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Encyclopedia > Old Persian
Old Persian
Spoken in: Ancient Iran
Language extinction: Evolved into Middle Persian
Language family: Indo-European
 Indo-Iranian
  Iranian
   Old Persian 
Writing system: Old Persian Cuneiform
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: peo
ISO 639-3: peo
History of the
Persian language
Proto-Iranian (ca. 1500 BCE)

Southwestern Iranian languages An extinct language (also called a dead language) is a language which no longer has any native speakers. ... Pahlavi is a term that refers: (1) to a script used in Iran derived from the Aramaic script, and (2) more broadly, to Middle Persian, the Middle Iranian language written in this script. ... Current distribution of Human Language Families A language family is a group of related languages said to have descended from a common proto-language. ... The Indo-European languages comprise a family of several hundred related languages and dialects [1], including most of the major languages of Europe, as well as many spoken in the Indian subcontinent (South Asia), the Iranian plateau (Southwest Asia), and Central Asia. ... The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. ... Writing systems of the world today. ... Old Persian cuneiform is the primary script used in Old Persian writings. ... ISO 639-1 is the first part of the ISO 639 international-standard language-code family. ... ISO 639-2 is the second part of the ISO 639 standard, which lists codes for the representation of the names of languages. ... ISO 639-3 is in process of development as an international standard for language codes. ... Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... Phonetics (from the Greek word φωνή, phone meaning sound, voice) is the study of the sounds of human speech. ... Unicode is an industry standard designed to allow text and symbols from all of the writing systems of the world to be consistently represented and manipulated by computers. ... The relevance of particular information in (or previously in) this article or section is disputed. ... Persian (Local names: فارسی Fârsi or پارسی Pârsi)* is an Indo-European language spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan as well as by minorities in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Southern Russia, neighboring countries, and elsewhere. ... The Iranian languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family with an estimated number of 150-200 million native speakers today. ... The Southwestern Iranian languages include some 16 (SIL estimate) languages and dialects spoken by about many people in Asia; this language family is a part of the Western Iranian language family. ...


Old Persian (c. 525 BCE - 300 BCE)

Old Persian cuneiform script Old Persian cuneiform is the primary script used in Old Persian writings. ...


Middle Persian (c.300 BCE-800 CE)

Pahlavi scriptManichaean scriptAvestan script Pahlavi is a term that refers: (1) to a script used in Iran derived from the Aramaic script, and (2) more broadly, to Middle Persian, the Middle Iranian language written in this script. ... The Pahlavi script was used broadly in the Sasanid Persian Empire to write down Middle Persian for secular, as well as religious purposes. ... The Manichaean script is a variant of the Syriac script designed to record the Middle Persian language. ... Yasna 28. ...


Modern Persian (from 800)

Perso-Arabic script Persian (Local names: فارسی Fârsi or پارسی Pârsi)* is an Indo-European language spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan as well as by minorities in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Southern Russia, neighboring countries, and elsewhere. ... The Arabic alphabet is the script used for writing the Arabic language, which is the language of the Quran, the holy book of Islam. ...

Old Persian is one of the two attested forms of Old Iranian languages. Old Persian appears primarily in the inscriptions, clay tablets, seals of the Achaemenid era (c. 600 BCE to 300 BCE). Examples of Old Persian have been found in present-day Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. The Iranian languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family. ... Small tablets made out of clay were used from late 4th millennium BC onwards as a writing medium in Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Hittite, and Minoan/Mycenaean civilizations. ... Seal on envelope A seal is an impression printed on, embossed upon, or affixed to a document (or any other object) in order to authenticate it, in lieu of or in addition to a signature. ... The Persepolis Ruins The Achaemenid dynasty (Old Persian:Hakamanishiya, Persian: هخامنشیان) - was a dynasty in the ancient Persian Empire. ...

Contents

Relationship to other languages

Comparative linguistics classifies Old Persian as a Southwestern Iranian language, in the group of Iranian languages, which is one of the two subgroups of Indo-Iranian languages. This latter group is one of the branches of the Indo-European language family. Comparative linguistics (originally comparative philology) is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages in order to establish their historical relatedness. ... Numerous languages are spoken in Iran, yet all of them originate from the same linguistic roots. ... The Iranian languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family. ... The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. ... The Indo-European languages comprise a family of several hundred related languages and dialects [1], including most of the major languages of Europe, as well as many spoken in the Indian subcontinent (South Asia), the Iranian plateau (Southwest Asia), and Central Asia. ...


Unlike Avestan, which is the other attested Old Iranian language, Old Persian remained a living language. By the late Achaemenid era, Old Persian had begun to evolve into Middle Persian, which eventually became the language of state under the Sassanids (3rd-7th c. CE). Middle Persian is in turn the precursor of the Modern Persian language. Yasna 28. ... Pahlavi is a term that refers: (1) to a script used in Iran derived from the Aramaic script, and (2) more broadly, to Middle Persian, the Middle Iranian language written in this script. ... After Islamic Conquest  Modern SSR = Soviet Socialist Republic Afghanistan  Azerbaijan  Bahrain  Iran  Iraq  Tajikistan  Uzbekistan  This box:      The Sassanid Empire or Sassanian Dynasty (Persian: []) is the name used for the fourth Iranian dynasty, and the second Persian Empire (226–651). ... Persian (Local names: فارسی Fârsi or پارسی Pârsi)* is an Indo-European language spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan as well as by minorities in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, India, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Southern Russia, neighboring countries, and elsewhere. ...


Old Persian "presumably"[1] has a Median language substrate. The Median element is readily identifyable 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.)." [1] The Median language was a Western Iranian language, classified as North-Western with Parthian, Baluchi, Kurdish and others. ... In linguistics, a substratum (lat. ...


Script

Old Persian was written from left to right in Old Persian cuneiform script, a semi-alphabetic syllabic Cuneiform script. Old Persian cuneiform contains 36 signs which represent consonants, vowels, or sequences of single consonants plus vowels, a set of three numerals (1, 10, 100), a word divider, and a few ideograms. Old Persian cuneiform is the primary script used in Old Persian writings. ... Old Persian cuneiform is the primary script used in Old Persian writings. ... The cuneiform script is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. ... In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture of the vocal tract sufficient to cause audible turbulence. ... Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... A Chinese character. ...


Phonology

The following phonemes are expressed in the Old Persian script:


Vowels

  • Long: /aː/ /iː/ /uː/
  • Short: /a/ /i/ /u/

Consonants

  Labial Dental/
Alveolar
Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p /p/ b /b/ t /t/ d /d/ c /c/ j /ɟ/ k /k/ g /g/    
Nasal   m /m/   n /n/            
Fricative f /f/   θ /θ/   ç /ç/ x /x/   h /h/  
Sibilant     s /s/ z /z/ š /ʃ/          
Rhotic       r /r/            
Approximant   v /ʋ/   l /l/   y /j/        

Labials are consonants articulated either with both lips (bilabial articulation) or with the lower lip and the upper teeth (labiodental articulation). ... Dentals are consonants such as t, d, n, and l articulated with either the lower or the upper teeth, or both, rather than with the gum ridge as in English. ... Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli (the sockets) of the superior teeth. ... Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate (the middle part of the roof of the mouth). ... Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate (the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum). ... Glottal consonants are consonants articulated with the glottis. ... A stop or plosive or occlusive is a consonant sound produced by stopping the airflow in the vocal tract. ... A nasal consonant is produced when the velum—that fleshy part of the palate near the back—is lowered, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. ... Fricatives (or spirants) are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. ... A sibilant is a type of fricative or affricate, made by directing a jet of air through a narrow channel towards the sharp edge of the teeth. ... Rhotic consonants, or R-like sounds, are non-lateral liquid consonants. ... Approximants are speech sounds that could be regarded as intermediate between vowels and typical consonants. ...

Grammar

Nouns

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
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative -a -ā, -āha -am
Vocative -am
Accusative -am -am -ām
Instrumental -aibiyā -aibiš -aibiyā -aibiš -āyā -ābiyā -ābiš
Dative -ahyā, -ahya -aibiyā -aibiš -ahyā, -ahya -aibiyā -aibiš -āyā -ābiyā -ābiš
Ablative -aibiyā -aibiš -aibiyā -aibiš -āyā -ābiyā -ābiš
Genitive -ahyā, -ahya -āyā -ānām -ahyā, -ahya -āyā -ānām -āyā -āyā -ānām
Locative -aiy -āyā -aišuvā -aiy -āyā -aišuvā -āyā -āyā -āšuvā
-iš -iy -uš -uv
Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural Singular Dual Plural
Nominative -iš -īy -iya -iy -in -īn -uš -ūv -uva -uv -un -ūn
Vocative -i -īy -iya -iy -in -īn -u -ūv -uva -uv -un -ūn
Accusative -im -īy -iš -iy -in -īn -um -ūv -ūn -uv -un -ūn
Instrumental -auš -ībiyā -ībiš -auš -ībiyā -ībiš -auv -ūbiyā -ūbiš -auv -ūbiyā -ūbiš
Dative -aiš -ībiyā -ībiš -aiš -ībiyā -ībiš -auš -ūbiyā -ūbiš -auš -ūbiyā -ūbiš
Ablative -auš -ībiyā -ībiš -auš -ībiyā -ībiš -auv -ūbiyā -ūbiš -auv -ūbiyā -ūbiš
Genitive -aiš -īyā -īnām -aiš -īyā -īnām -auš -ūvā -ūnām -auš -ūvā -ūnām
Locative -auv -īyā -išuvā -auv -īyā -išuvā -āvā -ūvā -ušuvā -āvā -ūvā -ušuvā

Adjectives are declinable in similar way.


Verbs

Voices
Active, Middle (them. pres. -aiy-, -ataiy-), Passive (-ya-).


In Old Persian were used mostly the forms of first and third persons. Only Dual form used was ajīvatam 'both lived'.

Present, Active
Athematic Thematic
'be' 'bring'
Sg. 1.pers. ahmiy barāmiy
3.pers. astiy baratiy
Pl. 1.pers. ahmahiy barāmahiy
3.pers. hatiy baratiy
Imperfect, Active
Athematic Thematic
'do, make' 'be, become'
Sg. 1.pers. akunavam abavam
3.pers. akunauš abava
Pl. 1.pers. aku abavāmā
3.pers. akunava abava
Present participle
Active Middle
-nt- -amna-
Past participle
-ta-
Infinitive
-tanaiy

Lexicon

Proto-Indo-Iranian Old Persian Middle Persian Modern Persian meaning
*açva aspa asb asb horse
*kāma kāma kām kām desire
*daiva daiva div div demon
drayah drayā daryā sea
dasta dast dast hand
*bhāgī bāji bāj bāj tribute
*bhrātr- brātar brādar barādar brother
*bhūmī būmi būm būm region, land
*martya martya mard mard man
*māsa māha māh māh moon, month
*vāsara vāhara Bahār bahār spring
stūnā stūn sotūn column
šiyāta šhād šhād happiness
*arta arta ard ord truth
*draugh- drauga drōgh dorōgh lie

The term Indo-Iranian includes all speakers of Indo-Iranian languages, i. ... Ashva (a Sanskrit word for a horse) is one of the significant animals finding references in several Hindu scriptures. ... A div (earlier Persian dēv, Middle Persian dēw, Avestan daēva) is an evil spirit in Persian mythology that loves to cause harm and destruction. ... In Hinduism, Bhaga is an ancient god of wealth and marriage, and one of the Adityas. ... In Hinduism, Bhumidevi, who may also be called Bhumi, is the goddess of the earth. ... In Vedic Sanskrit, Rta literally means the course of things. ... Avestan asha (; Old Persian arta, Middle Persian ard) is a central principle of Zoroastrianism, representing truth, justice or order. The opposite of asha is druj (Old Persian drauga), representing untruth, chaos. // Avestan and its Vedic equivalent both derive from Proto-Indo-Iranian *árta truth, which derives from Proto-Indo-European...

See also

The Iranian languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family. ... Old Persian cuneiform is the primary script used in Old Persian writings. ...

References and Bibliography

  1. ^ a b Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2005), An Introduction to Old Persian (2nd ed.), Cambridge: Harvard
  • Brandenstein, Wilhelm (1964), Handbuch des Altpersischen, Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz
  • Hinz, Walther (1966), Altpersischer Wortschatz, Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus
  • Kent, Roland G. (1953), Old Persian: Grammar, Texts, Lexicon, New Haven: American Oriental Society
  • Sims-Williams, Nicholas (1996), "Iranian languages", Encyclopedia Iranica, vol. 7, Cosa Mesa: Mazda: 238-245
  • Schmitt, Rüdiger (1989), "Altpersisch", in R. Schmitt, Compendium linguarum Iranicarum, Wiesbaden: Reichert: 56–85
  • Tolman, 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 Company

Further reading

  • Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2005), An Introduction to Old Persian (2nd ed.), Cambridge: Harvard
  • Peterson, Joseph H. (2006), Old Persian Texts, Herndon, VA: avesta.org
  • Windfuhr, Gernot L. (1995), "Cases in Iranian languages and dialects", Encyclopedia Iranica, vol. 5, Cosa Mesa: Mazda, at 25-37
  • Stolper, Matthew W. & Jan Tavernier (1995), "From the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project, 1: An Old Persian Administrative Tablet from the Persepolis Fortification", Arta, vol. 2007:1, Paris: Achemenet.com

 
 

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