of current government.
Obviously, in the country where 80% of population speak one language there should be no need to have another language to carry out jobs, duties and official communication. For example, in US, France, Japan and majority of countries worldwide there is one language designated as official or state language which every citizen is obligated to learn and use. It is English or French that is expected to be spoken in all major events including people of various ethnicities. So, anyone who had contributed to accepting the law on Tajik language some 20 years ago, made a big mistake and showed a great disrespect to their own language and identity.
In fact, the language is a main determinant of every nation’s existence and future prospects. Also, it is a basis for national unity, because if the standard language of the state is brought closer to the language that ordinary people speak in different regions of its territory it will enhance sense of national unity among them. Therefore, I believe that teachings in all educational institutions of the state should be conducted in state/official language.
People who study and get education in other languages will have much difficulty getting absorbed and involved in their society, so they will feel isolated and unequal members of the communities they live in. All conditions should be made available so that every citizen first learns and knows the state/national language and then they are free to choose whichever language they want to pursue for their own needs and goals.
If the language of communication between people of different ethnicities in formal settings is not the official state language itself than problems will inevitably arise for the status of national/official language. For instance, Russian speaker in Tajikistan will never have incentive to learn Tajik language, because he will rather use Russian when communicating with people of different ethnicity rather than using official language. That’s the fine line contradiction, but it can play a significant role.
When the role of language as guarantor of nation’s existence is provided, we will need to try to maintain its growth so that it keeps up with pace of modern world developments. This part of problem is harder to address, but not less important. Since promoting Tajik language in separation from other major Persian dialects, Farsi in Iran and Dari in Afghanistan, will not be right or easy anyways, we should try to cooperate more with these two brotherly nations in order to keep our common language enriched, strengthened and updated. Though we have not yet decided to change back to our Persian/Farsi writing script. This will be one of the main ways to save our Tajik language from degraded and disadvantaged condition it is nowadays. Hopefully, this new law will have a section that will envision protecting the status of Tajik language in Uzbekistan and Pashtun-dominated Afghanistan.
Lastly, for anyone who thinks that the issue of language is not a priority in paving the way out from the current desperate situation the country is in right now, I can say that until we learn and master our language we will not be able ever to stand up, ask, and demand for our rights and choices in a civilized, organized, and effective manner.