Middle Persian: Wikis

  
  
  

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Middle Persian
Spoken in Iran
Language extinction evolved into Modern Persian by the 9th century
Language family Indo-European
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 pal (see text left)
ISO 639-3 pal

Middle Persian, sometimes referred to as Pahlavi or Pehlevi[1], is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times (224-654 CE) became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions as well. Middle Persian is classified as Western Iranian language. It descends from Old Persian and is the nominal ancestor of Persian.

The native name for Middle Persian (and perhaps for Old Persian also) was Pārsik, "(language) of Pārs", present-day Fārs Province. The word is consequently (the origin of) the native name for the Modern Persian language.

Middle Persian was most frequently written in the Pahlavi writing system,[2] which was also the preferred writing system for other Middle Iranian languages. Other forms of written Middle Persian include Pazend, a system derived from Avestan that, unlike Pahlavi, indicated vowels and did not employ Aramaic logograms. The ISO 639 language code for Middle Persian is 'pal', which reflects the post-Sassanid-era use of the term Pahlavi to refer to the language and not only the script. "Most texts, which include translated versions of the Zoroastrian canon, are 14th century transcriptions of texts from the 9th to the 11th century, when it had long ceased to be a spoken language." This late form "is thus not representative of the real state of Middle Persian."[1]

Contents

Transition from Old Persian

In the classification of the Iranian languages, the Middle Period includes those languages which were common in Iran from the fall of the Achaemenids in the 3rd century BCE up to the fall of the Sassanids in the 7th century CE.

The most important and distinct development in the structure of Iranian languages of this period is the transformation from the synthetic form of the Old Period (Old Persian and Avestan) to an analytic form:

Transition to New Persian

The modern-day descendant of Middle Persian is New Persian. The changes between late Middle and Early New Persian were very gradual, and in the 10th-11th centuries, Middle Persian texts were still intelligible to speakers of Early New Persian. However, there are definite differences that had taken place already by the 10th century:

  • Sound changes, such as
    • the dropping of unstressed initial vowels
    • the epenthesis of vowels in initial consonant clusters
    • the loss of -g when word final
    • change of initial w- to either b- or (gw- → g-)
  • Changes in the verbal system, notably the loss of distinctive subjunctive and optative forms, and the increasing use of verbal prefixes to express verbal moods
  • Changes in the vocabulary, especially the substitution of a large number of Arabic loanwords for words of native origin
  • The substitution of Arabic script for Pahlavi script.

Pahlavi Middle Persian is the language of quite a large body of Zoroastrian literature which details the traditions and prescriptions of the Zoroastrian religion which was the state religion of Sassanid Iran (224 to ca. 650) before Iran was invaded by the Arab armies that spread Islam.

Samples

Below is transliteration and translation of the first page of the facsimile known as Arda Wiraz Namag or The Book of the Righteous Wiraz, originally written in Pahlavi script.[3]

Be Nâm i Yazdân

Edon guyand ke yew-bâr ahlâw (righteous) Zartosht den padiroft, andar jahân ravâ be-kard. Tâ bowandegih i sesad sâl, den andar bezagih (holiness, purity) , u mardom andar be-gumânih budand. U pas, gujasteh (sinful) , gannâ (foul, corrupt) minu druwand, gumân kardan i mardomân be in den râ, an gujasteh Aleksandar i Arumyi (Roman) i Muzrâyi-mânishn (Egyptian; resident of Egypt ) wiyâbânid (illusioned; led astray) u be grân sezd u nabard u bishe be Eran-shahr frestâd. Oy Eran-dehibud ozad (murdered) , u dar (court) u khodâih beshoft u wirân kard; u en den chon hame Avestâ u Zand [ke] bar gâv-pustihâ i wirâsteh, be âb i zarr nebeshteh, andar Stakhr i Pabagân be diž i 'nibisht' nahâdastad, oy, patiyârah i bad-bakht i ahlomog (heretic) i druwand i andar-kerdâr, Aleksandar i Arumyi Mu..."

In the name of God

Thus they have said that once the righteous Zoroaster accepted a religion, he established it in the world. After/Within the period of 300 years (the) religion remained in holiness and the people were in peace and without any doubt. But then, the sinful, corrupt and deceitful spirit, in order to cause people doubt this religion, illusioned/led astray that Alexander the Roman, resident of Egypt, and sent him to Iran with much anger and violence. He murdered the ruler of Iran and ruined court, and the religion, as all the Avesta and Zand (which were) written on the ox-hide and decorated with water-of-gold (gold leaves) and had been placed/kept in Stakhr of Papak in the 'citadel of the writings.' That wretched, ill-fated, heretic, evil/sinful Alexander, Roman, (resident of) Eg..."

A sample Middle Persian poem from manuscript of Jamasp Asana:

Dārom andarz-ē az dānāgān

Az guft-ī pēšēnīgān

Ō šmāh bē wizārom

Pad rāstīh andar gēhān

Agar ēn az man padīrēd

Bavēd sūd-ī dō gēhān

In New Persian:

Dāram andarz-ē az dānāgān

دارم اندرزی از داناگان

Az guft-ye pēšēnīgān

از گفته ی پیشینیان

Bi šmā bē gozārom

به شما بگذارم(گزارش دهم

Beh rāstīh andar jāhān

به راستی اندر جهان

agar in az man pazīrēd

اگر این از من پذیرید

Buvad sūd-ī dō jahān

بُوَد سود دو جهان.

Translation:

I have a counsel from the wise,

from the advices of the ancients,

I will pass it upon you

By truth in the world

If you accept this counsel

It will be your benefits for this life and the next

See also

References and bibliography


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Proper noun

Singular
Middle Persian

Plural
-

Middle Persian

  1. The ancestor of modern Persian spoken from around 300 BC till about 800 AD, evolving from Old Persian.

Synonyms

  • Pahlavi

Translations

See also


Simple English

Middle Persian
Spoken in Iran
Language extinction evolved into Modern Persian by the 9th century
Language family Indo-European
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 pal (see text left)
ISO 639-3 pal

Middle Persian is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times (224-654 CE) became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions as well. Middle Persian is classified as Western Iranian language. It comes from Old Persian and is the ancestor of Modern Persian.

The native name for Middle Persian (and perhaps for Old Persian also) was Pārsik, "(language) of Pārs", present-day Fārs Province. The word is consequently (the origin of) the native name for the Modern Persian language.

References and bibliography








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