Sunday, May 17, 2020

Dushanbe Takes Radical Step to De-Russianize All Tajik Names

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 16 – Tajikistan has passed a law banning the continued use of Russianized name endings and patronymics. Newborns will no longer be registered with family names ending in -ov, -ova, -ev or ‘eva’ or with patronymics ending in -ovich, -ovna, -evich or -evna. Instead they will be required to use traditional Tajik endings in both cases.

            For family names, these include -zol, -zoda,’ -en, er, nie, and -far; and for patronymics,    -pur and -dukht. Dushanbe is not requiring ethnic Russians or other minorities to make these changes (

            That Tajikistan was going to go in this direction was signaled in 2007 when the country’s president changed his name from Emomali Sharipovich Rakhmonov to Emomali Rakhmon. Many officials followed him and changed their names as well. Now, the next generation will be required to follow this pattern.

            Four years ago, Tajikistan also suggested that people replace their existing last names with their fathers’ names with a Tajik suffix added. Thus, the son of the president, hitherto Rustam Emomalievich Rakhmon is now Rustam Emomali. He is the mayor of Dushanbe and the heir presumptive to his father.

            Because this second change will end the passing of a family name from one generation to the next, this will make it far more difficult to trace family connections over time, restoring what was true before the establishment of Soviet power which wanted standard forms of registration and names.

            After the collapse of the USSR, everything changed. Linguists purged Russian and Persian loan words from the language. Officials changed many place names. And the government even published a list of 6,000 approved first names parents are required to select from among for their children.

            In most countries in Central Asia, the governments still require the use of Russianized names and patronymics. (In Azerbaijan, -ogly and -kyzy have replaced -ovich and -ovna.) And all seem headed in the Tajik direction. There will be some resistance because so many people from these countries now work in Russia where the national names can create problems.

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