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AVESTAN /əˈvɛstən/ , formerly also known as " Zend ", is one of the Eastern Iranian languages within the Indo-European language family known only from its use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, i.e. the Avesta , from which it derives its name. Its area of composition comprised ancient Arachosia , Aria , Bactria
Bactria
, and Margiana , corresponding to the entirety of present-day Afghanistan
Afghanistan
, and parts of Tajikistan
Tajikistan
, Turkmenistan , and Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
. The Yaz culture of Bactria- Margiana has been regarded as a likely archaeological reflection of the early " Eastern Iranian " culture described in the Avesta.

Avestan's status as a sacred language has ensured its continuing use for new compositions long after the language had ceased to be a living language. It is closely related to Vedic Sanskrit , the oldest preserved Indo-Aryan language.

CONTENTS

* 1 Genealogy * 2 Forms and stages of development * 3 Alphabet
Alphabet

* 4 Phonology

* 4.1 Consonants * 4.2 Vowels

* 5 Grammar

* 5.1 Nouns * 5.2 Verbs

* 6 Sample text * 7 Example phrases * 8 See also * 9 Notes * 10 References * 11 Sources * 12 Further reading

GENEALOGY

"Avestan, which is associated with northeastern Iran
Iran
, and Old Persian , which belongs to the southwest, together constitute what is called Old Iranian." The Old Iranian language group is a branch of the Indo-Iranian language group . Iranian languages are traditionally classified as "eastern" or "western", and within this framework Avestan
Avestan
is classified as eastern . But this distinction is of limited meaning for Avestan, as the linguistic developments that later distinguish Eastern from Western Iranian had not yet occurred. Avestan does not display some typical (South-)Western Iranian innovations already visible in Old Persian, and so in this sense, "eastern" only means "non-western". That is not to say that Avestan
Avestan
does not display any characteristic innovations of its own – e.g., the sibilant pronunciation of the consonant in aša , corresponding to original /rt/ that is preserved in the Old Persian form (arta), as well as Sanskrit (ṛta ).

Old Avestan
Avestan
is closely related to Old Persian and agrees largerly in nature to Vedic Sanskrit . It is believed that it might be close to an ancestor dialect of Pashto as well.

FORMS AND STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT

The Avestan language is attested in roughly two forms, known as "Old Avestan" (or "Gathic Avestan") and "Younger Avestan". Younger Avestan did not evolve from Old Avestan; the two differ not only in time, but are also different dialects. Every Avestan
Avestan
text, regardless of whether originally composed in Old or Younger Avestan, underwent several transformations. Karl Hoffmann traced the following stages for Avestan as found in the extant texts. In roughly chronological order:

* The natural language of the composers of the _ Gathas _, the _Yasna Haptanghaiti _, the four sacred prayers (_Y._ 27 and 54). * Changes precipitated by slow chanting * Changes to Old Avestan
Avestan
due to transmission by native speakers of Younger Avestan * The natural language of the scribes who wrote grammatically correct Younger Avestan
Avestan
texts * Deliberate changes introduced through "standardization" * Changes introduced by transfer to regions where Avestan
Avestan
was not spoken * Adaptions/translations of portions of texts from other regions * Composition of ungrammatical late Avestan
Avestan
texts * Phonetic notation of the Avestan
Avestan
texts in the Sasanian archetype * Post-Sasanian deterioration of the written transmission due to incorrect pronunciation * Errors and corruptions introduced during copying

Many phonetic features cannot be ascribed with certainty to a particular stage since there may be more than one possibility. Every phonetic form that can be ascribed to the Sasanian archetype on the basis of critical assessment of the manuscript evidence must have gone through the stages mentioned above so that "Old Avestan" and "Young Avestan" really mean no more than "Old Avestan
Avestan
and Young Avestan
Avestan
of the Sasanian period ."

ALPHABET

Main article: Avestan alphabet
Avestan alphabet

The script used for writing Avestan
Avestan
developed during the 3rd or 4th century AD. By then the language had been extinct for many centuries, and remained in use only as a liturgical language of the Avesta canon. As is still the case today, the liturgies were memorized by the priesthood and recited by rote.

The script devised to render Avestan
Avestan
was natively known as _Din dabireh _ "religion writing". It has 53 distinct characters and is written right-to-left. Among the 53 characters are about 30 letters that are – through the addition of various loops and flourishes – variations of the 13 graphemes of the cursive Pahlavi script (i.e. "Book" Pahlavi) that is known from the post-Sassanian texts of Zoroastrian tradition. These symbols, like those of all the Pahlavi scripts, are in turn based on Aramaic script symbols. Avestan
Avestan
also incorporates several letters from other writing systems, most notably the vowels, which are mostly derived from Greek minuscules. A few letters were free inventions, as were also the symbols used for punctuation. Also, the Avestan alphabet
Avestan alphabet
has one letter that has no corresponding sound in the Avestan
Avestan
language; the character for /l/ (a sound that Avestan
Avestan
does not have) was added to write Pazend texts.

Avestan
Avestan
script is alphabetic , and the large number of letters suggests that its design was due to the need to render the orally recited texts with high phonetic precision. The correct enunciation of the liturgies was (and still is) considered necessary for the prayers to be effective.

The Zoroastrians of India, who represent one of the largest surviving Zoroastrian communities worldwide, also transcribe Avestan
Avestan
in Brahmi -based scripts. This is a relatively recent development first seen in the ca. 12th century texts of Neryosang Dhaval and other Parsi Sanskritist theologians of that era, and which are roughly contemporary with the oldest surviving manuscripts in Avestan
Avestan
script. Today, Avestan
Avestan
is most commonly typeset in Gujarati script (Gujarati being the traditional language of the Indian Zoroastrians). Some Avestan
Avestan
letters with no corresponding symbol are synthesized with additional diacritical marks, for example, the /z/ in _zaraϑuštra_ is written with _j_ with a dot below.

PHONOLOGY

Main article: Avestan phonology

Avestan
Avestan
has retained voiced sibilants, and has fricative rather than aspirate series. There are various conventions for transliteration of Dīn Dabireh, the one adopted for this article being:

Vowels: a ā ə ə̄ e ē o ō å ą i ī u ū

Consonants: k g γ x xʷ č ǰ t d δ ϑ t̰ p b β f ŋ ŋʷ ṇ ń n m y w r s z š ṣ̌ ž h

The glides _y_ and _w_ are often transcribed as _ii_ and _uu_, imitating Dīn Dabireh orthography. The letter transcribed _t̰_ indicates an allophone of /t/ with no audible release at the end of a word and before certain obstruents .

CONSONANTS

TYPE LABIAL DENTAL ALVEOLAR Post-alveolar or palatal VELAR LABIOVELAR GLOTTAL

NASAL

m /m/

n /n/

ń

ŋ /ŋ/

ŋʷ /ŋʷ/

PLOSIVE p /p/ b /b/ t /t/ d /d/

č /tʃ/ ǰ /dʒ/ k /k/ g /ɡ/

FRICATIVE f /ɸ/ β /β/ ϑ /θ/ δ /ð/ s /s/ z /z/ š /ʃ/ ž /ʒ/ x /x/ γ /ɣ/ xʷ /xʷ/

h /h/

APPROXIMANT

y /j/

w /w/

TRILL

r /r/

According to Beekes, and are allophones of /θ/ and /x/ respectively (in Old Avestan).

VOWELS

TYPE FRONT CENTRAL BACK

SHORT LONG SHORT LONG SHORT LONG

CLOSE i /i/ ī /iː/

u /u/ ū /uː/

MID e /e/ ē /eː/ ə /ə/ ə̄ /əː/ o /o/ ō /oː/

OPEN

a /a/ ā /aː/

å /ɒː/

NASAL

ą /ã/

GRAMMAR

NOUNS

CASE "NORMAL" ENDINGS A-STEMS: (MASC. NEUT.)

SINGULAR DUAL PLURAL SINGULAR DUAL PLURAL

NOMINATIVE -s -ā -ō (-as), -ā -ō (yasn-ō) -a (vīr-a) -a (-yasna)

VOCATIVE – -ā -ō (-as), -ā -a (ahur-a) -a (vīr-a) -a (yasn-a), -ånghō

ACCUSATIVE -əm -ā -ō (-as, -ns), -ā -əm (ahur-əm) -a (vīr-a) -ą (haom-ą)

INSTRUMENTAL -ā -byā -bīš -a (ahur-a) -aēibya (vīr-aēibya) -āiš (yasn-āiš)

DATIVE -ē -byā -byō (-byas) -āi (ahur-āi) -aēibya (vīr-aēibya) -aēibyō (yasn-aēibyō)

ABLATIVE -at -byā -byō -āt (yasn-āt) -aēibya (vīr-aēibya) -aēibyō (yasn-aēibyō)

GENITIVE -ō (-as) -å -ąm -ahe (ahur-ahe) -ayå (vīr-ayå) -anąm (yasn-anąm)

LOCATIVE -i -ō, -yō -su, -hu, -šva -e (yesn-e) -ayō (zast-ayō) -aēšu (vīr-aēšu), -aēšva

VERBS

Primary active endings PERSON SINGULAR DUAL PLURAL

1ST -mi -vahi -mahi

2ND -hi -tha -tha

3RD -ti -tō, -thō -ṇti

SAMPLE TEXT

Latin alphabet Avestan
Avestan
alphabet Gujarati script approximation

ahiiā. yāsā. nəmaŋhā. ustānazastō.1 rafəδrahiiā.maniiə̄uš.2 mazdā.3 pouruuīm.4 spəṇtahiiā. aṣ̌ā. vīspə̄ṇg.5 š́iiaoϑanā.6vaŋhə̄uš. xratūm.7 manaŋhō. yā. xṣ̌nəuuīṣ̌ā.8 gə̄ušcā. uruuānəm.9:: (du. bār)::ahiiā. yāsā. nəmaŋhā. ustānazastō. rafəδrahiiā.maniiə̄uš. mazdā. pouruuīm. spəṇtahiiā. aṣ̌ā. vīspə̄ṇg. š́iiaoϑanā.vaŋhə̄uš. xratūm. manaŋhō. yā. xṣ̌nəuuīṣ̌ā. gə̄ušcā. uruuānəm.::

અહીઆ। યાસા। નામંગહા। ઉસ્તાનજ઼સ્તો।૧ રફ઼ાધરહીઆ।મનીઆઉસ્̌।૨ મજ઼્દા।૩ પોઉરુઉઈમ્।૪ સ્પાણ્તહીઆ। અષ્̌આ। વીસ્પાણ્ગ્।૫ સ્̌́ઇઇઅઓથઅના।૬વંગહાઉસ્̌। ક્સરતૂમ્।૭ મનંગહો। યા। ક્સષ્̌નાઉઉઈષ્̌આ।૮ ગાઉસ્̌ચા। ઉરુઉઆનામ્।૯:: (દુ। બાર્)::અહીઆ। યાસા। નામંગહા। ઉસ્તાનજ઼સ્તો। રફ઼ાધરહીઆ।મનીઆઉસ્̌। મજ઼્દા। પોઉરુઉઈમ્। સ્પાણ્તહીઆ। અષ્̌આ। વીસ્પાણ્ગ્। સ્̌́ઇઇઅઓથઅના।વવંગહાઉસ્̌। ક્સરતૂમ્। મનંગહો। યા। ક્સષ્̌નાઉઉઈષ્̌આ। ગાઉસ્̌ચા। ઉરુઉઆનામ્।::

EXAMPLE PHRASES

The following phrases were phonetically transcribed from Avestan:

AVESTAN ENGLISH COMMENT

tapaiti It's hot Can also mean "he is hot" or "she is hot" (in temperature)

šiiauuaθa You(p) move

vō vatāmi I understand you(p)

mā vātaiiaθa You(p) teach me Literally: "You let me understand"

dim naiiehi You lead him/her

dim vō nāiiaiieiti He/she lets you(p) lead him/her Present tense

mā barahi You carry me

nō baraiti He/she carries us

θβā dim bāraiiāmahi We let him/her carry you Present tense

drauuāmahi We run

dīš drāuuaiiāmahi We let them run Present tense

θβā hacāmi I follow you

dīš hācaiieinti They accompany them Literally: "They let them follow"

ramaiti He rests

θβā rāmaiiemi I calm you Literally: "I let you rest"

Note: "you" is singular unless marked with a (p) for plural.

SEE ALSO

* Proto-Iranian language * Proto-Indo-Iranian language * Proto-Indo-European language

NOTES

* ^ "It is impossible to attribute a precise geographical location to the language of the Avesta... With the exception of an important study by P. Tedesco (1921 ), who advances the theory of an 'Avestan homeland' in northwestern Iran, Iranian scholars of the twentieth century have looked increasingly to eastern Iran
Iran
for the origins of the Avestan language and today there is general agreement that the area in question was in eastern Iran—a fact that emerges clearly from every passage in the Avesta that sheds any light on its historical and geographical background."

REFERENCES

* ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Avestan". _ Glottolog 2.7 _. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. * ^ Wells, John C. (1990), _Longman pronunciation dictionary_, Harlow, England: Longman, p. 53, ISBN 0-582-05383-8 entry "Avestan" * ^ Witzel, Michael . "THE HOME OF THE ARYANS" (PDF). Harvard University . p. 10. Retrieved 8 May 2015. Since the evidence of Young Avestan
Avestan
place names so clearly points to a more eastern location, the Avesta is again understood, nowadays, as an East Iranian text, whose area of composition comprised -- at least -- Sīstån/Arachosia, Herat, Merw and Bactria. * ^ Mallory, J P (1997). _Encyclopedia of Indo-European culture_. page 653. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. ISBN 978-1-884964-98-5 . entry "Yazd culture". * ^ Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices by Mary Boyce (pg. 18) * ^ _A_ _B_ Hoffmann, Karl (1989), " Avestan
Avestan
language", _Encyclopedia Iranica_, 3, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 47–52 . * ^ Gnoli, Gherardo (1989), " Avestan
Avestan
geography", _Encyclopedia Iranica_, 3, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 44–47 . * ^ Encyclopaedia Iranica: EASTERN IRANIAN LANGUAGES. By Nicholas Sims-Williams * ^ Hoffmann, K. Encyclopaedia Iranica. AVESTAN LANGUAGE. III. The grammar of Avestan.: "The morphology of Avestan
Avestan
nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and verbs is, like that of the closely related Old Persian, inherited from Proto-Indo-European via Proto-Indo-Iranian (Proto-Aryan), and agrees largely with that of Vedic, the oldest known form of Indo-Aryan. The interpretation of the transmitted Avestan texts presents in many cases considerable difficulty for various reasons, both with respect to their contexts and their grammar. Accordingly, systematic comparison with Vedic is of much assistance in determining and explaining Avestan
Avestan
grammatical forms." * ^ Morgenstierne, G. Encyclopaedia Iranica: AFGHANISTAN vi. Paṧto "it seems that the Old Iranic ancestor dialect of Paṧtō must have been close to that of the Gathas." * ^ Hale, Mark (2004). "Avestan". In Roger D. Woodard. _The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages_. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56256-2 . * ^ Lubotsky, Alexander (2010). _Van Sanskriet tot Spijkerschrift: Breinbrekers uit alle talen_ (in Dutch). Amsterdam University Press. pp. 18, 69–71. ISBN 9089641793 . Retrieved 30 April 2016.

SOURCES

* Beekes, Robert S. P. (1988), _A Grammar of Gatha-Avestan_, Leiden: Brill, ISBN 90-04-08332-4 . * Hoffmann, Karl; Forssman, Bernhard (1996), _Avestische Laut- und Flexionslehre_, Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 84, Institut fur Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Innsbruck, ISBN 3-85124-652-7 . * Kellens, Jean (1990), " Avestan
Avestan
syntax", _Encyclopedia Iranica_, 3/sup, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul * Skjærvø, Prod Oktor (2006), _Old Avestan_, fas.harvard.edu . * Skjærvø, Prod Oktor (2006), _Introduction to Young Avestan_, fas.harvard.edu .

FURTHER READING

* Information on Avestan language at avesta.org * Old Iranian (including Old and Young Avestan) at The University of Texas * Old Avestan
Avestan
and Young Avestan
Avestan
at Harvard University * Text samples and Avesta Corpus at TITUS. * Boyce, Mary (1989), " Avestan
Avestan
people", _Encyclopedia Iranica_, 3, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 62–66 .

* v * t * e

Indo-Iranian languages

INDO-ARYAN (INDIC)

OLD / MIDDLE

OLD

* Vedic

* Sanskrit

* Classical * Buddhist

* Mitanni-Aryan

MIDDLE

* Abahatta * Apabhraṃśa

* Dramatic Prakrits

* Magadhi * Maharashtri * Shauraseni

* Elu * Gāndhārī * Paisaci * Pāli * Prakrit
Prakrit

MODERN

CENTRAL

HINDI

* Awadhi * Bagheli * Bhojpuri * Bombay Hindi * Braj Bhasha * Bundeli * Caribbean Hindi * Chhattisgarhi * Fiji Hindi * Haflong Hindi * Haryanvi * Kannauji * Khari Boli * Sansi Boli

URDU

* Dakhini
Dakhini
* Hyderabadi Urdu
Urdu
* Rekhta (early form)

OTHERS

* Danwar * Parya

EASTERN

BENGALI–ASSAMESE

* Assamese * Bengali * Bishnupriya Manipuri * Chakma * Chittagonian * Hajong * Kayort * Kharia Thar * Nahari * Rajbanshi * Rohingya * Sylheti

BIHARI

* Angika * Vajjika * Magahi * Maithili * Majhi * Sadri

ODIA

* Halbi * Odia

OTHERS

* Mal Paharia

NORTHERN

* Garhwali * Kumaoni

* Nepali

* Palpa

North western

* Aer * Dogri * Hindko * Kangri * Kutchi * Punjabi * Sindhi * Saraiki

SOUTHERN

MARATHI–KONKANI

* Konkani * Marathi

INSULAR

* Maldivian * Sinhala

WESTERN

BHIL

* Bhili * Gamit

RAJASTHANI

* Bagri * Goaria * Gojri * Jaipuri * Malvi * Marwari * Mewari * Dhatki (sociolect)

OTHERS

* Domari * Gujarati * Kalto * Khandeshi * Parkari Koli * Romani * Saurashtra

OTHERS

DARDIC

* Dameli * Domaaki * Gawar-Bati * Kalami * Kalash * Kashmiri * Khowar * Kohistani * Nangalami * Palula * Pashayi * Shina * Shumashti * Torwali * Ushoji

IRANIAN

OLD / MIDDLE

OLD

WESTERN

* Old Persian * Median

EASTERN

* _ Avestan
Avestan
_ * _Old Scythian _

MIDDLE

WESTERN

* Middle Persian
Middle Persian
* _Parthian _

EASTERN

* _Bactrian _ * _Khwarezmian _

* Ossetic

* _Jassic _

* Sakan (Sacian) * Scythian * Sogdian

MODERN

NORTH

* _Old Azari _ * Balochi * Central Iran
Iran
* Zoroastrian Dari * Fars * Gilaki * Gorani

* Kurdic

* Sorani * Kurmanji * Southern group

* Mazandarani * Semnani * Taleshi * Deilami * Tati * Zazaki

EASTERN

PAMIR

* Ishkashimi * Sanglechi * Wakhi * Munji * Yidgha * Vanji * Yazghulami * Shughni * Roshani * Khufi * Bartangi * Sarikoli

OTHERS

* Ossetian

* Digor * Iron

* Pashto

* Central Pashto * Northern Pashto * Southern Pashto * Wanetsi

* Yaghnobi * Ormuri * Parachi

WESTERN

SOUTH

* Persian

* Caucasian Tat * Dari * Tajik

* Luri

* Feyli * Bakhtiari * Laki * Kumzari

* Larestani * Bashkardi

OTHER INDO-IRANIAN LANGUAGES

NURISTANI

KAMKATA-VIRI

* Kamviri * Kata-vari * Mumviri

OTHERS

* Askunu * Kalasha-ala * Kamkata-viri * Tregami * Vasi-vari

_Italics_ indicate extinct languages .

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Avestan
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