Tajik name-change craze targets Turkic words

04/02/2016 10:37
RFE/RL
Views: 8529

DUSHANBE, February 4, 2016, Asia-Plus – Radio Liberty reports that having purged his country of most Russian, Soviet, and Arabic labels, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon is setting his sights on locations with names of Turkic origin.

In a move that for the most part targets places with Uzbek or Kyrgyz names, Rahmon has sent parliament a list of new names to consider for 10 locations across Tajikistan.

All are in keeping with his preference for pure Tajik names -- meaning those rooted in Persian, like the Tajik language itself, or that are patriotic in nature.  Turkic-language Uzbek or Kyrgyz names obviously don't fit the bill.

In announcing the move on February 1, the president's office said the list includes towns and districts across the country, as well as an artificial lake near a major hydropower plant.

Some will have their former Persian names restored, some will be named after historic Tajik figures, and others will be given new Tajik names.

The town of Qairoqqum, an Uzbek name, for example, will be renamed Guliston, or City of Flowers.  An artificial lake by the same name will simply be called the Tajik Sea.

The district of Ghonchi, a name with Turkic roots, will be named after Devashtich, a Sogdian ruler of the modern-day Tajik city of Panjakent in pre-Islamic Central Asia.

Jirgatol district will have its old, Turkic-rooted name, Lakhsh, restored.  Jillikul district will have its Kyrgyz name replaced with Dousti, which means friendship in Tajik.

In the case of the district of Tavildara, according to Tajik media, the reasons behind the proposed change to its historical name, Sangvor, is not as simple as it seems.

If Tajik media are to be believed, it is the residents of Tavildara themselves who asked the government to rename the district so they could put sad memories behind them.  The stronghold of the Islamic opposition during the Tajik civil war in the 1990s, Tavildara is often associated with deadly skirmishes and military operations.

The latest proposals must be approved by the upper house of parliament. 

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