Classification of Avestan Language

Phosphorus

Senior Member
Kurdish
Greetings,

Apparently they generally agree that Avestan is a Northeastern Iranian language. However I have read that some used to hold that Avestan might be a transitional or even a proto form bridging between Northeastern and Northwestern Iranian languages.

I need to know based on what arguments they come up with the notion that Avestan is a Northeastern Iranian language? I mean the arguments in terms of historical developments ( ts* > s "span-" ~ "dog"; dz* > z "zan-" ~ "know/give birth"; dw* > "dv"/"b" "dvara" ~ "door", "bitiya*?" ~ "second"; t > th "thraya-" ~ "thee", and so on-sorry for my probable orthographic or semantic mistakes in regard with the Avestan proper).

Many thanks in advance.
 
  • fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    Avestan has been claimed both for North-Western and for Eastern Iranian. Actually, it does not have any features that connect it unambiguously with either group. In particular it does not share the most obvious features of Eastern Iranian, such as the shift of b, d, g to β, δ (or l), γ, nor the development of ft etc. to βd etc. It has isoglosses with various other languages, but does not share any set of isoglosses with any one particular group. For this reason is better to regard Avestan as a separate, highly archaic, subgroup within Iranian.
     

    Phosphorus

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    Thanks for your reply pal. So if I have got it right the major reason they tend to hold Avestan as a Northeastern Iranian language (or at least an Iranian language which has been spoken over there) is the clues they interpret from the Aevsta in regard with the actual location of "Iranvij" and its possible connection with somewhere such as Bactria or the so-called Greater Sistan, am I right?
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    The only section in the Avesta that mentions any identifiable geographic names is the enumeration of the best countries in Vendidad chap. 1. The geographical framework there is predominantly the East (Sogdiana, Bactria, etc.). “Ragha” is probably Ray/Tehran in Media, but Persia is not even mentioned. But this does not necessarily say anything about the linguistic position of Avestan.
     

    Phosphorus

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    I see, thanks for your information buddy.

    By the way was it Henning who first proposed such a geographical location for Avestan? Would you please provide a bibliography on scientific works in this regard? I will be most grateful.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    Henning discussed this in the last chapter of his booklet Zoroaster: politician or witch-doctor? (1951). Here he compares a number of forms in Choresmian (a language which Henning was at that time in the process of deciphering) with some similar forms in Avestan and deduces from this a localisation of Zoroaster in ancient Choresmia. All of this is brilliantly argued (as always in Henning), but not actually convincing, and the “Choresmian hypothesis” has not really been accepted by any leading scholars other than Henning’s pupil Gershevitch. (Not that this proves anything: the truth of a hypothesis does not depend on the number of people who accept it).
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    PS. I have an article in the press touching on the time and place of Zoroaster. If you would like to send a private message with your email address I could forward a copy of the proof-sheets.
     

    Phosphorus

    Senior Member
    Kurdish
    Henning discussed this in the last chapter of his booklet Zoroaster: politician or witch-doctor? (1951). Here he compares a number of forms in Choresmian (a language which Henning was at that time in the process of deciphering) with some similar forms in Avestan and deduces from this a localisation of Zoroaster in ancient Choresmia. All of this is brilliantly argued (as always in Henning), but not actually convincing, and the “Choresmian hypothesis” has not really been accepted by any leading scholars other than Henning’s pupil Gershevitch. (Not that this proves anything: the truth of a hypothesis does not depend on the number of people who accept it).
    I see. Yes I read about Henning's suggestions in this regard in a book on Chorasiam language.

    PS. I have an article in the press touching on the time and place of Zoroaster. If you would like to send a private message with your email address I could forward a copy of the proof-sheets.
    Thanks a lot pal, I am most grateful.
     
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