Rushani dialect

rixū̊n ziv
Native to Afghanistan, Tajikistan
Native speakers
(18,000 cited 1990)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog rush1239[2]

Rushani is a dialect of Shughnani (also referred to as Shughni), one of the Pamir languages spoken in Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

The Roshan area is located in the northern part of the Shighnan District, in the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan. Roshan consists of six villages, five of which are located on the bank of the river Panj, which meets at the border of Tajikistan.[3] Most Rushani speakers belong to the Ismaili branch of Shi'a Islam.[3]

Language use

Rushani, like other Shugni dialects, is only used in unofficial settings. All of the children in the community learn Rushani as their first language and rely heavily on it until they enroll in school. It is only then that they learn the official language of the country.[3] Adult speakers are all bi- or tri-lingual in Tajik and Russian. The language is not written; Rushani speakers write in Tajik.[4]


Rushani is unusual in having a transitive case – a so-called double-oblique clause structure – in the past tense. That is, in the past tense,[5] the agent and object of a transitive verb are both marked, while the subject of an intransitive verb is not. In the present tense, the object of the transitive verb is marked, the other two roles are not – that is, a typical nominative–accusative alignment.[6] See transitive case for examples.


  1. Shughni at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Rushani". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. 1 2 3 Muller, K. 2010: Language in Community-Oriented and Contact-Oriented Domains: The Case of the Shughni of Tajakistan. SIL International.
  4. Dodykhudoeva, L. 2007: Revitalization of minority languages: comparative dictionary of key cultural terms in the languages and dialects of the Shugni-Rushani group. London: SOAS.
  5. or perhaps perfective aspect
  6. J.R. Payne, 'Language Universals and Language Types', in Collinge, ed. 1990. An Encyclopedia of Language. Routledge. From Payne, 1980.


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