The president of Turkmenistan is finally taking the advice i tried to give his deceased predecessor, and slowly and gradually – like most things that happen in that country – is phasing out his Russianized name Gurbanguly Malikguliyewich Berdymuhammedow and moves to Gurbanguly Berdymuhammed.

A few weeks ago the president of Tajikistan has done the same and changed Emomali Sharipovich Rahmonov to Emomalii Rahmon. He was much more decided about it – he just announced that he’s changing his name and after a couple of days ordered that newborn babies’ last names will be registered without Russian endings.

Notice the the double i in the end of his first name. In the Tajik language, which is a variant of Persian, an -i is added to the end of the word to express its belonging to the next word. So Emomalii Rahmon means “Rahmon’s Emomali”. The Russian ending -ov (or -yev), common in last names in Russia and especially ubiquitous in Soviet Muslim territories means quite the same: Rahmonov = Rahmon’s, Kadyrov = Kadyr’s, Ivanov = Ivan’s etc. Emomali wanted to cut Tajikistan from the Russian heritage but in the same time to remain consistent with the meaning of the Russian last name. He explained that this way he honors his father Rahmon, after whom he received the last name. See also the discussion about Emomalii on Wikipedia.


2 Responses to “Ov”

  1. 1 birdswords 2007-04-25 at 19:38

    Thanks for an interesting post. It’s always great to see that other’s are intersted in the Persian language and Central Asia. The recent nationalistic push to drop the old russified nameing system and the possible political motives for it are quite interesting (see http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/4/6B1BE677-0544-4460-AC96-81A9D399A403.html).

    I didn’t know about the double ‘i’ at the end of the President of Tajikistan’s first name. But, it strikes me as especially strange that he want’s his name to be spelled and pronounced Emomali-i. As far as I know, this is not a traditional Tajik or Persian way of expressing “child of”. The tradional Persian way is with the suffix -zade which literally means “struck from”. For example, I had an Iranian roommate whose last name was Bahadorzade, “child of Bahador”. A prince or princess is a Shahzade, “child of the king”. So why didn’t Rahmonov change his surname name to Rahmanzade?

    By the way, I scanned the Wikipedia discussion and couldn’t find any reference to a news source that actually quotes the president of Tajikistan as explaining that the double ‘i’ meant “son of”. Can someone provide a source?

  2. 2 aharoni 2007-04-25 at 22:01

    For a moment i was confused. The official presidential website calls him Эмомалӣ Раҳмон or Эмомали Раҳмон but not Эмомалии. (His poor webmasters must be totally confused.)

    But if you search for Эмомалии, you’ll find a lot of articles in Tajik that spell it like that.

    The first article on Lenta.ru that mentioned his name-change says that he told that he does it to honor his father.

    The connection that i made between -i and -ov is my own theory.

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