Language Shift in Progress: The Case of Iranian Languages

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: Booth 62
Oral Presentation
Leyli DODYKHUDOEVA , Iranian Languages, Institute of LIngistics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
Vladimir IVANOV , Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
The paper presents an overview of a variety of situations typical to the Iranian languages that are located in a wide area of Eurasia, from westernmost Kurdish up to the Wakhi language in China.

All minor Iranian languages are in various stages of endangerment: We analyse situations of minor Iranian languages and their status in such countries, as Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Turkey, Russia, Armenia, Iraq, India/ Pakistan, China. In this perspective we give analysis of environment of the Iranian languages that are or were historically situated out of the mainstream of Iranian languages. These situations are typical for spoken languages in various non-Persianate countries, such as marginal Kumzari in Oman, Saryqoli and Wakhi in China; in these cases the process of language shift is most intensive. This type of the sociolinguistic situation can be supplemented by the state of Ishkashimi in Afghanistan, where the process of language shift is in progress, and has come a long way in one part of the community and finalized in the other, as local communities do not speak mother tongue any longer.

In our paper we provide specifically detailed record of endangered East-Iranian languages spoken today in Pamir-Hindu Kush region – the Pamiri languages spread in Badakhshan and its vicinity – a single linguistic and cultural area divided by a political border between several countries. Furthermore, we examine situations of extinct East-Iranian languages in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, India/Pakistan and China, such as Khotan Saka, Bactrian and Soghdian; in addition, we offer an account of the stagnation of the Yaghnobi language – an offspring of one of the dialects of medieval Eastern Iranian Soghdian language.

We examine situations of pressure of one minor language on the other, and discuss migration, and cross-cultural processes.

In conclusion we propose approaches to the problems of endangered Iranian languages.