Persian: p/b & p/f transition

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Wolverine9, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    In Persian words and city names, is the transition from p>b and p>f (eg. paarsii>faarsii) an intrinsic Iranian development or is it due to Arabic influence in both cases?
  2. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Yes. In mediaeval Persian sources most place names tend to be cited in their "official" , i.e. Arabic form.
  3. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    So, for example, would the Old Iranian ap- "water" have developed into Persian aab "water" under Arabic influence too?
  4. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    No, that is a different issue. Old Persain post-vocalic voiceless stops become voiced already in Middle Persian. I was talking about the representation of New Persian /p/ by /b/ or /f/ in Arabic and arabicizied words; e.g. in Spahān > Iṣfahān.
  5. Treaty Senior Member

    How precisely can anyone conclude about this? I mean, how many accents of Mid. Persian were written during Pre-Islamic Iran?
    I've heard Islam changed the class (caste) system of Iran. Therefore the Pre- and Post-Islamic writers might have belonged to (or influenced by) different classes, and so, accents.
  6. mungu Senior Member

    Well, the universal loss of the sound /p/ from a language is not so common a development that you would expect it to occur independently in Arabic and in Persian. It's true that one can't exclude the existence of such unattested dialects (more likely regional than social, though) - after all, it's difficult to disprove the existence of anything. However, the obvious Arabic influence on Persian makes it strange to look for another explanation. The fact that historical /p/, other things being equal, is mostly preserved in modern Persian, as in the word for "father", is also telling: as a rule of thumb, you expect sound change (as opposed to foreign influence) to apply exceptionlessly, and if the putative popular dialect had lost it, we would expect /p/ to be gone completely from the language. The nature of the specific words that get /f/ and /b/ for historical /p/ can probably supply more arguments, depending on whether they belong to parts of the vocabulary that are more likely to exhibit Arabic influence; but I'm not knowledgeable enough to comment about that.
  7. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    I think you have missed the point. There is no "universal loss of the sound /p/" in Persian. /p/ becomes /b/ after vowels, but remains unchanged in other positions. This change occurs in Middle Persian, probably around the beginning of the 3rd century AD, at the same time as the shift of /t, k, c/ to /d, g, z/ in the same environment. This is at a time when there is no influence of Arabic on Persian.

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