Vafsi is situated within the Northwestern branch of Iranian languages and spoken in four villages in west central Iran (Markazi Province, Arak district, near Tafresh (cf. Figure 1)) including: Vafs, Chehrqān, Gurchān and Fark. Based on the census of the Statistical Center of Iran in 2011, the population of Vafsi-speaking community in the village of Vafsi was estimated 1583 (Dabir-Moghaddam 2013), which however increasingly varies to 18000 according to the Ethnologue Languages of the World (http://www.ethnologue.com/language/vaf), when the other neighboring zones are taken into consideration too. Vafsi is identified as a ‘definitely endangered’ language by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger (http://www.unesco.org/languages-atlas/en/atlasmap.html). The paucity of literature on the Vafsi language and its susceptibility to extinction invite researchers and scholars to pay due attention to documenting as well as providing a descriptive grammar for the language. At present, the sole scholarly work on Vafsi pertains to the outstanding, frequently cited volume entitled Vafsi Folk Tales by Donald Stilo in 2004. The origin of Vafsi within a larger Indo-European spectrum is crystally clear, despite the fact that its genealogy within the Iranian family is under question. It has sometimes been classified as belonging to the Tatic Group (Stilo 1981), particularly to the Southern Tati Dialects (cf. Yar-Shater 1969) due to shared vocabularies, whilst it is sometimes argued to be lying under the Central Plateau dialects in the light of similar grammatical traits (Stilo 2004)

Figure 1. The geography of Vafsi
Indo-Iranian
Western Iranian
Northwestern Iranian
Tatic
Southern Tatic
Vafsic
Ashtiani Vafsi
Figure 2. The alleged linguistic affiliation of Vafsi1 (from Glottolog2 )

Despite the fact that Vafsi reveals a tendency to place the direct object pre-verbally, being then categorized as an OV language (Stilo 2005, cited in the World Atlas of Language Structures Online), an investigative study corroborates the fact that it is essentially identified as representing a mixed typology of strong verb-medial and verb-final languages (cf. Dabir-Moghaddam 2013 for more details). Vafsi extensively utilizes prepositions, postpositions, occasionally circumpositions, and case-markers that are gender-sensitive. Interestingly, the Persian postpositional enclitic -ra (DOM) is wildly used in this language with the intriguing property that it contains the vestiges of the Classical Persian period where -ra was exerted to flag thematically oblique roles, such as instrumental, dative, beneficiary, comitative (cf. (1)).

1
  • Æz æhmæd-ί æ-č=óm.
    1SG Ahmad-OBL IPFV-go.PRS=1SG
    "I go with Ahmad."

Vafsi is also a DOM (Differential Object Marking) language, which is regulated by two features of animacy and specificity (Stilo 2004), in the sense that animate and specific object are marked by -e (F) or -i ~ -y (M), i.e. they are in oblique case. On the contrary, objects lacking these features remain in direct case. See this contrast in (2).

2
  • a -
    in xǽr-i nǽ-ruš-i?
    2SG DEM donkey-OBL NEG-sell.PRS-2SG
    "Do you not sell this donkey?"
  • b -
    Bǽ-ss-e yey xær há-gir-e.
    PRF-gp.PST-3SG INDF donkey prev-get.PRS-3SG
    "He left to buy a donkey." (Stilo 2004: 243, cited in Dabir-Moghaddam 2013: 589)

An interesting complication about the Vafsi language is concerned with split ergativity, where S(ubject), A(gent), P(atient) are accusatively aligned in the present tense, on the one hand, and ergatively aligned in the past tense, on the other. Moreover, Vafsi exhibits a PST-triggered tripartite alignment type via which the S and A are in direct and oblique case, respectively, and the P is assigned no co-referring index/agreement. Significantly, agreement system in the language is split in terms of tense-related parameters. Agreement in transitive and transitive verbs in the present tense is encoded by suffixed verbal endings, which contrasts with the PST-aligned transitives in which inherently oblique clitics take responsibility for A-agreement (cf. Dabir-Moghaddam 2013).

Dr. Farhad Moezzipour References
  • Dabir-Moghaddam, Mohammad. 2013. Typology of Iranian Languages, vol.1 (in Persian). SAMT: Tehran.
  • Stilo, Donald. 1981.The Tati Language Group in the Sociolinguistic Context of Northwestern Iran and Transcaucasia, Iranian Studies, 14( 3-4): 137-187.
  • Stilo, Donald. 2004. Vafsi Folk Tales. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert.
  • Stilo, Donald L. 2005. Iranian as Buffer Zone between the Universal Typologies of Turkic and Semitic. In Carina Jahani, Bo Isaksson and Éva Ágnes Csató (eds.), Linguistic Convergence and Areal Diffusion: Case Studies in Iranian, Semitic and Turkic, 35-63. London: Routledge Curzon.
  • Yar-Shater, Ehsan.1969. A Grammar of Southern Tati Dialects. Mouton, The Hague, Paris.

1 . Ashtiani is sometimes believed to constitute a separate subgroup anchoring from Southern Tatic. (for a working classification of the Iranian languages cf. https://docs.google.com/document/d/13HM6ElEb3cPqf4FWxYVc8LqRrvFsyu0mGXXqaawgXWk/pub).
2 . http://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/vafs1240

According to Yar Shater (1969), Tati (Tātī) refers to a group of Iranian dialects spoken in northwestern Persia, in areas where the common vernacular is Azarbaijani Turkish. Listed under definitely endangered languages by UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger (see: http://www.unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/index.phpn), Tati dialects constitute one of the most important branches of Northwestern Iranian (Yar Shater, 1969) and their remarkable grammatical features and archaisms in morphology, syntax, and vocabulary invite special attention. Stilo (1981) has used Tati to refer to a group of languages of Northwest Iranian origin, generally classified as a subgroup of the Central Plateau Languages, spoken in an area that extends from the Irano-Soviet border in Azerbaijan, south to the Saveh area and possibly beyond. Stilo has divided Tati-type languages into ten groups on the basis of geographic proximity and linguistic and ethnic criteria (see the map):

  • Group One: dialect of Harzan, dialects of Dizmar District
  • Group Two: Northern Talyshi, Central Talyshi , Southern Talyshi
  • Group Three: dialects of Khalkhal District in Eastern Azerbaijan Province
  • Group Four: dialects of the Taromil type including dialects of Upper Tarom of Zanjan Province and dialects of Kalas and Kabate of Rudbar District of Gilan Province
  • Group Five: dialects of the Khoin area of Zanjan Province
  • Group Six: Southern Tati of Professor Yar-Shater's (1969) classification including dialects spoken in Takestan, Esfarvarin, Shal, Xiāraj, Xoznin, Ebrāhim-ābādi, Sagz-ābād, Dānesfān, and Eshtehard
  • Group Seven: Dialects north and northeast of Qazvin including Qazvin Kuhpaye area, Maraghei dialects of the upper Rudbar area, and Alamut area
  • Group Eight: Dialects of Alvir and Vidar, near Saveh
  • Group Nine: Dialects of Vafs and environs, in the Arak District of the Central Province
  • Group Ten: Rudbar dialects of the Sefid Rud Valley which are considered transitional to Caspian languages

Yar Shater (1969) categorized Southern Tati group into nine different dialects:

  • Tākestāni
  • Esfarvarini
  • Shali
  • Xiāraji
  • Xoznini
  • Ebrāhim-ābādi
  • Sagz-ābādi
  • Dānesfāni
  • Eshtehardi

The name of each dialect corresponds to the main village or town in which the dialect is spoken. All these towns and villages are situated to the southwest and south of Qazvin. The towns and villages from north to south are:

  • Tākestān, locally and formerly Siādohon, 36 kms. southwest of Qazvin at the conjunction of the Tehran-Zanjān and Tehran-Hamadān roads, in the Dodānga rural district, Ziā-ābād county. Population around 100,000. A thriving town growing vines and cereals with a raisin factory
  • Esfarvarin, locally Esvavarin, Esbarin, Esparin, 26 kms. northwest of Buyin, in the Ramand rural district, Buyin county. Population 3,870.
  • Shāl, locally Čāl, 30 kms. to the northwest of Buyin, in the Ramand rural district. Population 5,546.
  • Xiāraj, locally Xiāra, 27 kms. west and slightly north of Buyin, in the Rāmand rural district.Population 1,395. A village of declining fortunes, important at one time.
  • Xoznin, 24 kms. northwest of Buyin, in the Rāmand rural district. Population 1,015.
  • Ebrāhim-ābād, locally Bermowā, 18 kms. northwest of Buyin, in the Zahrā rural district, Buyin county. Population 1,235. The village has an exceptionally high level of literacy.
  • Sagz-ābāad, locally Seyzowa, Sazjowa, 12 kms. northwest of Buyin, in the Zahrā rural district. Population 1,942.
  • Dānesfān, locally Dānesbon, 30 kms. west and slightly north of Buyin, in the Rāmand rural district. Population 2,409. This village, together with Xoznin, was the worst hit in the area by the earthquake of the summer of 1962. Both have now been reconstructed
  • Eshtehārd, locally Eštrārda (fem.), 78 kms. west of Karaj, in the Mahābād rural district, Karaj county. Population 4,542.
Dr. Ramin Rahmany

In Iran various dialects of Neo-Aramaic are or were spoken by Christians, Jews and Mandaeans. Neo-Aramaic dialects can be divided into several branches which split off from each other already in ancient times. Western Neo-Aramaic is only spoken in three villages in Syria, including Maaloula. Eastern branches of Neo-Aramaic are native to Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. The dialects in Iran belong to the North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic family and to Neo-Mandaic. The latter is now spoken only by at most a few hundred Mandaeans native to Ahwaz and Khorramshahr and is extremely endangered. It used also to be spoken in Iraq but died out there probably in the 19th century. It is the only one of the eastern Neo-Aramaic dialects that preserves the original Aramaic verbal system. The two major descriptions are Macuch (1965) – which covers both Classical and Neo-Mandaic – and Häberl (2009) on the dialect of Khorramshahr.

North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA) dialects are extremely diverse, such that they are often mutually incomprehensible. The dialects spoken by Iranian Jews belong to the Trans-Zab dialects: the South East Trans-Zab dialects native to cities such as Sanandaj, Saqqiz and Kerend; and the dialects of Iranian Azerbaijan, such as Urmia, Salamas and Mahabad. Most of the speakers now live outside Iran and their language is not being passed down to the younger generations. Grammars of these dialects include Garbell (1965) and Khan (2004, 2008, 2009). The NENA dialects spoken by Iranian Christians are native to Sanandaj (Panoussi 1990) and also to Iranian Azerbaijan – Urmia, Salamas and villages in the region (Younansardaroud 2001, Khan forthcoming). The dialects spoken by Jews and Christians in Urmia, although both Aramaic, are quite distinct and largely mutually incomprehensible.

Dr. Eleanor Coghill References
  • Khan, Geoffrey. 2004, The Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Sulemaniyya and Halabja (Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics 44), Leiden: Brill.
  • Khan, Geoffrey. 2008. The Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Urmi (Gorgias Neo-Aramaic Studies 2), Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgias Press.
  • Khan, Geoffrey. 2009. The Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Sanandaj. Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgias Press.
  • Panoussi, Estiphan. 1990. ‘On the Senaya dialect’, in W. Heinrichs (ed.), Studies in Neo-Aramaic, Harvard Semitic Studies. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 107–129.
  • Younansardaroud, Helen. 2001, Der neuostaramäische Dialekt von Särdä:rïd, Semitica Viva 26. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Dari (also known as Behdini, Gavri or Gavruni) is an Iranian language and is spoken by the religious minority of the Zoroastrians who live mostly in the cities of Yazd and the surrounding areas, and in Kerman and Tehran. Dari has generally been considered to be closely related to central dialects in various works.

Zoroastrian Dari is one of the most unique Iranian languages on account of its large number of subdialects. There are two main dialects of Dari: Kermani and Yazdi. The dialect of Yazdi has many subdialects, while there appears to be only one dialect of Kermani. There were probably different dialects of Kermani in earlier periods of time, but today we find only one dialect. These possible former Kermani dialects outside of Kerman would be Jupāri, Qanātqestuni, and Esmāʿil Ābādi. The names Jupār, Qanātqestun, and Esmāʿil Ābād refer to three Zoroastrians villages near Māhān. The last Zoroastrian families left these villages, and most of them have moved to Kerman. There is no remnant of these subdialects anymore. The Yazdi dialect of Dari has received much more scholarly attention than Kermani. The reason for this attention is that Yazdi is better preserved, and because of the existence of more than 25 subdialects, it offers more interesting areas of study for scholars. Yazdi Dari subdialects can be divided into four main groups: 1. High Dari “Malati”, spoken inside of Yazd; 2. Dialects historically outside of Yazd, but currently spoken within the city Yazd or near Yazd; 3. Yazdi dialects spoken around Taft; 4. Yazdi dialects spoken around Ardakān and Meybod.

Zoroastrian Dari is a critically endangered language. The migration of Zoroastrian families to the big cities, and the mass migration of young Zoroastrians, especially to the United States and to Canada, and their social integration in the new city or country, are the main reasons for the high endangerment status of this language. Migration is not the only reason behind the critically endangered status of Dari. Persian, the official language of Iran, has been strongly influencing all regional and minority languages, including Zoroastrian Dari.

In terms of language endangerment, both Kermani and Yazdi Dari are regarded as critically endangered. The situation of the Kermani dialect is especially grave, while the situation of the Yazdi dialect of Dari is comparatively better. In Yazd Dari has kept some functions in daily activities. Religious ceremonies are a main context for the use of Dari language in this city. Another crucial context is the domain of the family. A number of parents in Yazd still speak Dari with their children. In Kerman, there are no longer any people, who speak this language as either a first or second language, and thus the language has ceased to be used. The last context for using this dialect was for ritual purposes in the religious ceremonies. The best speakers of Kermani Dari used to be three elderly ladies, but after they passed away, only three other speakers have remained, and they do not actively use the language at all. In my research project, “Documenting a religious minority: Zoroastrian Dari in Kerman”, funded by the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, I have been documenting the last traces of Zoroastrian Dari in Kerman.

Dr. Saloumeh Gholami
Background of the Kurdish language

Kurdish is the cover term for a group of closely related west Iranian languages, spoken across a large area of the Middle East centering at the intersection of the Turkish, Iranian and Iraqi national borders. The number of speakers is variously estimated at between 20 and 40 million. Traditionally, three major dialect clusters are identified: The Northern Group, often referred to as Kurmanji (also spelled Kurmanci); the Central Group, often referred to as Sorani; and the Southern Group. In terms of numbers of speakers, the Northern Group is the largest, encompassing all the Kurds of Turkey and Syria, plus the northernmost Kurds of Iraq (Zakho, Dohuk), Kurds of west Iran around Lake Urmia, plus outliers in Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia. The Central Group includes most of the Kurds of Iraq around the cities of Suleimania, Kirkuk, and Erbil, plus speakers in Iran around the cities of Sanandaj, Kermanshah and northeast of Iran.

Speakers of the Northern Group have maintained long-standing relations with speakers of many languages. Alongside the national languages such as Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Persian, Turkish and Russian, there has been contact with numerous minority languages, for example varieties of Eastern Neoaramaic, some indigenous languages of the Caucasus, Turcoman, varieties of Romani, to name but a few. Obviously it is not possible to cover the full range of contact situations and outcomes in the space of this chapter. Instead I will focus on the Khorasani variety of Kurmanji, and restrict my analysis to the impact of the (now) major contact language, Persian.

Haig (2006:283-297) reviewed briefly the sociolinguistics of Kurdish in Turkey which is extremely complex, variegated, and poorly described. “Prior to the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923, relations between the two speech communities were not marked by any great prestige asymmetry. In fact, in the partly autonomous regions of Anatolia, Kurdish enjoyed considerable prestige as the language of many powerful landowners and religious leaders, and was learned as a second language and used as a lingua franca by speakers of many other speech communities. However, as a result of the nationalist currents accompanying the founding of the Turkish Republic, the status of Kurdish deteriorated rapidly, and the language has been officially non-existent for much of the Republic’s history” (see Haig 2002a, 2004). The advent of compulsory schooling, military service, and the intrusion of mass-media to the most isolated parts of Kurdistan have led to large-scale language shift, and a drastic reduction in the number of children acquiring Kurdish fully as an L1.

Unfortunately, there is as yet no serious empirical research on Kurmanji speakers in northeast of Iran (the Khorasani variety of Kurmanji), so I am obliged to draw on the personal observations of speakers I have worked with in assessing the situation. The speakers who provided the data from which most of them has been taken are all Kurdish native speakers and bilinguals of Persian and Kurmanji.

The history of Kurdish linguistics

According to Haig (2008), the most influential descriptive work on Kurdish since the Second World War is undoubtedly Mackenzie (1961a, 1962), which systematically documents extensive fieldwork on Sorani and Kurmanji dialects of Iraq. Mackenzie’s work can be seen as a continuation of the dialect documentations of earlier Iranian scholars, but with significant technical and theoretical improvements. First, Mackenzie based his transcriptions on tape recordings, and second, Mackenzie undertook a phonemic analysis of each dialect and based his transcriptions on a phonemic script, as opposed to the modified “Orientalist transcription” used by many of his predecessors. Although Mackenzie gathered extensive texts, his ultimate aim was not simply documentation; rather, he was concerned with a genetic classification of the dialects. The dialect classifications he proposes is certainly the most sophisticated to date within Kurdish linguistics.

The areas considered are northeast of Iran, where contact with Persian has traditionally been fairly strong, and where the number of other languages involved is somewhat less than in many parts of the Kurdish speech zone. Of the different local varieties considered, the Kurdish speech zone in Turkey, Syria and west part of Iran appear close enough to be identified by their respective speakers as “my dialect”, but the Khorasani variety shows some distinct features which are, to my knowledge, not found elsewhere.

Despite centuries of coexistence of Persian and Kurdish speakers in Iran, the core grammars of Kurmanji and Persian have remained quite distinct: Constituent order in the NP, inflectional morphology, gender system, alignment in past tenses, and means of subordination. The changes generally involve a loss of constructional variants, or changes in the frequency of constructional variants, rather than the introduction of completely new structures, either through matter or pattern borrowing. It is a simple fact that all the changes noted result in the structure that is significantly closer to that of Persian. What we have then is the cumulative effect of small changes, each of which serve to push the entire grammar a little further in a certain direction. This type of gradual, cumulative change may be typical for the type of long-standing coexistence on more or less equal footing that characterized Persian–Kurmanji language contacts up to the beginning of the twentieth century.

For example, code-switching and early Kurmanji–Persian bilingualism may well have been quite unusual among the rural population in the past 50 years among old generations, so one might expect the contact outcome to be quite different to that found in, for example, very small and threatened minority languages surrounded by a dominant language, where bilingualism has been the norm for an extended period.

Mahjub Zirak
BLarestan & the Lari language

Larestan is located at the Southeastern part of Fars Province in Iran. It’s bound to Fars Province from the north, to Hormozgan province from the south, to Kerman province from the east, and to Bushehr province from the west ‎[1]. In this language, there are nine districts including Khonji, Avazi, Gerashi, Fishvari, Aheli, Ashkanani, etc. ‎[2]. From an etymological view, ‘Lar’ is derived from ‘Lad’ meaning ’the origin and the basis of everything‘.

Categorized as a ‘definitely endangered language’ by the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, Lari is of the 14 Iranian Endangered Languages which are to be preserved through research and analysis, raising awareness, supporting projects and most importantly disseminating information such as books and articles. ‘Education through mother tongue’, furthermore, is one of the UNESCO’s five programs in addressing particular aspects of language endangerment and contributing to its preservation [3]; consequently, it seems of high significance to provide the teachers with descriptive materials of endangered languages (e.g., Lari) in order to develop an appropriate educational syllabus design. Although some districts in Hormozgan like Bastak and Gavbandi are not included in Larestan today, the dialects of the aforementioned districts have so many common features with Lari, so they’re considered as the dialects of Lari, e.g., the Bastaki dialect of Lari. Therefore, the dispersion of the Lari language not only encompasses districts in Fars province, but it also consists of some area in Hormozgan and even Boushehr. Table 1 shows the dispersion of the Lari language throughout Iran in more details:

Table 1.The dispersion of Lari language in three provinces of Fars, Hormozgan and Boushehr

In addition, there are so many speakers of the Lari language in other Persian Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. Although some Lari researchers [10] have named the languages as ‘Achomi’, it is unanimously believed that the name is completely outcast linguistically and ‘Lari’ or ‘Larestani’ can best describe the language.

Studies on Lari

The published documentary record on Lari is uneven and incomplete. It provides an insecure basis for linguistic generalization, and it is also inadequate for purposes of preservation, both for the community of linguists and for the Lari people. Published grammatical descriptions exist for Lari (Kamioka, 1979 [12] ; Vosughui, 1990; Eghtedari, 1990; Khonji, 2009); also, there are a few unpublished sources which provide a linguistic overview of the variety of Lari, and a handful of published articles. Nevertheless, none of these is an adequate comprehensive general reference source on Lari. Khonji grammar succinctly describes the dialect of Khonj & Lari and typologically unusual phonologically-based noun classification system but it fails to indicate mood, a ubiquitous and critical inflectional category on the verb in Lari. These texts also fail to distinguish morphemes from words. In addition, they give little attention to lower levels of grammar and suffer from severe inadequacies in transcription.

Lari is of the SW branch of Middle Iranian languages [namely, Pahlavi in the Middle period of Persian Language Evolution) and consists of nine dialects, the most difference of which is in pronunciation ‎[4]. A few authors have written some books about this language, among which Malčanova (1982) is noticeable [11]. One of the most important researchers of this area is Koji Kamioka, a Japanese Professor who wrote ‘Comparative Basic Vocabulary of Khonji and Lari’ in the Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa in 1979. Furthermore, some Iranian researches like Vosughui (2005), Eghtedari (2005) have done precious researches about Lari in various areas ‎[5] but the most important of these researches is carried out by Amirhussein Khonji (2015) who has written the book titled ‘Larestani Dialect’ which is based on linguistic features of Lari and most vocabularies were gathered.

Furthermore, the recent articles written in the areas of morphology (especially nominal and verbal system) by Ourang & Moridi (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 a, 2013 b, 2014, 2015) are some of the most important researches done on Lari, the results of which have been presented in international conferences and journals [6, 7, 8].

Mohammad Ourang References
  • M. Ahmadinya, “Khate Alfbai guyesh Larestani (Alphabetic Writing system of Larestani)”, [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www. Larshenasi. Com, 2010.
  • B. Moridi, “Barrasi va moghayeseye zabane Lari ba guyeshe Dashtestani (The study and comparison of the Lari language and Dashtestani dialect)”. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www. Larshenasi. Com, 2010.
  • Ch. Moseley, “Atlas of the world’s languages in danger” (3rd Ed.). Retrieved from http://unesco.org/culture/language-atlas/, 2010.
  • S. Geravand, “Barrasi risheshenakhtiye guyesh Larestani va moghayeseye an ba zabane Farsi (An etymological study of Larestani compared to Persian)”. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www. Larshenasi. Com, 2010.
  • L. Khonji, “Negareshe Tafsili bar Zabane Larestani va Guyeshe Khonji [A comprehensive study of the Larestani language and Khonji dialect]”, Shiraz: Ilaf Publication, 2009.
  • N. Tahekhani, &, M. Ourang. “A study of derivational morphemes in Lari and Tati as two endangered Iranian languages: An analytical –contrastive examination with Persian”, Journal of American Science, 9 (11s), pp. 38-45., 2013.
  • M. Mirdehghan, &, M. Ourang, “An analytic study of the grammatical tenses in Lari language”, International Review of Social Sciences and Humanities, 6 (1), pp. 124-134, 2013.
  • M. Mirdehghan, F. Aliramaie, & M. Ourang, “Inflectional morphemes in Hawrami: An analytical study”, Proceedings of the First International Conference on Iranian Languages and Dialects, Tehran, Iran. March, 2012.
  • B. Moridi & M. Ourang, “Derivational morphemes in Lari language: Limitations and applications”, Proceedings of the Second National Conference on Farsi Language Teaching and Linguistics, Shiraz Islamic Azad University, Shiraz, Iran, 2013.
  • M, Kariminejad, “Ahel, noarouse shahrestane Lamerd [Ahel, the bride of Lamerd township]”, Shiraz: Navid, 2002.
  • E. K. Molchanova, “Lari dialects (M. Ehsani, Trans.)”, Journal of language and Literature, Farhangestan Newsletter, vol.18, pp.183-187, 2001
  • K. Kamioka, “Larestani studies (1)”.Tokyo, 1979.
  • A. Eghtedari, Larestane Kohan va Farhange Larestani [The ancient Larestan and Larestani culture], Tehran, Moaser Press, 1990.
  • M. B. Vosoughi, Lar, shahri be range khak [Lar, a city of soil colour], Kanoun Press, 1990.

The city of Nain and the surrounding area are inhabited by a population who mostly speak a variety of dialects of Naini, also referred to as Biyabanak, a language of Central Iranian which is a branch of the Northwestern family of Iranian languages. The aforementioned Northwestern Iranian extends nearly as far as Ardestan in the northwest, to Oqada (in Yazd province) in the south, Anarak in the north and nearly as far as Isfahan in the southwest. The community of Naini speakers is dramatically decreasing like those of many other Iranian languages (Natanzi, Tati, Vafsi, Lari, Harzani, etc) for political, social, economical and cultural reasons. The sum total of Naini speakers was estimated as 7000 by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger, (the 2000 census) and thus the language was regarded severely endangered (http://www.unesco.org/languages-atlas/index.php? hl=en&page=atlasmap).

Figure.1 the geography of Naini

Anarak, Khuri and Naini are identified as the three main dialects of Naini. Little research has been published on the language and what exists consists of either inadequate descriptions or very basic analysis of a few characteristics. The earliest studies on Naini

date to the 1920s, with the publication of Ivanow’s (1926) investigation of the Khuri and Anaraki dialects. Many other works on Naini language have since been conducted by scholars (e.g. see Mann, 1926; Ivanow, 1929; Mousa Kazemi, 2008; Sotude, 1986; Mofidi, 2004 among others). Moreover, a small number of researchers who are native to the region have written about the language, either in general or focusing on a particular dialect (e.g. Ebrahimi Anaraki , 1999).

Figure.2 Anarak

With regard to Naini word order (on the basis of data from the Neyestank dialect), there is strong evidence that it is verb-medial (see Dabir-Moghaddam (2013) for more details). A comparison of the word order of Naini with that of Persian reveals significant similarity, except that Naini lacks the question particles such as âjâ ‘do’ in relevant interrogative structures (Dabir-Moghaddam, 2013).

One more outstanding feature of Naini that is important to mention is that it is mainly a prepositional language. Dabir-Moghaddam (2013) gives the following prepositions: be, ve, œz, ba and tu. Although the postposition râ emerges quite extensively in the language, it is not an accusative marker (direct object), rather it has semantic application, meaning bœrâye ‘for’.

A prominent feature of Iranian languages is the occurrence of tense-split ergativity (Windfuhr, 2009), which is found in Naini in the agreement system as well. With intransitive verbs, both in present and past forms, and also with present transitive verbs, the subject agreement appears as a suffix on the verb, while with past transitive verbs, the subject agreement occurs as a clitic. According to Dabir-Moghaddam (2013), in the latter case, the clitic may attach to various elements within the verb phrase (VP), such as direct object, indirect object or adverb. Consider (1), where the latter agreement system is exemplified in (the direct object is hosting the clitic):

  • 1 -
    me kutab=om i-riy
    I book=CL.1sg PR-buy
    "I bought the book."

Dabir-Moghaddam (2013) states that the host of the agreement clitic more often is the first element in the VP. However, he argues that information architecture (information structure), such as foregrounding and topicalizations, exerts influence on the clitic position in the VP. Accordingly, any other elements than the first one in the VP may take the agreement clitic. See the following examples:

  • 2 -
    on kutab=oš mali ver-xon-t
    he/she book=CL.3sg very read-PAST
    "He/she read book very much."
  • 3 -
    on mali=š kutab ver-xon-t
    he/she very CL.3sg book read-PAST
    "He/she read book very much."
  • 4 -
    on mali kutab=oš ver-xon-t
    he/she very book=CL.3sg read-PAST
    "He/she read book very much."

Last point to mention is that in Naini the agreement system plays a crucial role in determining Grammatical Functions (GF). In other words, they are realized based on the agreement system rather than on case marking. Furthermore, the independent pronoun remains unchanged, regardless of its syntactic function.

Fariba Zamani References
  • Dabir-Moghaddam, Mohammad. Typology of Iranian Languages, vol.2 (in Persian). SAMT Press, 2013.
  • Ivanow, Vladimir. Notes on the Dialekt of Khur and Mihrijan, Acta Orientalia, vol III 1929, p. 45-61
  • Ivanow, Vladimir. Two Dialects Spoken in the Central Persian Desert. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland (New Series) 58, no. 03 1926: 405-431.
  • Ebrāhimi Anārakl, Moḥammad-ʿAli. Ey nār-sina: ašʿār-e maḥalli-e anāraki, Isfahan, 1999.
  • Mousa Kazemi, Seyyed Mehdi. Naini Language: zaval ya baqa?. MA Thesis, Payam-e- Nour University, 2008.
  • Pour Abedi, Hasan. The investigation of Naini Dielect, MA Thesis, The department of Humanities, Tehran University, 1993.
  • Windfuhr, Gernot, ed. The Iranian Languages. Psychology Press, 2009.

1 .These dialects may be recognized as separate languages (http://www.ethnologue.com/language/nyq)
2 .Ivanow (1926) held Anaraki to be a form of Naini with only differences in phonology.
3 .He focuses mainly on the culture of Anarak, while including a study of its dialect.
4 .The study of Dabir Moghaddam (2013) is on the dialect of the village Neyestanak.

Behbahan is a town located in the south east of Khoozestan Province in Iran. Although people in villages surrounding Behbahan speak Lori, Behbahani is specifically spoken in Behbahan which is locally called “Behbohu”. It belongs to a subdivision of South-West Iranian languages. Based on the census of the Statistical Center of Iran in1996, its population was estimated 88213. Except a few academic papers, the dialect has not much been the subject of scholarly investigation.

Behbahani is characterized by a split agreement system. (I) Nominative-Accusative system which includes present and past intransitive verbs and present transitive verbs and (II) Non-Nominative-Accusative. The latter embraces past transitive verbs and a number of possibilities including ‘Tripartite’, ‘Ergative- Absolutive ’, and ‘Oblique-Oblique’ types. Syncretized verbal agreement suffixes (Group A) and syncretized oblique enclitics (Group B) are the main players in Behbahani split agreement system. Although the verbal agreement is often uniform in Nominative-Accusative system, based on Comrie’s (1978) case-marking models, the language shows different types of verbal agreement concerning S, P, and A in the split system. The two sets of agreement markers (verbal suffixes versus oblique enclitics), each with reversed roles in the split system, are given here:

  • Group A: Nominative/accusative verbal suffixes
    sg. {1. -am /2. -a /3. -e/- ø/-i/-u/-e:} , pl. {1. -im/2. -i /3. -en}

These verbal suffixes represent S as subject of intransitive and transitive verbs in the Nominative-Accusative system, and P or patient (direct /dative object) of transitive verb in the Non-Nominative-Accusative one, that is, the Ergative-Absolute type.

  • Group B: accusative/agential oblique enclitics
    Sg.{1. -am / 2 .-et / 3. -eš/- e:} , pl. {1. -me/2. -te /3. -še}

These genitive-like oblique enclitics also have their revered roles, either as accusative markers in the Nominative-Accusative system and as agential markers representing the agent in the Non-Nominative-Accusative one.

This figure shows a complete role reversal in Behbahani: The reversed roles of agential oblique enclitics v in the past tense versus accusative oblique enclitics in the present tense and subject verbal suffixes in the present tense versus accusative verbal suffixes in the past tense.

Figure 1

The following sentences show Case-Marking Systems for S, A, and P.

INominative-Accusative Agreement System
  • 1 -
    me me­par­am
    1sg PROG-jump-1sg.
    "I jump."
  • 2 -
    te gol m-ar-a
    2sg-flower PROG-bring-2sg
    "You bring flower."
  • 3 -
    m-ar=em-a
    PROG-bring=1sg.CLC-2sg.
    "You bring me."
  • 4 -
    mi=š­g­a
    PROG=3sg.CLC-tell-2sg.
    "You tell him/her?"
IINon-Nominative-Accusative Agreement System

(a) Tripartite type

In sentences with transitive verbs formed with the past stem, S is encoded by the agreement suffixes (Group A) on the verb, examples (1)-(4), A is cross-referenced by the agential enclitics (Group B), which are hosted by the direct/dative object and the verb does not agree with the object. So the P is left without agreement:

  • 5 -
    gol=am āve
    flower=1sg.CLC brought
    "I brought flower."

(b) Ergative-Absolute

In this type, the A is expressed via the agential oblique enclitics (Group B), and the P is just encoded by accusative verbal suffixes(Group A), formally identical to that of nominative verbal suffixes:

  • 6 -
    dit=me-n-i
    saw=CLC.1pl.-2.pl.
    "we saw you."
  • 7 -
    nesihat=me kerd-en
    advice=1pl did-3pl
    "We advised them."
  • 8 -
    te=t dit-im
    2sg.=2sg.CLC saw-1pl.
    "you saw us."

(c) Oblique-Oblique type

  • 9 -
    nesihat= še =me ke
    advice=3pl.CLC-1pl.CLC did
    "We advised them."
  • 10 -
    mā=me nesihat= še ke
    We=1pl.CLC-advice=3pl.CLC did
    "We advised them."
Shahram Gerami References
  • Comrie, B. 1978. Ergativity. In W. Lehmann (ed.), Syntactic Typology. Sussex: The Harvester Press.
  • Dabir-Moghaddam, Mohammad. 2012. Typology of Iranian Languages, vol.1 (in Persian). SAMT: Tehran.
  • Gerami,Shahram. 2006. A Constructional Description of Verb phrase in Behbahani Dialect,vol.23,No1. Journal of Social Science & Humanities of Shiraz University:Shiraz.
  • Hamedi-Shiravan, Zahra.Sharifi, Shahla,Elyasi mahmood 2015. The description and Analysis of Pronominal Clitics in Behbahani Dialect of Persian. Journal of Lingual Inquest of Modares University:Tehran.
  • Rasti-Behbahani,Amin.2009.Behbahani Dialect the Morphological Grammar, Common words.Tehran:Tarh Va Ejraye Ketab

1 .The symbols S, A, and P (also called O) stand for the subject of the intransitive verbs, the Subject/Agent of the transitive verbs, and the Patient/Object, respectively. The other abbreviations used here are listed below:
CLC clitic, p/pl. /PL plural, PST past, s/sg. Singular, PROG progressive