Bakhtiari Studies II: Orthography

Faculty/Professorship: General Linguistics  
Author(s): Anonby, Erik; Asadi, Ashraf
Publisher Information: Uppsala : Uppsala Universitet
Year of publication: 2018
Pages: 305
ISBN: 978-91-513-0385-7
Series ; Volume: Studia Iranica Upsaliensia ; 34
Language(s): English
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-355930
The Bakhtiari language is spoken by members of a traditionally nomadic society, numbering over a million people, across several provinces in the Zagros Mountains of Iran. This study provides an account of the emergence and development of an orthography for Bakhtiari – the migration of the Bakhtiari language into the world of letters. Bakhtiari poetry has been transcribed for many decades, and other genres are now appearing in print, but codification of the language is heterogeneous and often difficult for readers to decipher.

Building on the foundation of the work, Bakhtiari studies: Phonology, text, lexicon (Anonby & Asadi 2014), the present volume responds to the pressing need to elaborate a systematic orthography that faithfully reflects the language’s phonological structure and serves speakers from various contexts across the language area. It examines the social and linguistic background for such an orthography and, despite major functional drawbacks, concedes that a writing system based on Arabo-Persian script is the only realistic option for the Bakhtiari language community. Following on a presentation of the orthography’s elements, issues associated with the Persian model are addressed: word recognition, underrepresentation of vowels, overrepresentation of consonants, and graphic possibilities for compounding and affixation are discussed in depth; mitigating strategies as well as improvements are proposed. Several innovative but intuitive conventions that respond to distinctive features of Bakhtiari pronunciation are also introduced. Orthographic choices, which have been tested with a wide cross-section of Bakhtiari speakers, are illustrated and applied to the transcription of a traditional text as well as a 1500-word lexicon.

The results of this study are relevant for Bakhtiari writers, for scholars working in development of Arabic-based orthographies for other languages which have not been standardized, and for strengthening conventions in standardized languages, such as Persian, that use a related script.
Keywords: orthography, Arabo-Persian script, Bakhtiari, Persian, Southwestern Iranian languages
Type: Book
Year of publication: 7. January 2019