Persian: Aspirated Consonants

Qureshpor

Senior Member
Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
In a recent thread aaqaa-ye-Arsham stated and I quote, "Iranian languages do not distinguish aspirated and unaspirated consonants in a systematic way although p, for example, is usually aspirated in most persian dialects". I have often thought about this because my Iranian friends of yesteryears (mainly from Tehran) always seemed to pronounce "p" (e.g. paak), "k" (kitaab), "t" (taa), ch (chiraaGh) etc with aspiration whereas in Indo-Persian we never pronounce them in this manner.

Is this aspiration from days of old or is this a relatively new phenomenon?
 
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  • arsham

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Proto-indo-iranian did distinguish aspirated and unaspirated consonants and this distinction is preserved in Sanskrit but not in the Iranian group. So it is possible that both pronunciations coexisted for a while. That said It is difficult to tell whether all the unvoiced stops were aspirated in classical persian or not.
    Your observation is correct, in most dialects unvoiced stops like p, k and t are aspirated.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    aaqaa-ye-arsham, you might be aware that in Urdu, for example, there are unaspirated consonants contrasted with aspirated ones, e.g. k, kh, g, gh, t, th, ch, chh, p, ph etc, ultimately coming from Sanskrit. Possibly because of this contrast, we have a situation where p has no aspiration whatsoever (0) whilst ph is exphatically aspirated (say +1). The aspiration which is present in Persian (and English, in words like Peter, cat, kill etc), to my ears, is not as "intense" as the Urdu "contrasted" aspiration. The point I am attempting to make is that in Indo-Persian, we might have opted for the 0 end of the scale when in reality it should have been +0.5 (say)! So, it is possible that we may "removed" whatever aspiration there might have been in the Persian speech due to local influences. This is inspite of having had first hand experience of native Iranian speakers at the Mughal court.
     

    arsham

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Saahib Qureshpor, your explanation is plausible and it is perfectly normal that Ind-Persian be influenced by
    the local language.
     
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