Iranian programme

This programme consists of four courses: Historical Grammar of Persian, Ossetic, Parthian, Introduction to Achaemenid-Elamite

Timeslot 1: Historical Grammar of Persian (9.30 - 11.00)

Agnes Korn (Paris)

Course outline
The course will outline the history of the phonology and morphosyntax of Persian from Proto-Iranian to Modern Persian. We will specifically look at issues like the phonemic system, the case system and the verbal categories, and will compare these to other Iranian languages. Text specimens will be presented to illustrate the changes during the long history of Persian, which is among the IE languages with the longest documented history.

This course requires good knowledge of either New Persian or Sanskrit or Avestan; and at least basic knowledge in Indo-European or methods of comparative linguistics.

Timeslot 2: Ossetic (11.30 - 13.00)

Oleg Belyaev (Moscow) 

Course description
Ossetic is the last living descendant of the Scytho-Sarmatian group of Iranian languages. It goes back to the language of the Alans, who, in the first centuries A.D., created a kingdom in the area to the north of the Caucasus which existed until the 13-14th centuries, when it was wiped out by the Mongol and Timurid invasions. The surviving Alans fled to the highlands, where they became known to the outside world under their Georgian-based exonym “Ossetians”. 
Since Ossetians have long existed in isolation from the rest of the Iranian world, their language has a unique status among Iranian languages. On the one hand, it has preserved a number of archaic morphological, phonological, and syntactic features, for example, a complex system of oblique moods. On the other hand, due to centuries of close contact of Ossetians with speakers of indigenous languages of the Caucasus, Ossetic has developed some innovative traits, for example, a rich agglutinative case system with several spatial forms. The knowledge of Ossetic is thus indispensable not only for comparative work on Iranian languages, but also for the typology of language contact and for the study of the Caucasian linguistic area. Also of importance is the cultural heritage of the Ossetians, in particular the Nart epics, which are, like the rest of Ossetic, a peculiar mixture of Indo-European and Caucasian elements. 

Course outline
During the course, you will will gain knowledge of the central grammatical traits of Ossetic and its two main dialects: Iron and Digor. The course will include both synchronic and historical analysis; the possibility of external influence on Ossetic grammatical features will also be discussed. We will read several texts, in particular fragments of the Nart epics and contemporary spontaneous spoken narratives. 

Literature for reference
Abaev, Vasilij I. 1964. A grammatical Sketch of Ossetic, ed. by Herbert H. Paper, translated from Russian by Steven P. Hill. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University. Available online.
Thordarson, Fridrik. 1989. Ossetic. In: Rüdiger Schmitt (ed.) Compendium linguarum Iranicarum, 456–479. Wiesbaden: Reichert. 
Thordarson, Fridrik. 2009. Ossetic Grammatical Studies. [Veröffentlichungen zur Iranistik 48] Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. 

Online resources 
Numerous Russian-language works on Ossetic grammar are available at: allingvo (section “Ахуыры чингуытӕ”). Also see for lots of information on Ossetic in Russian. 
Spoken Ossetic texts are available at:
Ossetic National Corpus (Iron dialect, about 10 million tokens)
No prior knowledge of Ossetic is required. Knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet is recommended.

Timeslot 3. Parthian (14.00 - 15.30)

Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst (Berlin)

Course outline
This course will try to deal with all the major aspects of Parthian. This is the language of the north of the Iranian land where the Arsakids came to power ca. 250 before our time until 224 in our time. But Parthian survived in use until the seventh century – so in fact it was used for about a thousand years. But there is very little Parthian attested and the Manichean texts found in Turfan, far to the east, are the clearest source that we have. Nevertheless, Parthian is attested from the 2 to the 1 cent. BC, and is again used in the 3rd century AD (in a Sasanian context) and in the text of the dispute of the 'Goat and the Dattel Palm'.
The situation in Armenian is also interesting, as a large number of Parthian loanwords are met with in Classical Armenian. Linguistically, Parthian has a role to play amongst the predecessors of Kurdish, but the fact Parthian had no gender whereas Kurdish does means that this too is not so easy.
The course will present the phonology, the morphology and the syntax of Parthian and read texts from all periods of this simple language. The course materials will be provided.

D. Durkin-Meisterernst, Grammatik des Westmitteliranisch (Parthisch und Mittelpersisch). Wien 2014.

Slot 4. Introduction into Achaemenid-Elamite (16.00 - 17.30)

Wouter Henkelman (Paris)

Course outline
The Achaemenid Persians adopted Elamite as an administrative language and used it within the large economic institutions they said up at several places on the Iranian plateau, notably at Persepolis, where thousands of Elamite clay tablets where found in the 1930s. Achaemenid Elamite is a typical contact language that shows morphosyntactical restructuring under the influence of Old Iranian. The course will introduce the 'classical' (Middle and Neo-Elamite) variety of the language, and then discuss the specific features of Achaemenid Elamite. In the second half of the course this phenomena will be illustrated by means of selected texts, including sections from king Darius' Bisotun inscription.

M.W. Stolper, Elamite, in: R.D. Woodard (ed.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages, Cambridge 2004: 60-94.