Xuɣ̌nůni zivti


ба тоҷикӣ

ﺑﻪ ﻓﺎﺭﺳﻰ

The Shughni Grammar Project




About the project


A team of linguists at the University of Kentucky  is collaborating with a group of language scholars at Khorog State University in Tajikistan to produce a comprehensive grammar of the Shughni language. 


Shughni is an Indo-European language; it belongs to the Pamir branch of Southeastern Iranian languages.  It is spoken by approximately 75,000 people in the Pamir mountains of eastern Tajikistan and by roughly 20,000 more in adjacent regions of Afghanistan.  Like its closest relatives (Yazgulyam in Tajikistan; Sarikoli in China; Munji and Sanglechi-Ishkashimi in Afghanistan; and Wakhi and Yidgha in Pakistan), it is an underdocumented language.  There is no written tradition in Shughni, many of whose speakers also use Tajiki (a Western Iranian language, the majority language of Tajikistan) and Russian.  Although grammatical sketches of Shughni exist and more detailed accounts of particular aspects of Shughni grammar have been published in Russian and Tajiki, no comprehensive grammar of Shughni has ever been published.


Our project is an outgrowth of Gulnoro Mirzovafoeva’s visit to the University of Kentucky as a JFDP scholar in Spring 2007; during her visit, she served as a language consultant in Greg Stump’s Grammatical Analysis class (LIN 516).  Subsequently, Stump, Andrew Hippisley, and Jeanmarie Rouhier-Willoughby acquired Major Research Project funding from UK’s College of Arts & Sciences to bring Mirzovafoeva and her colleagues Muqbilsho Alamshoev and Shohnazar Mirzoev (all faculty members at Khorog State University) to UK in July 2008 for a month-long workshop on Shughni grammar.  Mark Lauersdorf was instrumental in arranging the setting for the workshop, whose group meetings took place at UK’s Collaboratory for Research in Computing for Humanities.  In Spring 2009, Shahlo Nekushoeva visited UK from Khorog State University; she is was sponsored as a JFDP scholar by UK’s Linguistics Program.


Some preliminary outcomes


·         Amanda Barie, Darya Bukhtoyarova, Raphael Finkel, Andrew Hippisley, Mark Lauersdorf, Jeanmarie Rouhier-Willoughby, Gregory Stump (University of Kentucky); Muqbilsho Alamshoev*, Shoxnazar Mirzoev*, Gulnoro Mirzovafoeva, Shahlo Nekushoeva* (Khorog State University, *Institute of Humanities of the Tajik Academy of Sciences), ‘A collaborative project for the documentation of the Shughni language’, poster presented at the 1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, March 12-14, 2009.

·         Amanda Barie. ‘Exploring cleft sentences and other aspects of Shughni syntax.’ Master’s Thesis. May 5, 2009.

·         Andrew Hippisley & Gregory Stump, ‘Periphrasis and Shughni verb inflection’, paper presented at the Southeast Morphology Meeting, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom, September 26, 2008.

·         Andrew Hippisley & Gregory Stump, ‘The wonders of morphology: The Shughni past tense’, English Department Colloquium, University of Kentucky, November 14, 2008.

·         Andrew Hippisley, Gregory Stump & Raphael Finkel, Computing in the field: language modeling for elicitation and documentation of Shughni’, paper presented at the 1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, March 12-14, 2009. Slides

·         Andrew Hippisley and Gregory Stump. 2009b. ‘Valence sensitivity in Pamirian past-tense inflection: a realizational analysis’, paper presented at the Third International Conference on Iranian Linguistics, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, September 2009.

·         Andrew Hippisley & Gregory Stump. 2009c. ‘Realization without exponence: the Shughni past tense’,  paper read at the Linguistics Association of Great Britain Meeting, University of Edinburgh. September 2009.


Shahlo Nekushoeva narrates a traditional Shughni folk tale and tells stories from her grandmother Watch the video


Shahlo Nekushoeva’s presentation  Pomēri čīd: the traditional Pamirian house and its symbolism”

(presented at the University of Kentucky, April 8 2009)




Transcriptions from Spring 2008, based on work with Garibsulton Sultonmamadova

February 28 2008

April 3 2008

May 8 2008


Audio recordings

“UK Perspectives” interview concerning the Shughni Summer Workshop (and related podcast and links)

Shughni folktale narrated by Gulnoro Mirzovafoeva, followed by a conversation on folklore (Muqbilsho Alamshoev, Shoznazar Mirzoev, Gulnoro Mirzovafoeva)

Shughni folktale narrated by Mavlyuda Zulfova 


Article in the Lexington Herald-Leader


Article in the Winter 2009 issue of the University of Kentucky’s magazine Odyssey 



Shughni verb forms table download .xls


Shughni online dictionary (in progress), here


Lin / Eng 516 Materials

Elicitation 1 audio recording





part 3


part 4

part 11








Elicitation 1

transcription 1 Feb 12                                                                                                    


Elicitation 2



Audio recording

Questions 1-20, video

Questions 21-40, video

Questions 41-60, video

Questions 61-80, video

Questions 81-100, video

Questions 101-120, video

Questions 121-130, video



Elicitation 3

Audio recording

Questions 1-20, video

Questions 21-40, video

Questions 41-60, video

Questions 61-80, video

Questions 81-100, video

Questions 101-110, video


Elicitation 4

Audio and video recording

Group 1 audio, video

Group 2 audio, video

Group 3 audio, video

Group 4 audio, video

Group 5 audio, video

Additional question


Whitney Wilder’s project, April 2010, audio


Shughni language/Pamir links

Ellen Woolford’s Shughni language page

Shughni page on the Ethnologue

The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies’ Shughni page

Pamirs Home Page (amazing photo galleries)

My Journey in Central Asia (more amazing photos)

A Khorog city tour:  part one   part two   part three   part four