The Tajik language is unique among Central Asian languages because of its Indo-Iranian rather than Turkic origin. The rich literary tradition of the Tajik language, its relationship to ancient Persian, and the changes it underwent during Tajikistan’s Soviet era are only a few of the points that make Tajik stand out as a distinctive and exciting language.
Classification of the Tajik Language
Tajik is a member of the western branch of the Iranian family of the Indo-Iranian family of languages. The Tajik people of central Asia who claim Tajik as their native language are descended from the ancient Indo-Iranian peoples who inhabited Central Asia well before the time of recorded history. This fact distinguishes the Tajiks from other Central Asian peoples, almost all of whom are of Turkic descent.
Relationship of Tajik to the Persian (Farsi) Language
Tajik is very similar to the modern Persian or Farsi language. In fact, most linguists consider Tajik, sometimes referred to as Tajiki Persian, to be an ancient form of the Persian language. Standard Farsi speakers have no difficulty understanding the Tajik language, which is also very similar to Dari, the form of Farsi spoken in Afghanistan.
The primary differences between Persian and Tajik arise from the fact that Tajik is in many respects a more archaic language and has retained more aspects of the ancient Iranian from which these languages developed.