A typological study of Voice Onset Time

Hussain, Qandeel. 2018. A typological study of Voice Onset Time (VOT) in Indo-Iranian languages. Journal of Phonetics 71. 284–305.

The stop consonants of Indo-Iranian languages are categorized into two to maximum five laryngeal categories. The present study investigates whether Voice Onset Time (VOT) reliably differentiates the word-initial stop laryngeal categories and how it covaries with different places of articulation in ten languages (two Iranian: Pashto and Wakhi; seven Indo-Aryan: Dawoodi, Punjabi, Shina, Jangli, Urdu, Sindhi, and Siraiki; and one Isolate: Burushaski). The results indicated that there was a clear VOT distinction between the voiceless unaspirated and voiceless aspirated stops. The voiceless unaspirated stops showed shorter voicing lag VOTs than voiceless aspirated stops. Voiced unaspirated, voiced aspirated, and voiced implosive stops were characterized by voicing lead VOTs. In the voiceless unaspirated and aspirated categories, palatal affricates showed the longest voicing lag VOT due to the frication interval of this stop type. In contrast, voiceless unaspirated retroflex stops were characterized by the shortest voicing lag VOT. There were no clear place differences in the voiceless aspirated, voiced unaspirated, voiced aspirated, and voiced implosive categories. The findings of the current study suggest that VOT reliably differentiates the stop consonants of all the languages that contrast two (voiceless unaspirated vs. voiced unaspirated: Pashto and Wakhi) or three (voiceless unaspirated vs. voiceless aspirated vs. voiced unaspirated: Burushaski, Dawoodi, Punjabi, and Shina) laryngeal categories. However, VOT does not consistently distinguish the stop consonants of languages (Jangli, Urdu, Sindhi, and Siraiki) with contrastive voiced unaspirated, voiced aspirated, and voiced implosive categories.

Special Issue: Marking 50 Years of Research on Voice Onset Time

An Introduction to Avestan

Cantera, Alberto & Céline Redard. 2019. Introduction à l’avestique récent. Sociedad de Estudios Iranios y Turanios.

Cette introduction à l’avestique récent a pour but de fournir un outil d’apprentissage aux étudiants et à toute personne intéressée par l’avestique. Le livre est composé de 4 parties: 1. 17 leçons constituées en général de 5 sous-parties : a. phonétique, b. morphologie nominale et / ou verbale, c. syntaxe, d. vocabulaire (à mémoriser et d’aide à la lecture), et finalement e. exercices avec à chaque leçon un extrait de manuscrit pour habituer l’apprenant à lire dans l’écriture originale; 2. Un glossaire avestique-français; 3. Les tableaux de morphologies nominale et verbale apparaissent à nouveau en fin de volume pour faciliter une vision d’ensemble, l’apprentissage et la recherche d’une forme à élucider; 4. le corrigé des exercices.


A Grammar of Pahlavi

Asha, Raham. 2017. Pārsīg Language (The so-called Pahlavi). Parts of Speech, Word Formation, and Phonology. Tehran: Sade Publication.

The present book is, in the first place, a descriptive grammar of the Pārsīg language as far as we have it. It includes morphology and phonology; but it gives no syntax. Whereas the first two parts of the book concern morphology, the last deals with phonology. The book intends to be accessible to those who wish to study the Pārsīg texts as well as those specializing in the study of Perso-Aryan languages.
A forthcoming compendious dictionary will complete this work.


Trends in Iranian and Persian Linguistics

Korangy, Alireza & Corey Miller (eds.). 2018. Trends in Iranian and Persian linguistics (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs 313). Berlin: De Gruyter.
This set of essays highlights the state of the art in the linguistics of Iranian languages. The contributions span the full range of linguistic inquiry, including pragmatics, syntax, semantics, phonology/phonetics, lexicography, historical linguistics and poetics and covering a wide set of Iranian languages including Persian, Balochi, Kurdish and Ossetian. This book will engage both the active scholar in the field as well as linguists from other fields seeking to assess the latest developments in Iranian linguistics.
See the table of contents here.
  • Toon van Hal: “The alleged Persian-Germanic connection: A remarkable chapter in the study of Persian from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries”
  • Shinji Ido: “Huihuiguan zazi: A New Persian glossary compiled in Ming China”
  • Adriano V. Rossi: “Glimpses of Balochi lexicography: Some iconyms for the landscape and their motivation”
  • Martin Schwartz: “On some Iranian secret vocabularies, as evidenced by a fourteenth-century Persian manuscript”
  • Agnès Lenepveu-Hotz: “Specialization of an ancient object marker in the New Persian of the fifteenth century”
  • Lutz Rzehak: “Fillers, emphasizers, and other adjuncts in spoken Dari and Pashto”
  • Youli Ioannesyan: “The historically unmotivated majhul vowel as a significant areal dialectological feature”
  • Zohreh R. Eslami, Mohammad Abdolhosseini, and Shadi Dini: Variability in Persian forms of address as represented in the works of Iranian playwrights”
  • Hooman Saeli and Corey Miller: “Some linguistic indicators of sociocultural formality in Persian”
  • Behrooz Mahmoodi-Bakhtiari: WSpoken vs. written Persian: Is Persian diglossic?”
  • Lewis Gebhardt: “Accounting for *yek ta in Persian”
  • Jila Ghomeshi: “The associative plural and related constructions in Persian”
  • Shahrzad Mahootian and Lewis Gebhardt: “Revisiting the status of -eš in Persian”
  • Arseniy Vydrin: “‘Difficult’ and ‘easy’ in Ossetic”
  • Z. A. Yusupova: “Possessive construction in Kurdish”
  • Carina Jahani: “To bring the distant near: On deixis in Iranian oral literature”
  • Katarzyna Marszalek-Kowalewska: “Extracting semantic similarity from Persian texts”

Farnah: Indo-Iranian and Indo-European Studies in Honor of Sasha Lubotsky

Beek, Lucien, Alwin Kloekhorst, Guus Kroonen, Michaël Peyrot & Tijmen Pronk (eds.). 2018. Farnah. Indo-Iranian and Indo-European studies in honor of Sasha Lubotsky. Ann Arbor; New York: Beech Stave Press.

Over thirty specialists in Indo-European linguistics have contributed this elegant volume in honor of Prof. Sasha Lubotsky of Leiden University. Besides giving an excellent snapshot of the research currently being undertaken by his students and colleagues at that institution, Farnah contains contributions from well-known scholars across the world covering topics in Tocharian, Germanic, Slavic, Indo-Iranian, and Anatolian linguistics, to name a few.

Click here to see a full list of the contributions.

Table of Contents

    • Peter C. Bisschop: Vedic Elements in the Pāśupatasūtra
    • Václav Blažek: The Case of Tocharian ‘silver’: Inherited or Borrowed?
    • Michiel de Vaan: The Noncanonical Use of Instrumental Plurals in Young Avestan
    • Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst: Sogdian Plurals in the Vessantara Jātaka
    • Jost Gippert: A Middle Iranian Word Denoting an Office-Holder
    • Stephanie W. Jamison: The Vedic Perfect Imperative and the Status of Modal Forms to Tense-Aspect Stems
    • Michael Janda: Vedisch dhénā-: Bedeutung und Etymologie
    • Jay H. Jasanoff: The Phonology of Tocharian B okso ‘ox’
    • Jared Klein: Syncretism in Indo-European: A Natural History
    • Alwin Kloekhorst: The Origin of the Hittite ḫi-Conjugation
    • Werner Knobl: Das Demonstrativpronomen ETÁD im Ṛgveda
    • Petr Kocharov: A Comment on the Vocalization of Word-initial
      and Medial Laryngeals in Armenian
    • Frederik Kortlandt: The Indo-European k-Aorist
    • Guus Kroonen: Lachmann’s Law, Thurneysen’s Law, and a New Explanation of the PIE no-Participles
    • Leonid Kulikov: Vedic āhanás– and Its Relatives/Cognates within and outside Indo-Iranian
    • Martin Joachim Kümmel: The Survival of Laryngeals in Iranian
    • Rosemarie Lühr: Prosody in Indo-European Corpora
    • Hrach Martirosyan: Armenian Andndayin ōj and Vedic Áhi-Budhnyà– ‘Abyssal Serpent’
    • Ranko Matasović: Iranian Loanwords in Proto-Slavic: A Fresh Look
    • H. Craig Melchert: Semantics and Etymology of Hittite takš
    • Benedicte Nielsen Whitehead: PIE *gwh3-éu– ‘cow’
      Alan J. Nussbaum, A Dedicatory Thigh: Greek μηρὀς and μῆρα Once Again
    • Norbert Oettinger: Vedisch Vivásvant– und seine avestische Entsprechung
    • Birgit Anette Olsen: The Development of Interconsonantal Laryngeals in Indo-Iranian and Old Avestan ząθā ptā
    • Michaël Peyrot: Tocharian B etswe ‘mule’ and Eastern East Iranian
    • Georges-Jean Pinault: New Look at Vedic śám
    • Tijmen Pronk: Old Church Slavonic (j)utro, Vedic uṣár– ‘daybreak, morning’
    • Velizar Sadovski: Vedic and Avestan Parallels from Ritual Litanies
      and Liturgical Practices I
    • George Starostin: Typological Expectations and Historic Reality: Once Again on the Issue of Lexical Cognates between Indo-European and Uralic
    • Lucien van Beek: Greek πέδιλον ‘sandal’ and the Origin of the e-Grade in PIE ‘foot’
  • Michael Weiss: Veneti or Venetes? Observations on a Widespread Indo-European Tribal Name

The grammaticalization of progressive aspect in Persian

Davari, Shadi & Mehrdad Naghzguy-Kohan. 2017. The grammaticalization of progressive aspect in Persian. In Kees Hengeveld, Heiko Narrog & Hella Olbertz (eds.), The Grammaticalization of Tense, Aspect, Modality and Evidentiality: A Functional Perspective (Trends in Linguistics Studies and Monographs 311), 163–190. Berlin: De Gruyter.
This paper investigates the development of the Persian lexical verb dâštan ‘have’, which has grammaticalized into an auxiliary verb functioning primarily as a progressive aspect marker in durative situations, and which is currently developing into a prospective marker with achievement verbs. Possessive progressives are a cross-linguistic rarity and deserve attention. We suggest that the progressive function arose through context-induced reinterpretation based on metonymic relations. The resulting reinterpretation of dâštan ‘have’ to ‘ongoingness of a durative event’ represents a conceptual shift, in the form of metaphoric extension, from possessing a physical object to possessing the continuum of an action in a focal point of utterance. We will also illustrate that the progressive’s focus on subjective notions leads to its development as an expression of the speaker’s attitude that does not describe properties of a situation in the extralinguistic world but rather in the subjective conceptualization of the speaker. The auxiliation process of dâštan ‘have’ in Persian will be analyzed based on the Auxiliation Dimensions Model proposed by Davari and Naghzguy-Kohan (forthcoming), which focuses on the force, the source and the degree of auxiliation. We also point out that these changes are in tune with the overall directionality of semantic change in grammaticalization according to Narrog (2012), namely, increase in speaker-orientation.

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