“Good news Pamiris,” writes [ru] Bektour Iskender, President of Kloop Media, a Kyrgyz news portal and blogging platform. “Wikipedia has provided permission to begin a version of the site in Shughni.” Shughni is one of the main languages spoken in Gorno Badakhshan province (GBAO), a remote, eastern part of Tajikistan dominated by the Pamir Mountains. Iskender helped local internet users file the request to create a Shughni section of Wikipedia following a new media training session in Khorog, the province's administrative capital, over two years ago. “Now begins the small matter of realizing [Wikipedia in Shughni]. But I can't help there, since I don't know a word of the language,” he says.
Shughni is one of several dialects in the Pamiri language sub-grouping, a branch of the Farsi linguistic tree that also includes Tajikistan's state language, Tajik. Tajik already has a growing Wikipedia presence, with 10,864 articles, more than Turkmen (4,765), but less than Kazakh and Kyrgyz, (both around 25,000) and far behind Uzbek (120,882). Non-state languages spoken in post-Soviet Central Asia, such as Uyghur, fare less well (2,924), and the Shughni Wikipedia project faces an additionally daunting task since the proportion of the Pamiri community that can still write in the language is quite small. Still, Shughni-speakers aiming to revive the language in its written form will be hoping that where there is a Wikipedia, there is a way.