Persian: /h/ vs. /x/ in Avestan and Modern Persian

Arabus

Senior Member
Arabic-Aleppo
Hello,

According to this page (and other sources) the name Ḵosrow خسرو was written in the Avesta this way Haosrauuah (Haosrawah), and in Pahlavi texts this way Husrōy.

I would like to know how this name came to be written with an initial /x/ خ in New Persian? This is not the only word that was written with /h/ in the Avesta but with /x/ in New Persian. Was there a phonological shift in Persian that changed /h/ sounds to /x/?
 
  • fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    The shift of initial h- to x- is common, but not regular. The exact chronology of the shift is not always clear (you must bear in mind that in Pahlavi script h and x are written with the same letter, though they are distinguished in Manichaean script). It happens in words like:

    Avestan hauruuatātō > MP hordād > NP xurdāδ (name of a Yazata)
    Iranian hu-čiϑra- > MP hučihr > NP xujīr ‘fair of face’

    and many more.

    It also affects h- from original zero, as in:

    Iranian āyaka- (cognate with English ‘egg’) > hāyag > NP xāya
    Iranian awšaka- > MP hōšag > NP xōša ‘ear of corn’

    But there are lots of words where this change does not happen. It is, as I said, irregular.
     
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