EŠTEHĀRDĪ, the easternmost of the nine Southern Tati (Tātī) dialects, described by Ehsan Yarshater (1962, 1963, 1969a, 1969b, 1970; cf. also Zhukovskiĭ, some 158 glosses, passim; Sotūda; LeCoq, passim), with which it shares most phonological, morphological, syntactic, and lexical features. As a group the Southern Tati dialects are part of a band of dialects extending from the Aras River to central Persia (see CENTRAL DIALECTS) and farther east, where much has disappeared in the sprawl of Tehran (see AFTARĪ). Eštehārdī and the other dialects are thus remnants of Iranian dialects spoken in what was formerly Media Atropatene and Media Major, in a largely Turkophone environment.

From diachronic changes, morphological and lexical inventories, and morphosyntax it is clear that Eštehārdī is a typical “northwestern,” that is, not a Perside, dialect (see Windfuhr, 1975; idem, 1989). Among “typical” phonological changes (most indicated here in the sequence pre-Indo-Ir. > Ir. > Middle Ir. > Eštehārdī) are palatal *řk/*řg > ts/dz > s/z, as in wīsata- > vist “twenty,” zān- > zun- > “to know”; palatized *k’ > g’ > j, as in taj- “to run”; later, initial *w/*y unchanged, as in waina- > vin- “to see,” yawa- > yöw “barley”; initial *dw > b, as in dwar- > bar “door”; *tr/*pr > θr/fr > hr > r, as in puθra- > fur- “son, boy,” frōš- > ruš- “to sell”; *kt/*pt > xt/ft > (h)t > t, as in, dōxt- > dut “sewed,” kaft- > kat- “fell”; recent u > i, as in amrōd- > omberia “pear.” Some features of the lexical inventory are kar- “to do” and vāj- “to say.”

Among “typical” morphological and syntactic Tati features, Eštehārdī retains the derivative passive /inchoative in -i and verbal directional prefixes. In noun phrases dependent nouns and adjectives precede the primary nouns. Other syntactic relations are expressed by adpositions. The oblique case of all independent personal pronouns is derived from possessives in *hača- “from, with,” for example, čemen “me, my.” The near/far demonstrative as indicated by forms in n-, as opposed to em- in the other Southern Tati dialects, links Eštehārdī to the Central Dialects and the dialects east of Tehran. Feminine gender is well marked in both the nominal and verbal systems. The oblique case is preserved throughout the nominal systems. The ergative construction (q.v.) in past tenses of transitive verbs is well retained (see CASES; Lazard; Bossong; and Windfuhr, 1989).

Gender (see Table 1). Feminine gender, in the verbal system, is marked in the 3rd person singular of the preterit and past forms of the verb. It is also distinguished in the 1st and 2nd persons singular of the present, preterit and past of “to be/become.” In the nominal system, feminine gender is distinguished in the 3rd singular of nouns, the number “one,” and the demonstrative pronouns. This applies to natural gender and personal feminine names, and independent demonstartive pronouns, e.g., göw/gāˊw-a “bull/cow,” ríš-a “beard” (f.), but espí-a riš “(having) white-beard, elderly man” (m.), Maryám-a “Miriam.” Likewise, nominalized adjectives and predicative adjectives mark the gender, e.g., lazák/lazák-a “the little one” (m./f.), na čupun/nā zen-í-a ke lazák/lazák-a bu/bí-a “when this shepherd/this woman was little” (m./f.), suamín-a bājí-a-šhamá-da xordek-tár-a bí-a “his () third sister was the smallest of all” (Persian az hame kučektar), maryám-a pārči-ābā-jí-a ní-i , “Miriam is not a Parchiabad-ian” (-ji is the marker of local origin); number “one,” e.g. i zen-í-a mi-āˊy “a woman is coming,” but í-a zen-í-a bí-a “there was a certain woman” (indefinite specific); demonstrative pronouns, e.g. independent na čemen berā-ya “this is my brother,” nā b-ōmí-a “this one (f.) came.”

Number. Plural does not distinguish gender in either the verbal or the nominal systems. Number is not marked after any number, e.g. dārāˊ-ye [šeš haf tet-í]-ā bu “he had (“was owner of”) six or seven daughters” (-ā obl. f. sing.).

Cases (see Table 1). The nominal systems distinguish direct and oblique cases in the singular and plural of nouns and independent pronouns. With pronouns, in prenominal position only gender, but not case or number, is distinguished. Either the far, or the near, demonstrative pronoun may refer to 3rd person.

Morphophonemic assimilations mostly affect front vowels. In nominals, masculine oblique and plural direct -e(ehāˊ) merge with final long -i and -ā. In nominals in stressed -á, masculine oblique -e > í; plural direct -ehāˊ > -´, feminine -á + ā > -ía (note doublets like zén-a “wife,” zen-í-a “woman”). Case and Copula: Masculine oblique -e > i before copula -a, e.g., arbāˊb-i-a “it is for the landlord;” feminine direct -a is assimilated to the feminine copula, e.g. eštehāˊrda-i > eštehāˊrd-i. Thus Hasan, “Hasan”; taká “male goat”; miša “ewe”; and Fātemia “Fatima”:





Oblique of kinship terms. A small number of kinship terms have an oblique in -ár, e.g. xāk-ár (but also xāk-āˊ-r) “sister,” berāˊ-r “brother,” tet-i-ár “girl, daughter,” zen-ár “wife” (note compound [pi-ár zen]-a “father’s wife, stepmother”).

Adpositions. Postpositions are -da “in, from, than,” -rā “for,” and -bejā “with”; da may be preceded by the direct, if non-animate, or the oblique; the other two as a rule are preceded by the oblique, e.g., hena jā-ún-da “in such places,” but ieyni jā-hāˊ-da “in other places,” na zarf-da “in this bowl,” a mard-ún-da ár-ga “get from those men.”

Morphosyntactic and discourse functions. The marking by the oblique depends on the degree of animacy, specificity, definiteness, etc., as well as on the syntactic function of a noun or noun phrase within a clause.

Subject and object cases. Eštehārdī is an ergative language, i.e. with transitive verbs the subject/agent of the verb is expressed by the direct case in the present tenses, but by the oblique in the past tenses, whereas the direct object/patient in the present tenses is expressed by the oblique, but by the direct in the past. Similarly, the verbal endings agree with the subject in the present, but with the object in the past, e.g., present direct object, definite (vel-āˊ valg)-e bé-čin “pick the flower’s petal(s),” Hasán-e fúr-eš beza “Hasan hit his son,” but Hasán-e tetia-š bezia “Hasan hit his daughter.”

The direct case also functions as: (1) the direct object, if generic or indefinite/non-specific, e.g., kará/karí migarénd “they are making (lit. catching) butter/the butter” (< + e), and (2) direction, e.g., mi-š-ém qóm-a “I am going to Qom” (f.).

The oblique also functions to mark: (1) the possessor, e.g., vel-āˊ valg “the flower’s petal”; (2) the dative with several verbs, such as “to give, to say, to hit, to throw,” e.g. alā‚f-emiš-āˊ dá “give the grass to the ewe”; (3) the object of adpositions, e.g. zahmát-e bejā “with effort,” ár-da-š beHasán-e “give (it) to Hasan.” Example with kinship oblique: xordék-a xāk-ár-i b-āˊr endā “bring your (-i) little sister here.”

Nominal subordination. Eštehārdī is a head noun second language, i.e., dependent nouns/pronouns and adjectives precede the head noun: (1) possessor, e.g. Hasán-etet-í-a “Hasan’s daughter”; čemén amú, “my uncle”; (2) open compound, e.g. bibí-afúr “father’s sister’s son,” rušén-aestārá “bright star.”

Pronominal suffixes (see Table 1) function as obliques. They mark the agent in the past of transitive verbs, and they may appear in addition to a nominal or pronominal oblique. They tend to attach themselves to the first nominal in the clause. In the absence of a nominal they attach to the verb, e.g., b-uāt- “he/she said”; to the direct object, past transitive, and to pronoun, e.g.: áz-ešbe-rest-āˊ-yim “he (-) sent me” (“I was sent by him”); ´-muneštá-rá ar-gárd-i “we (-mun) got this one (f.) for you”; jö´w-embārd “I (-em) brought barley”; -emtet-i-āˊ entexāb kerd “I (-em) chose his daughter”; esb i čemén-ešpā´ be-gárd “the dog, he (-eš) caught my leg” ( < -á + -e); čemén-šunxabár če-dā “they (-šun) gave me the message”; hasan-esiv-ún čé-šdá “give Hasan’s apples to him (-eš)”; čemén esb-únkāˊr-i né-bi “don’t you (-i) bother with my dogs”; mi-gu-á-mbē‚-š-em “I (-m) will go”; čemen mi-gust-emb-úaz-em “I (-em) wanted to run”; suamín-a bājí-a-šhama-da xordek-tár-a bi “his (-eš) third sister was the smallest”; berā-yebibí-a fúr-e-m “for my (-m) father’s sister’s son”; be-š-eymbaji-ā´-mniún “I went to my (-m) sister’s place.”

Verbal system. Prefixes. Directional prefixes are: ā-, ar-, da(r)-, u(r)-, če-. These coalesced from various, originally directional prefixes. Prevocalically, the -r- is retained, e.g., ar-āšin- “to throw,” dar-āšin- “to throw in,” ur-āšin- “to uproot, throw up something.”

In the absence of these prefixes, be- marks the positive of the imperative, present subjunctive, the optative in -ā, and the past tenses, as well as the verbal noun (“infinitive”), marked by -(t/d)en. The negative is ná-/ne-, preceding the full verb form, má- in the present prohibitive; both are mutually exclusive with be-.

The imperfective marker is mi-. With b- “to be/become” and vaz “to run” there is an alternative em-, e.g., mi-/em-bu “he used to be(come).” The negative prefixes and mi- follow the directional prefixes, whereas the -r- is inserted after them before the verb stems beginning with a vowel, and some voiced consonants, e.g., ā-ne-mi-da-m “I am not giving” and da-né-mi-r-āšin-em “I don’t throw (in).”

Tenses. The documented “tenses” are largely similar to those of Persian. In addition, there are perfect forms, which, as in Persian, appear to be quotational (“apparently, they say”), i.e., second hand knowledge, conclusion, reminiscence, etc. Quotational forms with the perfect of b- “to be,” found in the other Southern Tati dialects, are not documented for Eštehārdī. In Table 2, the forms are 1st or singular masculine of Eštehārdī vaz-/vašt-, Pers. dav-/davīd- “to run.” Note that, occasionally, the marker -a of the perfect may attach itself to the subject, e.g., az bieym-a/az-a bieym “I have come.”

Passive and Causative. Passive/inchoative is marked by -i-/-est- (present/past), causative by -enden-. Both may be combined, e.g., mi-škāj-ey (<-a + i) “it opens”; be-suj-est bi “should it be burnt”; mi-suj-enden-a/mi-suj-enden-ey “he makes it burn/it is being made to burn.”

Progressive forms are marked by kā/ăr- “work” + dár- “in"+ “to be,” following the imperfective verb in mi-, e.g. mi-vaz-āy-šin kā/ăr-dar-āy “you (pl.) are running.”

Modals. Must: impersonal gu-/gust-, e.g. mi-gu b-uaz-em “I must run.” This is not always distinguishable from gu-/gu-st- “will, want” where the indirect object is always marked by the oblique or the personal suffix, e.g., mi-gu-a-m be-š-em “I want to go,” čemen mi-gust-em b-uaz-em “I wanted/was about to run.”



G. Bossong, Empirische Universalienforschung: Differentielle Objekt markierung in den neuiranischen Sprachen, Tübingen, 1985.

G. Lazard, “Éléments d’une typologie des structures d’actances: Structures ergatives, accusatives, et autres,” Bulletin de la Société Linguistique 73, 1978, pp. 49-84.

P. LeCoq, “Les dialectes d’āzari,” in R. Schmitt, ed. Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum, Wiesbaden, 1989, pp. 301-4.

M. Sotūda, “Resāla-ye loḡāt-e fors-e qadīm-e ahālī-e Rāmand,” FIZ 3/1, 1334 Š./1955, pp. 22-77.

G. Windfuhr, “Isoglosses,” Acta Iranica 5, 1975, pp. 457-72.

Idem, review of E. Yarshater, A Grammar of Southern Tati Dialects in JAOS 99, 1979, pp. 370-74.

Idem, “Modern West Iranian,” in R. Schmitt, ed., Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum, Wiesbaden, 1989, pp. 251-62.

Idem, “Typological Notes on Pronominal Cases in Iranian Tati,” Bulletin of the Asia Institute, N.S. 4, 1990, pp. 313-24.

E. Yarshater, “The Tati Dialects of Rāmand,” in W. B. Henning and E. Yarshater, eds., A Locust’s Leg: Studies in Honour of S.-H. Taqizadeh, London, 1962, pp. 240-45.

Idem, “South Tati Dialects,” in Trudy XXV Mezhdunarodnogo Kongressa Vostokovedov (Proceedings of the 24th International Congress of Orientalists) II, Moscow, 1963, pp. 304-5.

Idem, “Distinction of the Feminine Gender in Southern Tati,” in Studia classica et orientalia Antonino Pagliar oblata III, Rome, 1969a, pp. 281-301.

Idem, “The Use of Postpositions in Southern Tati,” in Yād-nāma-ye īrānī-e Mīnorskī, Tehran, 1969b, pp. 221-55.

Idem, A Grammar of Southern Tati Dialects, The Hague, 1970.

Zhukovskiĭ, Materialy II, passim.

(Gernot L. Windfuhr)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: January 19, 2012

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