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Tajikistan: Fines for Language Mistakes

(Sept. 26, 2016) On August 1, 2016, the State Committee on Language and Terminology under Tajikistan’s Cabinet of Ministers announced that it will issue fines for violating Tajik language norms and using words in the Farsi language that are not clearly understood by the audience of print and broadcast media. The fine will be in the amount of US$75-$100 for individuals and US$150-$200 for officials.  (Fines for Language Norms Violations Introduced in Tajikistan, NEWSRU.COM (Aug. 1, 2016) (in Russian).)

A special group of inspectors tasked with monitoring newspapers and TV and radio programs has been created within the Committee. According to the Head of the Committee, Tajik journalists often use words the meaning of which is not clear to an ordinary person, write with grammatical errors, and do not meet the existing language standards.  (Id.)  These errors are considered by the Committee to be in direct violation of the nation’s Language Act.  (Id.; Law of the Republic of Tajikistan No. 553 of October 5, 2009 on the State Language of Tajikistan, SPINFORM.RU online subscription service (in Russian).)

According to one of the Tajik philologists who commented on the Committee’s decision, the purity of the language has been lost because of the common use of Persian loan words.  (Fines for Language Norms Violations Introduced in Tajikistan, supra.)  The Tajik language belongs to the Iranian language group and is a Central Asian variation of the Persian language, with many additions from Russian.  (Tajikistan, BRITANNICA.COM (last updated May 7, 2016).)

The recent announcement appears to be in line with Tajik government policies aimed at promoting native culture. Following the amendments to the Law on State Registration of Civil Status Acts passed in March 2016, the Ministry of Justice issued guidelines prescribing the insertion of names in a traditional Tajik-sounding form in civil status registries and certificates of birth and marriage. (Law of the Republic of Tajikistan No. 188 of April 29, 2006 (last amended Mar. 15, 2016) on State Registration of Civil Status Acts, SPINFORM.RU (in Russian).)

New rules were also introduced for registration of names of newborn children. The law states that each Tajik individual has the right to a “personal, patronymic, and family name that is based on historic values and Tajik national culture.”  (Id. art. 20(1).)  The government approved a list of Tajik names that can be given to a child born in Tajikistan and used for a child’s birth registration.  The guidelines prohibit giving a child a name that is “alien to Tajik national culture, that might reflect names of goods, things, animals, or birds, or that has an offensive or disparaging meaning.”  (Tajikization of Last Names”: Government of Tajikistan Prohibited Inserting Russian-Sounding Names in New Passports, NEWSRU.COM (Apr. 29, 2016) (in Russian).)