Tag Archives: Linguistics

Mixture of Irano-Aryan ethnography and dialectology in memory of Charles-Martin Kieffer

M. De Chiara, A.V. Rossi & D. Septfonds (eds.). 2018. Mélanges d’ethnographie et de dialectologie irano-aryennes à la mémoire de Charles-Martin Kieffer (Cahiers de Studia Iranica  61). Leuven: Peeters.

Charles-Martin Kieffer died the 4th of February, 2015. Exceptional man of fieldwork, his fundamental contribution to Iranian studies in the linguistic field was the description of two dying languages: the Omuri of Baraki Barak and Paraci. Dialectologist – his participation to the Atlas Linguistique de l’Afghanistan was capital – but overall ethnologist, he was always careful to linguistic facts as well as to the sociolinguistic realities. It is attested mainly by the data collected in more than twenty years (1957-1980) on the taboes and language obligations existing in the countryside. After leaving – but not abandoning – the Afghan field, his curiosity remained unchanged towards the linguistic situation (residual languages) in Alsace.
The 16 articles here collected in his homage deal with linguistic and anthropologic researches and cover the (Indo-)Iranian area – extended for one of them to the Turkophone sphere.

Linguistic Paradox and Diglossia

Houben, Jan. 2018. Linguistic paradox and diglossia: The emergence of Sanskrit and Sanskritic language in ancient India. Open Linguistics 4(1). 1–18.

What is it about?

“We know that Middle Indian (Middle Indo-Aryan) makes its appearance in epigraphy prior to Sanskrit: this is the great linguistic paradox of India.” In these words Louis Renou (1956: 84) referred to a problem in Sanskrit studies for which so far no satisfactory solution had been found. I will here propose that the perceived “paradox” derives from the lack of acknowledgement of certain parameters in the linguistic situation of Ancient India which were insufficiently appreciated in Renou’s time, but which are at present open to systematic exploration with the help of by now well established sociolinguistic concepts, notably the concept of “diglossia”. Three issues will here be addressed in the light of references to ancient and classical Indian texts, Sanskrit and Sanskritic. A simple genetic model is indadequate, especially when the ‘linguistic area’ applies also to what can be reconstructed for earlier periods. The so-called Sanskrit “Hybrids” in the first millennium CE, including the Prakrits and Epics, are rather to be regarded as emerging “Ausbau” languages of Indo-Aryan with hardly any significant mutual “Abstand” before they will be succesfully “roofed,” in the second half of the first millennium CE, by “classical” Sanskrit.

Why is it important?

The history of (classical) Sanskrit, of Prakrit, of the so-called “hybrid” Sanskrits, of Vedic poetry and prose, and of the related Avestan and old Persian languages is of central importance for the cultural history of ancient India, ancient Iran and Asia.

The Oxford Handbook of Persian Linguistics

Sedighi, Anousha & Pouneh Shabani-Jadidi (eds.). 2018. The Oxford handbook of Persian linguistics. Oxford University Press.

This handbook offers a comprehensive overview of the field of Persian linguistics, discusses its development, and captures critical accounts of cutting edge research within its major subfields, as well as outlining current debates and suggesting productive lines of future research. Leading scholars in the major subfields of Persian linguistics examine a range of topics split into six thematic parts. Following a detailed introduction from the editors, the volume begins by placing Persian in its historical and typological context in Part I. Chapters in Part II examine topics relating to phonetics and phonology, while Part III looks at approaches to and features of Persian syntax. The fourth part of the volume explores morphology and lexicography, as well as the work of the Academy of Persian Language and Literature. Part V, language and people, covers topics such as language contact and teaching Persian as a foreign language, while the final part examines psycho- neuro-, and computational linguistics. The volume will be an essential resource for all scholars with an interest in Persian language and linguistics.

Anousha Sedighi is Associate Professor of Persian and Persian Program Head at Portland State University.

Pouneh Shabani-Jadidi is Senior Lecturer in Persian Language and Linguistics and Persian Language Program Head at McGill University

Source: The Oxford Handbook of Persian Linguistics – Anousha Sedighi; Pouneh Shabani-Jadidi – Oxford University Press

Handbook of comparative and historical Indo-European linguistics

Klein, Jared S., Brian D. Joseph & Matthias Fritz (eds.). 2017. Handbook of comparative and historical Indo-European linguistics: An international handbook (Handbücher Zur Sprach- Und Kommunikationswissenschaft (HSK) 41/1). Berlin; Boston: de Gruyter.
This series of HANDBOOKS OF LINGUISTICS AND COMMUNICATION SCIENCE is designed to illuminate a field which not only includes general linguistics and the study of linguistics as applied to specific languages, but also covers those more recent areas which have developed from the increasing body of research into the manifold forms of communicative action and interaction. For “classic” linguistics there appears to be a need for a review of the state of the art which will provide a reference base for the rapid advances in research undertaken from a variety of theoretical standpoints, while in the more recent branches of communication science the handbooks will give researchers both an verview and orientation. To attain these objectives, the series will aim for a standard comparable to that of the leading handbooks in other disciplines, and to this end will strive for comprehensiveness, theoretical explicitness, reliable documentation of data and findings, and up-to-date methodology. The editors, both of the series and of the individual volumes, and the individual contributors, are committed to this aim. The languages of publication are English, German, and French. The main aim of the series is to provide an appropriate account of the state of the art in the various areas of linguistics and communication science covered by each of the various handbooks; however no inflexible pre-set limits will be imposed on the scope of each volume. The series is open-ended, and can thus take account of further developments in the field. This conception, coupled with the necessity of allowing adequate time for each volume to be prepared with the necessary care, means that there is no set time-table for the publication of the whole series. Each volume will be a self-contained work, complete in itself. The order in which the handbooks are published does not imply any rank ordering, but is determined by the way in which the series is organized; the editor of the whole series enlist a competent editor for each individual volume. Once the principal editor for a volume has been found, he or she then has a completely free hand in the choice of co-editors and contributors. The editors plan each volume independently of the others, being governed only by general formal principles. The series editor only intervene where questions of delineation between individual volumes are concerned. It is felt that this (modus operandi) is best suited to achieving the objectives of the series, namely to give a competent account of the present state of knowledge and of the perception of the problems in the area covered by each volume.
Seven chapters of the first volume of the Handbook of comparative and historical Indo-European linguistics are dedicated to Iranian linguistics:
  • Prods Oktor Skjærvø: “The documentation of Iranian”, 471–481.
  • Alberto Cantera: “The phonology of Iranian”, 481-503
  • Prods Oktor Skjærvø: “The morphology of Iranian”, 503-549
  • Thomas Jügel: “The syntax of Iranian”, 549-566
  • Velizar Sadovski: “The lexicon of Iranian”, 566-599
  • Philip Huyse: “The dialectology of Iranian”, 599-608
  • Agnes Korn: “The evolution of Iranian”, 608-624

Iranian languages and literatures of Central Asia

Matteo de Chiara & Evelin Grassi (eds.). 2015. Iranian languages and literatures of Central Asia: From the eighteenth century to the present (Studia Iranica. Cahier 57). Paris.

The Table of Contents is here.

Compared with numerous critical studies in Central Asian history, politics and society published during recent years, modern languages and literary traditions of Central Asia have received less scholarly attention in the West. If we consider specifically the Iranian world, especially in the modern period, it must be admitted that the linguistics and literature of Central Asia, compared to the linguistics and literature of Iran, remain in need of more investigation.
This collection sheds light on various issues of the Iranian linguistic and literary arena “outside of Iran”, offering a variety of twelve original contributions by both leading scholars and new names in the international academic setting. The regions of Afghanistan, Badakhshan, and Transoxania, important centers of Iranian languages and literatures, are here brought back into their broader Iranian context, for the benefit of modern Iranian studies.

Studies in honour of Stephanie Jamison

Gunkel, Dieter, Joshua Katz, Brent Vine & Michael Weiss (eds.). 2016. Sahasram Ati Srajas. Indo-Iranian and Indo-European studies in honor of Stephanie W. Jamison. Beech Stave Press.

The renowned Indologist and Indo-Europeanist Stephanie W. Jamison has now been honored with this extensive collection of essays by colleagues and students from around the world. The contributors represent a virtual who’s-who of Indo-Iranian and Indo-European scholarship and have produced contributions on everything from Vedic (e.g., Joel Brereton, George Cardona, Paul Kiparsky, Thomas Oberlies) to later Sanskrit (e.g. James Fitzgerald, Hans Henrich Hock, Ted Proferes) to Iranian (e.g. Mark Hale, P. Oktor Skjærvø) to other Indo-European languages (e.g. Dieter Gunkel, Martin Joachim Kümmel, Alan Nussbaum, Don Ringe, Michael Weiss). The volume also includes posthumously published articles by Lisi Oliver and Martin West. In all, these scholars have provided a worthy and rich tribute to a scholar whose own rich scholarship has been so vital to numerous subfields of linguistics, literary, religious, and cultural studies.

A table of contents is available here.

Corpus Avesticum III: Phonetics and Phonology in Avestan and Beyond

A Vidēvdād Sāde, 1704. (©Jamsheed K. Choksy) via EIr.
A Vidēvdād Sāde, 1704. (©Jamsheed K. Choksy) via EIr.

Corpus Avesticum III: “Phonetics and Phonology in Avestan and Beyond”

Paris, 25-26. April. 2016

The third meeting of the European research network Corpus Avesticum to be held in Paris, 25-26 April. 2016. Researchers from France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the UK will meet to discuss various projects in preparation of a new edition of the Avesta and the special topic of this meeting.

This meeting is dedicated to the research questions mainly regarding to the “Phonetics and Phonology in Avestan and Beyond”.

See here the detaild Programm and the Abstracts.

Program:

25. April 2016

  • Briefing: Current state of Avestological project of the members of the Network
  • Salome Gholami: “Newly found Avestan manuscripts from Yazd”
    Martin Kümmel: “Avestan syllable structure: a look from Middle Iranian”
  • Götz Keydana: “Evidence for foot structure in Early Vedic”
    Paul Widmer: “Phonological domains in Avestan”
  • Chiara Riminucci-Heine: “Av. saoka- und av. hu-xšn aora- : zwei altiranische Wortstudien”
  • Almut Hintze: “Proto-Indo-European *h₁u es- ‘to be good’ and Avestan vahma-“
  • Michiel de Vaan: “On the orthography and phonology of <h>”
  • Alberto Cantera & Jaime Martínez Porro: “On the treatment of n before front vowels”
  • Benedikt Peschl: “The transmission of anaptyxis before the endings -biš and -biio in Avestan”

26. April 2016

  • Armin Hoenen: “La statistique des déviations du Yasna”
  • Tim Aufderheide: “Zoroastrian phoneticians? Reconstructing the phonetic knowledge underlying the transmission of the Avesta”
  • Shervin Farridnejad: “Scribal Schools and Dialectal Characteristics in the Transmission of the Avesta”
  • Miguel Ángel Andrés Toledo: “Avestan and Pahlavi Paleography
    in the oldest Pahlavi Widewdad Manuscripts”
  • Salome Gholami: “Dialectal phonological variations in the colophons”

The Project of Corpus Avesticum (CoAv) is a pan-European Co-operation that aims at making the Zoroastrian Texts, called the Avesta accessible in a new Edition. The current one stems from 1896 and is erroneous with regard to many crucial aspects, the most important of which is the amalgamation of the liturgical and exegetical text witnesses.

See also the previous posts on the First and Second Meeting of Corpus Avesticum.

A tribute to Éric Pirart

The second issue of the Estudios Iranios y Turanios, which was launched last year by the Sociedad de Estudios Iranios y Turanios, has been published. This issue of the journal, entitled Homenaje a Éric Pirart en su 65º aniversario, collects a number of philological discussions in honour of Éric Pirart’s 65th birthday.

The ToC is here.

Greek and ancient Iranian plague

A female Xenopsylla cheopis flea, known as the “oriental rat flea”. Image © Copyright 2015 Walid Shoebat.

Milizia, Paolo. 2015. Greek λοιμός, Middle Persian rēm, and the Avestan root rai̯-. Indogermanische Forschungen 120(1).

The Greek name of the plague has not received a satisfactory etymological explanation so far. On the other hand, the largely accepted hypothesis that the Middle Persian noun rēm ‘dirt, impurity’ is derived from a verbal base meaning ‘defecate’ is, in fact, problematic. The present paper aims to show that MPers. rēm and Gk. λοιμός can be viewed as reflexes of a PIE stem *loi̯-mó- indicating a ‘polluted (and polluting) substance’ and that the Avestan root rai̯-, probably connected with MPers. rēm, must have had the generic meaning of ‘to dirt, to pollute’.

Ergativity in Old and Middle Iranian languages

Ergativity is a grammatical phenomenon that has been discussed controversially in linguistics in general and in the Iranian Studies in particular. The scientific debate is characterized by a lack of consideration of the Old and Middle Iranian data. In many cases, the selected examples, which their position in the respective language system is  still unclear, are associated with theory-driven assumptions about a hypothetical model of development, which is to be plausible, but not verifiable.

The present study provides a solution through the complete analyzing of the Avestan , Old Persian, Bactrian and Parthian documents as well as an extensive study of Middle Persian evidences (approximately 12,500 Middle Persian cases). In addition to the relevant ergativity aspects such case, congruence, word order,  and reflexivity both the development of syntactic structures (e.g. relative clauses) as well as the verbal and nominal system (e.g. the temporal aspect system or the function of enclitic personal pronouns) are discussed .

Results are illustrated with relevant evidences  (over 1,400 examples alone in the main part), whose validity is constantly checked and  based critically on detailed philological discussion. The material part also serves as a vademecum, which can be used in parallel with the reading of the main part, as well as a separate reference book that systematically illustrates the history of the object in ergative languages.

The volume presents the most exhaustive investigation on ergativity in within the Old and Middle Iranian languages.

The detaild Table of Content of this book and the English Summery are availabe. Continue reading Ergativity in Old and Middle Iranian languages