Iranian Programme

This programme consists of four courses: Juhuri (slot 1), Introduction to Avestan (slot 2), Avestan language and poetry from comparative Indo-Iranian and Indo-European perspective (slot 3), and Armenian as a source for Iranian studies (slot 4). The two Avestan courses are meant to be complementary, so that the students can take both of them.

Slot 1: Juhuri (9.30 - 11.00)

Gilles Authier (Paris)

Course description
Juhuri or Jewish Tat is the ancestral Iranian language of the Juhuro or "Mountain Jews" from the Eastern Caucasus. It belongs to the group of Tat languages, all descended from the same stock of Middle Iranian dialects as Persian and Tajik, and spoken also by Muslims and a few Christians in Northern Azerbaijan since the Middle Ages.

Nowadays Juhuri is severely endangered, having been outranked and replaced for decades by Russian or Azeri, and more recently by Hebrew among the diaspora. However, in Soviet times, it enjoyed a brief period of blooming literature. In order to present the main aspects of its lexicon, phonology, morphology and syntax, which are all comparatively easy to master, we will immediately proceed to reading texts, drawing mostly from folklore and anecdotes.

We will focus on relating the morphology of Juhuri to its Persian counterpart, and also explain the deep typological shift observed in its syntax, which happened under prolonged contact with Turkic and Caucasian languages. Looking at the lexicon, we will tease out various layers: Indo-European, Semitic, and Turkic.

There are no prerequisites for this course. Juhuri texts will be offered in both Cyrillic and Latin-based (Azerbaijani) transcription, and accompanied with all the necessary vocabulary. There will be short daily homework assignments (preparing the texts).

Slot 2: Introduction to Avestan (11.30 - 13.00)

Michiel de Vaan (Lausanne)

Course description
The aim of this course is to introduce students to the basics of Avestan philology and linguistics. We will study the alphabet, the origin and purpose of the extant Avestan text corpus, and the main differences between Old and Young Avestan. We will then study the main elements of the grammatical system (inflexional classes, nominal case, verbal categories, pronouns, etc.) with the aid of small exercises. The focus will be on Young Avestan, as its texts are better understood. At the end, we will read small portions of Young Avestan texts both in original script and in translitteration.

This course is complementary to the course “Avestan language and poetry from comparative Indo-Iranian and Indo-European perspective” (slot 3), and can be taken as a preparatory course to the latter.  In our course, we will mention the main phonological correspondences between Avestan, Sanskrit and some other major Indo-European languages, but historical comparison is not the main aim of this Introduction. Accordingly, the course requires no previous knowledge of ancient Indo-European languages, though it is recommended that the student have some general understanding of the principles of historical linguistics.

Javier Martinez & Michiel de Vaan, Introduction to Avestan. Brill, 2014.
Please note that we managed to get a discount at Brill for ordering these books, so you will be able to buy the book from us on the first day of the Summer School. Normally the book costs about 39 euro, but you can buy it from us for 25 euro. Please note that we count on you buying the book, as you will be needing it during the course. In case you already have the book, please let us know, so we will not order a copy for you.

Slot 3: Avestan language and poetry from comparative Indo-Iranian and Indo-European perspective (14.00 - 15.30)

Velizar Sadovski (Vienna)

Course description
This class will deal with one of the two extant Old Iranian languages – the Old East Iranian language of the Zoroastrian religious corpus (Avesta) in its two variants, the “Young (Later) Avestan” and the “Old Avestan” of the Gāthās of Zarathuštra. Together with its sister Iranian language, the Old Persian, and with the Vedic language as the oldest representative of Indic, Avestan represents one of the most valuable sources of Indo-European language reconstruction. 

The introduction to the class will contain a comprehensive presentation of the value of Avestan texts for the reconstruction of Indo-Iranian and Indo-European lexicon, phraseology, and language of poetry. From the voluminous corpus of the sacred texts of the Zoroastrians, we shall discuss Old Avestan texts (Gāthās, Yasna Haptaŋhāiti) and crucial examples of Young Avestan literature: the [extra-gāthic] parts of the Avestan liturgy (the younger Yasna), the Avestan hymns (Yašts), as well as the “Law against the Daēuuas“ (Vīdēvdād)”, in the context of religious, ritual, and social history of Indo-Iranians and from the point of view of their importance for the reconstruction of Indo-European ritual and mythology. 

The selected portions of Avestan texts which will join and follow the lecture module, will include instances of hymnal poetry (Yasht) and prose (Vīdēvdād) in Young Avestan as well as mythologically relevant and liturgical texts from the Old Avestan corpus. These texts will give us the occasion for a detailed commentary on linguistic questions of (poetical) grammar, syntax and stylistics. Assessing material of both language forms, we shall present various stylistic means on the level of expression (esp. figures of speech, epithets and onomastics), lexical archaisms, poetical licences as well as phraseological collocations with relevance for the Indo-European Dichtersprache. 

Throwing a bridge to the parallel class, “Introduction to Avestan” (slot 2), a part of the discussion of the material will include comments on special issues of comparative and historic grammar of Avestan, taking into account diachronic phonology of Old and Young Avestan with a special focus on phonological developments from Proto-Indo-European via Proto-Indo-Iranian, Proto-Iranian into Old Eastern Iranian, respectively, as well as archaic phenomena of phonotactics, morphophonology and morphology. Syntax and stylistics will be presented and exemplified on the basis of specific readings of selected texts from the Yasna, the Yashts and the Vīdēvdād. Since the class addresses students with comparative and historical linguistic interests but with no necessary preliminary knowledge of Avestan or any other Iranian language, the diachronic developments from Proto-Indo-European to Young Avestan will be presented from a comparative perspective: knowledge of Sanskrit or Greek is by no means a prerequisite but may be of great advantage in this process. In the same way, without of course being a prerequisite, the “Introduction into Avestan” can be a valuable parallel to our class.

The course is oriented both to students of Comparative Linguistics (on beginners’, intermediate or advanced level), Iranian and Indo-European studies and to students of General Linguistics, especially historical phonology, as well as to colleagues from all philological disciplines interested in an introduction to the history of an arachaic Indo-European language in its religious and literary context.

A detailed bibliography as well as handouts on specific subjects will be distributed at the beginning and during the discussion of the respective topics and be supplemented by a detailed PowerPoint presentation. For first orientation in advance, one might wish to consult some classical contributions to the Enyclopaedia Iranica conveniently accessible online:
“Avestan Language I-III” by Karl Hoffmann
”Avesta, the Holy Book of the Zoroastrians” by Jean Kellens
“Avestan Geography” by Gherardo Gnoli
“Avestan People” by Mary Boyce 

One can also read a comparative study of Avestan and Vedic ritual texts:
-  Velizar Sadovski, Ritual formulae and ritual pragmatics in Veda and Avesta, Sprache 48 (2009), 156-166.  

Slot 4: Armenian as a source for Iranian studies

Hrach Martirosyan (Vienna / Leiden)

Course description
Armenian is an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. Classical Armenian or Grabar is known since the fifth century CE. The Armenian alphabet was invented by Mesrop Maštocʻ and consists of 36 original letters. The linguistic evidence allows to conclude that Armenian, Greek and Indo-Iranian were dialectally close to each other or even formed a dialectal group at the time of the Indo-European dispersal. The Iranian element is the largest layer of the Armenian borrowed lexicon. The body of Iranian loans within Classical Armenian consists of different chronological and dialectal layers that can be defined by phonological and semantic criteria. The majority of Middle Iranian borrowings show Northwestern-Iranian dialectal characteristics. They were incorporated into Armenian via Parthian in the Arsacid period (3rd century BCE - 3rd century AD). These borrowings are more numerous and archaic in form than the later Sasanian ones (up to the 7th century), and they penetrated Armenian much more deeply, becoming a living part of the language.

The study of the Iranian loans is of relevance to various problems in Iranian linguistics. For example, Armenian contains many Iranian words that are not directly attested in the Iranian languages themselves. Such loans enable to establish the exact shape and meaning of Iranian words. In many cases Armenian provides us with the only evidence for an Iranian etymon, cf. Armenian nirh ‘dormancy, slumber’ which has been borrowed from Iranian unattested *niδrā-, cf. Vedic Skt. nidrā́- f. ‘slumber, sleepiness’. Of particular importance are Iranian and Armenian onomasticons (place names, personal names and mythical names), the examination of which illuminates important aspects of both cultures.

Course outline
The aim of this course is to provide participants with the knowledge of the essentials of Classical Armenian historical phonology and lexicology, with a particular reference to Iranian. Ample attention will be given to the methodology of distinguishing native Armenian words from Iranian loans, as well as to the onomastic studies.

Topics covered (per day)  
1. The place of Armenian in the Indo-European language family: relationship with Indo-Iranian and Greek.
2. The development of the Proto-Indo-European phonemic system in Armenian and Iranian.
3. The methodology of distinguishing native Armenian words from Iranian loans.
4. Armenian contributions to Iranian lexicology.
5.1. Chronological and geographical layers. 5.2. The specific value of Armenian dialect data to the study of the Iranian lexicon. 
6.Grammatical and word-formative issues. 
7. Vocabulary: semantic fields. 
8.1. Calendar; 8.2. place names.
9. Personal names. 
10. Names of deities and mythical beings.

This course requires basic familiarity with historical linguistics.

Literature for reference
Meillet A. 1936. Esquisse d’une grammaire comparée de l’arménien classique. Wien: Mechitharisten.
-  Godel R. 1975. An introduction to the study of Classical Armenian. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag.
-  Schmitt R. 2007. Grammatik des Klassisch-Armenischen mit sprachvergleichenden Erläuterungen (2., durchgesehene Auflage). Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen der Universität Innsbruck.

The participants might wish to consult in advance the introductory and phonological parts of the above handbooks, as well as the following studies:
-  Beekes R. 2003. Historical phonology of Classical Armenian. In: Kortlandt F., Armeniaca: comparative notes. Ann Arbor: Caravan Books: 133-211.
-  Martirosyan H. 2013. The place of Armenian in the Indo-European language family: the relationship with Greek and Indo-Iranian. Journal of language relationship 10: 85-137.