Bukhori dialect

For other uses, see Bukhara (disambiguation).
בוכארי, бухорӣ Bukhori
Native to Israel, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, United States, Afghanistan
Ethnicity Bukharan Jews
Native speakers
60,000 in Israel and Uzbekistan (1995)[1]
50,000 United States (no date)[2]
Hebrew, Cyrillic, Latinic
Language codes
ISO 639-3 bhh
Glottolog bukh1238[4]

Bukhori (Tajiki: бухорӣ - buxorī, Hebrew script: בוכארי buxori), also known as Bukhari and Bukharian, is a dialect of the Tajiki language spoken in Central Asia (and in the diaspora) by Bukharian Jews.

General information

The location where Bukharic exists is in Central Asia.[5] The language classification of Bukharic is as follows: Indo-European > Indo-Iranian > Iranian > West Iranian > Southwest Iranian > Persian > Tajik > Bukharic.[3]

Bukhori is based on a substrate of classical Persian, with a large number of Hebrew loanwords, as well as smaller numbers of loanwords from other surrounding languages, including Uzbek and Russian. The vocabulary consists of a mixture of Persian, Arabic, Uzbek, and Hebrew words.[6]

At the end of 1987, the total number of speakers was 85,000. In the USSR, there were 45,000 speakers; in Israel, there were 32,000; and in all other countries combined, there were 3,000. One of the dialects of Bukharic is Rahamĭm.[3] Ethnic Tajik minorities exist in many countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Later Samarkand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan are two cities which are particularly populated.[7]

Today, the language is spoken by approximately 10,000 Jews remaining in Uzbekistan and surrounding areas, although most of its speakers reside elsewhere, predominantly in Israel (approximately 50,000 speakers), and the United States.

Like most Jewish languages, traditionally, Bukhori uses the Hebrew alphabet.[8] But throughout the past century, due to Soviet influence, the alphabet used to write Bukhori included Latin (1920s) then the Cyrillic (1940). Additionally, since 1940, when the Bukharian Jewish schools were closed in Central Asia, the use of the Hebrew alphabet outside Hebrew liturgy fell into disuse and Bukharian Jewish publications, such as books and newspapers, began to appear using the Cyrillic alphabet. Today, many older Bukharian Jews who speak Bukharian only know the Cyrillic alphabet when reading and writing Bukharian. The origin of its respective spelling system is talmudic orthography.[5]

During the Soviet Period, communists wanted Hebrew to be the language of culture and instruction in the Republic of Turkestan and in the Soviet’s People Republic of Bukhara. In late 1921, the Turkestani People’s Commissariat of Education ordered that schools for Bukharan Jews to teach in Bukharic and not in Hebrew. In Uzbekistan in 1934, 15 Bukharan Jewish clubs and 28 Bukharan Jewish red teahouses existed. However, in 1938, Bukharic was no longer used as the language for instruction in the schools and in cultural activities.[3]

There were attempts made to bring back Bukharan Jewish culture in the Soviet Union. One significant attempt was a council was established for Bukharan Jewish literature in the Uzbekistan Writers’ Union and was headed by Aharon Shalamaev-Fidoi (Shalamaev-Fidoi left for Israel in 1991). Another significant attempt was the Hoverim society was established in Tajikistan and was headed by Professor Datkhaev (Datkhaev left for the USA in 1992).[9] An organization today that is continuing to support the Bukharan Jewish culture is the World Bukharian Jewish Congress. This organization is introducing to the public the unique story of the Bukharan Jews. Their goal is for others to learn about the history of the Bukharan Jews, as well as their culture, language and literature. Based on the Soviet census of 1979, 20% more of Central Asian Jews spoke Russian instead of Bukharic.[3]

Among some Bukharian Jewish youth, especially in the New York City area, there has been a revival of using the Bukharian Jewish language written in a modified Latin alphabet similar to the one developed by Bukharian Jewish linguist and writer, Yakub Kalontarov. Today, youths learning the Bukharian Jewish language sponsored by the Achdut-Unity Club in Queens use the modified Latin alphabet.

Kol Yisrael (קול ישראל) broadcasts in Bukhori from 12:45 to 13:00 GMT.[10]

See also


  1. Bukhori at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Gordon, Raymond G., and Barbara F. Grimes, ed. (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (15th ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Tolmas, Chana. 2006. Bukharan Jews: history, language, literature, culture. Israel: World Bukharian Jewish Congress.
  4. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Bukharic". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. 1 2 Birnbaum, Salomo A. 2011. Ein Leben für die Wissenschaft. Germany: De Gruyter.
  6. Michael Shterenshis, Tamerlane and the Jews p. 85
  7. Ido, Shinji. 2007. Bukharan Tajik. E.C.: LINCOM EUROPA.
  8. http://www.omniglot.com/writing/bukhori.htm
  9. Tolmas 2006, 69-70
  10. Kol Israel website
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