Iranian programme

This programme consists of four courses: Balochi (Korn), Avestan Linguistics and Philology from Comparative Indo-European Perspective (Sadovski), Manichaean Middle Persian (Durkin-Meisterernst), Introduction to Manichaeism (de Jong)

Time slot 1: Balochi (9.30 - 11.00)

Agnes Korn (Paris)

Course description
The course will outline the synchronic and diachronic grammar of Balochi, a minority language spoken by some millions of people in "remote" parts of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. We will look at the phonology and morphosyntax from Proto-Iranian to contemporary Balochi dialects, make comparisons with Middle and New Persian, etc. 
We will also read some text specimens illustrating interesting issues of Balochi grammar such as dialectal variation, case marking and ergativity.

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.



Time slot 2: Avestan Linguistics and Philology from Comparative Indo-European Perspective (11.30 - 13.00)

Velizar Sadovski (Vienna)

Course description
This class will deal with one of the two extant Old Iranian languages – the Old East Iranian language of th e 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 representativ e of Indic, Avestan represents one of the most valuable sources of Indo-European language reconstruction.
The course has a twofold aim. The one of its main tasks is to provide a detailed presentation of the structure and development of Avestan language. After a general introduction to the history of the Avestan corpus and writing system, we shall give a detailed account of the phonological system (discussing the main differences between Old and Young Avestan) and the elements of morphosyntax, from the viewpoint both of the inflexional system (nominal, pronominal, and verbal categories, etc.) and of the word-formation (derivation and composition). In order to get acquainted with text reading as early as possible, we shall exemplify the phonetic and grammatical structures under discussion with the aid of short textual exercises. On this occasion, we shall mention the main phonological correspondences between Avestan, Vedic Sanskrit and some other major Indo-European languages, but no previous knowledge of these languages is necessarily required, though it is recommended that the student have general understanding of the principles of historical linguistics.
The other fundamental task will consist in reading Avestan texts and assessing their value for the reconstruction of Indo-Iranian and Indo-European poetry, myth and cult. From the voluminous corpus of the sacred texts of the Zoroastrians, we shall read and discuss, first, crucial examples of Young Avestan literature: instances of the Avestan liturgy (the "Younger Yasna"), of hymnal poetry (the Avestan Yašts) dedicated to central deities of the Avestan pantheon, as well as of prose fragments of social and cultural relevance, from the “Law against the Daēuuas“ (Vīdēvdād)” . Furthermore, we shall discuss mythologically pertinent and ritual texts from the Old Avestan corpus: from the core of the Old Avestan liturgy of Yasna Haptaŋhāiti and, especially, from the Gāthās of Zarathustra , in the context of the religious and social history of Indo-Iranians (largely comparing Avestan with Vedic data) and in the perspective of their importance for the reconstruction of Indo-European ritual and mythology. While commenting on special issues of textual and religious history presented in these texts, we shall continue taking into account their linguistic parameters, corroborating our knowledge on the (diachronic, diatopic, and diastratic) variations between Old and Young Avestan and thus exemplifying developments in phonology and grammar from Proto-Indo-European via Proto-Indo-Iranian, Proto-Iranian into Old Eastern Iranian, respectively.
Studying these texts will give us the occasion to focus the attention of students interested in the history of ideas and cultural notions on specific lexical archaisms and various stylistic means on the level of expression (figures of speech, epithets and onomastics), poetical licences, as well as phraseological collocations with relevance for the Indo-European Dichtersprache. For a more detailed discussion of these topics, which for reasons of time cannot be fully covered in a single language class, interested students are referred to the next-slot class, "Indo-European poetry and ritual: textual testimonies of theology, cosmology and anthropology" (slot 3), which, without of course being a prerequisite, will contain valuable parallels to the present class and include additional Avestan texts as well as their analysis from the point of view of linguistic, cultural and religious history of the Avesta and Zoroastrianism on Indo-Iranian and Indo-European backgrounds.

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 archaic Indo-European language in its religious and literary context. Since the class addresses students with comparative and historical linguistic interests but explicitly 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.

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, beside the recommended reading of Javier Martinez & Michiel de Vaan, Introduction to Avestan, Brill, 2014, 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,  by Gherardo Gnoli, and 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.

[Note added by the organizers: The Brill Publishers offer the book by Javier Martinez & Michiel de Vaan, Introduction to Avestan, 2014, to the participants for the discount price of €25,-.]

Time slot 3. Manichaean Middle Persian (14.00 - 15.30)

Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst (Berlin)

Middle Persian is the Middle Iranian language with the largest attestation (in Pahlavi) but its attestation in Turfan is about the same as that in Parthian and Sogdian. Here its use is to convey Manichaean literature and to do this in the Manichaean script, i. e. with no heterogrammes and (nearly) no historical spellings. We will look at the grammar and then turn to Manichaean texts from the 3rd century until the 9th century.

We will also have a brief look at the use of Parthian and Sogdian texts.

The literature will be provided.

Time slot 4. Introduction to Manichaeism (16.00 - 17.30)

Albert de Jong (Leiden)

From its origins in third-century Mesopotamia, Manichaeism spread like a rush-fire in all directions. As a result, Manichaean sources are surprisingly abundant and come in a large variety of different languages. Nevertheless, the sources that have been preserved mainly shine a light on highly specific contexts: an Egyptian village in the late fourth century, or a monastic style of Manichaeism in early medieval Xinjiang. It is always difficult to look beyond these specific settings and figure out what Manichaeism meant, how it was put into practice, why it was so successful, and why it failed to survive. This course offers an introduction to the Manichaean religion and to Manichaean sources, with a particular focus on these larger questions. Students will not just learn about Manichaeism, but they will also learn why Manichaeism is such a rewarding subject of research.