A beginner’s guide to Tajiki

A beginner’s guide to Tajiki. By Azim Baizoyev and John Hayward. London: Routledge Curzon, 2004. Pp. xvi, 371. ISBN 0415315980. $55.95.

Reviewed by Mohammad Rasekh Mahand, Bu-Ali Sina University

This book offers a conversational approach to the study of Tajiki, the language of Tajikistan. The Tajik author, Azim Baizoyev, who has been involved in teaching Tajiki to foreign diplomats and professionals in various fields, has prepared the lessons of the book. As outlined in the ‘Editor’s preface’ (xii), these lessons have some key features: (i) they take ‘a topic-based, lexical conversational approach towards language learning’; (ii) they engage in ‘recycling of language information to facilitate language acquisition’; (iii) there are opportunities for exposure to language forms before they are explained in order to facilitate inductive learning; and (iv) the lessons use authentic language material, emphasize spoken language, and offer descriptions of the literary language, in which a balance between literal translation and sociolinguistically equivalent expressions has been attempted when both Tajiki and English are given.

Each lesson contains several sections. The first section offers a brief commentary in English on the subject matter of the lesson, which is followed by a list of key vocabulary items. In the third section there are dialogues that are centered on the theme of the lesson. The fourth is a grammar section, followed by exercises providing practice with the lesson’s new material. There are proverbs and short texts in some of the lessons, along with some discussion questions. The last section in each lesson gives a quiz.

The appendices contain examples of different text types (letters, speeches, jokes, poems, and the like). These offer insights into Tajiki culture and modes of thinking. After the appendices there is a section with grammatical tables, followed by a very useful Tajiki-English dictionary, containing over 4,500 definitions, of all the vocabulary found in the book.

The book could be used with a teacher or alone, and, although it is designed for beginners, those who wish to gain fluency in the language will find it a useful way to go further with the language.