Reviews

This five-hundred word lexicon of the Persian dialect of Samarqand, published in Arabic script for the Iranian readership, is introduced by an article by R. Hadizana on “The Tajik Dialect and History of Persian Language and Literature in Samarqand [Guyish-i tajiki wa ta’rikhcha-yi zaban wa adab-i farsi dar Samarqand, 15-65].” In this presentation, R. Hadizada, the heir of an ancient Samarqandi lineage, a memorialist of his city (cf. Central Eurasian Reader 1: No. 136), and a renown historian of Islamic reform in Central Asia, paradoxically focuses on the ancient periods of the development of Persian language and literature in Khurasan and Transoxiana, with particular attention for the role of the city of Samarqand — echoing the quibbles of the Soviet period as to the location of the main historical cradle of Persian language and literature, either in the west or east of the Iranian plateau. The riches of the city’s literary milieu are evoked through reference to the main literary repertories (tadhkiras) of different periods, including in particular Maliha-yi Samarqandi’s “Reminder of the Masters (Mudhakir al-ashab)” as far as the Shaybanid era is concerned (see infra our review of a recent edition of it). The overall impression conveyed by this reading is that of resilience and continuity (to be qualified by the lack of a diwan of any kind during, for instance, the full seventeenth century: p. 41), in spite of the hardships inflicted to the city through history, notably by the hand of the Turkic dynasties from the nomadic world which succeeded one another in the region from the Samanids to the Soviets — according to the historical narrative that has been gradually elaborated in the academic institutions of the Tajik SSR since the 1920s. The last third of this historical survey classically deals with the consequences of the Russian annexation in 1868, with the Islamic reform movement of the early twentieth century and, above all, with the linguistic upheavals of the Soviet period — during which Persian rapidly lost its primacy in the new mass instruction system, in favour of Russian and Uzbek languages. Some paragraphs are devoted to a denunciation of the present-day limitation of the practice and teaching of Persian language in Uzbekistan.

The lexicon properly said in introduced by paragraphs on the history of the diffusion of the dialect of Samarqand in Persian poetry as it has been practiced there since the Samanid period, and illustrated in collections like Maliha’s “Reminder”. The last part of the introduction evokes the gathering of oral materials by the author in the streets and markets of Samarqand during the last fifteen years. The lexicon itself has given room to a number of materials not specific to Samarqand, but rather common to Tajik dialects of Persian language throughout Transoxiana. The transcription has been slightly adapted in order to reflect the common pronunciation of sentences given as illustration to each word, which is given in both a classical Persian orthography and a Latin transliteration. The document constitutes an interesting basis for further research work on the lexical differentiation between Persian practiced, respectively, in Central Asia and in other parts of the Iranian world. Unfortunately, and quite typically of research work as it is made in Tajikistan since the end of the Soviet period, this lexicon has been elaborated without great interest in the significant lexicographical literature of the late 1980s and early 1990, notably on the Tajik Persian of Bukhara (on some recent publications, see Central Eurasian Reader 1: reviews No. 532 p. 440; 534 p. 441; 538 pp. 443-4; 544 p. 447; 549 pp. 449-50; 554 p. 454). It remains to be hoped that circumstances and political will may, in a predictable future, permit a systematic exploitation of still very much dispersed individual research.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-5.2.B-444