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By: G. Buddruss




BARTANGĪ, a member of the Šughnī (q.v.) group or Šughnī-Rōšānī group of the East Iranian Pamir languages. The other members are: Šughnī, Bajūī, Rōšānī, KHūfī, Orōšōrī, and Sariqōlī [qq.v.]. Bartangī is spoken in the Gorno-Badakhshanskaya Avtonomnaya Oblast’ of Soviet Tajikistan in the middle part of the Bartang valley (i.e., Bār-tāng “upper defile,” cf. Edel’man, 1975, p. 44), which joins the Panj (Oxus) valley from the east and was formerly one of the poorest and most inac cessible parts of the Pamirs. The number of Bartangī speakers was reported in 1932 to be 2,000 (Zarubin, 1937, p. 4). The two dialects of Bartangī, which differ in minor details (Sokolova, 1960, p. 1), are Basidī and Siponǰī. (For the name Siponǰ see Dodykhudoev, 1976, p. 143.) The names of the other villages in Bartang are given in Karamkhudoev, 1973, p. 9, and Edel’man, 1975, p. 50. In the upper part of the Bartang valley Orōšōrī is spoken. Bartangī has no written literature, the language of the schools and the mass media being Tajiki or Russian.


Bartangī was unknown to Iranists until 1914. The first material was collected by R. Gauthiot and I. I. Zarubin (cf. the latter’s report, 1918). Gauthiot (1916, p. 64) referred to his new findings not as Bartangī but as “parlers rochânis occidentaux.” This was criticized by Sköld (1936, p. 14). For further details of the history of research on the Šughnī group see Lentz, 1933, pp. 25ff., and Sokolova and Gryunberg, 1962.


The first text in Bartangī, a specimen of folk poetry, was published by Zarubin in 1924. The text corpus available now is still limited: Zarubin, 1937 (poetry; one prose text in Bartangī and Rōšanī); Sokolova, 1953 (a text with versions in Šughnī, Rōšānī, KHūfī, and Bar tangī); Sokolova, 1960 (twelve texts with a copious glossary, a list of morphemes, and a Russian-Bartangī index). Comparative word lists are in Sköld, 1936. Some Bartangī words are also to be found in Andreev’s monumental ethnographical work (1953-58) and in stray references in Soviet works on other Pamir languages. The most detailed descriptive grammar of Bartangī is by Karamkhudoev (1973, after some preparatory articles). It is written in an adapted Cyrillic script. It contains also conversational sentences and other text material.


Some of the salient characteristics of Bartangī are mentioned or discussed in works dealing with East Iranian or the Pamir languages and in important annotated bibliographies (e.g., Morgenstierne, 1958; Livshits, 1962; Sokolova, 1966; Pakhalina, 1969, 1975; Redard, 1970; Dodykhudoev, 1971-72; Oranskiĭ, 1975, 1979; Edel’man and Rastorgueva, 1975; Edel’man and Efimov, 1978).


Within the Šughnī group, Bartangī is most closely related to Orōšōrī. Some of the main differences are: Bartangī tū: Orōšōrī tu “you” (2nd sing.); the mor pheme of ordinal numbers, Bartangī -um : Orōšōrī -ēm; the plural morpheme, Bartangī -ēn (*-ānām) : Orōšōrī -īf (*-ēv< *-aibiš); absence of the ergative construction in Orōšōrī, etc. (cf. Edel’man, 1976, p. 89). Bartangī is separated from Rōšānī by some differences of grammar and vocabulary (cf. Sokolova, 1960, pp. 4ff.). On the whole, however, Bartangī is nearer to Rōšānī than to Šughnī, especially with regard to the vowel system; cf., e.g., Šughnī čīd, Rōšānī čod,Bartangī čōd (< *kata-) “house.” For other correspondences see Sokolova, 1953, pp. 130ff.


The vowel phonemes of Bartangī are: i, ī, ē, ö, a, ā, o, u, ū (on their phonetic realization see Sokolova, 1953, pp. 128ff.). Mid-rounded ö (phonetically long) is peculiar to Bartangī and Orōšōrī. The system of conso nants is the same for the whole Šughnī group: plosives (p, b, t, d, k, g, q); affricates (c = ts, j = dz, č, ǰ); fricatives (f, v, θ, δ, x̌, γ̌, x, γ, h); sibilants (s, z, š, ž); sonants (w, y, m, n, r, l; w sometimes has an allophone ß: Sokolova, 1953, p. 158).


The diachronic details of the phonetic development in the Šughnī group are intricate. The history of the vocalism has been analyzed by Sokolova, 1967. Morgenstierne (1973a, p. 108) has shown that the original distinction between Old Iranian final -ă and -ā can still be traced in the Šughnī group. Umlaut caused by ī, ā has become functionally relevant in morphophonemics, where other vowel alternations also occur, e.g., čöd “house,” plur. čadē/ĕn (cf.Morgenstierne, 1928, p. 37). Diachronic study of the consonants (the most systemat ic work is by Edel’man, 1980) reveals differences within the Šughnī group mainly regarding the representation of old -š- and of old r + consonant, e.g., Šughnī zinaγ̌,Rōšānī zinaw,Bartangī zināw (*snušā-) “daughter- in-law”; Šughnī pēҳc-, Bartangī pāws- (< *prrsa-) “to ask”; Šughnī mūd,Bartangī and Rōšānī mūg (mū < *mrrta-) “died.” (For the development of old rt, rrt,cf. Dodykhudoev, 1964; Morgenstierne, 1970, p. 338; Edel’man, 1963). A considerable part of the vocabulary of the Šughnī group is of unknown or uncertain origin. Collections of etymologies are found, e.g., in Sokolova, 1967, but the most recent etymological standard work is that by Morgenstierne, 1974.


In their morphology the members of the Šughnī group differ in minor details only. The function of the old cases has been taken over by prepositions and postpositions. Case-differentiated forms are restricted to the pro nouns. For details see Payne, 1980, p. 162. The demon strative pronouns are marked for three degrees of distance and go back to old *ima-,*aita-,and *awa - (Morgenstierne, 1942, p. 258). The derivation of some of the personal pronouns, e.g., Bartangī tamāˊs(š) “you” (2nd plur.) is problematic (cf. Edel’man, 1971; Pakha lina, 1975a; Kuiper, IIJ 18, 1976, p. 99). Nouns have the plural allomorphs -ēn, -yōn, -gōn, -ārj, -ōrǰ (of doubtful origin: Pakhalina, 1975, p. 232). Adjectives have special feminine forms, e.g., Bartangī röšt,fem. rāšt “red.” The vigesimal system is used in counting (Edel’man, 1975b).


The verbal system is based on two stems: the present stem (from the Old Iranian present) and the past stem (derived from the old participle in -ta).The personal endings of the present tense are: 1. -um,2. -i/zero,3. -t/d in the singular and 1. -an, 2. -at/af,3. -an in the plural. In the past tenses intransitive verbs have gender and number agreement in Bartangī (sāw- “to go,” niθ- “to sit”), as shown in Chart 1.


The internal vowel alternations arise as a result of umlauting, e.g., sud “went” < *cyuta-, sad < *cyutā.The perfect goes back to the participle in *-taka,fem. *-tačī (with ī-umlaut). The pluperfect, different from Rōšānī, is formed analytically from the perfect and the past of “to be,” e.g., wīč vud “had seen.” In the past tenses person and number agreement is marked by moving clitic particles (see Payne, 1980, p. 165). Various verbal nouns occur: infinitive in -ōw; participles in -īn; -ōč,fem. -ēc; -ön,fem. -ān; -öǰ,fem. -ēj, e.g. nivišöǰ “intending to write.” An analytical passive is formed with the auxiliary “go,” e.g., čöd wiröҳčak sud “the house was built” (Karamkhudoev, 1973, p. 174).

The syntax of the Šughnī group needs much further investigation. Only in Bartangī and Rōšānī are there remnants of an optional ergative construction for pronominal agents in transitive past tenses, e.g., Bartangī āz-um (or ergatively: mun-um) tār kitōb vuǰ “I have brought you a book” (cf. Payne, 1980). More widespread than in Rōšānī is the tendency in Bartangī to use az as direct object marker, e.g., mun-um az tā wīnt “I saw you” (Payne, 1980, p. 163). In the order of words the defining part precedes the defined, e.g., Bartangī pōdҳō puc “king’s son,” xušrūy γāc “beautiful girl,” mun vōrǰ “my horse.” For more information on syntax see Sokolova, 1966, p. 389, and Edel’man, 1974.


It is a matter of controversy whether Bartangī should be called a “dialect” or a “language” (Edel’man, 1976, p. 85, and 1980a, pp. 139ff.). If “dialect” is used in a sociolinguistic sense with the meaning “unwritten or of little cultural prestige,” the term would be appropriate for Bartangī. Moreover, as speakers of Bartangī, Orōšōrī, Rōšānī, and Šughnī can understand each other, one may say that they speak “regional dialects.” On the other hand, “dialect” also seems justified from a historical point of view (Lentz, 1933, p. 14).


Synchronically, the question “dialect of which language?” poses ethnic problems, as no generally recognized standard form exists. Even speakers of the most closely related Orōšōrī would never accept that they speak a “dialect” of Bartangī, and the reverse also holds true. (For the native classification see Sköld, 1936, p. 14.) It is accordingly preferable to call Bartangī, Orōšōrī, Rōšānī, and Šughnī “languages” and members of a genetically closely related “language group” (for this term cf., e.g., Heger, 1976) corresponding to the Russian expression “yazykovaya gruppa.”



M. S. Andreev, Tadzhiki doliny Khuf,2 vols., Stalinabad, 1953-58. 

R. Kh. Dodykhu doev, Materialy po istoricheskoĭ fonetike shugnan skogo yazyka,Dushanbe, 1962. 

Idem, “Ob otrazhenii drevneiranskoĭ gruppy rt vshugnanskom yazyke,” in Iranskaya filologiya. Trudy nauchnoĭ konferentsii 1962, Leningrad, 1964. I

dem, “Die Pamir-Sprachen, Zum Problem der Konvergenz,” Mitteilungen des Instituts für Orientforschung 17, 1971-72, pp. 463-70. 

Idem, Pamirskaya mikrotoponimiya (issledovanie i materialy),Dushanbe, 1975. 

Idem, “Pamirskie etimologii, Roshorv, Sipondzh,” in Iranskoe yazykoznanie. Istoriya, etimologiya, tipologiya, Moscow,1976, pp. 136-45. 

D. I. Edel’man, “Problema tsere bral’nykh v vostochnoiranskikh yazykakh,” Voprosy yazykoznaniya,1963, pp. 67-81. 

Idem, “Sovre mennoe sostoyanie izucheniya pamirskikh yazy kov,” ibid., 1964, pp. 128-32. 

Idem, “K voprosu o slovoobrazovanii mestoimeniĭ v indoiranskikh yazy kakh,” in Indiĭskaya i iranskaya filologya. Voprosy leksiki, Moscow, 1971, pp. 151-60. 

Idem, “O kon struktsiyakh predlozheniya v iranskikh yazykakh,” Voprosy yazykoznaniya,1974, pp. 23-33. 

Idem, “Geograficheskie nazvaniya Pamira,” in Strany i narody vostoka 16, Moscow, 1975, pp. 41-61. 

Idem, “Les verbes "être" et "avoir" dans les langues iraniennes,” in Mélanges linguistiques offerts à Ēmile Benveniste,Paris, 1975a, pp. 151-58. 

Idem, “K genezisu vigezimal’noĭ sistemy chislitel’nykh,” Voprosy yazykoznaniya,1975b, pp. 30-37 (cf. Oranskiĭ, Narody Azii i Afriki,1970, p. 200). 

Idem, “Problema "yazyk ili dialekt" pri otsutstvii pis’mennosti (na materiale pamirskikh yazykov),” in Lingvisticheskaya geografiya, dialektologiya i istoriya yazyka,Ere van, 1976, pp. 85-93. 

Idem, “K istorii yazgulyamskikh i shugnano-rushankikh ukazatel’nykh mestoimeniĭ,” in Iranskoe yazykoznanie. Istoriya, etimologiya, tipo logiya,Moscow, 1976, pp. 85-96. 

Idem, “History of the Consonant Systems of the North-Pamir Lan guages,” IIJ 22, 1980, pp. 287-310. 

Idem, “K pro bleme "yazyk ili dialekt" v usloviyakh otsutstviya pis’mennosti,” in Teoreticheskie osnovy klassifikatsii yazykov mira,Moscow, 1980a, pp. 127ff. 

Idem, “Areal’nye cherty v severnopamirskoĭ morfologii,” in Iranskoe yazykoznanie. Ezhegodnik 1980,Moscow, 1981, pp. 67-76. 

D. I. Edel’man and V. A. Efimov, “Novoiranskie yazyki. Vostochnaya gruppa,” in Yazyki Azii i Afriki. Indoevropeĭskie yazyki II, Mos cow, 1978, pp. 198-253. 

D. I. Edel’man, V. S. Rastor gueva et al., Opyt istoriko-tipologicheskogo issledo vaniya iranskikh yazykov,2 vols., Moscow, 1975. 

R. Gauthiot, “De la réduction de la flexion nominale en iranien,” Mémoires de la société linguistique de Paris 20, 1916, pp. 61-70. 

W. Geiger, “Die Pamir-Dialekte,” in Grundriss der iranischen Philologie I/2, Strassburg, 1898-1901, pp. 288-344. K. Heger, “"Sprache" und "Dialekt" als linguistisches und soziolinguistisches Problem,” in Zur Theorie des Dialekts,ed. J. Göschel et al., Zeitschrift für Dialek tologie und Linguistik, Beiheft 16, Wiesbaden, 1976, pp. 215-35. 

D. Karamshoev, “Novoe v pamirskoĭ filologii,” Voprosy yazykoznaniya,1977, pp. 126-33. 

Idem, Kategoriya roda v pamirskikh yazykakh,Dushanbe, 1978. 

Idem, “Vozniknovenie i razvitie otymennykh pokazateleĭ roda v shugnano-rushanskoĭ gruppe,” in Iranskoe yazykoznanie. Ezhegodnik 1980,Moscow, 1981, pp. 77-93. 

N. Karamkhudoev, Bartangskiĭ yazyk. Fonetika i morfologiya,Dushanbe, 1973. W. Lentz, Pamir-Dialekte I: Materialien zur Kenntnis der Schugni-Gruppe,Göttingen, 1933. V. A. Livshits, “Iranskie yazyki narodov Sredneĭ Azii,” in Narody Azii i Kazakhstana I,Moscow, 1962, pp. 131-58. 

G. Morgenstierne, “Notes on Shughni,” NTS 1,1928, pp. 32-83. 

Idem, “Iranica I. The Demonstrative Pronouns in Shughni,” NTS 12, 1942, pp. 258-60. Idem, “Neu-iranische Sprachen,” in HO I, IV/1, 1958, pp. 155-78.

Idem, “The Development of Iranian r + Consonant in the Shughni Group,” in W. B. Henning Memorial Volume,ed. M. Boyce and I. Gershevitch, London, 1970, pp. 334-42. 

Idem, “The Development of r + Sibilant in Some Eastern Iranian Languages,” in Irano-Dardica,Wiesbaden, 1973, pp. 84-93 (reprinted with additions from TPS, 1948). Idem, “Final -a and -ā in Iranian,” ibid., pp. 108-09. 

Idem, Etymological Vocabulary of the Shughni Group,Wiesbaden, 1974. 

Idem, “Indo- European dheugh- and deuk- in Indo-Iranian,” in Monumentum H. S. Nyberg II, Leiden, 1975, pp. 77 -80 (on Shughni group ’ûʷj- “to milk,” wi’ûʷj- “to peel,” etc.). Y. M. Oranskiy, Die neuiranischen Sprachen der Sowjet-Union,tr. from Russian by W. Winter, The Hague, 1975. 

Idem, “Indo-Iranica IV: Tadjik (régi onal) buruǰ "bouleau",” in Mélanges linguistiques offerts à Ēmile Benveniste,Paris, 1975a, pp. 435-40 (p. 437 on Bartangi vōwzn “birch”). 

Idem, Iranskie yazyki v istoricheskom osveshchenii, Moscow, 1979. 

T. N. Pakhalina, Pamirskie yazyki,Moscow, 1969. Idem, “Sravnitel’nyĭ obzor pamirskikh yazykov,” in Strany i narody vostoka 16, Moscow, 1975, pp. 222-­50. 

Idem, “Eléments indo-aryens dans les langues iraniennes orientales,” in Mélanges linguistiques of ferts à Ēmile Benveniste,Paris, 1975a, pp. 441-45. Idem, “Ob indoariĭskikh elementakh v sisteme lich nykh mestoimeniĭ vostochnoiranskikh yazykov,” in Iranskoe yazykoznanie. Istoriya, etimologiya, tipo logiya,Moscow, 1976, pp. 79-84.

Idem, “O roli i- umlauta v istorii razvitiya vokalizma iranskikh yazy kov,” Voprosy yazykoznaniya,1977, pp. 89-96. 

J. R. Payne, “The Decay of Ergativity in Pamir Lan guages,” Lingua 51, 1980, pp. 147-86. 

Idem, “Pamir Languages,” in Corpus Linguarum Iranicarum,ed. R. Schmitt, Wiesbaden, 1989. 

A. K. Pisarchik, “Terminy obrashcheniya "lo" i "ro" v shugnano-rushanskoĭ gruppe yazykov,” Izvestiya tadzhikskogo filiala Akademii Nauk SSSR 15,1949, pp. 59-67. 

G. Redard, “Other Iranian Languages,” in Current Trends in Linguistics VI, 1970, pp. 103ff. W. Skalmowski, “Transitive Verb Constructions in the Pamir and Dardic Languages,” StudiaIndoeuropejskie, Polska Akademia Nauk, Oddział w Krakowie Prace Komisji Je…zykoznawstwa 37, Kraków, 1974, pp. 205-12. 

H. Sköld, Materialien zu den iranischen Pamirsprachen,Lund, 1936. V. S. Sokolova, Ocherki po fonetike iranskikh yazykov II, Moscow and Lenin grad, 1953. 

Idem, Bartangskie teksty i slovar’,Moscow and Leningrad, 1960. 

Idem, “K utochne niyu klassifikatsii shugnano-rushanskoĭ gruppy pamirskikh yazykov,” in Iranskiĭ sbornik k semi desyatiletiyu professora I. I. Zarubina,Moscow, 1963, pp. 71-80. 

Idem, “Shugnano-rushanskaya yazykovaya gruppa,” in Yazyki narodov SSSR I,Moscow, 1966, pp. 362-97. 

Idem, Geneticheskie ot nosheniya yazgulyamskogo yazyka i shugnanskoĭ yazykovoĭ gruppy,Leningrad, 1967. 

Idem, Gene ticheskie otnosheniya mundzhanskogo yazyka i shugnano-yazgulyamskoĭ yazykovoĭ gruppy,Lenin grad, 1973. 

Idem, “K rekonstruktsii vostochnoiran skogo vokalizma,” in Iranskoe yazykoznanie. Ezhe godnik 1980,Moscow, 1981, pp. 14-36. 

V. S. Soko lova, and A. L. Gryunberg, “Istoriya izucheniya bespis’mennykh iranskikh yazykov,” in Ocherki po istorii izucheniya iranskikh yazykov,Moscow, 1962, pp. 118ff. P. Tedesco, “a-Stämme und aya-Stämme im Iranischen,” ZII 2, 1923, pp. 284-315. 

Idem, “Ostiranische Nominalinflexion,” ZII 4, 1926, pp. 94-166.

I. I. Zarubin, “Materialy i zametki po etnografii gornykh tadzhikov,” in Sbornik Muzeya Antropologii i Etnografii imeni Petra Velikago . . . V,Petrograd, 1918, pp. 97-148. 

Idem, “Obrazets pripa mirskoĭ narodnoĭ poezii,” Doklady Rossiĭskoĭ Aka demii Nauk,1924, pp. 82-85. 

Idem, Bartangskie i rushanskie teksty i slovar’,Moscow and Leningrad, 1937.



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