In the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, two centers of linguistic diversity stand out: the eastern Caucasus mountains — where a number of endangered Kartvelian, Northwest Caucasian (Circassian), and Northeast Caucasian (Nakh-Daghestani) languages are spoken — and the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan, home to several threatened Indo-Iranian languages. The New York area has populations of speakers of the wider region’s larger languages, such as Armenian, Georgian, Chechen, Azeri, and Uzbek, as well as some of the lesser known languages, such as Juhuri and Bukhori. Another effort has focused on Ossetian, an Iranian language of the Caucasus spoken by a few individuals in New York. Although in their homelands some of these languages still have relatively large numbers of speakers–in the tens or hundreds of thousands — intergenerational transmission is increasingly uncertain.
With core support from the Persian Heritage Foundation and the Semnani Family Foundation, the Iranic Languages Project encompasses research and education efforts around the region’s endangered languages, particularly those with speakers in the New York area. ELA is working with a Pamiri community now several hundred strong, including many who speak Shughni and smaller numbers who speak Rushani and Bartangi. For nearly a decade, led by native speaker and senior researcher Husniya Khujamyorova, ELA has been building up and sharing a subtantial corpus of old and new materials on Wakhi, and new work resulting from 2018 fieldwork is now focusing on Ishkashimi, one of the least documented and most highly endangered of all Pamiri varieties.
Whether you are a speaker yourself, a partial speaker, or know someone who might be, we are always looking for more resources on lesser-known Central Asian languages. Please get in touch!