Bukhori (Bukharic, Bukharian) is a language of the Jewish communities in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It is a variety of Tajik, a Southwest Iranian language. Like Jewish languages elsewhere in the world, Bukhori is a result of the regional language developing differently within this close and relatively isolated community than in the broader population. There are approximately 110,000 speakers of Bukhori globally¹, with most now living in the diaspora, particularly Israel and North America.
How endangered is Bukhori? The language remains strong in several of the global communities. It is supported in some areas by limited print media and language courses for youth, and there is a body of historical literature. However, the vast majority of speakers are multilingual, also using Russian, Hebrew or English regularly. Linguists and community members alike therefore fear the language is vulnerable to loss.
Toronto is home to several hundred Bukhori speakers. There is an active local community organization working to preserve the cultural and linguistic traditions. The following two videos feature Toronto-based Bukhori speakers. In the first, Sara Yakubov shares the story of her grandmother’s life. In the second, Larisa Yakubova sings a traditional wedding song. To view subtitles in Bukhori and English, click the closed captioning [cc] button in the bottom right-hand corner of the viewer.
If you are a Bukhori speaker in the Toronto area and would like to participate in our project, please contact us.
1.Bukharic entry in Ethnologue.