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Thread: Parthian: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

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    Parthian: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    CAIS has rendered the Parthian MLKYN MLK` `ry`n W `n(y)`ry`n as šâhân šâh aryân ud anaryân "King of Kings of the Aryans and non-Aryans" (see online article eran_eranshahr)

    The form aryân here seems to resemble the English form aryan more closely than any form I have come across. But given that the vowels are absent in the original inscriptions how does the interpreter know to substitute "a" and "â" for the missing vowels?

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    This is not Parthian language, but a kind of Semitic language (Aramaic, I think). The interpreter has probably complete the vowels by referring to original Pahlavi or Persian inscriptions of similar era.

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    The inscriptions were probably in Aramaic because Aramaic doesn't show vowels right? But the actual language of the inscriptions, not the writing system, is Parthian. The question is what original Iranian did the interpreter refer to to fill in the blanks.

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    The actual language, as I see, is Aramaic. MLK is a semitic root for king. The Parthian (Pahlavi) and Persian words for king is kay, khotây or shâh.

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    Two questions here:

    The text is Parthian, but some of the words are represented by “Ideograms” (better: Aramaeograms). They wrote m-l-k but read it as šāh. We try to simplify things by transliterating the Aramaeograms with upper case letters.

    Second question: Parthian ary, Old Persian ariya-, are cognate with Sanskrit ārya-. English “Aryan” is taken from Sanskrit.
    Last edited by fdb; 19th February 2013 at 11:13 PM. Reason: Typo corrected

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    Just to add to fdb's post, Parthan aryān, meaning "of the Aryans", is the genetive plural of ary "Aryan".

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    Thanks fdb. I had really no idea why mojobadshah was insisting it was Parthian!

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    Quote Originally Posted by fdb View Post
    Two questions here:

    The text is Parthian, but some of the words are represented by “Ideograms” (better: Aramaeograms). They wrote m-l-k but read it as šāh. We try to simplify things by transliterating the Aramaeograms with upper case letters.

    Second question: Parthian ary, Old Persian arya-, are cognate with Sanskrit ārya-. English “Aryan” is taken from Sanskrit.
    Isn't Old Persian "Aryan" spelled ariya? And so I see that Parthian "Aryan" is ary which would explain why Parthian -ry-n equates to aryân, but this begs the question how do you know that the Parthian "Aryan" is ary? And this still leaves -ân unexplained.

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    Yes, my typo. In Old Persian it is ariya-, in Avestan airiia-. The –ān is the Parthian plural suffix (etymologically genitive plural, as Wolverine correctly says). English “Aryan” is Sansrikt ārya- plus the English Latinate suffix –an (as in Roman, Anglican etc.). So there is no connection between the last syllable of aryān and “Aryan”.

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    Ah... that makes sense now. ary- is the root and –ān is the suffix. So where else apart from those Aramaic inscriptions did this form appear which shows us that the Parthians did indeed use the form aryān?

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    This is the only evidence for Parthian, and it doesn't actually prove that the Parthian kings used it. It is the Parthian translation of a Sasanian trilingual
    inscription.

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    Your right. It appears to have been used by the Sassanians who were responsible for the trilingual inscriptions. Not to sound like I'm repeating myself, but if the inscriptions don't show any vowels then how do you know that -ry-n equates to aryān. How do we know for example that its not airyan? How did you derive Parth. ary-?

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    The vocalisation is based on a comparison with other Iranian languages. The development of Old Iranian arya- to Parthian ary is phonologically straightforward and consistent with the Parthian spelling.

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    Thank you that is more or less the answer I was looking for. Could you provide some examples of these phonological correlations?
    Last edited by mojobadshah; 20th February 2013 at 3:54 AM.

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    Just one very simple example. The word for “king” in Old Persian is xšāyaϑiya-; in New Persian it is šāh. In Pahlavi it is written šh or MLKʼ; in Manichaean Middle Persian it is written šʼh. A comparison of these forms suggests strongly that the Middle Persian pronunciation was /šāh/, just like New Persian.

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    I hope this isn't pushing it, but can you show how this vocalization was derived for the Parthian aryan, specifically? If not do you have any ideas as to how I can find out?

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    The reconstructed Old Iranian form is *arya-, represented by Old Persian ariya- and Avestan airiia-. The Parthian spelling ʼry suggests that the Old Iranian form survived in Parthian, apart from the regular loss of the final vowel. aryān is (as mentioned) the plural.

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    Isn't there also an Avestan form airiiana- as in airiianəm vaēǰō? I don't think it is the plural form, though.
    Last edited by Wolverine9; 23rd February 2013 at 9:40 AM.

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    Yes, Avestan airiiana- is an adjective from the ethnic name airiia-. vaējah- is a neuter noun meaning “homeland” or the like (the exact meaning and etymology are contested). In the nominative singular you have airiianəm vaējō.

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    Re: The Word Aryan in Parthian Inscriptions

    What would be the Skt. equivalent of the Av. airiiana-?

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