Code-Copying in the Balochi Language of Sistan

Document Type : Research Paper


Berlin Humboldt University, Germany


This empirical study deals with language contact phenomena in Sistan. Code-copying is viewed as a strategy of linguistic behavior when a dominated language acquires new elements in lexicon, phonology, morphology, syntax, pragmatic organization, etc., which can be interpreted as copies of a dominating language. In this framework Persian is regarded as the model code which provides elements for being copied into Balochi as the basic code. It is argued here that code-copying affects most readily the lexicon, whereas more structured subsystems like morphology and syntax hardly admit to copying. Instead lexical copies serve as an intermediary for copying phonic and morphological-syntactical features of the model code. Copies of the Persian model code which become established linguistic features of Balochi are distinguished from ephemeral linguistic switches which are studied within the context of communication situation variables and other linguistic or extra-linguistic factors. The study is based upon audio recordings of colloquial Balochi speech made by the author in Sistan during the last six years.

Buddruss, Georg (1988). Aus dem Leben eines jungen Balutschen, von ihm selbst erzählt, Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag.
Baranzehi, Adam Nader (2003). “The Sarawani Dialect of Balochi and Persian Influence on It”, in Jahani / Korn, pp.75-111.
Brenzinger, Mattias (1997). “Language Contact and Language Displacement”, in Coulmas, F. (ed.), Handbook of Sociolinguistics,Oxford, pp. 273-284.
Craig, Colette (1997). “Language Contact and Language Degeneration”, in Coulmas, Florian, (ed.), The Handbook of Sociolinguistics,­­­­­­Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 257-270.
Elfenbein, Josef (1989). “Balōčī”, in Schmitt, Rüdiger (ed.), Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum, Wiesbaden: Reichert, pp. 350-361.
Jahani, Carina (1994). “Notes on the use of genitive constructions versus iẓāfa constructions in Iranian Balochi”, in Studia Iranica 23, pp. 285-298.
Jahani, Carina (1999). “Persian Influence on some Verbal Constructions in Iranian Balochi”, in Studia Iranica 28, pp. 123-143.
Jahani, Carina (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.
Johanson, Lars (2002). “Do languages die of ‘structuritis’? On the role of code-copying in language and endangerment”, Italian Journal of Linguistics, Rivista di Linguistica, 14:2, pp. 249-270.
King, Ruth Elizabeth (2000). The Lexical Basis of Grammatical Borrowing. A Prince Edward Island French case study,Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Mahmoodi Bakhtiari, Behrooz (2003). “Notes on the Tense System in Balochi and Standard Persian”, in Jahani / Korn, pp. 133-145.
Mahmoodzahi, Moosa (2003). “Linguistic Contact in Iranian Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times”, in Jahani / Korn, pp. 147-156.
Rzehak, Lutz­ (2003). “Some Thoughts and Material­ on Balochi inAfghanistan”, in Jahani / Korn, pp. 259-276.
Spooner, Brian (1967). “Notes on the Baluchī Spoken in Persian Baluchistan”, in Iran, Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies 5, pp. 51-71.