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Eastern Iranian Languages

part 1

east languages

EASTERN IRANIAN LANGUAGES, term used to refer to a group of Iranian languages most of which are or were spoken in lands to the east of the present state of Persia.

 In terms of both historical and typological linguistics, the distinction between Western and Eastern Iranian is generally regarded as the most fundamental division in Iranian dialectology. Each of these two major groups is sometimes subdivided along the opposite axis, giving a potential four-way distinction between South-Western, North-Western, South-Eastern, and North-Eastern Iranian. These conventional terms correspond only partially to the real geographical situation of the languages and their speakers. Thus Ossetic, an Eastern Iranian language, is spoken in the Caucasus, further west than many Western Iranian languages, while Baluchi (q.v.), a North-Western Iranian language, is spoken chiefly in Pakistan, in the south-eastern corner of the Iranophone area. However, the great majority of the Eastern Iranian languages have or had their main centers in areas to the east and north-east of Persia, in what are now Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China.

The term “Eastern Iranian” is of limited utility with reference to the Old Iranian period. Of the two attested Old Iranian languages, Old Persian is a typical representative of South-Western Iranian. Avestan geographically belongs to the eastern Iranian area (see avestan geography), but shows few if any of the distinctive characteristics of the later Eastern Iranian languages. least in respect to these features, Avestan may be regarded as representative of a central group within Old Iranian, in which the developments that later distinguish Eastern from Western Iranian had not yet taken place (Sims-Williams 1993, pp. 162-63; on the relationship between Khotanese and Wakhi, see P.O. Skjrv in Schmitt, p. 375). Of the less well attested Old Iranian languages, the meager remains of ancient Scythian (Schmitt, pp. 92-3) have been claimed as Eastern Iranian.

Other Links:

Kabisa: part 1

Kabisa: part 2

The History of the Iranian Flag

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