Eastern Iranian languages | characteristics

Characteristics

The Eastern Iranian area has been affected by widespread sound changes, e.g. t͡ʃ > ts.

English Avestan Pashto Munji Sanglechi Wakhi Shughni Parachi Ormuri Yaghnobi Ossetic
one aēva- yaw yu vak yi yiw žu ī iu
four t͡ʃaθwārō tsalṓr t͡ʃfūr tsəfúr tsībɨr tsavṓr t͡ʃōr tsār Øtafṓr cyppar
seven hapta ōwə ōvda ō ɨb ūvd t aft avd
  • In Yaghnobi initial *č- was lost, there should be expected from *čatfṓr if Yaghnobi didn't loss the initial syllable due to a stress shift

Lenition of voiced stops

Common to most Eastern Iranian languages is a particularly widespread lenition of the voiced stops *b, *d, *g. Between vowels, these have been lenited also in most Western Iranian languages, but in Eastern Iranian, spirantization also generally occurs in the word-initial position. This phenomenon is however not apparent in Avestan, and remains absent from Ormuri-Parachi.

A series of spirant consonants can be assumed to have been the first stage: *b > *β, *d > *ð, *g > *ɣ. The voiced velar fricative /ɣ/ has mostly been preserved. The labial member has been well-preserved too, but in most languages has shifted from a voiced bilabial fricative /β/ to the voiced labiodental fricative /v/. The dental member has proved the most unstable: while a voiced dental fricative /ð/ is preserved in some Pamir languages, it has in e.g. Pashto and Munji lenited further to /l/. On the other hand, in Yaghnobi and Ossetian, the development appears to have been reversed, leading to the reappearance of a voiced stop /d/. (Both languages have also shifted earlier *θ > /t/.)

English Avestan Pashto Munji Sanglechi Wakhi Shughni Parachi Ormuri Yaghnobi Ossetic
ten dasa las los / dā1 dos δas δis dōs das das dæs
cow gav- ɣ ɣṓw uɣūi ɣīw žōw gū gioe ɣōw qug
brother brātar- wrōr vəróy vrūδ vīrīt virṓd b (marzā2) virṓt ærvad3

The consonant clusters *ft and *xt have also been widely lenited, though again excluding Ormuri-Parachi, and possibly Yaghnobi.

External influences

The neighboring Indo-Aryan languages have exerted a pervasive external influence on the closest neighbouring Eastern Iranian, as it is evident in the development in the retroflex consonants (in Pashto, Wakhi, Sanglechi, Khotanese, etc.) and aspirates (in Khotanese, Parachi and Ormuri).[8] A more localized sound change is the backing of the former retroflex fricative ṣ̌ [ʂ], to [x] or to x [χ], found in the Shughni–Yazgulyam branch and certain dialects of Pashto. E.g. "meat": ɡuṣ̌t in Wakhi and γwaṣ̌a in Southern Pashto, but changes to guxt in Shughni, γwaa in Central Pashto and γwaxa in Northern Pashto.

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