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Genealogy[ edit ] "Avestan, which is associated with northeastern Iran , and Old Persian , which belongs to the southwest, together constitute what is called Old Iranian. But the east-west distinction is of limited meaning for Avestan, as the linguistic developments that later distinguish Eastern from Western Iranian had not yet occurred. Avestan does not display some typical South- Western Iranian innovations already visible in Old Persian, and so in this sense, "eastern" only means "non-western". Younger Avestan did not evolve from Old Avestan; the two differ not only in time, but are also different dialects. Every Avestan text, regardless of whether originally composed in Old or Younger Avestan, underwent several transformations. Karl Hoffmann traced the following stages for Avestan as found in the extant texts.

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Genealogy[ edit ] "Avestan, which is associated with northeastern Iran , and Old Persian , which belongs to the southwest, together constitute what is called Old Iranian. But the east-west distinction is of limited meaning for Avestan, as the linguistic developments that later distinguish Eastern from Western Iranian had not yet occurred. Avestan does not display some typical South- Western Iranian innovations already visible in Old Persian, and so in this sense, "eastern" only means "non-western".

Younger Avestan did not evolve from Old Avestan; the two differ not only in time, but are also different dialects. Every Avestan text, regardless of whether originally composed in Old or Younger Avestan, underwent several transformations. Karl Hoffmann traced the following stages for Avestan as found in the extant texts. In roughly chronological order: The natural language of the composers of the Gathas , the Yasna Haptanghaiti , the four sacred prayers Y.

Every phonetic form that can be ascribed to the Sasanian archetype on the basis of critical assessment of the manuscript evidence must have gone through the stages mentioned above so that "Old Avestan" and "Young Avestan" really mean no more than "Old Avestan and Young Avestan of the Sasanian period. By then the language had been extinct for many centuries, and remained in use only as a liturgical language of the Avesta canon. As is still the case today, the liturgies were memorized by the priesthood and recited by rote.

The script devised to render Avestan was natively known as Din dabireh "religion writing". It has 53 distinct characters and is written right-to-left. These symbols, like those of all the Pahlavi scripts, are in turn based on Aramaic script symbols. Avestan also incorporates several letters from other writing systems, most notably the vowels, which are mostly derived from Greek minuscules.

A few letters were free inventions, as were also the symbols used for punctuation. The Avestan script is alphabetic , and the large number of letters suggests that its design was due to the need to render the orally recited texts with high phonetic precision. The correct enunciation of the liturgies was and still is considered necessary for the prayers to be effective.

The Zoroastrians of India, who represent one of the largest surviving Zoroastrian communities worldwide, also transcribe Avestan in Brahmi -based scripts.

This is a relatively recent development first seen in the ca. Today, Avestan is most commonly typeset in the Gujarati script Gujarati being the traditional language of the Indian Zoroastrians. Main article: Avestan phonology Avestan has retained voiced sibilants, and has fricative rather than aspirate series.

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We distinguish at least three chronological levels: Look up Avesta in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. With the exception of an important study by P. However, their grammatical analyses are informative about their awareness, or lack of it, of Avestan grammar, but not about Avestan grammar itself. The translations of the different texts were produced at different times, and only minor changes and commentaries were introduced later.

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