Published May 28, 2020
The video was recorded by Kamran Ali in Moscow. Wakhi is spoken by upwards of 60,000 people across Central Asia, with the largest community of speakers in Pakistan and smaller communities in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and China. An Indo-Iranian language of the Indo-European language, Wakhi bares resemblance to languages like Kurdish and Farsi, although its specific genealogy is under-researched. There is some evidence that it's related to the extinct Saka language, which was spoken in the ancient Buddhist kingdoms of Khotan, Kashgar, and Tumshuq in present-day Xinjiang, China. Traditionally an oral language without its own writing system, Wakhi speakers use different orthographies depending on their country of origin. In Afghanistan, for example, they write their language using a variety of the Arabic script, while Whaki communities in Tajikistan use variations of the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. Though the Wakhi community is small, UNESCO lists the vitality of their language as strong; however, census data is sparse, political support is absent, and Kamran remains concerned about the future of his language. Kamran is among a cohort of rising language activists Wikitongues will be working with to test our language sustainability toolkit (wikitongues.org/toolkit), a framework for anyone to launch their own language revitalization.