ARDESTĀNI, the dialect spoken in the small town of Ardestān (local name Asõ), belongs to the group of the so-called Central Dialects, but it seems to occupy a transitional position between the northern dialects (from Kāšān to Naṭanz) and the southern ones (from Nāʾīn to Yazd). According to some informants, the different quarters of the town exhibit slight sub-dialectal variations, but this requires investigation.

The consonants correspond closely to those of spoken Persian, but the vowel system is much more developed: There are 15 oral vowels (a ä ā e ē ö ö o ō i ī ü ü u ū) and 4 nasal vowels (ã i õ u ). The latter may appear at the beginning of a word (a rather unusual feature): ãyk “mouth.” At the end of the word, they are pronounced with a sort of glottal stop and rounding of the lips. Iranian ū is represented by ü (d ür “far”), but Ir. u by o (por “son” from puθra-, without compensatory lengthening); au becomes o (ro “day”) and ai becomes ē (dēb “devil”); remarkable is Ir. ā > ū (also in Kašaʾī in all positions (there are some exceptions in the first syllable) and not only before n or m as in colloquial Persian and in other dialects: ūt “flour” (Kašaʾī ūrt, NPers. ārd), mūr “snake” (Kašaʾī, NPers. mār), kūt “knife” (NPers, kārd); Ir. č > ǰ (ǰē “under,” NPers. zīr; riǰ- “to pour”, NPers. rīz-); initial ǰ- is retained (ǰen “woman,” NPers. zan), as well as v- (vu “wind,” NPers. bād) and equally y- (ye “barley,” NPers. ǰow); fr > r (oroš- “to sell,” NPers. forūš-); Ardestāni initial h- corresponds either to NPers. x- (hūk “earth,” NPers. xāk) or is secondary (holle “eagle”); remarkable is also the disappearance of r, mainly before a consonant, with a slight lengthening of the preceding vowel (däd “pain,” gäm “warm,” käd “he did”).

Nouns have no distinction of gender. The plural marker is stressed -(h)ā, occasionally -ūn/-ū (possibly borrowed from colloquial NPers.). Nouns are made indefinite with a suffix -ē and optionally the numeral “one:” ye kūt-ē “a (certain) knife.” Ardestāni has no eżāfa construction and this represents the old state of the Central Dialects: dot pādešā “the king’s daughter.”

The personal pronouns are: me, to, ni, hom u , šum u , niyā (3 sing. and 3 plur. are actually demonstratives). Their enclitic forms are: -em, -et, -, -emõ, -etõ, -ešõ (the latter are used not only as possessives, but also to indicate the agent in the ergative construction, see below). Numerals have no special features, but ye(k) when used as an indefinite article may be superseded by i (); moreover, p > b (as in some other dialects) in b uṅ “five,” b uze “fifteen,” bãǰe “fifty.”

The verbal system is based on two stems, past and present, which may be divided into four classes according to the past stem endings and the construction of past tenses: I. tr. with consonant stem (käd, ker- “to do”); II. tr. with vowel stem (kišo, kiš- “to draw”); III. intr. with consonant stem (kat, k- “to fall”); IV. intr. with vowel stem (täso, täs- “to be afraid of”). In classes I and III, the present stem can not be deduced from the past stem. Ardestāni verbs have two modal affixes: (1) be- (with changing vowel according to vowel harmony), which is used in the subj., imv., pret., perf. and pluperf.; (2) e-, a durative marker, which is used in the pres. and imf. The person performing the action of the verb is indicated by (l) two sets of endings: (a) pres. and subj. of all verbs: -õ, -ē, -, -em, -eyn /-in, -en; (b) pret. and imf. of intr. verbs: -õ, -oy /-ey, nil, -oyn /-eyn, -ān (-n of 2 plur. is particularly remarkable: related dialects have either k /g /y or d /t); (2) pronominal elements in the past tenses of tr. verbs: (a) affixed ( = enclitic pronouns, see above), (b) infixed (slight modification of the encl. pron.). Moreover, the perfect is formed with the past participle ( = past stem + -e), and the pluperfect is formed by adding the past tense of the verb “to be” to the perf. Examples for class I verbs (all forms given are 1 sing.): pres. e-ker-õ, subj. be-ker-õ, pret. be-m-käd, imf. e-käd-em, perf. be-m-käde, pluperf. be-m-käde bo; class III: pres. e-k-õ, subj. be-k-õ, pret. be-kat-õ, imf. e-kat-õ, perf. be-katāhõ, pluperfect be-katebāõ (perf. has some irregularities). As in many other dialects, some verbs exhibit an obligatory -t- infix of uncertain function and origin in the pres. and imf. (ancient durative element?): e-t-oroš-õ “I sell.” Many irregularities occur, such as loss of final consonants, and some common verbs may lose their modal affix in the perfect: vūt-= be-š-vūt “he said” (the pronominal element is suffixed).

Irregular verbs: “to be” has a pres. stem b- (2 sing. is hi and its subj. stem is -; “to become” has a pres. stem b- (pres. 1 sing. e-b-õ, subj. be-b-õ). The verb “to come” has a t- prefix: pres. I sing. t-or-õ (and no modal affix; the stem in r- is probably from the imperative bor-; this type of imv. is attested in many dialects; cf. also Parthian ʾwr). The verbs “to have” and “to know” lack the prefix e- in the present, and the subj. is formed with the subj. of “to be:” - (cf. NPers. dāšte bāšam) and zom-.

There is no verb meaning “to be able.” For this concept a periphrastic expression is used: teqa-m-evune “I can” (lit. “my blade cuts”). Thus, teqa-m-evunekebekeṙ “I can do.” The verb “to want to” is piyā, piy-. Resultative verbs are: āxo, ax- “to be (sitting)” and viro, vir- “to be (lying).”

The passive is formed by adding the suffix -iy- to the present stem: e-riǰ-iy-õ “I am poured,” bi-riǰ-iy-õ “I was poured.” Transitive verbs in the past tenses follow the ergative construction. The personal affix is then displaced from the verb, which has no marker (= 3 sing.), to a preceding word, e.g. be-t-käde “you have done,” but to nikār-etbe-käde “you have done that work.” Negation is expressed by na-/n- which is incompatible with the modal affix be-, but e- is retained: be-m-käd “I made,” but na-m-käd “I did not make;” n-e-ker-õ “I do not make,” but subj. na-ker-õ.

The formation of the infinitive is borrowed from NPers. Verbal preverbs are roughly the same as in other dialects: (r) “out” (bä šo “to go out”); de(r) “down” (de kat “to fall”); he, no particular meaning (do = he do “to give”); ve “upwards, back” or with no particular meaning (giret “to take”: ve giret “to take back;” käd “to do”: ve käd “to open”). Causative verbs are formed by adding the affix -en /-n to the present stem: täs- “to be afraid”: täs-en “to frighten.” As in many dialects, pronominal affixes may be added to a verbal form to express an object, even in the past tenses of tr. verbs, in which case the verbal form may have two personal affixes: pres. tāre-š “he brings it,” subj. be-t-xoṙ “that I eat you,” perf. be-š--vūt “he told him.”

Ardestāni has some postpositions: “in,” “for,” and circumpositions: az . . . “from,” pēš . . . “before,” etc. The most important suffixes of derivation are the diminutive suffix -eču (or-eču “little mill, kitchen mill”) and the abstract suffix -gi (dus-gi “friendship”). Interesting is -in /-(e)yn, which forms names of trees (enǰil-in “fig tree,” fesse-yn “pistachio tree,” halg-in “peach tree,” uz-in “walnut tree,” vādum-eyn “almond tree”).

Some lexical items of interest may be noted here: “ant” muǰale; “ashes” xol; “autumn” fāiz; “bazaar” vāǰū; “bridge” pēlu; “to burn” sünnah; “cat” meli; “cheap” äǰõ; “cocoon” ǰāǰ; “daughter” dot; “dog” kue; “flame” loṛč; “fox” lu; “Friday” ānne; “gutter of a roof” solgeh; “to hear” erešnīd; “hole” hilok; “hungry” veše; “lentil” marǰi; “moth” viye; “mother” mār; “mouth” ãyk; “naked” peti, ur; “parted” (NPers. ǰodā) viyu; “pasture” lart; “puppy” kotre; “quince” ve; “rice” varang; “sister” xuār; “snake” mūr; “son-in-law” zumū; “spider” tanandu; “step of a staircase” owčen; “tear(s)” barme; “walnut” uz; “weed” dīlā; “willow” vi.



H. W. Bailey, “Iranian Studies IV,” BSO(A)S 7, 1933, pp. 769-76 (contains some grammatical notes, a short vocabulary, and a short text).

P. Lecoq, Recherches sur les dialectes iraniens centraux, 4 vols. mimeographed (unpublished).

(P. Lecoq)

Originally Published: December 15, 1986

Last Updated: August 11, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 4, pp. 387-388