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Khorasan: an Untapped Linguistic Area of Iran

February 25, 2022 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EST

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Mohammad Dabir-Moghaddam received his PhD in linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1982. He is a professor of linguistics in Allameh Tabataba’i University (Tehran) and is also a permanent member of the Academy of Persian Language and Literature. He is the author of many of articles and the following books: Theoretical Linguistics: Emergence and Development of Generative Grammar; Typology of Iranian Languages (2 volumes); and Linguistics: An Iranian Perspective.

Khorasan, which is located in the east of Iran, has historically been a land of many languages and dialects, both native and non-native. The languages spoken here are important for understanding the historical and present-day nature of the Iranian language family. Persian or Persian-related varieties currently spoken in Khorasan include, among many others, the native language of Ferdows, whose historical name is Tun; the native languages of Khanik and Se Ghal’e; and the now-extinct dialect of Birjand. These varieties show typological peculiarities which are unattested in the Iranian languages currently spoken in any other part of Iran, but which can be found in a number of Classical Persian texts written in Khorasan. Whereas other Iranian languages are sensitive to both Transitivity and Tense in the structuring of participant reference in the verb system, the above-mentioned languages of Khorasan exhibit a split system of verbal alignment based specifically on Tense. This presentation explores the reasons for these linguistic differences and the factors which have been influential in the restructuring of the system, with a focus on the former dialect of Birjand. Finally, theoretical implications of the findings will be discussed from the perspective of current linguistic paradigms.