The Ergative System in Balochi from a Typological Perspective

Document Type: Research Paper


Frankfurt a.M. University, Germany


For the Western Iranian languages the transition from the Old Iranian to the Middle-Iranian period is characterised by – among other things – the loss of word-final syllables. This loss had a far-reaching impact on the nominal and verbal systems since it caused the loss of categories which had been expressed by suffixes. The consequences include the emergence of the so-called ergative system.
Although descriptions of the ergative construction in Balochi do exist, there is no treatment yet which takes into account the material of the different dialects. Furthermore, the ergative construction in Balochi has been compared with data from Old Iranian, but not with data from Middle Iranian languages, and the development from the Middle Iranian stage to the different types found in present-day Balochi has also not yet been studied. The aim of this paper is therefore to present the data from the Balochi dialects as far as they are known today and to update, complete (and in some points, correct) previous descriptions of the matter.

 Andreas, Friedrich C., and Henning, Walter B. (1934). “Mitteliranische Manichaica aus Chinesisch-Turkestan III”, in Sitzungsberichte der preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, pp. 846-912 (= Walter B. Henning (1977). Selected Papers I, pp. 275-339).

 Baranzehi, Adam Nader (2003). “The Sarawani Dialect of Balochi and the Persian Influence on It”, in Jahani / Korn, pp. 75-111.

 Barker, Muhammad A., and Mengal, Aqil Khan (1969). A Course in Baluchi,Montreal:McGillUniversity, 2 vol.

Bashir, Elena (2008). “Some transitional features of Eastern Balochi: An areal and diachronic perspective”, in Jahani, Carina, Korn, Agnes and Titus, Paul (eds.)­The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, historical and socio-political perspectives on pluralism in Balochistan, Wiesbaden: Reichert, pp. 45-79.

Bossong, Georg (1985). Empirische Universalienforschung: Differentielle Objektmarkierung in den neuiranischen Sprachen, Tübingen: Gunter Narr.

Buddruss, Georg (1974). “Neuiranische Wortstudien”, in Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 32, pp. 9-40.

––– (1988). Aus dem Leben eines jungen Balutschen, von ihm selbst erzählt, Stuttgart: Steiner.

Cardona, George (1970). “The Indo-Iranian construction mana (mama) kṛtam”, in Language 46, pp. 1-12.

Collett, Nigel A. (1983). A Grammar, Phrase Book and Vocabulary of Baluchi, Abingdon.

Dames, Mansel Longworth (1881). “A Sketch of the Northern Balochi Language, containing a grammar, vocabulary and specimens of the language” (Extra number of the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal I/1880).Calcutta.

Dorleijn, Margreet (1996). The Decay of Ergativity in Kurmanci: Language Internal or Contact Induced?,Tilburg:TilburgUniversity Press.

Durkin-Meisterernst, Desmond (2002). “The uses of baw- in Parthian”, in Huyse, Philip (ed.), Iran: Questions et connaissances. Actes du IVe congrès des études iraniennes organisé par la Societas Europaea Iranologica I [Studia Iranica Cahier 25], Paris, pp. 47-62.

Elfenbein, Josef (1966). The Baluchi Language. A Dialectology with Texts,London: SOAS.

––– (1982). “Notes on the Balochi-Brahui Linguistic Commensality”, in Transactions of the Philological Society, pp. 77-98.

––– (1990). An Anthology of Classical and Modern Balochi Literature,Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2 vol.

Farrell, Tim (1990). Basic Balochi. An Introductory Course,Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale.

––– (1995). “Fading Ergativity? A Study of Ergativity in Balochi”, in Bennett, David C., Bynon, Theodora and Hewitt, B. George (eds.), Subject, Voice and Ergativity: Selected Essays,London: SOAS, pp. 218-243.

––– (2003). “Linguistic influences on the Balochi Spoken in Karachi”, in Jahani / Korn, pp. 169-211.

Geiger, Wilhelm (1901). “Die Sprache der Balūtschen”, in Geiger, Wilhelm and Kuhn, Ernst (eds.) (1895-1901) Grundriß der iranischen Philologie I, Straßburg: Trübner, pp. 231-248, 417-423.

Ghilain, Antoine (1939). Essai sur la langue parthe: Son système verbal d'après les textes manichéens du Turkestan oriental, Louvain: Muséon.

Gilbertson, George W. (1923). The Balochi Language: A grammar and manual. Hertford.

Grierson, George A. (1921). “Balōchī”, in Linguistic Survey of India X: Specimens of Languages of the Eranian Family, Calcutta, pp. 327-451.

Jahani, Carina (1994). “Notes on the use of genitive construction versus iẓāfa construction in Iranian Balochi”, in Studia Iranica 23, pp. 285-298.

––– (2003). “The Case System in Iranian Balochi in a Contact Linguistic Perspective”, in Jahani / Korn, pp. 113-132.

Jahani, Carina, and Korn, Agnes (eds.) (2003). The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times,Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Korn, Agnes (2005). “Das Nominalsystem des Balochi, mitteliranisch betrachtet”, in Schweiger, Günter (ed.), Indogermanica: Festschrift Gert Klingenschmitt. Indische, iranische und indogermanische Studien dem verehrten Jubilar dargebracht zu seinem fünfundsechzigsten Geburtstag, Taimering: VWT-Verlag, pp. 289-302.

––– (2008).­ “Marking of arguments in Balochi ergative and mixed constructions”, in Karimi, Simin, Samiian, Vida and Stilo, Donald (eds.), Aspects of Iranian Linguistics,Newcastle:Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 249-276.

MacKenzie, D. Neil (1961). Kurdish Dialect Studies I,London:OxfordUniversity Press.

Moškalo, Vyačeslav V. (1985). “Sprjaženie perexodnyx glagolov prošedšego vremeni v beludžskom jazyke”, in Iranskoje jazykoznanije. Ežegodnik 1981.Moscow, pp. 113-125.

Nawata, Tetsuo (1981). Baluchi,Tokyo:TokyoUniversity of Foreign Studies.

Nyberg, Henrik S. (1974). A Manual of Pahlavi II: Ideograms, Glossary, Abbreviations, Index, Grammatical Survey, Corrigenda to Part I,Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Rastorgueva, Vera S., and E. K. Molčanova (1981). “Parfjanskij jazyk”, in Abaev, Vasilij I. et al. (eds.), Osnovy iranskogo jazykoznanija: Sredne-iranskie jazyki. Moscow, pp. 147-232.

Rzehak, Lutz (1998). “Das belutschische Epos von Šay Murūd und Āno (Materialien aus dem Nachlaß von Alexander L. Grünberg)”, in Kushev, V. V. et al. (eds.), Strany i narody vostoka XXX: Tsentral'naja Azija. Vostočnyj Gindukuš, St. Petersburg: St Petersburg Oriental Studies, pp. 149-186.

Silverstein, Michael (1976). “Hierarchy of features and ergativity”, in Dixon, Robert (ed.), Grammatical Categories in Australian Languages,Canberra, Australian Institue of Aboriginal Studies, pp. 112-171.

Sims-Williams, Nicholas (1981). “Notes on Manichaean Middle Persian Morphology”, in Studia Iranica 10, pp. 165-176.

Skjærvø, Prods O. (1983). “Case in Inscriptional Middle Persian, Inscriptional Parthian and the Pahlavi Psalter”, in Studia Iranica 12, pp. 47-62, 151-181.

Sokolov, Sergej N. (1956). “Grammatičeskij očerk jazyka beludžej Sovetskogo Sojuza”, in Trudy Instituta Jazykoznanija 6, Moscow, pp. 57-91.

Spooner, Brian (1967). “Notes on the Balochī Spoken in Persian Baluchistan”, in Iran 5, pp.  51-71.

Sundermann, Werner (1989). “Parthisch”, in Schmitt, Rüdiger (ed.), Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum,Wiesbaden: Reichert, pp. 114-137.

Trask, Robert L. (1979). “On the origins of ergativity”, in Plank, Frans (ed.), Ergativity: Towards a theory of grammatical relations,London: Academic Press, pp. 385-404.