Ба/ba, of course, is the به/ba of Classical Persian (pronounced be in Iranian Persian), which, classically, means both ‘to’ and ‘in, at’, and these are the two meanings it still has in Tajik. When preposed, ба/ba only has the meaning ‘towards’ in Tajik, because ‘in, at’ is дар/dar, like in modern Iranian and Afghan Persian. Thus, in Tajik, colloquially, you will hear инҷоба/īnjāba ‘(over) here’, Бухороба рафтам/Bukhārāba raftam ‘I went to Bukhara’. The instrumental ба/ba ‘with, by’ is never postposed in Tajik. In Bukhara and Samarkand dialects, the use of ба/ba as a locative and allative (motion towards) postposition is almost universal.
Да/da has the same usage as ба/ba, i.e. the locative or the allative preposition. Despite the fact that it is identical with the Turkic locative case marker -da, it is unlikely that the Tajik да/da is borrowed from Turkic. It is most likely a shortened form of the preposition дар/dar ‘in, into’, which, indeed, is habitually pronounced as da in colloquial Afghan Persian. This is cognate with the postposition də ‘in, at’ in Talysh, and the preposition di ‘in, at’ in Kurmanji Kurdish – two of Persian’s closest relatives. Another piece of evidence is that in some Tajik dialects, да/da is in the form of анда/anda, which is evidently the Classical Persian اندر/andar ‘inside’, the emphatic form of در/dar, with the final r left out. اندر/andar in Classical Persian can often be used after a noun, usually together with the locative به/ba placed in front of the noun, forming a circumposition به… اندر/ba… andar (e.g. به خانه اندر/ba khāna andar = اندر خانه/andar khāna = در خانه/dar khāna ‘at home, in the house’), which would explain the origin of the Tajik анда/anda.
c) Қати (кати)/qati (kati)
Қати/qati, sometimes also pronounced кати/kati, is of Turkic origin (qat in Turkic means ‘fold’) and means ‘with’ (although in Turkic, it does not mean ‘with’ at all), both in its comitative (i.e. ‘together with’) sense and its instrumental (i.e. ‘by means of, using’). Thus, colloquially, a Tajik may say, for example, Мошин қати рафтам/Māshīn qati raftam ‘I went by car’ and also Оила қати рафтам /Āila qati raftam ‘I went with family’. Қати (кати)/qati (kati) may also be used as a preposition, which is also the most common way of saying ‘with’ in Afghan Persian. It does not exist in Iranian Persian.2. The Turkic yes-no question marker ми/mi In colloquial Tajik, a yes-no question can often be asked with the particle ми/mi tagged on the end, e.g. Рафтӣ ми/Raftī mi? ‘Did you go?’. Unlike in Turkic, however, this is not a compulsory syntactic feature in Tajik, as it is a borrowing from Turkic, and its use depends on the speaker’s background. Many Tajiks never ask a yes-no question with ми/mi in the end, just like Iranian and Afghan speakers; those who use ми/mi may use it in one question but not the next. 3. The –дагӣ/-dagī In Tajik Persian, in addition to the usual past participle ending in -да/-da (pronounced de in Iranian Persian) e.g. карда/karda ‘done’, дида/dīda ‘seen’, рафта/rafta ‘gone’ (the d becomes t after a voiceless consonant) etc., there exists another past participle ending -дагӣ/-dagī (presented, perhaps erroneously, by most grammarians as -агӣ/-agī) used mostly in colloquial Tajik. The -дагӣ/-dagī ending consists of the usual past participle ending –da with the resurfacing historical sound g (all past participles in Middle Persian end in –dag, of which the g is truncated in New Persian), plus the adjectival ending –ī, and performs various syntactic functions:
a) As an adjective
As an adjective, -дагӣ/-dagī replaces the subordinate clause introduced by که/ki in Classical Persian (and in other modern Persian varieties): кори шудагӣ/kār-i shudagī ‘finished work, the work that has been finished’ (= коре, ки шудааст/kārē ki shuda’st), китоби хондагӣ/kitāb-i khāndagī ‘the book that has been read’ (= китобе, ки хонда шудааст/kitābē ki khānda shuda’st). A possessive suffix can be added to it to specify who completed the action: китоби хондагиям/kitāb-i khāndagiyam ‘the book that I read’ (= китобе, ким ан хондаам/kitābē ki man khānda’am).
b) As a verb
In colloquial Tajik, instead of saying, for example, дидаам/dīda’am ‘I have seen’, one can say дидаги(ям)/dīdagī(yam). Given that past participles function as adjectives in Persian, and adjectives can also function as nouns, the -дагӣ/-dagī can also be used as a noun, which saves the effort of having to resort to subordinate clauses. For example, in colloquial Tajik, you can say Омадагиятонро дидам/Āmadagiyatānrā dīdam ‘I saw you coming, I saw that you had come/were coming’ (lit. ‘your having-come I saw’) instead of the more formal Дидам, ки (шумо) омадаед/Dīdam ki (shumā) āmada’ēd (or, indeed, меоед/mēāyēd).
The -дагӣ/-dagī can be combined with the conjugated form of будан/būdan ‘to be’ in the present tense to express different aspectual values. For example, рафтагистам/raftagistam means ‘I might have gone’, i.e. ‘perhaps I would have gone’. With the ме-/mē– prefix, it forms the ‘less likely/conjectural future’: Бӯҳрон мегузаштагист/Buhrān mēguzashtagist ‘The crisis may pass/will pass eventually’.
Дагӣ/-dagī also exists in Iranian Persian, not as a productive verb suffix, but forms a handful of abstract nouns from the regular past participle ending in ده/-da, such as in خفتگی/khoftagī ‘latency’ (from خفته/khofte ‘asleep’), سفتگی/softagī ‘perforation’ (from سفته/softe ‘pierced’) etc.4. Тавонистан/tavānistan and хостан/khāstan The modal verb тавонистан/tavānistan ‘to be able to’ in Tajik can be used with the subjunctive after it as it is in Iranian Persian, but more often, it is used with the -да/-da past participle before it, which is also the Afghan Persian usage. Thus, the Iranian Persian میتوانم بکنم/mītavānam bokonam ‘I can do (it)’ is more often карда метавонам/karda mētavānam in Tajik (and Afghan) Persian. Хостан/khāstan ‘to want, to wish’ in Tajik can also be used with the subjunctive after it, like in Iranian Persian, but equally frequent is the use of the verb infinitive before it, e.g. дидан мехоҳам/dīdan mēkhāham ‘I want to see’, which is also a feature of Classical Persian usage. 5. Although ‘Although’, in all Persian varieties, can be expressed by the word اگرچه/agarchi, or more elevated, هرچند/harchand. In Tajik Persian, there is another expression, namely the verb in the optative plus ҳам/ham ‘too, also’. This construction can be used alone or together with агар/agar, агарчи/agarchi, and ҳарчанд/harchand at the start of the sentence. Let us look at some examples: Ҳар раис равад ҳам ин ниҳод қавӣ боқӣ мемонад./Har rais ravad ham, īn nihād qavī bāqī mēmānad. ‘Even though every leader goes away, this organisation remains strong.’ Қаддаш баланд буд ва ду сол хурд бошад ҳам, аз ҳаштсолаҳо калонтар буд./Qaddash baland būd va dū sāl khurd bāshad ham, az hashtsālhā kalāntar būd. ‘He was tall, and although he was two years old (lit. small), he was bigger than eight-year-olds.’ 6. ‘As for…’ In Tajik Persian, there is a special use of the optative form of будан/būdan to convey the meaning ‘as for…’, ‘when it comes to…’: Бародарам дар шаҳри дигар хизмат мекард, ман бошам, дар Душанбе таҳсил мекардам./Barādaram dar shahr-i dīgar khizmat mekard, man bāsham, dar Dushanbe tahsīl mekardam. ‘My brother was working in another city, whereas I (as for me) I was studying in Dushanbe. Ман бошам, эҳсос мекардам, ки кӯдак мемирад./Man bāsham, ehsās mekardam, ki kōdak memīrad. ‘If you ask me/As for me/I, however, felt that the child was dying.’ 7. Lack of copula If you talk with Tajiks from Central Asia, you will quickly realise that the copula (i.e. to be) is often left out in the present tense. It is not at all odd to ask ‘Шумо аз куҷо/Shumā az kujā?’ without saying -ед/-ēd or ҳастед/hastēd, or introduce yourself by just saying ‘Ман/Man + name’ without -ам/-am or ҳастам/hastam. Ringing a close friend with whom you can be informal, you can ask ‘Куҷоба/Kujāba?’ (lit. ‘where at?’ cf. the section above about ba as a postposition) after they pick up the phone. Iskandar Ding [Featured image: a Persian-language primary school opened in 1921-22 in the People’s Republic of Bukhara. The caption contains a grammatical point addressed in the post.]