Their language was first written when Darius commanded that a script suitable for this purpose be invented so that he might inscribe the record of his rise… Less well-known are Old Ossetic (Scytho-Sarmatian) and Bactrian, but from what is known it would seem likely that those languages were equally distinctive. The main Saka dialect is known as Khotanese, but a small amount of material survives in a closely related dialect called Tumshuq, formerly known as Maralbashi. On the one hand, there is the religious poetry of Zoroaster in the Avestan language and, on the other, the official inscriptions of the Achaemenid rulers in Old Persian. Of the ancient Iranian languages, only two are known from texts or inscriptions, Avestan and Old Persian, the oldest parts of which date from the 6th century bce. …in the decipherment of ancient Persian cuneiform script. Iranian languages, subgroup of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. Avestan (an extinct East Iranian language) was probably spoken in northeastern Iran, and Old Persian (an extinct West Iranian language) is known to have been used in southwestern Iran. Multilingual Matters. Written in Arabic characters, Modern Persian also has many Arabic loanwords and an extensive literature. It is likely that all those languages that are known only from the Middle Iranian period were in fact spoken in a less developed form in the ancient period. The Saka dialects, Khotanese and Tumshuq, were spoken in Chinese Turkistan, modern Xinjiang; Tumshuq is the name of a small village in the extreme west of Xinjiang. Old Persian, spoken until approximately the 3rd century bce, is attested by numerous inscriptions written in cuneiform, most notable of which is the great monument of Darius I at Bīsitūn, Iran. Pahlavi, moreover,…. Old Persian is one of the oldest Indo-European languages which are attested in original texts. â¢ Ancient Persian lexicon & the texts of the Achaemenidan inscriptions transliterated and translated, by Herbert Cushing Tolman (1908), â¢ Guide to the Old Persian inscriptions by Herbert Cushing Tolman (1893), â¢ Some critical and supplementary notes to his guide to old Persian inscriptions, â¢ Die altpersischen Keilinschriften im Grundtexte mit Ãbersetzung, Grammatik und Glossar, by Friedrich von Spiegel (1862), â¢ Die Keilinschriften der AchÃ¤meniden by Franz Heinrich Weissbach (1911), â¢ Graeco-Persian names by Alvin Stonecipher (1918), → Old Persian keyboard to type a text with the Old Persian cuneiforms, â¢ Introduction to Old Persian by Prods Oktor SkjÃ¦rvÃ¸ (2002), â¢ Old Persian, grammar, texts, lexicon, by Roland Kent (1950), â¢ Historical grammar of the ancient Persian language by Edwin Lee Johnson (1917), â¢ Grammar of the Old Persian with the inscriptions of the AchÃ¦menian kings & vocabulary, by Herbert Cushing Tolman (1892), â¢ Grammaire du vieux perse: Old Persian grammar, by Antoine Meillet & Ãmile Benveniste (1931), â¢ Ãtudes iraniennes: studies about the historical grammar of the Persian language, by James Darmesteter (1883), â¢ II (studies about the language, literature, beliefs in Ancient Persia), â¢ Les langues perdues de la Perse: the lost languages of Persia, by Joachim MÃ©nant (1885), â¢ Handbuch der altiranischen Dialekte: compared grammar of Iranian dialects & glossary, by Christian Bartolomae (1883), â¢ Books about Old Persian: Google books & Internet archive, â¢ Achaemenid royal inscriptions with translation, â¢ Old Persian texts transliterated with translation, â¢ The Persian cuneiform inscription at Behistun decyphered and translated by Henry Creswicke Rawlinson (1846), â¢ Memoir on cuneiform inscriptions, vocabulary of the Ancient Persian language, → Iran & Persia: maps, heritage & documents, The Old Persian is the language of the Achaemenid Empire (6, the texts of the Achaemenidan inscriptions, im Grundtexte mit Ãbersetzung, Grammatik und Glossar, with the inscriptions of the AchÃ¦menian kings, vocabulary of the Ancient Persian language, Historical grammar of the ancient Persian language, The Persian cuneiform inscription at Behistun. Even in this case, however, although both Old and Middle Persian represent the language of the royal court, the considerable differences between them remain unexplained. …of the Zoroastrians (Parsis), and Old Persian, the official language of Darius I (ruled 522–486 bce) and Xerxes I (486–465 bce) and their successors. Old Persian, on the other hand, itself spanning the 6th to the 4th century bce, was continued more or less directly by the various forms of Middle Persian. During the 18th century many new inscriptions were reported; especially important were those…. …Persians, at least originally, spoke Old Persian, a southwestern dialect of Iranian (Median was a northwestern Iranian dialect), and were a nonliterate society. To the same period belong the Scytho-Sarmatian names of the earliest inscriptions. At Bīsitūn are also inscribed versions of the same text in…, Old Persian, Pahlavi’s predecessor, had singular, dual, and plural number. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. ^ Samadi, Habibeh; Nick Perkins (2012). Khotanese was spoken near the modern city of Hotan (conventional spelling Khotan) on the southern route across the Takla Makan Desert and within about 100 miles (160 km) to the north and to the east of Hotan, where manuscripts have been found, mainly at the sites of former shrines and monasteries. In addition, a number of Median personal names are attested in various sources. Khwārezmian was the language of Khwārezm, a historic region in present-day Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan but formerly of greater extent. There were also colonies of Sogdians in various cities along the trade routes to China; in fact, most Sogdian material comes from outside Sogdiana. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. More precisely, Bactrian was spoken in northern Afghanistan and in the adjacent parts of Central Asia. The main known languages of this group are Khwārezmian (Chorasmian), Sogdian, and Saka. Other ancient Iranian languages must have existed, and indirect evidence is available concerning some of these. p. 169. The degree of mutual intelligibility that existed among the ancient Iranian languages is not known with certainty. Thus, from the 5th-century-bce historian Herodotus, the Median word for “female dog” (spaka) is known, and a number of Median loanwords have been recognized in the Old Persian inscriptions. In the northeast and northwest the language spoken was Parthian, which is known from inscriptions and from Manichaean texts. Among the modern Iranian languages are Persian (Fārsī), Pashto (Afghan), Kurdish, and Ossetic. Iranian languages are spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and parts of Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, and scattered areas of the Caucasus Mountains. There was probably more than one dialect of each of the languages of the eastern group, although there is certainty only in the case of Saka, for which at least two dialects are clearly attested.
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