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Form and Meaning in Persian Vocabulary: The Arabic Feminine Ending

Availability: In stock
Published: 1991
Page #: xvi + 254
Size: 8.5 x 11
ISBN: 0-939214-67-9
appendix, index, references

 
$45.00

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Quick Overview

Arabic loan words have played a fundamental role in the evolution of New Persian. Persian in turn has transmitted the bulk of these loan words-together with its own modifications and rules for their incorporation-throughout the Islamic cultural area, playing midwife at the emergence of several Turkic and Indian literary languages.
In one class of Arabic loans, the modification of form in Persian has produced an intriguing puzzle. Some 1500 substantives ending in the Arabic feminine marker -a have assumed one of two forms in Persian-pronounced either with final t or with a vowel, and written respectively with "long t" and "silent h" (e.g., hekmat `wisdom; adage' and jomleh `total; sentence'). Is there a rationale behind this split?

In what is the first in-depth study of an old problem, the author demonstrates that the -at/-eh split takes its cue not from Arabic (where the alternation -at/-a is purely a matter of syntax) but from intuitive semantic categories and lexical developments in Persian. He shows, moreover, how hundreds of -at words shifted to -eh in the course of the past millennium, to reflect a shift in meaning; illustrates the evolution of "doublets" such as qovvat/qovveh; and explains why -at and -eh words in Tajik, Turkish and Urdu do not always correspond in form to their Persian cognates.
Though concerned with fundamentals of Persian lexicology and language history, this is also a unique case study of relevance to general theories of semantics and the lexicon.

author

John R. Perry

Professor of Persian. John Perry was born in Britain and educated at Cambridge University (Pembroke College), where in 1970 he was awarded a Ph.D in Oriental Studies (Arabic and Persian). During summer vacations he hitchhiked to Egypt and to Iran, and in 1964-65 spent a year studying Persian at Tehran University. He has conducted research in Iran, Iraq (including Kurdistan), Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Tajikistan, and traveled the Karakoram Highway to Kashgar. He taught in the Arabic Studies Department at St. Andrews University, Scotland (1968 - 1972) before coming to Chicago. His teaching at Chicago has included courses on Middle Eastern literature in translation and Islamic Civilization as well as Persian (and Tajik) language and literature. His earlier research focused on the history of eighteenth-century Iran and adjacent regions. He concentrates currently on the history of the Persian language, and in particular the mechanisms of the incorporation of Arabic vocabulary into Persian and its dissemination into other languages of the region. Other interests include Iranian folklore and vernacular culture, and the language and cultural history of Tajikistan.

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