IRAN vi, continued

vi(2) Documentation

Iranian languages are known from roughly three periods, commonly termed Old, Middle, and New (Modern). Historically, this division corresponds roughly to (1) the pre-Achaemenid and Achaemenid period (down to 400-300 B.C.E.), (2) the period down to the Arab invasion of Iran and the spread of Islam (7th century C.E. in the west to 11th-12th centuries in the east), and (3) the Islamic period.

Old Iranian includes (from west to east) several varieties of Scythian, Median, Old Persian, Old and Young Avestan (q.v.), and the non-attested ancestors of most Middle and Modern Iranian languages.

Middle Iranian includes Alanic, Middle Persian (Pahlavi), Parthian, Bactrian (q.v.), Chorasmian (q.v.), Sogdian, Khotanese, and Tumshuqese.

New or Modern Iranian includes literary languages such as Persian (Farsi, Tajiki, Dari) and Pashto, as well as Ossetic, Kurdish, and Baluchi (Balōči), in addition to numerous mostly non-literary dialects.

Only the official languages Old, Middle, and New Persian represent three stages of one and the same language, whereas close genetic relationships are difficult to establish between other Middle and Modern Iranian languages. Modern Yaḡnōbi belongs to the same dialect group as Sogdian, but is not a direct descendant; Bac-trian may be closely related to modern Yidḡa and Munji (Munjāni); and Wakhi (Wāḵi) belongs with Khotanese.


Scythian. The languages spoken by the Scythian (OPers. Saka) tribes in the area of southern Russia and Central Asia are known from personal and place names. Among these languages were the ancestor languages of Alanic, Sogdian, etc. A few names of Scythian gods and heroes are mentioned in Herodotus’s Histories (see Schmitt in CLI, pp. 92-94), some of which, at least, may be Iranian.

Avestan. Avestan is the language of the Avesta (q.v.), the oldest Iranian religious texts. The Avesta is a collection of miscellaneous texts transmitted orally by specially trained priests until it was committed to writing sometime in the Sasanian era (perhaps early 7th cent. C.E.; see Kellens, 1998, especially pp. 482-83, with refs.). Two chronological periods of Avestan are known, commonly referred to as Old and Young(er) Avestan. Old Avestan (OAv.) was probably spoken in the 2nd millennium B.C.E. in the area of the modern Central Asia republics and Young Avestan (YAv.) in the first half of the first millennium B.C.E. from Central Asia (Chorasmia, Ḵᵛārazm) to the Helmand basin (Arachosia; see AVESTAN GEOGRAPHY). The Old Avestan texts comprise the Gāθās (q.v.) and the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti, as well as various fragments scattered throughout the Yasna (Pirart, 1992). The Young Avestan texts are the other Avestan texts (see the list of texts in EIr. III, pp. 37-40).

The extant Avestan manuscripts go back to a prototype from ca. 1000 C.E., but the oldest preserved ones date only from the 13th and 14th centuries, most of them being much later still (see CODICES HAFNIENSES). The Avestan text is clearly an edited and, to some degree, standardized text, as we can see, especially, from the form of the Gathic text. It must also have been changed by the oral transmitters and the manuscript scribes, who adjusted the text to the phonological systems of their own speech, which was often different from that of the original Avestan languages (see Hoffmann, 1970; Kellens, 1998; Skjærvø, 2003-04). This makes it almost impossible to determine which of the sound changes we observe in our extant texts already belonged to the “original” Avestan language. In particular, Old Avestan has received many Young Avestan features; notably, several long vowels and diphthongs that originally counted as two syllables are not distinguished in writing from regular long vowels and diphthongs (see below).

In the extant manuscripts, the Young Avestan texts exhibit various kinds of grammatically incorrect language, which has sometimes been taken as an indication that they were composed in the post-Achaemenid period. The faulty text, however, can just as easily be ascribed to deteriorating manuscript transmission or to faulty oral transmission of the texts before they were written down, or, most likely, a combination of these two. For example, the text of the Videvdad is based on two old, but unreliable, manuscripts from the 14th century, in addition to several manuscripts from the 16th-19th centuries, and there is no basis for ascribing the composition of this text to the Arsacid period (or later), as has sometimes been done. The poorly preserved text of the Ḵorda Avesta (in spite of, or because of, the large number of extant manuscripts) shows that, the more popular and used the text was, the more it was exposed to changes, a fact that may also apply to the Videvdad. Henning’s argument (1943, pp. 235-36), cited by Gershevitch (1958, p. 27), that the Avestan measurements used in the Videvdad (based on the human body) so resemble the Greco-Roman system that they must be of foreign origin, is untenable, as such terminology is universally common.

The Old Avestan text exhibits a few morphological features that have led scholars to assume that the two Avestan languages are separate dialects descended from proto-Avestan. The evidence is scarce, however, and not compelling; it is quite possible that these special features belong to the transmission, rather than the composition, stage of the texts (see Vaan, 2003, pp. 8-9; Skjærvø, 2003-04). On the other hand, Young Avestan and Old Persian have features in common (e.g., the 3rd person pronominal stem di- and the use of the augmented optative as past narrative tense), which give the impression of being common innovations (see Skjærvø, 2003-04).

In any case, studies in oral literature, especially in the late 20th century, have brought about the realization that the text we have cannot be the “original” text as spoken by an individual author; it can only be the version of the text remembered by the person(s) whose recitation of the texts was recorded in writing perhaps in the early 7th century C.E. Before this, the shape of the text must have been unconsciously influenced by the languages of the people who transmitted it (“edited”)—the priests who recited it in their rituals and taught it to students.

Modern descriptions of Avestan include Beekes, 1988 (Old Avestan); Kellens, 1974 (nouns) and 1984 and 1995 (the verb); Kellens and Pirart, 1990 (pp. 3-98: syntax of Old Avestan); Hoffmann and Forssman, 1996 (phonology and morphology); Vaan, 2003 (orthography and phonology). Bartholomae’s dictionary (1904) is outdated, but has not been replaced. See also AVESTAN LANGUAGE i–iii.

Old Persian. If the historical outline above (sec. 1) is more or less correct, Old Persian was presumably originally spoken by the Parsuwash, who entered the Iranian Plateau early in the 1st millennium and gradually migrated down into the area of Fārs, where it became the official language of the Achaemenid kings (for problems in this historical scenario, see Young, 1967 in (1), above). The extant texts comprise inscriptions on rock, precious stone (seals), or metal dating from the 6th to the 4th centuries. Numerous Old Persian words, many of them not found in the inscriptions themselves, are known especially from the Elamite (see ELAM v) versions of the inscriptions and other Elamite documents and Aramaic texts from the Achaemenid period (see ARAMAIC ii), as well as from other sources. With the exception of a few official and private inscriptions on seals and various objects, all the Old Persian inscriptions are royal proclamations. For a while after its discovery, before the discovery of Hittite, Old Persian was the oldest Indo-European language attested in original texts.

The Old Persian language as we know it from the inscriptions (5th-4th cents.) was a “mixed” language, containing numerous words that had obviously originated in a non-Persian (non-Perside) language, usually identified as Median. Old Persian was also about to change to post-Old Persian (see Schmitt, 1999, pp. 59-118; Skjærvø, 1999 [2002]), so it is probable that Old Persian had already been spoken for a few centuries before this time, that is, throughout most of the first half of the first millennium B.C.E.

Modern descriptions and glossaries include Kent, 1953, and Brandenstein and Mayrhofer, 1964.

Median. Besides Old Persian and Avestan, other Iranian languages must have existed in the 1st millennium B.C.E. Of these, Median was presumably spoken in western and central Iran and may have been an “official” language during the Median period (ca. 700-559). Numerous non-Persian words in the Old Persian texts are commonly presumed to be from Median, and other Median forms are preserved in the Akkadian versions of the Achaemenid inscriptions and elsewhere (see Schmitt, 2003). As noted above, Herodotus (1.110) cites the Median word for “bitch” as spaka. Some of the modern West- and Central-Iranian dialects are probably descended from Median (see, most recently, Yarshater, 2002, pp. 440-41).


The following Middle Iranian languages are currently known from texts. Others are known only from references to them in historical sources, e.g., the languages of Bukhara, Samarkand, Sistān, and Zābolestān, and others, a few words from which were cited by Biruni (see Henning, “Mitteliranisch,” pp. 85-86).

Loanwords from Middle Iranian languages are found in several neighboring languages, most importantly, Parthian and Middle Persian in Armenian (q.v.); Bactrian in Khotanese and other Central Asian languages; and proto-Sogdian in Tokharian.

Alanic. This ancestor or ancient relative of modern Ossetic is known from a few inscriptions dating from the 10th or 12th centuries and from sentences in the writings of Johannes Tzetzes (1110-80; see Bielmeier in CLI, pp. 236-45). Additional texts dating from 1275 or earlier were discovered more recently (Engberg and Lubotsky, 2003). See also Bachrach (1973: history of the Alans in the West), Alemany (2000a, 2000b, 2002: sources on the Alans). The name Alan (q.v.) itself is from *arḭān- and is historically identical with Ērān and Irān.

Middle Persian (Pahlavi). A descendant of Old Persian and one of the local languages of southwestern Iran, notably the province of Pārs (modern Fārs), Middle Persian became the official language of the Sasanian state and is known from inscriptions on stone and metal, including coins and seals, and from manuscripts (papyrus, parchment, paper). The earliest known form of Middle Persian language is the post-Old Persian language seen in the inscriptions from Artaxerxes I (465-425 B.C.E.) to Artaxerxes III Ochus (359-338 B.C.E.; see Schmitt, 1999, and Skjærvø, 1999 [2002] with references). The earliest Middle Persian inscriptions are from the pre-Sasanian rulers of Pārs (1st-2nd cents. C.E.), and the latest are funerary inscriptions (see Gignoux, 1978, for publications; Humbach and Skjærvø, 1978-83; Skjærvø, 1992) and documents on papyrus and parchment from the late Sasanian and early Muslim periods (see Weber, 2003a and 2003b, and Gignoux, 1996 [1998] and 2003, with further references). The Pahlavi Psalter (see Andreas, ed. Barr, 1933) may date from the mid-Sasanian period. The earliest Zoroastrian (Pahlavi) paper manuscripts date from the 13th century (see CODICES HAFNIENSES), while the Iranian Manichean manuscripts are probably no later than the 9th century C.E. (Manicheism was made state religion under the Uighur Bögü Qaγan, r. 759-79; two Manichean letters in Sogdian were dated to the 8th or 9th centuries by Sundermann, 1991, p. 285; repr., I, p. 431.) Both the Zoroastrian and many of the Manichean texts were, however, composed (in oral or written form) much earlier.

Numerous Middle Persian loanwords are found especially in Armenian (q.v.), where they are distinguished from the earlier Parthian loans by their form; in Aramaic/Syriac (see ARAMAIC ii-iii); and in Arabic (q.v.).

Middle Persian was written in the Middle Persian script descended from “imperial” Aramaic, the earliest form of which is seen on the coins of the Frataraka (q.v.) dynasty. The standard monumental form is that of the Sasanian royal inscriptions, a later, cursive variant of which is used in the Pahlavi Psalter. The funerary inscriptions from Fārs are written in a still later cursive, the precursor of the standard Pahlavi script, a still more cursive variant of which was used on papyri and parchments (see Weber, 2003a, pp. 168-94). Manichean Middle Persian was written in the Manichean script.

Descriptions of Middle Persian are found in Osnovy (II, pp. 6-145) and in CLI (pp. 138-64; both with extensive bibliographies). Dictionaries and glossaries include MacKenzie (1971), Nyberg (1974), Boyce (1977), Gignoux (1978), and Durkin-Meisterernst (2004). For syntax, see Brunner, 1977.

Parthian. This was the local language of the area east of the Caspian Sea and official language of the Parthian state (see ARSACIDS) and is known from inscriptions on stone and metal, including coins and seals, and from large archives of potsherd labels on wine jars from the Parthian capital of Nisa, as well as from the Manichean texts. Two Pahlavi texts are commonly thought to have been originally in Parthian, the Draxt ī Asūrīg and the Ayādgār ī Zarērān (qq.v.), but forms such as present kar- “do” instead of kun- could also be from a later dialect.

Numerous Parthian loanwords are found in Armenian (q.v.), where they are distinguished from the later Middle Persian loans by their form.

Parthian was written in the Parthian script descended from “imperial” Aramaic. Manichean Parthian was written in the Manichean script, occasionally in the Sogdian script.

Descriptions of Parthian are found in Osnovy (II, pp. 147-232) and in CLI (pp. 114-37; both with extensive bibliographies). Dictionaries and glossaries include Boyce (1977), Gignoux (1978), and Durkin-Meisterernst (2004).

Bactrian. This local language of northern Afghanistan was, until ca. 1990, known from coins, the calendar names preserved in the works of Muslim authors such as Abu Rayḥān Biruni (DeBlois and Sims-Williams, 1996 [publ. 1998]), a few stone and wall inscriptions, and a small number of Manichean manuscript fragments from Turfan. This material, collected by Humbach (1966-67) formed the basis of the description of Bactrian in EIr. III, 1988, pp. 344-49, and CLI, 1989, pp. 230-35. Since then, several extensive new inscriptions have been discovered (see Sims-Williams, 1998, 2000, 2003; Sims-Williams and Cribb, 1995-96), as well as a large number of economic and legal documents and letters, most of them on leather. These documents, which were discovered in northwestern Afghanistan, are now being published (see, e.g., Sims-Williams, 2000, 2001 [publ. 2005]). Much more is therefore now known about this language than two decades ago, and we now see that it shares features with both Parthian, its western neighbor, and Chorasmian and Sogdian, its northern neighbors.

Bactrian loanwords are found in adjacent languages, notably in Khotanese and especially as legal vocabulary (see Winter, 1971; Schwartz, 1974).

Bactrian was written in the Greco-Bactrian script, but there is also one Manichean Bactrian fragment in the Manichean script, frequently cited in the literature (e.g., Gershevitch, 1980/1984; Sims-Williams, 2003) but still unpublished.

An updated sketch grammar of Bactrian is included in Sims-Williams (2000). Dictionaries and glossaries include Humbach (1966) and Sims-Williams (2000).

Sogdian. The language of the kingdom of Sogdiana (Pers. Soḡd), in the area of modern Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, is known from a few inscriptions on stone and metal, including coins and seals, but mainly from a large corpus of paper manuscripts, comprising letters (the earliest from the 4th century); official documents (8th century: Mount Mug near Samarqand); and Buddhist, Manichean, and Christian texts discovered in eastern Xinjiang (at Turfan and Dunhuang, q.v. at

Indigenous Sogdian was written in a script descended from “imperial” Aramaic, the “Sogdian” script; Manichean Sogdian was written in the Sogdian and Manichean scripts; and Christian Sogdian was written in Nestorian Syriac script. There are also a few Sogdian fragments in Brāhmī script.

Several chronological stages or local variants of the language are attested. The oldest is that of the Ancient Letters (q.v.), which date from the early 4th century, the latest that found in some Christian Sogdian texts and late inscriptions. The forms of the language as written in the three different scripts differ somewhat in phonology and morphology, while it is more difficult to establish genuine points of difference in the syntax, especially since translated texts, notably Buddhist and Christian, tended to imitate their originals (Chinese and Syriac).

Tokharian contains a fair number of Iranian loanwords that may have been borrowed from a form of proto-Sogdian (see Schwartz, 1974; Isebaert, 1980; Schmidt, 1985).

The earliest grammar was Gauthiot and Benveniste (1914, 1929). Gershevitch’s grammar of Manichean Sogdian (1954) was the only complete grammar of its time (although short on syntax). Recent descriptions with bibliographies include those in Osnovy (II, pp. 347-514) and CLI (pp. 173-92). For Christian Sogdian morphology, see also Sims-Williams, 1985, pp. 191-200. Qarib/Gharib, 1374 Š./1995, is a complete dictionary of texts published to that date.

Chorasmian, In the early 20th century, the language of Chorasmia (q.v.; Ḵᵛārazm), a state along the upper Oxus/Amu Darya, was still known primarily from its calendrical terminology, cited by Abu Rayḥān Biruni in his Āṯār al-bāqia (q.v.; comp. ca. 390/1000; see CALENDARS i). Since then, archeological excavations have uncovered miscellaneous inscriptions and documents on parchment and wood from ca. 200-700 C.E., and a number of Arabic works containing interlinear glosses in Chorasmian have come to light. All these texts have now been published, and there are several dictionaries and grammatical descriptions.

The Chorasmian inscriptions are written in the indigenous script descended from Aramaic (see Livshits, 1984). They are mainly lists of names and dates, with frequent use of arameograms. The glosses are written in Arabic script, with several modified letters. Especially those in the Moqaddemat al-adab are often under-pointed or not pointed at all, which makes them hard to interpret.

A description of Chorasmian with bibliography is found in CLI (pp. 193-203; see also CHORASMIAN). Dictionaries and glossaries include Benzing (1983) and Samadi (1986).

Tumshuqese. This language, the local name of which may have been Gyāźdiya, was spoken on the Northern Silk Road in a local kingdom in the area of Kucha. It is known from a dozen or so legal documents and a few Buddhist and Manichean manuscript fragments currently in Berlin and London. At least two chronological stages of the language are attested in the texts.

Tumshuqese was written in the Northern Brāhmī (q.v.) script. There are no up-to-date descriptions and glossaries of Tumshuqese covering all the published manuscripts and those online at the website of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Publications include Konow, 1935, 1941-42; Bailey: 1950; Saka Documents I, 1960, pls. XXII-XXIV; Saka Documents, Text volume, 1968, pp. 44-51; Emmerick: Saka Documents V, 1971, pls. CXXII-CXXVI; 1985; Skjærvø, 1987, 2002. For bibliography to that date, see CLI, p. 205.

Khotanese. The language of the kingdom of Khotan (in Khotanese Hvatanä-kṣīra “land of Khotan,” Pers. Ḵotan) spoken along the western part of the Southern Silk Route (see CHINESE TURKESTAN ii), is known from a few inscriptions on jars and paintings, but mainly from a large corpus of texts, most of them written on paper, but many on wooden tablets and smaller pieces of wood. They comprise economic and legal documents, private and official letters, and Buddhist texts, the oldest of which may be from the 6th century, and the latest from ca. 980 (see BUDDHISM iii; Emmerick, 1992; Skjærvø, 2002, pp. lxviii-lxix).

The lexicon is characterized by a large number of loanwords from the Middle Indic language spoken in the area at the beginning of our era (Gāndhāri or Northwest Pra-krit), as well as from literary Buddhist Sanskrit. On the other hand, early Khotanese loanwords are found in the Indic (Northwest Prakrit or Gāndhāri) language spoken east of Khotan (see Burrow, 1935; Bailey, 1979, see indexes).

Three distinct chronological stages are attested, Old, Middle, and Late Khotanese, corresponding roughly to the 5-6th, 7-8th, and 9-10th centuries. The Late Khotanese texts are all from Dunhuang, while the Old and Middle Khotanese texts are from Khotan and adjacent areas. In traditional descriptions, Middle and Late Khotanese are lumped together as Late Khotanese, but the main change in the language took place between the Middle and Late stages (see Skjærvø, 2002, pp. lxxii-lxxiii). With few exceptions, the Old Khotanese texts are translations of Buddhist texts.

Khotanese was written in the Southern Brāhmī script.

Grammatical sketches and grammars include those in Konow, 1932; Dresden, 1955; Emmerick, 1968. Descriptions of Khotanese with bibliographies are found in Osnovy (II, pp. 233-313) and in CLI (pp. 204-29). Dictionaries and glossaries include Bailey’s Dictionary (1979, which excludes non-Iranian words), supplemented by Emmerick and Skjærvø, eds., 1980, 1987, 1997, and the glossaries in Dresden, 1955; Canevascini, 1993; Skjærvø, 2005; and in other individual text editions. Ronald E. Emmerick’s A Guide to the Literature of Khotan (1992) is an annotated bibliography.


The Iranian languages spoken in modern Iran and Afghanistan and adjacent areas (today also in the diaspora, q.v.) can be grouped geographically and/or linguistically (see, e.g., Windfuhr in CLI, pp. 294-95; Skjærvø in CLI, p. 370). To some extent, groups of linguistically related dialects are found within limited geographic areas, but, as a result of population movements, both dialect areas and dialect groups have been split up, and the individual dialects of a group may exist in enclaves within other dialect areas (e.g., Zazaki and Gurāni). Thus, both Kurdish and Baluchi may have arrived where they are relatively recently (see, e.g., MacKenzie, 1961; Windfuhr, 1975). In southwestern Iran, Lori and Fārs dialects are geographically intermingled, and, in the southeast, Baluchi stretches into the area of the Bandari and Baškardi dialects, and splinter groups are found in the area of Marv (Turkmenistan). For maps on dialect distribution, see Stilo (2004). In the East-Iranian area, closely related dialects such as Parāči and Ormuḷi, Yidḡa and Munji are today separated. In addition, Modern Persian in many variants is spread throughout the Iranian-speaking territories.

Like the Old and Middle Iranian languages, the modern dialects and languages are commonly classified linguistically as “West-” and “East-Iranian,” but the geographical meanings of the terms are rather loose. Thus, Ossetic in the far northwest belongs to the “East-Iranian” linguistic group, and sub-divisions such as Northwest-, Northeast-, Southwest-, and Southeast-Iranian may be more helpful (see below). See also Lecoq (1989) on the western Iranian languages.

Non-Iranian languages are also found within the Iranian language area, with which the Iranian languages have interacted for centuries, notably Turkic languages in the west (especially Azerbaijan), the south (Ḵalaj, Qašqāʾi), along the border with Turkmenistan, and in Afghanistan (especially Uzbek); but also Arabic in the west and southwest, as well as in Afghanistan and Central Asia; neo-Aramaic (Turoyo) in the Kurmānji- and Arabic-speaking area of Tur Abdin in southeastern Turkey; Mongolian in the area of Herāt (see AFGHANISTAN v); Brahui (q.v.) in Baluchistan; and Indic (Gypsy, q.v.) languages in various areas stretching from Central Asia to the westernmost Iranian-speaking areas. (See below, IRAN vii. NON-IRANIAN LANGUAGES IN IRAN.)

Although the areas in which modern languages and dialects are spoken correspond to a large extent to areas where we know Middle and Old Iranian languages were once spoken, close links between the various chronological stages are difficult to establish. Only Persian can be followed from its most ancient to its modern form. The area of the Northwestern and Central dialects corresponds roughly to the area occupied by the Medes in ancient times, but since we know nothing about the morphology and lexicon of the Median language(s), correlations can only be assumed (see, e.g., Windfuhr, 1975; ĀẔARĪ). Similarly, the Caspian dialects occupy what was probably (Middle-)Parthian-speaking territory, but only general morphological and lexical features link the modern languages with Parthian, and some separate them from Parthian and link them with Persian. Bactrian shares phonological features with Yidḡa-Munji and Pashto, but closer relationships based on similarities in morphology have not yet been established. Finally, Yaḡnōbi and Wāḵi are closely related to Sogdian and Khotanese, respectively, but are not the descendants of any known forms of these languages.

The Grundriss contains succinct geographic and demographic information about Iranian languages and dialects at the time excerpted from then available publications. More recent information is found in publications on individual languages, the CLI, and various geographical and anthropological studies.

Oskar Mann in the introduction to his šuvre (1909, pp. XIII-XXVI) provided a brief analysis of the historical relationships among the West-Iranian dialects. Georg Morgenstierne’s survey in Handbuch is useful, but was severely curtailed by length restrictions. The articles in Osnovy III/1-2 are on the whole more comprehensive and also have space for historical analyses, while those in the CLI cover all known dialects, but are of varying quality, also mainly due to restrictions on the available space.

For detailed bibliographies to date, see, especially, Osnovy III/2, CLI, Afšār (1989), and Abstracta Iranica. See also DIALECTOLOGY and articles on individual dialects.

Far northwest. Ossetic (q.v.) is spoken mainly in Ossetia in the southern Caucasus in two main variants, Digoron (the more archaic) and Iron, with subvariants. Publications in Ossetic began to appear in the late 18th century, and especially Iron became a literary language in the 20th century. Oral traditions, notably the Nart epics, have also been published.

Ossetic is today written in Cyrillic script, but, in the past, the Georgian and Latin alphabets were also used.

The earliest studies of Ossetic (q.v.) date to the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, and a complete description based on the available material by Wsewolod Miller was included in the Grundriss as a supplement to vol. I. Modern descriptions are found in Osnovy and the CLI, which also include bibliographies to date. Practical grammars include Abaev, 1959, 1964; Bagaev, 1965–82. Dictionaries include Miller (published by Freĭman in 1927-34) and Abaev (1958-89). Recent studies include Cheung (2002: historical phonology; see for recent bibliography). On the current language situation in Southern Ossetia, see Kambolov (2002a, 2002b). Alain Christol (1990) is a brief introduction from an historical perspective.

Northwestern and north central areas. The dialects of the northwest were first studied in the mid-19th century and received a fair amount of attention throughout the 20th century (for bibliographies, see also Osnovy III/2 and CLI). Early publications include Dorn and Schafy (1860-66) and others. All this material was used by Geiger in Grundriss (I/2, pp. 344-80). The following groups can be distinguished:

Tati is spoken in two variants, a northern in far northeastern Azerbaijan and in Dagestan (Judeo-Tati) and a southern in the northeastern Republic of (former Soviet) Azerbaijan, including the peninsula of Apsheron (Abşe-ron). Ṭāleši is spoken in several local variants along the Caspian coast south to Gilān, in the Republic of Azerbaijan and in Iran. Āẕari (q.v.; also called “Tāti”) is spoken in several local variants: northwestern (in Harzand and Dezmār), northeastern (in Ḵalḵāl and Tārom), southern (south of Qazvin), southwestern (Ḵoʾini, etc.), and southeastern (Rudbāri, etc.; see CLI, pp. 294-96). On the Tati dialect group, see also Stilo (1981, map, p. 139).

The first important publications were four monographs by V. F. Miller on Judeo-Tāti (1892-1901) and studies of Tāti (1905-07, 1929, 1945) and Ṭāleši (1930). For bibliography to date, see AZERBAIJAN vii; Osnovy III/2; CLI, pp. 310-12. Modern publications include Gryunberg (1963: Tāti in North Azerbaijan), Yarshater (1969: Āzari), Lazard (1978-79: Ṭāleši from Māsula), Musakhanova (1993: a few poems in cyrillic script with Russian translations), Agarunov (1997: Judeo-Tāti glossary), Schulze (2000: “functional typology” of northern Ṭāleši of Shuvi), ʿAbdoli (1380 Š./2001a: comparative dictionary of Ṭāleši, Tāti, and Āẕari with a few proverbs; 1380 Š./2001b: some Tāti, Ṭāleši texts in vocalized Persian script), and Ḥājat-pur (1383 Š./2004: Ṭāleši from Ḵᵛošābar).

Zāzā (Zazaki) or Dimli (q.v.; also Dimili), spoken in eastern Turkey, became a literary language in the late 19th century (Paul, 1998, pp. xvi-xvii; on the history of scholarship, see ibid., pp. xiv-xvi).

Gurāni (q.v.), including Awrōmāni (see AVROMANI) with Pāvaʾi, Bājalāni, Kandulaʾi, and other local variants (see Fattah, 2000, pp. 62-64) is a group of dialects spoken west and northwest of Kermānšāh and across the border in Iraq east of Mosul. A Gurāni koine became a literary language in the 14th century (see, e.g., Rieu, Persian Manuscripts I, pp. 255-83, 728-33; Soane, 1921; Fattah, 2000, pp. 68-70), but was almost exclusively used by the Ahl-e Ḥaqq (q.v.). It was first recorded by Å. M. Benedictsen in 1901 (published by Christensen and Benedictsen, 1921: Awrōmāni, Pāwaʾi; Christensen, 1936: Awrōmāni) and O. Mann (published by Hadank, 1930: Gurāni, Aw-rōmāni, Bājalāni, Biwanji, Gahvāraʾi, Rejābi, Sayyedi, Zardaʾi). D. N. MacKenzie published studies of Bājalāni (1956) and Awrōmāni (1966); Mokri (1966: grammatical sketch, glossary; 2003: comparative grammar of Gurāni and Kurdish, Persian).

Dimli and Gurāni are more closely related to the Caspian dialects than to the Kurdish dialects that surround them. On socio-linguistic aspects of the relationship between Gurāni and Kurdish, see also Fattah, 2000, pp. 62-70.

The “Caspian dialects” are spoken between the Caspian Sea and the Alborz, Gilaki in the west in the province of Gilān (q.v.), notably in Rašt, and Māzanderāni (with transitional forms; see GILAKI) and related dialects in the east in the province of Māzanderān and as far south as the southern valleys of the Alborz, north of Tehran (Ve-lātruʾi) and still farther to the east (Šāhmerzādi). Older dialects in Ṭabarestān and Gorgān are known from quotations (see Monchi-Zadeh, 1969). The term “Tabari” is often found used in the sense of “Māzanderāni.”

Māzandarāni has an old literary tradition, including the poets Ṭāleb Āmoli (1586-1626; Maṯnawi, ed. Gudarzi, 1376 Š./1997, in vocalized Persian script) and Amir Pāzvāri (12th/18th century[?]; see Dorn and Schafy, 1860-66; Grundriss I/2, p. 346; Ṣaffāri, 1347 Š./1968-69; Amir Pāzvāri, ed. Rujā, [1369 Š./1990]; Nayestāni, 1376 Š./1997). Kiā (1316 Y./1947) is an edition of a Neṣāb-e ṭabari, compiled under Moḥammad Shah Qājār (r. 1834-48). The poet Nimā Yušij (1274-1338 Š./1895-1951) wrote poetry in Ṭabari dialect (ed. ʿAẓimi, Tehran, 1381 Š./2002). Collections of contemporary Gilaki poetry include those by Moḥammad-qoli Ṣadr Eškavari (1376 Š./1997) and Mojtabā Ruḥāni Mendij (1379 Š./2000).

The first important publications were those of Zhukovskiĭ (1888: Šāhmarzādi) and, later, Christensen (1930: Gilaki; 1935: Šāhmarzādi) and Lambton (1938). For bibliography to date, see Osnovy III/2 and CLI, p. 312.

Recent publications include Jahāngiri (2003: Gilaki); Rādmard (1382 Š./2003: Gāleši, gramm. sketch, gloss., text samples). On Māzanderāni: Partovi Āmoli (1358 Š./1979 (glossaries, idioms, dobaytis), Najafzāda Bārforuš (1368 Š./1989: gramm. sketch, gloss.), Humand (1369 Š./1990, 1380 Š./2001: poetry), Qoṣayri (1371 Š./1992: songs), Ḥejāzi Kenāri (1374 Š./1995: etymological glossary), Šokri (1374 Š./1995: Sāri, gramm. sketch, text samples, gloss.), Yoshie (1996: Sāri), Kalbāsi (1376 Š./1997: Kalārdašti from Rudbārak), Yazdān-panāh Lamuki (1376 Š./1997: proverbs), ʿEmrān (1382 Š./2003: Āmol, riddles and proverbs), Raḥimiān (ed., 1383 Š./2004: Rāmsar). The dictionary edited by Naṣri Ašrafi (1381 Š./2002) contains vocabulary from the dialects of ʿAbbāsābād, Āmol, Bābol, Behšahr, Katul, Kord-kuy, Nowšahr, Sāri, Qāʾem-šahr, Tonokābon, etc. (in part compared with Pahlavi).

The dialects of Semnān and environs are a group of loosely related dialects spoken in a number of towns along the northern edge of the Dašt-e Kavir and the foothills of the Alborz (Sorḵaʾi, Lāsgardi, Aftari [q.v.], Sangesari, Biābunaki [q.v.]). For bibliography, see CLI, p. 312.

The first major studies on Semnāni were those of O. Mann (ed. Hadank, 1926), and A. Christensen (1915). Modern publications include Morgenstierne (1960), Sotuda (2536/1977), Majidi (1980), and Panāhi Semnāni (1376 Š./1997: grammatical sketch, glossary). On poets from Semnān, see Nuḥ (1366 Š./1987: only Persian poetry).

Other dialects of this group were described by Zhukovskiĭ (1888: Sangesari) and Christensen (1935: Sorḵaʾi, Lāsgerdi, Sangesari,). Modern publications include Aʿẓa-mi and Windfuhr (1972: Sangesari), Homāyun (1370 Š./1992: Aftari, material collection of Ṣādeq Kiā; grammar, text sample, glossary, indexes), and Teʿdādi Sangesari (1381 Š./2002: Sangesari, a few proverbs and dobaytis).

Kurdish. Kurdish dialects are spoken in eastern Turkey, Syria, northern Iraq, and western Iran, as well as in surrounding areas, and in Central Asia (see CLI, pp. 294, 327-29). Today, Kurdish is also spoken widely in the diaspora. Kurdish developed rich literatures from the early 20th century.

There are three main variants: northern Kurdish, comprising Kurmānji in the west and dialects spoken from Armenia to Kazakhstan; central Kurdish, spoken in northeastern Iraq (called Sorāni) and adjacent areas in Iran (called Kordi or Mokri), as well as in Iranian Kurdistan (called Sennaʾi); and southern Kurdish, spoken in Ker-mānšāh province (roughly the area between Qaṣr-e Širin, Malāyer, and Dehlorān, and including Laki to the east; see Fattah, 2000). On the question of the classification of the southernmost dialects as Lori or Kurdish, see Blau, 1989, 1993; Fattah, 2000, pp. 40-55. On Laki, see ibid., pp. 55-62; on Fayli, ibid., pp. 70-74.

Kurdish has been studied since the 18th century (Garzoni, 1787: grammar and vocabulary; Pallas, 1786: vocabulary), but the earliest major studies were those of Mann in the late 19th century (IV/III, pts. 1-2, 1906-09: Mokri Kurdish), Socin in the Grundriss (I/2, pp. 249-86), and Andreas (ed. Christensen, 1939: Garrusi, Sennaʾi, Kermānšahi, Koruni, Kalun-Abduʾi). D. N. MacKenzie published his Kurdish Dialect Studies in 1961-62, and since then publications have proliferated. Modern publications have been mainly from Northern and Central Kurdish, for which there are numerous popular grammars and introductions, while Southern Kurdish has been less well known until the comprehensive study of I. K. Fattah (2000). Recent years have seen a vast increase in the number of articles, dissertations, and books on Kurdish by Iranians and Westerners, and, especially, by Kurds. For bibliographies, see CLI, pp. 334-35, Meho (1997), Fattah (2000). More recent works include Karimi Dustān (1380 Š./2001: dialect of Badra, south of the town of Ilām, grammar and glossary; cf. Fattah, 2000, p. 30) and Karimpur (1382 Š./2003: dictionary of Kalhori).

Central Iran. A fairly large number of more or less interrelated dialects are distributed over an area stretching from Hamadān to south of the Dašt-e Kavir and include the old dialects of Isfahan and the Zoroastrian dia-lects spoken in the areas of Yazd, Kāšān, and Isfahan, as well as Sivandi spoken south of Isfahan. Several of these dialects are spoken (or were spoken until recently) only by the local Jewish communities (see Yarshater, 1974, 2002).

Study of these dialects began in the mid-19th century, e.g., Berezin, 1853 (Yazdi), Houtum-Schindler (1882: dialects spoken by Zoroastrians in Yazd, Kermān), but the first major studies were those of Zhukovskiĭ (Kāšān area: Vonišuni, Qohrudi, Kešaʾi, Zefraʾi, Judeo-Kāšāni; Isfahan area: Sedehi, Gazi, Kafrōni), Andreas (ed. Christensen, 1939: Sivandi, Yazdi, Soʾi), and Mann (ed. Hadank, 1926: Ḵᵛānsāri, Maḥallāti, Naṭanzi, Nāʾini, Sivandi, Soʾi, Qohrudi); Lorimer (1916, 1928: Yazdi); Ivanow (1926: Anāraki, Ḵuri; 1929: Ḵuri, Mehrejāni; 1935, 1937, 1939: Yazdi), Christensen (1930: Farizandi, Yārāni, Na-ṭanzi); Abrahamian (1936: Judeo-Hamadāni and Judeo-Isfahani). On Zhukovskiĭ’s "Naṭanzi,” see Christensen, 1930, pp. 23-25.

The following groups may be distinguished:

Central northwest (area of Tafreš, west of Hamadān, south of Sāva): Alviri (q.v.) and Vidari; Vafsi, Āštiāni (q.v.), Kahaki, Āmoraʾi (q.v.; in the southeast). Recent publications include ʿĀdelḵāni (1379 Š./2000: Āmoraʾi) and Marzolph and Stilo (eds., 2004: Gorčāni sub-dialect of Vafsi, notes on grammar and glossary; on the linguistic position of Vafsi, see ibid., p. 1).

Central north (southern edge of Dašt-e Kavir): Ḵuri, Farvigi, Mehrejāni. Modern studies include Faravaši (2535/1976: Ḵuri, glossaries and sample texts), ʿAbbāsi (1375 Š./1996: verb in Ḵuri),

Central west (west of the road from Qom to Isfahan): Dalijāni, Vārāni, Maḥallāti, Vonišuni, Ḵᵛānsāri. Modern studies include Nilipur and Ṭayyeb (1364 Š./1985: Vār-āni), Ṣafari (1373 Š./1994: Dalijāni); on Ḵᵛānsāri: Eilers (1976), Bani-Hāšemi Ḵᵛānsāri (1379 Š./2000), Amiri (1379 Š./2000, 1381 Š./2002). Editions of literary texts include the Divān of Yusof Baḵši Kᵛ¨ānsāri (1376 Š./1998) and Amiri Ḵᵛānsāri (1381 Š./2002: dialect texts with Persian translations).

Central southeast (south of Dašt-e Kavir between Isfahan and Kermān): Ardestāni (q.v.), Zefraʾi, Anāraki (q.v.), Nāʾini, Yazdi (Gabri, Behdinān dialect [q.v.]), Kermāni (dialects spoken by Zoroastrians and Jews). Modern studies include Firuzbaḵš (n.d.; grammar of Yazdi), Afšār (1382 Š./2003: Yazdi), Sotuda (1366 Š./1987: Nāʾini dictionary), Jalāliān Jalāli (1366 Š./1987: Yazdi poetry pp. 405-45, glossary pp. 446-60); Mazdā-pur (1374 Š./1995: beginning of a Yazdi lexicon), Vahman and Asatrian (2002: Yazdi).

Central northeast (east of the road from Qom to Isfahan, area between Kāšān and Naṭanz): Ārāni and Bidgoli (qq.v., just north of Kāšān), Kāšāni (spoken only by Jews), Abuzaydābādi (q.v.), Bādrudi (q.v.), Jawšaqāni, Meymaʾi, Qohrudi, Abyānaʾi (q.v.), Farizandi, Yārāni, Soʾi, Naṭanzi, Kešaʾi, Tāri. Modern studies include Yarshater (1989: Ārāni and Bidgoli), ʿAlijān-zāda (1372 Š./1993: Ārāni and Bidgoli), Mazraʿati (1374 Š./1995: Abuzaydābādi), Zargari (1374 Š./1995: Jawšaqān-e Qāli), Lecoq (2002, on the “Kermāni dialects”: Qohrudi, Abū-zaydābādi, Abyānaʾi, Tāri, Ardestāni, Nāʾini, Anāraki, Varzenaʾi, Bādrudi).

Central southwest (Isfahan area): Kafrōni, Gazi (q.v.), Sedehi, Varzenaʾi, Judeo-Isfahani. Modern studies include Eilers (1979: Gazi), Kalbāsi (1373 Š./1994: Judeo-Isfahani). Editions of literary texts include the ḡazals of Darviš ʿAbbās Gazi (ed. Moḥammadi, 1371 Š./1992; see also the facsimile in Eilers, 1979, vol. 1).

Judeo-Hamadāni (see HAMADĀN ix) cannot be assigned to any specific group, but shares features with several of them (see also Sahim, 1994).

Sivandi is spoken in Sivand, north of Shiraz, outside the area of the Central dialects proper, but belongs with them, although it is heavily influenced by surrounding dialects. Modern studies include Eilers (1988) and Lecoq (1979).

A few old texts in Central Iranian dialects have been located among the Geniza manuscripts (see Shaked, 1990).

For further bibliography, see CENTRAL DIALECTS; CLI, pp. 326-26; Lecoq (2002).

Southwestern Iran. Lori (in several varieties) and Baḵtiāri (qq.v.), in Lorestān and Baḵtiār, and the Fārs dialects (q.v.) are the dialects most closely related to Persian.

The first major studies were those of Zhukovskiĭ (Baḵtiāri, Sivandi, Abduʾi) and Mann (1909, 1910). See CLI, pp. 348-49, for further bibliography. Recent publications include Izadpanāh (1978: Laki and Lori, 1381 Š./2002: Lori, a few dobaytis, with maps), Ṣāleḥi (1369 Š./1990: Baḵtiāri), Lazard (1992: Laki), ʿAli-Reżāʾi (1377 Š./1998: Dehlorān), Esfandiāri (1378 Š./1999: collection of proverbs in Lori from Borujerd), Emām Ahvāzi (1379 Š./2000: riddles and Dezfuli glossary), MacKinnon (2002: mainly Ḵorramābādi), Sarlak (1381 Š./2002: glossary of Baḵtiāri of Čahārlang, brief phonology and grammatical sketch, a few proverbs), Fāżeli (1383 Š./2004: Šuštari). ʿA. Ṣādeqi (1377 Š./1996) discusses a Lori text from the 11th/17th century.

On the socio-linguistic position of Lori, see also Fattah (2000, pp. 40-55). Anonby (2003) has an up-to-date bibliography.

South-central Iran. The dialects of the province of Fārs were first studied by Andreas and Mann. Mann published his material (1909) as the “Tājiki” dialects of Fārs, which is how they were referred to locally, in contrast to “Lori” (p. xxviii). For geographical distribution, ancient attestations of the dialects, and complete bibliography to date, see FĀRS DIALECTS. Additional and more recent publications include Wājed (1353 Š./1974: Old Shirazi texts), Nawwābi (1375 Š./1996: Old Shirazi poetry), Salāmi (1381 Š./2002: Davāni; 1383 Š./2004: comparative grammar, vocabulary, some text specimens of Davāni, Dahlaʾi, Abduʾi, Kāzeruni, Kalāni, Kandaʾi, Kuzargi, Mamesani, Māsarmi), Musawi (1372 Š./1993: Gāvkošak in Kuhmarra Noudān). Publications on dialects spoken along the coast in Daštestān include ʿA. Ḥamidi (1380 Š./2001: area of Bušehr, glossary, see s.v. lafẓ, pp. 567-71), Aḥmadi Rišahri (1375 Š./1996: notes on Mahājari dialect, pp. 41-42), ʿErfān (1379 Š./2000: some texts), and Akbarzāda, ed. (1381 Š./2002: Dalirān, Bušehr ostān, grammatical sketch, etymological study, sample texts).

New Persian (Farsi), Judeo-Persian, Tajik, and other local varieties of Persian. New Persian, the descendant of Middle Persian and official language of Iranian states for centuries, is today spoken widely in and outside Iran in a number of variants. Standard New Persian is today a literary language, from which the spoken variants, for instance in the large cities, notably, Tehran, differ considerably in phonology and lexicon. Major variants are those spoken in eastern Iran (Ḵorāsāni), Afghanistan (“Dari,” q.v.), and Tajikistan and adjacent areas. Tajik Persian is in turn subdivided into several dialects, characterized among other things by varying degrees of Turkic influence.

The oldest records of Persian are the Judeo-Persian inscriptions at Tang-e Azao in Afghanistan (752); a Judeo-Persian document probably dating from the 2nd half of the 8th century found at Dandān Öilïq (q.v.) in Khotan (British Library, Or. 8212/166; Utas, 1969, on the date, pp. 124-25; Lazard, 1988); and the tri-lingual (Arabic, Pahlavi, Judeo-Persian) copper tablets from a Christian church in Quilon, Malabar, from ca. 824. See also Minorsky, 1942; Henning, “Mitteliranisch,” pp. 51-52, 86-89; Lazard, 1963, pp. 31-36; 1968; Gignoux, 1995. Later inscriptions include those from Ḡur in Afghanistan dating from the 12th-13th centuries (Gnoli, 1964).

Dating from about the same time are several Persian texts from Turfan written in the Manichean script (see Henning, 1962; Sundermann, 1989, 2003) and a fragment of the Psalms in Syriac script from Bulayïq/Turfan (Müller, 1915).

The earliest Persian court poetry dates to the 9th century, and the oldest sample of Modern Persian prose literature is the preface to the Šāh-nāma of Abu Manṣur Moḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Razzāq (q.v.), completed in 346/957, while the first comprehensive literary texts are the Tārīḵ-e Ṭabari (begun in 352/963-64) and Tarjoma-ye Tafsir-e Ṭabari (see Lazard, 1963, Premiers poètes, and in CLI, p. 263).

From the 10th-11th centuries there are Qurʾān translations and commentaries (tafsir) and Judeo-Persian texts, mostly translations of the Old Testament, but also inscriptions and various secular documents, among them a law report from Ahwāz in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (MS. Heb. b. 12 fol. 24) dated “1332,” corresponding to 1021 C.E. (Margoliouth, 1899; Neubauer and Cowley, 1906, no. 2875); a land sale deed in the British Library (Or. 6410), probably dated 401/1010-11, but possibly 501/1107-08 (Margoliouth, 1903; Minorsky, 1942, pp. 181-94; Or. 6411a-d are fragments of a land deed); and several manuscripts from the 11th-13th centuries discovered at Bāmiān, Afghanistan, some by the French Archeological Mission (Minorsky, 1942, pp. 181-94; 1943, pp. 86-99; Scarcia, 1963, pp. 73-85).

A Persian poem in Nestorian Syriac script is found in a manuscript dated to the 13th century containing a Nestorian ritual (originally in the library of the De Propaganda Fide, Rome, now in the Vatican Library, ms. Borgiano Siriaco 60; Margoliouth, 1903; Orsatti, 2003, with reprod. of the manuscript).

The earliest Persian Bible translations were several anonymous ones dating from the 13th-14th centuries (see Lazard, 1968, p. 80) and the completely preserved one by Jacob ben Joseph Tavus, which was included in the Constantinople Pentateuch (see BIBLE vi) from 1546. The earliest Bible commentaries are slightly earlier, even, than the translations (Lazard, 1968, pp. 80-81).

The sources indicate a division into a northern and a southern dialect of Persian (see, e.g., Lazard, 1995, pp. 134–35). The northern dialect is the basis for the later literary language, while the southern dialect (seen in the Qorʾān-e Qods written in Sistān) exhibits features that are also found in modern dialects, as well as in certain Pazand texts (see de Jong, 2003). Still unstudied are the late Pahlavi translations, for instance of the Ḵorda Avesta, which exhibit numerous Modern Persian features.

Colloquial Persian and local variants, both from Iran and Afghanistan, were recorded and/or described from the mid-19th century on, e.g., Trumpp (1875). Early collections of prose and poetry include Browne (1895: Persian dialect poetry from Shiraz, Ray, Behbehān, including poems by Bābā Ṭāher, Saʿdi, Ḥāfeẓ); Zhukovskiĭ (I/2, pp. 395-98: specimens from Tajriš); Ivanow (several collections of Ḵorasāni Persian prose and poetry; 1926, see bibliog., p. 233, n. 1; 1929: Birjand, see bibliog., p. 235, n. 1); Christensen (1930, 1935: stories in colloquial Tehrāni Persian); and Lorimer (1928: Kermāni). Among studies of modern Tehrāni Persian is Jahangiri (2000).

Among more recent publications on Ḵorāsāni Persian are Lazard (1974: Zābol and environs), Afšār (1365 Š./1986), Zomorrodiān (1974, 1368 Š./1989; Qāʾen), Monchi-Zadeh (1990: dictionary with etymological notes), Akbari Šālči (1370 Š./1991), Nāṣeḥ (1373-77 Š./1994-98: Birjand, dobaytis), Dānešgar (1374 Š./1995: Torbat-e Ḥaydariya, glossary), Ioannesian (1998), Mo-ḥammadi Ḵomak (1379 Š./2000: Sistāni, glossary, text samples), Reżāʾi (1377 Š./1998; ed. Rafiʿi, 1381 Š./2002: Birjand, words and idioms, a few dobaytis, glossary). Ḵadivi (1363 Š./1984, vol. 2) and Mollāʾi (1369 Š./1990) contain vocalized poems in Mašhadi and Birjandi Persian, respectively.

Local Persian from other areas: Smirnova (1978: Isfahan), Waziri (1364 Š./1985: Šuštar), Afšār (1368 Š./1989: Tabriz), Kalbāsi (1370 Š./1991: Isfahan), Gorusin (1370 Š./1991: Hamadān), Pur-Ḥosayni (1370 Š./1991: Kermān area), Baqāʾi (1370 Š./1991: Kermāni, proverbs), Nayyer (1370 Š./1991: Shiraz), Bābak (1375 Š./1996: Zarand, grammatical sketch, sample sentences, glossary), Saʿid (1375 Š./1996: Bardsir, Kermān province, glossary), Reżāʾi (1377 Š./1998, ed. Rafiʿi, 1381 Š./2002: Birjand), Ḡiāṯi Golpāyagāni (1378 Š./1999: Golpāyagān), Asadi Guki (1379 Š./2000: Golbāf, Kermān province, glossary of unusual words, proverbs, dobaytis), ʿElmdāri (1379 Š./2000: Damāvand), Malekzāda (1380 Š./2001: Zarqān in Fārs, glossary), Ṣādeqi (1380 Š./2001: Qom), Saryazdi (1380 Š./2001: Sirjān), ʿAli-Naqi Behruzi (1348 Š./1969: Kāzerun), Moḥammad-Jawād Behruzi (1381 Š./2002: Kāzerun, poetry with Persian translation, short glossary), Āʾina-negini (1381 Š./2002: Rāborbāft, Kermān area, glossary of words and idioms, some dobaytis), Moḥseni (1381 Š./2002: Sirjan), Farhādi Rād (1382 Š./2003: Bāft, Kermān area, etymological glossary), Anjom Šoʿāʾ (1381 Š./2002: Kermān), Moḥseni (1381 Š./2002: Sirjān).

From Baluchistan there is a brief description of Deh-vāri Persian spoken in Sarāvān by Denis Bray (Census of Baluchistan for 1911, cited by Grierson in Linguistic Survey of India X, pp. 452-53).

Grierson also included specimens of Badaḵšāni Persian in the Linguistic Survey (pp. 527-30), and D. L. R. Lorimer studied the phonology of Badaḵšāni and Madaglašti Persian spoken in Afghanistan with text specimens (1922). More recent is Rozenfel’d’s (1971) study.

Ivanow published Anṣāri’s Ṭabaqāt in the local Persian of Herāt (1923). Kabuli Persian texts were published by Farhâdi (1955). Of Hazaragi Persian there are a few specimens in Efimov (1965) and Dulling (1973). Grammars and glossaries of Afghan Dari include Ḥamidi (1347 Š./1968), Kiseleva (1985: grammar), Kiseleva and Mikolaĭchik (1986: dictionary), and Fekrat (1364 Š./1997: Herāti, grammatical sketch, glossary, text samples, Heravi words in older literature).

Among early publications on Central Asian Tajik are Semenov (1900-01), Koilakov’s (1906) Bukharan Judeo-Tajik dictionary with grammatical notes, and Zarubin’s description of Judeo-Tajik from Samarqand with text samples (1928).

More recently, Tajik and its dialects have been studied especially by Khromov (1962), Rozenfel’d, and Rastorgueva. Rozenfel’d (1982) is a dictionary of Tajik dialects; Wei (1962) a comparative study of Tehrāni, Kabuli, and Tajik Persian; Kalbāsi (1374 Š./1995) a comparative study of Persian and Tajik grammar and vocabulary; Rustamov and Ghafforov (1985) a grammar of modern literary Tajik; and Soper (1996) a comparison of the verb systems of Tajik, Uzbek, and Qašqāʾi (typological characteristics, Turkic influence on Tajik, Tajik influence on Turkic). Introductions to Tajik include Rastorgueva (1963), Rzehak (1999), and Nabiev (1992). Hādi-zāda (1382 Š./2003) is a glossary of uncommon words in Samarqandi Persian.

Persian has been written in various scripts: Arabic, Avestan (so-called Pazand), Hebrew (Judeo-Persian), Syriac, Manichean, and Cyrillic (Tajik).

Southeastern Iran. There are four main groups of dialects in southeastern Iran: Lārestāni (in many dialects; see LĀRI DIALECTS at; dialects spoken from Jiroft and Kahnuj to Bandar-e ʿAbbās (with Hormoz); Baškardi (q.v.), North and South. Kumzari, once spoken on the Musandam peninsula across the Strait of Hormoz, appears to be intermediate between the Fārs and Lārestāni-Bandari dialects. The dialects of the island of Qešm and along the coast north of Bandar-e ʿAbbās have not yet been investigated. For bibliography, see CLI, p. 369.

The earliest studies were of Lārestāni (Mann, 1909: specimens from Garrāš and Lār) and of Kumzari (Jayakar, 1902; Thomas, 1930). Baškardi words were first recorded by Floyer (1882).

Since the publication of the CLI, numerous articles and books on these dialects have appeared, among them Ṣādeqi (1364 Š./1985: Lāri and Garmsiri words in a medical manuscript from 893/1487-88), Woṯuqi (1369 Š./1990: Lārestāni), Niknafas Dehqāni (1377 Š./1998: dialects of Jiroft and Kahnuj), Pelevin (1377 Š./1998: Bandari), Ḵonji (1378 Š./1999: Lārestāni, Ḵonji dialect, grammar, text samples, glossary), Rafʿati (1379 Š./2000: Jiroft, riddles), Najibi Fini (1381 Š./2003: Fini), Sangbar (1383 Š./2004: Bandari).

Minābi and Baškardi are currently being studied by Gerardo Barbera. Work has also begun on Ilya Gershevitch’s Baškardi material, now in the Ancient India-Iran Trust in Cambridge, UK.

Balōči. Balōči (in several dialects) is spoken in eastern Iran and western Pakistan, but also in southern Afghanistan and Central Asia. Its written literature goes back to the 18th century, and it has a considerable popular literature, notably stories and ballads, which were first collected by A. Lewis (1855) and M. I. Dames (1907).

The earliest descriptions of Balōči date to the early 19th century. Up-to-date descriptions by Geiger and Grierson were included in the Grundriss and the Linguistic Survey of India (X, pp. 327-451). Subsequent studies include Zarubin (1932-49) and modern publications by J. Elfenbein (see BALUCHISTAN iii. BALUCHI LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE, and CLI, pp. 350-62, all of which contain up-to-date bibliogs.). Grammars and introductions to Balōči include Rastorgueva (1966), Barker and Mengal (1969: Raḵšāni dialect), and Collett (1986: Keči dialect spoken in Oman).

Balōči is written in the Pakistani variant of the Arabo-Persian script, with additional diacritics for the retroflex consonants.

Afghanistan and Central Asia. This is the area of the modern East-Iranian dialects, which in phonological and grammatical structure differ considerably from the West-Iranian dialects. The differences reflect the greater historical developments in Middle East-Iranian languages, compared with the Middle West-Iranian ones. The distribution of these languages in Afghanistan after the late twentieth-century wars is not known.

Material from the Pamir languages began appearing in the early 19th century, which was included by Geiger in Grundriss and by Grierson in Linguistic Survey of India X (pp. 455-549: “the Gòòẖòalchah Languages”). Large materials were collected by G. Morgenstierne on his two missions (1924 and 1929), and Soviet scholars published on languages in the Soviet Union (see below). On the whole, scholarly and complete descriptions of these dialects are much more numerous than for those in Iran itself. Recent descriptions to date include Pakhalina (1983, 1989) on the historical phonology and morphology of the Pamir languages, and Pakhalina (1969) is a useful concise overview. Edel’man (1986) is a historical grammar of East-Iranian languages. For a survey of relationships, see Payne in CLI, pp. 420-23.

See also the bibliographies in Osnovy III/2, CLI, articles in EIr., and Bakhtibekov (1975).

Parāči and Ōrmuḷi, spoken in central Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan (Waziristan) are, according to Morgenstierne (1926, p. 36), the remnants of a Southeast-Iranian dialect group (see also Lecoq, 1989). Grierson included a long section on “Ōrmuṛī or Bargistā” in Linguistic Survey of India X, pp. 123-325; Morgenstierne recorded both languages in 1924; and C. Kieffer in 1961-71. See CLI for further bibliography. Kieffer’s grammar of Ōrmuḷi from Baraki Barak appeared in 2003.

Pashto (several dialect groups) is spoken mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as in the diaspora. Wanetsi (Waṇeci) is a closely related, but separate, dialect spoken in Pakistan. Pashto has a large literature going back to the 16th century, both in the Afghan standard (Qandahar) and the Pakistani standard (Peshawar). See CLI for further bibliography. Morgenstierne’s revised etymological dictionary of Pashto appeared in 2003.

The earliest publications date from the 18th and 19th centuries, but the first major studies were those of Dorn (q.v.; 1847), Bellew’s grammar and dictionary with etymologies (1867a-b), Darmesteter’s collection of Afghan songs (1888-90), Geiger (in Grundriss; see for earlier bibliog.), and Grierson (in Linguistic Survey of India X, pp. 5-122). More recent grammars include Penzl (1955), Shafeev (1964), and Gryunberg (1987). Indigenous grammars include Reštin (1327 Š./1948) and Boḵāri, 1982). Dictionaries include the Paṧtō Ṭōlana’s Pashto-Persian dictionary (Paṧtō qāmus, Kabul, 1330-33 Š./1951-54) and Persian-Pashto dictionary (Afḡān qāmus, pārsi pa paṧtō, 3 vols., Kabul, 1335-36 Š./1957-58) and the Paṧtō Academy’s Paṧtō žəba (Peshawar, 1970-), as well as Badaḵši (1960), Aslanov (1985), and Kabir (1999). Etymological dictionaries: Morgenstierne (1927, 2003). Introductions to Pashto include Penzl (1962) and Lorenz (1979). See CLI for bibliography to that date. More recent publications include Septfonds’ studies (1989: on Pashto and Wanetsi; 1994: the Dzadrāni dialect) and Hallberg (1992), with useful discussion of how to define Pashto dialects, and Tegey and Robson’s reference grammar (1996).

Afghan Pashto is written in the standard Arabo-Persian script, with additional diacritics for non-Persian phonemes. Pakistani Pashto is written in the Pakistani variant of the Arabo-Persian script, with additional diacritics.

Munji or Munjāni, spoken in the Munjān valley in eastern Afghanistan, and Yidḡa (Yidgha), spoken in the Lutkuh valley (Pakistan) across the mountains from the Munjān valley, probably belong to the same subgroup of East Iranian as Bactrian (see below). According to a local tradition, the Yidḡa speakers originally came from Munjān. These two closely related dialects have been known since the late 19th century. Later studies include Zarubin (1927: Munjāni), but they were first described in detail by Morgenstierne (1938). More recent publications include Gryunberg (1972: Munjāni), Sokolova (1973: Munjāni and the Šuḡni group).

Eškāšmi (q.v.; Ishkashmi), Sanglīči (Sanglechi), and “Zebāki” were/are spoken to the west of the opening of the Wāḵān corridor. Eškāšmi was known only from hearsay by the time of the Grundriss, and only “Zebāki” was included in the Linguistic Survey of India X. Morgenstierne (1938) provided the first descriptions of Eškāšmi and Sanglīči. More recent publications include Pakhalina (1959: Eškāšmi). See CLI for further bibliography.

Languages of the Yazḡulāmi-Šuḡni group are spoken in northern Afghanistan and Central Asia, but also include Sariqōli spoken at Tāqdumbāš in the eastern Pamirs, in Chinese Turkestan. Yazḡulāmi and the now extinct Wanǰi constitute one subgroup of this group. The Šuḡni group proper in turn contains the sub-groups Ḵufi-Rōšani, Orošori-Bartangi, and Sariqōli. For a survey of relationships, see Payne in CLI, pp. 420-23.

These dialects were first mentioned in the late 19th century. Šuḡni, Sariqōli, and Rōšani were included in the Grundriss and Šuḡni and Sariqōli in the Linguistic Survey of India X (pp. 466-79). Early studies of Yazḡulāmi include Andreev (1930: Yazḡulāmi), Zarubin (1930: Orošori; 1936: Yazḡulāmi; 1937: Bartangi and Rōšani). These dialects were all studied extensively by Soviet scholars in the late 20th century, among them Edel’man (1966, 1971: Yazḡulāmi), Karamkhudoev (1973: Bartangi), Kurbanov (1976: Orošori), Pakhalina (1966, 1971: Sariqōli), Sokolova (1959: Ḵufi-Rōšani; 1960: Yazḡulāmi; Bartangi; 1967: history of the Yazḡulāmi-Šuḡni group), Zarubin (1960: Šuḡni). Bakhtibekov (1979) is a grammar of Šuḡni in Tajik. Karamshoev’s (1988) dictionary of Shughni contains an introduction about numbers of speakers and history of studies and the dictionary itself abundant examples of usage. Morgenstierne (1974) is an etymological vocabulary of the Šuḡni group. See CLI for further bibliography.

Yaḡnōbi is spoken in the Yaḡnōb valley in Tajikistan in two principal dialects and belongs to the same subgroup of East Iranian as Sogdian, with which it shares several isoglosses, but from which it also differs in important respects. According to the indigenous, but unreliable, tradition, the Yaḡnōbs came from Kashmir. The language was first studied in the late 19th century (words in Ujfalvy, 1878, p. 26; Akimbetev, 1881; van den Gheyn, 1883; Salemann, see Grundriss I/2, p. 289; see also History of studies). The available, including unpublished, material was included in the Grundriss as an appendix. It was then studied by Junker (1914, 1930), Tedesco (1923a, b) and Lentz (1933), more recently especially by Khromov (1972). See CLI for further bibliography.

Wāḵi (Wakhi) is spoken in the Wāḵān corridor in northeastern Afghanistan, as well as in Hunza in Gilgit, and belongs to the same subgroup of East Iranian as Khotanese. It became known in the late 19th century and was included in the Grundriss. The description in the Linguistic Survey of India X was based on several earlier publications. The first comprehensive studies were those by Morgenstierne (1938) and Lorimer (1958). See CLI for further bibliography. More recent publications include Pakhalina (1975), Grünberg and Steblin-Kamensky (1988), Reinhold (1992: modern poems by Aziz Mirboboev from Dushanbe), Buddruss (1998: Hunza), and Saḵi (2000: Wakhi of Gilgit, ABC for children, in Urdu).


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Idem, “Sept documents économiques en pehlevi,” in Alois van Tongerloo, Iranica Selecta. Studies in Honour of Professor Wojciech Skalmowski on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday, Silk Road Studies VIII, Turnhout, 2003, pp. 79-89.

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Idem and Ivan M. Steblin-Kamensky, La langue Wakhi, 2 vols., Paris, 1988.

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Idem and Bernhard Forssman, Avestische Laut- und Flexionslehre, Innsbruck, 1996.

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Idem and Prods Oktor Skjærvø, The Sassanian Inscription of Paikuli, Wiesbaden; I: Supplement to Herzfeld’s Paikuli, by H. Humbach, 1978; II: Synoptic tables, 1980; III. Restored text and translation and III. Commentary by P. O. Skjærvø, 1983.

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Vladimir (Wladimir) Alekseevich Ivanow, “Ṭabaqāt of Anṣārī in the Old Language of Herat,” JRAS, 1923, pp. 1-34, 337-82.

Idem, “Two Dialects Spoken in the Central Persian Desert,” JRAS, 1926, pp. 405-31.

Idem, “Rustic Poetry in the Dialect of Khorasan,” JASB 21, 1926, pp. 233-313.

Idem, “Some Poems in the Sabzawari Dialect,” JRAS, 1927, pp. 1-41.

Idem, “Persian as Spoken in Birjand,” JASB 24, 1929, pp. 235-351.

Idem, “Notes on the Dialects of Khūr and Mihrijān,” AO 8, 1929, pp. 45-61.

Idem, “Late Professor E. G. Browne’s Specimen of the Gabri Dialect,” JRAS, 1932, pp. 403-05.

Idem, “The Gabri Dialect,” RSO 16, 1935, pp. 31-97; 17, 1937, pp. 1-39; 18, 1939, pp. 1-58.

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Nāder Jahāngiri, A Sociolinguistic Study of Persian in Tehran, Tokyo, 2000.

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Idem, Guyeš-e Kalārdašt (Rudbārak), Tehran, 1376 Š./1997 (grammar, text samples, glossary).

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Dodkhudo Karamshoev, Shugnansko-russkiĭ slovar’ v trekh tomakh, Moscow, 1988.

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Idem, Le verbe avestique. Wiesbaden, 1984.

Idem, Liste du verbe avestique. Wiesbaden, 1995.

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Idem and Eric Pirart, Les textes vieil-avestiques, Wiesbaden, vol. II: Répertoires grammaticaux et lexique, 1990; vol. III: Commentaire, 1991.

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Idem, Yagnobskiĭ yazyk, Moscow, 1972.

Ṣādeq Kiā, Vāža-nāma-ye ṭabari, Irān-kuda 9, Tehran, 1316 Y./1947.

Idem, Vāža-nāma-ye gorgāni, 1330 Š./1951.

Idem, “Yād-dāšt-i dar bāra-ye guyeš-e farvigi,” MDAT 2, 1333 Š./1954, pp. 34-41.

Idem, Guyeš-e Āštiān. I. Vāža-nāma, Tehran, 1335 Š./1956.

Idem, ed., Šams-e Faḵri Eṣfahāni, Vāža-nāma-ye fārsi. Baḵš-e čahārom-e Meʿyār-e jamāli, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958.

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Kh. Kurbanov, Roshorvskiĭ yazyk, Dushanbe, 1976.

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Gilbert Lazard, La langue des plus anciens monuments de la prose persane, Paris, 1963.

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Idem, “La dialectologie du judéo-persan,” Studies in Bibliography and Booklore 8, 1968, pp. 77-98 (repr. in Lazard, 1995, pp. 27-48).

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Idem, “Le dialecte tâleši de Mâsule (Gilān),” Stud. Ir. 7, 1978, pp. 251-68.

Idem, “Textes en tâleši de Mâsule,” Stud. Ir. 8, 1979, pp. 33-66.

Idem, “Glossaire Mâsulei,” Stud. Ir. 8, 1979, pp. 269-75.

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Idem, The Origins of Literary Persian, Bethesda, 1993.

Idem, La formation de la langue persane, Paris, 1995.

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Idem, Recherches sur les dialectes Kermaniens (Iran central). Grammaire, textes, traductions et glossaires, Louvain, 2002.

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David Lockhart Robertson Lorimer, Pashtu, Syntax of Colloquial Pashtu with Chapters on the Persian and Indian Elements in the Modern Language, Oxford, 1915.

Idem, “Notes on the Gabri Dialect of Modern Persian,” JRAS, 1916, pp. 423-89.

Idem, The Phonology of the Bakhtiari, Badakhshani, and Madaglashti Dialects of Modern Persian with Vocabularies, London, 1922.

Idem, “Is There a Gabri Dialect of Modern Persian?” JRAS, 1928, pp. 287-319.

Idem, The Wakhi Language, London, 1958.

David Neil MacKenzie, “Bāǰalānī,” BSOAS 18, 1956, pp. 418-35.

Idem, “The Origins of Kurdish,” TPS, 1961, pp. 68-86.

Idem, Kurdish Dialect Studies, 2 vols., London and New York, 1961-62.

Idem, The Dialect of Awromān (Hawrāmān-ī Luhōn), Copenhagen, 1966.

Idem, A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary, London and New York, 1971.

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Idem, Strukturelle Beschreibung des iranischen Dialekts der Stadt Semnan. Phonetik, Morphologie, Syntax, Texte, Hamburg, 1980.

Moḥammad Jaʿfar Malekzāda, Fahang-e Zarqān. Vāža-nāma-ye lahja-ye fārsi-e mardom-e Zarqān-e Fārs, Tehran, 1380 Š./2001.

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Idem, Kurdisch-persische Forschungen, Abt. I: Die Tâjîk-Mundarten der Provinz Fârs, Berlin, 1909.

Idem, Kurdisch-persische Forschungen, Abt. II: Die Mundarten der Lur-Stämme im südwestlichen Persian, Berlin, 1910.

(Oskar Mann and) Karl Hadank, Kurdisch-persische Forschungen von O. Mann, Abt. III, vol. 1: Die Mundarten von Khunsâr, Mahallât, Natänz, Nâyin, Sämnân, Sîvänd und Sô-Kohrûd, Berlin and Leipzig, 1926.

Idem, Kurdisch-persische Forschungen von O. Mann, Abt. III, vol. 2: Mundarten der Gûrân, besonders des Kändûläî, Auramânî und Bâdschälânî, Berlin, 1930.

Idem, Kurdisch-persische Forschungen von O. Mann, Abt. III, vol. 4: Mundarten der Zâzâ, hauptsächlich aus Siwerek und Kor, Berlin, 1932.

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David Samuel Margoliouth, “A Jewish-Persian Law Report,” The Jewish Quarterly Review 11, 1899, pp. 671-75.

Idem, “An Early Judæo-Persian Document from Khotan in the Stein Collection, with Other Early Persian Documents,” JRAS, 1903, pp. 735-60.

Ulrich Marzolph and Donald L. Stilo, eds., Vafsi Folk Tales. Twenty Four Folk Tales in the Gurchani Dialect of Vafsi as Narrated by Ghazanfar Mahmudi and Mashdi Mahdi and Collected by Lawrence P. Elwell-Sutton, transcribed, translated and annotated by Donald L. Stilo, supplied with folklorist notes and edited by Ulrich Marzolph, Wiesbaden, 2004.

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Idem, Osetinsko-russko-nemetskiĭ slovar’, Moscow, 1927-34.

Idem, “O dialekt g[oroda] Shustera,” Iran 3, 1929, pp. 71-93.

Idem, Taty, ikh rasselenie i govory, Baku, 1929.

Idem, Talyshskie teksty, Moscow, 1930.

Idem, “Tatskie teksty,” in Iranskie yazyki I, Moscow and Leningrad, 1945, pp. 107-26.

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(Prods Oktor Skjærvø)

Originally Published: December 15, 2006

Last Updated: March 29, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XIII, Fasc. 4, pp. 348-366

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Prods Oktor Skjærvø, “IRAN vi. IRANIAN LANGUAGES AND SCRIPTS (2) Documentation,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, XIII/4, pp. 348-366, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).