Tajikistan orders reporters to mind their language

DUSHANBE (Tajikistan) • First they banned Russia's version of Father Christmas, then they forbade foreign names for babies.

And now Tajikistan, one of Central Asia's most reclusive states, is going to start fining journalists caught using "incomprehensible" words, a government official said on Monday.

"There are cases when journalists use as many as 10 words in one day that the simple reader, viewer or listener cannot comprehend," said Mr Gavhar Sharifzoda, head of Tajikistan's state language committee, according to Russia's Interfax news service.

The authorities in the country of eight million have recently complained about the growing influence of Farsi and Dari - which are spoken in Afghanistan - on Tajik, the official state language .

Mr Sharifzoda said fines for individuals will range from US$75 to US$100 (S$100 to S$134), while state officials and organisations will have to pay up to US$200.

Tajik is the sole state language in Tajikistan although Russian is constitutionally recognised as a language of "inter-ethnic communication" and is widely spoken in the former Soviet republic.

In a bid to boost patriotism, the long-serving president of the impoverished country, Mr Emomali Rakhmon, ended the use of Russian as an official language in 2009.

However, the Tajik language is still written in an adapted form of the Russian Cyrillic alphabet.

Reports of bans on the sale of Islamic clothing in certain cities and forced beard shavings by police in the secular country are also widespread.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2016, with the headline 'Tajikistan orders reporters to mind their language'. Print Edition | Subscribe