(also Yaghnobi), the language of the Yagnobs. Yagnobi is spoken in the Tadzhik SSR, primarily in the Iagnob and Varzob river valleys. It has approximately 2,500 speakers (1970, estimate).
An Eastern Iranian language, Yagnobi can be traced back to a dialect of the now-extinct Sogdian language. It has two main dialects, western and eastern, and several transitional dialects; the dialects can be distinguished from one another by a number of phonetic and morphological features.
Yagnobi has 27 consonant phonemes and eight vowel phonemes: five long vowels (i, e, o, u, y) and three short vowels (i, a, u). The vowel phonemes i and u have a large number of variants; the vowel o sometimes changes to u before the nasals m and n. Consonants are characterized by voiced-voiceless and labialized-nonlabialized oppositions. Total regressive assimilation occurs at the junction of a voiceless and voiced consonant. Stress occurs either at the end of a word or, more often, on the penultimate syllable.
The morphological system of Yagnobi includes several notable features. Nouns are marked for number and have two cases: direct and oblique. There is no gender. Adjectives do not have case forms and are not inflected for number; as noun modifiers, they occur only prepositively. Yagnobi contains words for the numbers 1 through 10.
Yagnobi has preserved the Old Iranian method of forming personal verb forms in various tenses from a single stem. The language has a well-developed system of verb tenses and three moods: indicative, subjunctive, and imperative. There are three types of personal endings; the language does not use voice to distinguish sentences that are equivalent in meaning. The vocabulary of Yagnobi includes a large percentage of borrowings from Tadzhik, as well as borrowings from Russian that came into the language through Tadzhik. Yagnobi is an unwritten language.