Indo-Iranian languages

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Indo-Iranian
Aryan
Geographic
distribution:
Eastern Europe, Southwest Asia, Central Asia, South Asia
Linguistic classification: Indo-European
  • Indo-Iranian
Proto-language: Proto-Indo-Iranian
Subdivisions:
ISO 639-5: iir
Glottolog: indo13201

The approximate present-day distribution of the Indo-European branches of Eurasia:
  Indo-Iranian

The Indo-Iranian languages, also known as the Aryan languages,2 constitute the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European language family. It is also the largest branch, with more than 1 billion speakers stretching from Europe (Romani) and the Caucasus (Ossetian) eastward to Xinjiang (Sarikoli) and Assam (Assamese) and south to Sri Lanka (Sinhalese).

Languages

Indo-Iranian consists of three groups:

The largest in terms of native speakers are Hindustani (Hindi–Urdu, ~590 million3), Bengali (205 million4), Punjabi (100 million), Marathi (75 million), Persian (60 million), Pashto (ca. 50 million), Gujarati (50 million), Kurdish (20 million), Bhojpuri (40 million), Awadhi (40 million), Maithili (35 million), Oriya (35 million), Marwari (30 million), Sindhi (25 million), Rajasthani (20 million), Chhattisgarhi (18 million), Assamese (15 million), Sinhalese (16 million), Balochi (30 million), and Rangpuri (15 million).

There is also a supposed Badeshi language, which has not been confirmed to be a distinct language.

History

The Indo-Iranian languages derive from a reconstructed common proto-language, called Proto-Indo-Iranian.

Indo-Iranian languages were once spoken across an even wider area. The Scythians, were described by Roman writer Strabo as inhabiting the lands to the north of the Black Sea in present-day Ukraine, Moldova and Romania. The river-names Don, Dnieper, Danube etc. are possibly of Indo-Iranian origin. The so-called Migration Period saw Indo-Iranian languages disappear from Eastern Europe, apart from the ancestor of Ossetian in the Caucasus, with the arrival of the Turkic-speaking Pechenegs and others by the 8th century AD.

Sanskrit was widely spoken throughout Southeast Asia from 7th century onwards due to Indian trade and colonization.

The oldest attested Indo-Iranian languages are Vedic Sanskrit (ancient Indo-Aryan), Older and Younger Avestan and Old Persian (ancient Iranian languages). A few words from a fourth language (very closely related to Indo-Aryan; see Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni) are attested in documents from the ancient Mitanni kingdom in northern Mesopotamia and Syria and the Hittite kingdom in Anatolia.

Features

Innovations shared with other languages affected by the satem sound changes include:

  • Fronting and assibilation of the Proto-Indo-European palato-velar stops: *ḱ, *ǵʰ, *ǵ > *ĉ, *ĵʰ, *ĵ
  • The merger of the PIE labiovelar and plain velar stops: *kʷ, *gʷʰ, *gʷ > *k, *gʰ, *g
  • The Ruki sound law

Innovations shared with Greek include:

  • The vocalization of the PIE syllabic nasals *m̥, *n̥ to *a
  • Grassmann's law

Innovations unique to Indo-Iranian include:

  • The lowering of PIE *e to *a
    • *o was also lowered to *a, though this occured in several other Indo-European languages as well.
  • Brugmann's law

References

  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Indo-Iranian". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ Numeral Types and Changes Worldwide, by Jadranka (EDT) Gvozdanovic, Language Arts & Disciplines,1999, Page 221. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  3. ^ Edwards, Viv. "Urdu/Hindi Today". BBC. 
  4. ^ Thompson, Irene. "Bengali". AboutWorldLanguages. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 

Bibliography

External links








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