Persian Language and Grammaticalization
Posted: Feb 03, 2017
Whether you would like to call it Persian or Farsi, the major language of Iran remains as one of the richest languages in the world concerning vocabulary and literary history. The classical Persian poetry began as a sort of imitation of the classical Arabic poetry and it did not take long for Persians to master it and push it far beyond in beauty and meaning than Arabs had ever done. And yet, being a beautiful language is not the only thing that make Persian so interesting. There is also much to learned from this language by linguists as its long history provides unique examples of language change especially to those interested in uncovering the mechanisms of grammaticalization. There are a few reasons why Persian is a great language for studying grammar change.
First, Persian language is one of th oldest attested languages in the world with a history that goes back to perhaps the third milennium BC. And we are talking about a language that still lives so we know exactly what happens to a language over that much time. Persian is not an extinct language that existed in one instance of history like Sumerian. To the contrary, it stood the test of time to go through several grammatical and toher changes, most of which can be observed clearly, thanks to the richt linguistic material that survives to show us what the ancient Persian language looked like.
Next, Persian is part of one of the best studied language families in the world, namely the indo-european language family. That means we have ample resources for comparison and creating new theories as to the possible pathways of grammaticalization and other types of language evolution. Persian emerged out of the Indo-Iranian branch of the big family and in time, it became the largest and the most resilient among all the Iranian Languages. In fact, to study grammaticalization in Persian is to study grammaticalization in all the Indo-European language family but especially in the rest of the Iranian sub-family.
The fact that there are many other living Iranian Languages also adds to the value of Persian language in grammaticalization research because with all the different languages and dialects present, we have much data to compare and see how new structures such as adpostions develop with grammaticalization process.
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