Language > Old Persian Language

Old Persian Language


Old PersianRegionAncient IranEraAncestor of Middle PersianLanguage familyIndo-EuropeanIndo-IranianIranianWesternSouthwesternOld PersianWriting systemOld Persian cuneiformLanguage codesISO 639-2peoISO 639-3peoLinguist listpeoGlottologoldp1254[1]This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.History of thePersian languageProto-Iranian (ca. 1500 BCE)Western Iranian languagesOld Persian (c. 525 BCE - 300 BCE)Old Persian cuneiformMiddle Persian (c.300 BCE-800 CE)Pahlavi scripts • Manichaean alphabet • Avestan alphabetModern Persian (from 800)Persian alphabet • Tajiki Cyrillic alphabetThe Old Persian language is one of the two directly attested Old Iranian languages (the other being Avestan). Old Persian appears primarily in the inscriptions, clay tablets, and seals of the Achaemenid era (c. 600 BCE to 300 BCE). Examples of Old Persian have been found in what is now present-day Iran, Romania (Gherla),[2][3][4] Armenia, Bahrain, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt,[5][6] the most important attestation by far being the contents of the Behistun Inscription (dated to 525 BCE). Recent research into the vast Persepolis Fortification Archive at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago have unearthed Old Persian tablets (2007).[7] This new text shows that the Old Persian language was a written language in use for practical recording and not only for royal display.[7]Contents [hide]1Origin and overview2Classification3Language evolution4Substrates5Script6Phonology7Grammar7.1Nouns7.2Verbs8Lexicon9See also10Notes11Bibliography12Further readingOrigin and overview[edit]As a written language, Old Persian is attested in royal Achaemenid inscriptions. It is an Iranian language and as such a member of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. The oldest known text written in Old Persian is from the Behistun Inscriptions.[8] Old Persian is one of the oldest Indo-European languages which is attested in original texts.[9]The oldest date of use of Old Persian as a spoken language is not precisely known. According to certain historical assumptions about the early history and origin of ancient Persians in south-western Iran (where Achaemenids hailed from), Old Persian was originally spoken by a tribe called Parsuwash, who arrived in the Iranian Plateau early in the 1st millennium BCE and finally migrated down into the area of present-day Fārs province. Their language, Old Persian, became the official language of the Achaemenid kings.[9] Assyrian records, which in fact appear to provide the earliest evidence for ancient Iranian (Persian and Median) presence on the Iranian Plateau, give a good chronology but only an approximate geographical indication of what seem to be ancient Persians. In these records of the 9th century BCE, Parsuwash (along with Matai, presumably Medians) are first mentioned in the area of Lake Urmia in the records of Shalmaneser III.[10] The exact identity of the Parsuwash is not known for certain, but from a linguistic viewpoint the word matches Old Persian pārsa itself coming directly from the older word *pārćwa.[10] Also, as Old Persian contains many words from another extinct Iranian language, Median, according to P. O. Skjærvø it is probable that Old Persian had already been spoken before formation of the Achaemenid Empire and was spoken during most of the first half of the first millennium BCE.[9] Xenophon, a Greek general serving in some of the Persian expeditions, describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality in around 401 BC, which is when Old Persian was still spoken and extensively used. He relates that the Armenian people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians.[11]Classification[edit]Main article: Old Iranian languagesOld Persian belongs to the Iranian language family which is a branch of the Indo-Iranian language family, itself within the large family of Indo-European languages. The common ancestors of Indo-Iranians came from Central Asia sometime in the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE. The extinct and unattested Median language is another Old Iranian language related to Old Persian (e.g. both are classified as Western Iranian languages and many Median names appeared in Old Persian texts)[12] The group of Old Iranian languages was presumably a large group; however our knowledge of it is restricted mainly to Old Persian, Avestan and Median. The former are the only languages in that group which have left written original texts while Median is known mostly from loanwords in Old Persian.[13]Language evolution[edit]By the 4th century BCE, the late Achaemenid period, the inscriptions of Artaxerxes II and Artaxerxes III differ enough from the language of Darius' inscriptions to be called a "pre-Middle Persian," or "post-Old Persian."[14] Old Persian subsequently evolved into Middle Persian, which is in turn the genetic ancestor of New Persian. Professor Gilbert Lazard, a famous Iranologist and the author of the book Persian Grammar states:[15]The language known as New Persian, which usually is called at this period (early Islamic times) by the name of Parsi-Dari, can be classified linguistically as a continuation of Middle Persian, the official religious and literary language of Sassanian Iran, itself a continuation of Old Persian, the language of the Achaemenids. Unlike the other languages and dialects, ancient and modern, of the Iranian group such as Avestan, Parthian, Soghdian, Kurdish, Pashto, etc., Old, Middle and New Persian represent one and the same language at three states of its history. It had its origin in Fars and is differentiated by dialectical features, still easily recognizable from the dialect prevailing in north-western and eastern Iran.Middle Persian, also sometimes called Pahlavi, is a direct continuation of old Persian, and was used as the written official language of the country.[16][17] Comparison of the evolution at each stage of the language shows great simplification in grammar and syntax. However, New Persian is a direct descendent of Middle and Old Persian.[18]Substrates[edit]Old Persian "presumably"[14] has a Median language substrate. The Median element is readily identifiable because it did not share in the developments that were peculiar to Old Persian. Median forms "are found only in personal or geographical names [...] and some are typically from religious vocabulary and so could in principle also be influenced by Avestan." "Sometimes, both Median and Old Persian forms are found, which gave Old Persian a somewhat confusing and inconsistent look: 'horse,' for instance, is [attested in Old Persian as] both asa (OPers.) and aspa (Med.)."[14]Script[edit]Main article: Old Persian cuneiformAn Old Persian inscription in Persepolis.Old Persian texts were written from left to right in the syllabic Old Persian cuneiform script and had 36 phonetic characters and 8 logograms. The usage of such characters are not obligatory.[19] The script was surprisingly[20] not a result of evolution of the script used in the nearby civilisation of Mesopotamia.[21] Despite the fact that Old Persian was written in cuneiform script, the script was not a direct continuation of Mesopotamian tradition and in fact, according to Schmitt, was a "deliberate creation of the sixth century BCE".[21]The origin of the Old Persian cuneiform script and the identification of the date and process of introduction are a matter of discussion among Iranian scholars with no general agreement having been reached. The factors making the consensus difficult are, among others, the difficult passage DB (IV lines 88–92) from Darius the Great who speaks of a new "form of writing" being made by himself which is said to be "in Aryan", and analysis of certain Old Persian inscriptions that are "supposed or claimed" to predate Darius the Great. Although it is true that the oldest attested OP inscriptions are from Behistun monument from Darius, the creation of this "new type of writing" seems, according to Schmitt, "to have begun already under Cyrus the Great".[8]The script shows a few changes in the shape of characters during the period it was used. This can be seen as a standardization of the heights of wedges, which in the beginning (i.e. in DB) took only half the height of a line.[22]Phonology[edit]The following phonemes are expressed in the Old Persian script:VowelsLong: /aː/ /iː/ /uː/Short: /a/ /i/ /u/ConsonantsLabialDental/AlveolarPalatalVelarGlottalNasalmnPlosivepbtdkɡFricativefθxhAffricatet͡st͡ʃd͡ʒSibilantszʃRhoticrApproximantljwNotes: Lycian Kizzaprñna ~ Zisaprñna for (genuine) Old Persian *Ciçafarnā (besides the Median form *Ciθrafarnah) = Tissaphernes suggests /t͡s/ as the pronunciation of ç (compare [2] and Kloekhorst 2008, p. 125 in [3] for this example, who, however, mistakenly writes Çiçafarnā, which contradicts the etymology [PIIr. *Čitra-swarnas-] and the Middle Persian form Čehrfar [ç gives Middle Persian s]).The phoneme /l/ does not occur in native Iranian vocabulary, only in borrowings from Akkadian (a new /l/ develops in Middle Persian from Old Persian /rd/ and the change of /rθ/ to /hl/). The phoneme /r/ can also form a syllable peak; both the way Persian names with syllabic /r/ (such as Brdiya) are rendered in Elamite and its further development in Middle Persian suggest that before the syllabic /r/, an epenthetic vowel [i] had developed already in the Old Persian period, which later became [u] after labials. For example, OP Vᵃ-rᵃ-kᵃ-a-nᵃ /vrkaːna/ is rendered in Elamite as Mirkānu-,[23] rendering transcriptions such as V(a)rakāna, Varkāna or even Vurkāna questionable, and making Vrkāna or Virkāna much more realistic (and equally for vrka- "wolf", Brdiya and other Old Persian words and names with syllabic /r/).While v usually became /v/ in Middle Persian, it became /b/ word-initially, except before [u] (including the epenthetic vowel mentioned above), where it became /g/. This suggests that it was really pronounced as [w].Grammar[edit]Nouns[edit]Old Persian stems:a-stems (-a, -am, -ā)i-stems (-iš, iy)u- (and au-) stems (-uš, -uv)consonantal stems (n, r, h)-a-am-āSingularDualPluralSingularDualPluralSingularDualPluralNominative-a-ā-ā, -āha-am-ā-ā-ā-ā-āVocative-ā-āAccusative-am-āmInstrumental/Ablative-ā-aibiyā-aibiš-ā-aibiyā-aibiš-āyā-ābiyā-ābišDative-ahyā, -ahya-ahyā, -ahyaGenitive-āyā-ānām-āyā-ānām-āyā-ānāmLocative-aiy-aišuvā-aiy-aišuvā-āšuvā-iš-iy-uš-uvSingularDualPluralSingularDualPluralSingularDualPluralSingularDualPluralNominative-iš-īy-iya-iy-in-īn-uš-ūv-uva-uv-un-ūnVocative-i-uAccusative-im-iš-um-ūnInstrumental/Ablative-auš-ībiyā-ībiš-auš-ībiyā-ībiš-auv-ūbiyā-ūbiš-auv-ūbiyā-ūbišDative-aiš-aiš-auš-aušGenitive-īyā-īnām-īyā-īnām-ūvā-ūnām-ūvā-ūnāmLocative-auv-išuvā-auv-išuvā-āvā-ušuvā-āvā-ušuvāAdjectives are declinable in similar way.Verbs[edit]VoicesActive, Middle (them. pres. -aiy-, -ataiy-), Passive (-ya-).Mostly the forms of first and third persons are attested. The only preserved Dual form is ajīvatam 'both lived'.Present, ActiveAthematicThematic'be''bring'Sg.1.pers.aʰmiybarāmiy3.pers.astiybaratiyPl.1.pers.aʰmahiybarāmahiy3.pers.hatiybaratiyImperfect, ActiveAthematicThematic'do, make''be, become'Sg.1.pers.akunavamabavam3.pers.akunaušabavaPl.1.pers.akumāabavāmā3.pers.akunavaabavaPresent participleActiveMiddle-nt--amna-Past participle-ta-Infinitive-tanaiyLexicon[edit]Proto-Indo-IranianOld PersianMiddle PersianModern Persianmeaning*asuras mazdhāsAhura mazdaOhrmazdOrmazd اورمزدAhura Mazda*aśwasaspaaspasb اسب/asp اسپhorse*kāmakāmakāmkām کامdesire*daiwasdaivadēwdiv دیوdevildrayahdrayādaryā دریاsea*źhasta-dastadastagdast دستhand*bhāgībājibājbāj باج/باژtoll*bhrātr-brātarbrâdarbarādar برادرbrother*bhūmišbūmibūmbūm بومregion, land*martyamartyamardmard مردman*māsamāhamāhmāh ماهmoon, month*vāsaravāharawahārbahār بهارspringstūnāstūnsotūn ستونstand (column)šiyātašādšād شادhappy*ṛtamartaardord اُردorder, truth*drauźh-drujdrughdorugh دروغlieSee also[edit]Ancient Near East portalWikimedia Commons has media related to Old Persian language.Notes[edit]Jump up ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Old Persian". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.Jump up ^ Kuhrt 2013, p. 197.Jump up ^ Frye 1984, p. 103.Jump up ^ Schmitt 2000, p. 53.Jump up ^ "Old Persian Texts".Jump up ^ Kent, R. G.: "Old Persian: Grammar Texts Lexicon", page 6. American Oriental Society, 1950.^ Jump up to: a b "Everyday text shows that Old Persian was probably more commonly used than previously thought " accessed September 2010 from [1]^ Jump up to: a b (Schmitt 2008, pp. 80–1)^ Jump up to: a b c (Skjærvø 2006, vi(2). Documentation. Old Persian.)^ Jump up to: a b (Skjærvø 2006, vi(1). Earliest Evidence)Jump up ^ Xenophon. Anabasis. pp. IV.v.2–9.Jump up ^ (Schmitt 2008, p. 76)Jump up ^ ((Skjærvø 2006)^ Jump up to: a b c Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2005), An Introduction to Old Persian (PDF) (2nd ed.), Cambridge: HarvardJump up ^ (Lazard, Gilbert 1975, “The Rise of the New Persian Language” in Frye, R. N., The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 4, pp. 595-632, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Jump up ^ Ulrich Ammon, Norbert Dittmar, Klaus J. Mattheier, Peter Trudgill, "Sociolinguistics Hsk 3/3 Series Volume 3 of Sociolinguistics: An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society", Walter de Gruyter, 2006. 2nd edition. pg 1912: "Middle Persian, also called Pahlavi is a direct continuation of old Persian, and was used as the written official language of the country." "However, after the Moslem conquest and the collapse of the Sassanids, Arabic became the dominant language of the country and Pahlavi lost its importance, and was gradually replaced by Dari, a variety of Middle Persian, with considerable loan elements from Arabic and Parthian."Jump up ^ Bo Utas, "Semitic on Iranian", in "Linguistic convergence and areal diffusion: case studies from Iranian, Semitic and Turkic" editors (Éva Ágnes Csató, Bo Isaksson, Carina Jahani),Routledge, 2005. pg 71: "As already mentioned, it is not likely that the scribes of Sassanian chanceries had any idea about the Old Persian cuneiform writing and the language couched in it. Still, the Middle Persian language that appeared in the third century AD may be seen as a continuation of Old PersianJump up ^ Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2006), "Iran, vi. Iranian languages and scripts", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 13.Jump up ^ (Schmitt 2008, p. 78)Jump up ^ (Schmitt 2008, p. 78) Excerpt: "It remains unclear why the Persians did not take over the Mesopotamian system in earlier times, as the Elamites and other peoples of the Near East had, and, for that matter, why the Persians did not adopt the Aramaic consonantal script.."^ Jump up to: a b (Schmitt 2008, p. 77)Jump up ^ (Schmitt 2008, p. 79)Jump up ^ Stolper, M. W. (1997), "Mirkānu", in Ebeling, Erich; Meissner, Bruno; Edzard, Dietz Otto, Reallexikon der Assyriologie und vorderasiatischen Archäologie: Meek – Mythologie, 8, Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, p. 221, ISBN 3-11-014809-9, retrieved 15 August 2013Bibliography[edit]Brandenstein, Wilhelm (1964), Handbuch des Altpersischen, Wiesbaden: O. HarrassowitzHinz, Walther (1966), Altpersischer Wortschatz, Nendeln, Liechtenstein: KrausFrye, Richard Nelson (1984). Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft: Alter Orient-Griechische Geschichte-Römische Geschichte. Band III,7: The History of Ancient Iran. C.H.Beck. ISBN 978-3406093975.Kent, Roland G. (1953), Old Persian: Grammar, Texts, Lexicon, New Haven: American Oriental SocietyKuhrt, A. (2013). The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the Achaemenid Period. Routledge. ISBN 978-1136016943.Sims-Williams, Nicholas (1996), "Iranian languages", Encyclopedia Iranica, 7, Costa Mesa: Mazda: 238-245Schmitt, Rüdiger (1989), "Altpersisch", in R. Schmitt, Compendium linguarum Iranicarum, Wiesbaden: Reichert: 56–85Schmitt, Rüdiger (2000). The Old Persian Inscriptions of Naqsh-i Rustam and Persepolis. Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum by School of Oriental and African Studies. ISBN 978-0728603141.Schmitt, R. (2008), "Old Persian", in Roger D. Woodard, The Ancient Languages of Asia and the Americas (illustrated ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 76–100, ISBN 0521684943Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2006), "Iran, vi. Iranian languages and scripts", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 13Tolman, Herbert Cushing (1908), Ancient Persian Lexicon and the Texts of the Achaemenidan Inscriptions Transliterated and Translated with Special Reference to Their Recent Re-examination, New York/Cincinnati: American Book CompanyFurther reading[edit]Edwin Lee Johnson (1917), Historical grammar of the ancient Persian language, Volume 8 of Vanderbilt oriental series, American book company, p. 251, retrieved 2011-07-06Edwin Lee Johnson (1917), Historical grammar of the ancient Persian language, Volume 8 of Vanderbilt oriental series, American book company, p. 251, retrieved 2011-07-06Herbert Cushing Tolman (1892), Grammar of the Old Persian language: with the inscriptions of the Achaemenian kings and vocabulary, Ginn, p. 55, retrieved 2011-07-06Herbert Cushing Tolman (1893), A guide to the Old Persian inscriptions, American book company, p. 186, retrieved 2011-07-06Edwin Lee Johnson (1910), Herbert Cushing Tolman, ed., Cuneiform supplement (autographed) to the author's Ancient Persian lexicon and texts: with brief historical synopsis of the language, Volume 7 of Vanderbilt oriental series, American Book Co., p. 122, retrieved 2011-07-06translated by Herbert Cushing Tolman (1908), Ancient Persian lexicon and the texts of the Achaemenidan inscriptions transliterated and translated with special reference to their recent re-examination, by Herbert Cushing Tolman .., Volume 6 of Vanderbilt oriental series, American Book Company, p. 134, retrieved 2011-07-06Herbert Cushing Tolman (1908), Ancient Persian lexicon and the texts of the Achaemenidan inscriptions transliterated and translated with special reference to their recent re-examination, by Herbert Cushing Tolman .., Volume 6 of Vanderbilt oriental series, American Book Company, p. 134, retrieved 2011-07-06Darius I (King of Persia) (1908), Translated by Herbert Cushing Tolman, ed., The Behistan inscription of King Darius: translation and critical notes to the Persian text with special reference to recent re-examinations of the rock, Volume 1, Issue 1 of Vanderbilt University studies ATLA monograph preservation program Volume 3384 of Harvard College Library preservation microfilm program (reprint ed.), Vanderbilt University, p. 39, retrieved 2011-07-06Darius I (King of Persia) (1908), Herbert Cushing Tolman, ed., The Behistan inscription of King Darius: translation and critical notes to the Persian text with special reference to recent re-examinations of the rock, Volume 1, Issue 1 of Vanderbilt University studies, Vanderbilt university, p. 39, retrieved 2011-07-06Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2005), An Introduction to Old Persian (PDF) (2nd ed.), Cambridge: HarvardPeterson, Joseph H. (2006), Old Persian Texts, Herndon, VA: avesta.orgHarvey, Scott L., Old Iranian OnlineWindfuhr, Gernot L. (1995), "Cases in Iranian languages and dialects", Encyclopedia Iranica, 5, Costa Mesa: Mazda, pp. 25–37Stolper, Matthew W. & Jan Tavernier (1995), "From the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project, 1: An Old Persian Administrative Tablet from the Persepolis Fortification", Arta, 2007:1, Paris: Achemenet.comSchmitt, R. (2008), "Old Persian", in Roger D. Woodard, The Ancient Languages of Asia and the Americas (illustrated ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 76–100, ISBN 0521684943Asatrian, Garnik (2010), Etymological Dictionary of Persian, Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series, 12, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 978-90-04-18341-4


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