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Persian Influence on Classical Sarikoli in a Diglossic Context

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DOI: 10.25236/iclahd.2019.059


Junmin Zeng

Corresponding Author

Junmin Zeng


Classical Sarikoli, the literary language used by the Chinese Tajiks in Xinjiang, remains an academic lacuna to be bridged. The present study demonstrates obvious evidence of Persian influence on Classical Sarikoli in both lexical and syntactic levels, and proposes that this situation probably results from the pre-1930 Persian-Sarikoli diglossia practiced by the then Tajik community in westernmost China. Data reveal that Classical Sarikoli has far more Persian loanwords and Persianized lexical forms than contemporary Colloquial Sarikoli does, and the izofat construction and wa-coordination typical in Persian are ubiquitous in Classical Sarikoli, despite their absence from contemporary Sarikoli vernacular. The abundant Persian loan words and expressions in Classical Sarikoli have granted it a higher status, turning it into a ‘high’ variety in the ‘Classical–Colloquial’ sub-diglossia. As evidenced by that, the pre-1930 situation in the Tajik-populated Tashkorgan is better described as ‘embedded diglossia’.


Classical Sarikoli; Persian; Language contact; Diglossia; Chinese Tajiks