Eastern Iranian languages

Eastern Iranian languages
Eastern Iranian
Scythia, Central Asia
Linguistic classification: Indo-European

The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages emerging in Middle Iranian times (from ca. the 4th century BC). The Avestan language is often classified as early Eastern Iranian. The largest living Eastern Iranian language is Pashto, with some 50 million speakers between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan. As opposed to the Middle Western Iranian dialects, the Middle Eastern Iranian preserves word-final syllables.

The living Eastern Iranian languages are spoken in a contiguous area, in Afghanistan as well as the adjacent parts of western Pakistan, Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province of eastern Tajikistan, and the far west of Xinjiang region of China, while it also has two other living members in widely separated areas, the Yaghnobi language of northwestern Tajikistan (descended from Sogdian) and the Ossetic language of the Caucasus (descended from Scytho-Sarmatian). These are remnants of a vast ethno-linguistic continuum that stretched over most of Central Asia in the 1st millennium BC.



Eastern Iranian is thought to have separated from Western Iranian in the course of the later 2nd millennium BC, and was possibly located at the Yaz culture.

With Greek presence in Central Asia, some of the easternmost of these languages were recorded in their Middle Iranian stage (hence the "Eastern" classification), while almost no records of the Scytho-Sarmatian continuum stretching from Kazakhstan west across the Pontic steppe to Ukraine have survived.


Eastern Iranian are divided into a Northeastern and a Southeastern branch. In spite of this separation, Eastern Iranian remained a single dialect continuum subject to common innovation.


According to Encyclopædia Iranica, the Northeastern group includes most Eastern Iranian languages, including Pashto and Pamir languages, while it does not include the Old-Iranian Avestan language.[1]

However, SIL Ethnologue lists the following languages as Northeastern Iranian:


The southern group includes Pashto, Pamir languages, and Ormuri-Parachi.[1] Pashto is spoken in eastern, southern and few other parts of Afghanistan, and western Pakistan. Pamir languages are spoken in the Pamir Mountains. Ormuri is spoken in Kaniguram in South Waziristan area of Pakistan, but there may be still some speakers in Baraki Barak in Logar province of Afghanistan. Parachi is spoken in the upper part of Nijrab, north of Kabul.

Contrary to Encyclopædia Iranica, SIL Ethnologue classifies Ormuri-Parachi as Northwestern Iranian, and it lists Pashto and the Pamir languages of Munji, Yidgha, Sanglechi-Ishkashimi, Shughni-Yazgulyami (Shughni, Sarikoli and Yazgulyam) and Wakhi as Southeastern Iranian.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b Nicholas Sims-Williams, Eastern Iranian languages, in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition, 2008
  2. ^ ethnologue report

External links

  • Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum, ed. Schmitt (1989), p. 100.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Iranian languages — This article is about the Iranian languages. For languages spoken in Iran, see Languages of Iran. For the official language of Iran, see Persian language. Iranian Geographic distribution: Southwest Asia, Central Asia, and western South Asia… …   Wikipedia

  • Iranian languages — Major subgroup of the Indo Iranian branch of the Indo European language family. Iranian languages are probably spoken by more than 80 million people in southwestern and southern Asia. Only two Old Iranian languages are known, Avestan and Old… …   Universalium

  • Western Iranian languages — Western Iranian Geographic distribution: Southwest Asia, Central Asia, and western South Asia Linguistic classification: Indo European Indo Iranian Iranian …   Wikipedia

  • Indo-Iranian languages — Indo Iranian Geographic distribution: Eastern Europe, Southwest Asia, Central Asia, South Asia Linguistic classification: Indo European Indo Iranian Proto language …   Wikipedia

  • Indo-Iranian languages —       group of languages constituting the easternmost major branch of the Indo European family of languages. Indo Aryan (Indic) languages (Indo Aryan languages) are spoken by some 800 million persons in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal,… …   Universalium

  • Middle Iranian languages — Middle Iranian may refer to any of a group of the Indo European Iranian languages spoken between the 4th century BC and the 9th century AD: Western: Parthian (Northwestern) Middle Persian (Southwestern) Eastern: Bactrian Aryan Sogdian Khwarezmian …   Wikipedia

  • List of Iranian languages — The Iranian languages include some 84 (SIL estimate) languages and dialects spoken by about many people in Asia; this language family is a part of the Indo Iranian language family. Each subfamily in this list contains subgroups and individual… …   Wikipedia

  • Languages of Pakistan — Languages of country = Pakistan official = Urdu; English main = Balochi; Pashto; Punjabi; Sindhi regional = Kashmiri; Potwari; Siraiki indigenous = Balti; Brahui; Hindko; Jhangochi minority = Burushaski; Kalash; Khowar; Shina immigrant = Arabic;… …   Wikipedia

  • Iranian peoples — The Iranian people [local names Old Iranian: Arya , Middle Iranian: Eran , Modern Iranian languages: Persian: Iraniyan or Irani ha , Kurdish: Êraniyekan or gelên Êranî , Ossetian: Irynoau Adem , Mazandarani: Iranijş Benevarün or Heranaysi Adəmün …   Wikipedia

  • Languages of Europe — Most of the many languages of Europe belong to the Indo European language family. Another major family is the Finno Ugric. The Turkic family also has several European members. The North and South Caucasian families are important in the… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.