Topics in Iranian Linguistics.

Author:Borjian, Habib
Position:Book review

Topics in Iranian Linguistics. Edited by Agnes Korn, Geoffrey Haig, Simin Karimi, and POLLET SAMVELIAN. Beitrage zur Iranistik, vol. 34. Wiesbaden: REICHERT, 2011. Pp. 214. 49 [euro], $84.

The thirteen chapters of this volume are selected from papers presented at the Third International Conference on Iranian Linguistics, held September 2009 at the Sorbonne. The chapters deal with subjects as diverse as grammar, lexis, historical linguistics, and sociolinguistics. Eleven of them are on individual languages--namely, the extinct Bactrian and Sogdian and the living Persian, Talysh, Ossetian, and the Pamir group--while two draw on several Iranian languages.

Scholarly research into Iranian languages has had a long presence in Indo-European philology since Sir William Jones delivered in 1786 his famous speech on the common root of Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, as well as Gothic, Celtic, and Persian. The Iranian languages have continued to be studied within the framework of comparative-historical philology by those who usually show a broader interest in the history, geography, religions, literatures, and folklore of the Iranian-speaking peoples; yet the rise of new linguistic trends since the mid-twentieth century has led to new generations of linguists who apply specific linguistic theories to Persian and, more recently, to lesser known languages of the Iranian family. For several decades it was a trend to treat these two persuasions--comparative-historical philology and modern theoretical linguistics--as distinct fields of study in Iranian linguistics, with little interaction between their scholars. An attempt to bring scholars from all theoretical persuasions together was begun in 2005 with the International Conference on Iranian Linguistics. The three conferences held thus far have already established a tradition of interdisciplinary linguistic research into Iranian languages.

The volume under review is organized into three parts, roughly corresponding to extinct languages, modern smaller languages, and contemporary Persian. Within each part the chapters are arranged in the alphabetical order of the authors' names.

Part one, "Historical and Comparative Iranian Syntax," comprises five chapters. The first two study the Bactrian language, whose extant texts in the Greek alphabet from northern Afghanistan attest to its evolution in a period between the first to ninth centuries C.E. In the first chapter Saloumeh Gholami investigates semantic and...

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