The Evolution of the Nuristâni Languages
Comparative linguistics provides the major clues to the origin of the speakers of the Nuristâni languages, because historical and archaeological evidence are mostly absent. The evolutionary schema of the Nuristâni languages was first correctly discerned by Georg Morgenstierne on the basis of his linguistic fieldwork during the early 20th century A.D; see especially Morgenstierne 1945a.
Within the Indo-European linguistic family the Nuristâni languages form a sub-group of the Indo-Irânian group, alongside the Irânian and Indo-Âryan (IA) sub-groups. The evolution of the Nuristâni languages, reconstructed internally and through comparison with other languages (e.g., Turner 1966), shows six linguistic phases, each including several steps.
Hypothetical projections of the locations of ancient linguistic communities during each linguistic phase appear in the accompanying illustrative maps. Locations in these maps are based broadly on contemporary archaeological research, aligned with the likely topological relationships of the reconstructed languages. In the absence of historical data, the maps are meant to be suggestive rather than definitive. Place the cursor over each map for more information.
Abbreviations of language and dialect names appear here, along with the conventions of linguistic transcription used below. Linguistic forms cited below are color-coded for language according to the colors in the Table of Languages.
The six phases in the phonological and lexical development of the Nuristani languages are:
- 1. Âryan Phase. Proto-Nuristâni speakers participated in most of the pronunciational processes that differentiated the speech of the early Âryas (proto-Indo-Irânian speakers) from that of other Indo-European speakers, notably:
- a. Loss of nasality of the vocalic nasal vowel *n, resulting in *a; cf. K.km. â- but English "un-."
- b. Fronted vocalization of the laryngeal consonant *H (ə) to *i, as opposed to *a in other Indo-European languages; cf. K.km. -i [past-participal suffix] < *-ita < *-H-to.
- c. The First Palatalization, in which the root of the tongue was raised, pushing the body of the tongue forward. This change produced lamino-alveolar affricates from non-labialized velar stop consonants, so that *k > *č, *g > *ǰ, and *gh > *ǰh.
- d. Subsequent loss of lip-rounding on the labiovelar stop consonants, so that *kʷ > *k, *gʷ > *g, and *gʷh > *gh.
- e. Assimilation of *s to the place of articulation of a preceding consonant or front vowel, so that *is > iš, *čs > *čš, *rs > rṣ, *ks > kṣ.
- f. However, in the earliest indication of linguistic independence, the proto-Nuristânis did not participate with the Âryas in the subsequent backing of *s after the back vowel *u; thus, e.g., K.km. mus'a, but Fârsi muš, Sanskrit mûṣaka- 'mouse'; K.km. ks'a- (< *kus'a-) 'become instantaneously', but Fârsi koš-, Skt. kuṣá- 'strike, kill'; K.km. d'us 'yesterday, but Skt. doṣ'â- (< *dausâ-) 'night'.
- 2. Early Irânian Phase. Speakers of the proto-Nuristâni languages appear to have been on the southeastern edge of the wave of Âryan expansion that placed the earliest Irânian-speaking peoples in their present locations. Proto-Nuristânis partook in the basic phonological innovation that distinguished the Irânian speakers: they strengthened front-glottal tension to the exclusion of back-glottal tension. Strong anterior voicing, often tensed to produce acoustic noise, is the normal phonation type in today's Irânian languages, while the phonation of most of the region's Indo-Âryan languages is normally produced with some degree of posterior voicing, which under further tension produces contrastive tones and the whispery-voiced consonants ("voiced aspirates") of those languages. The predominance of front-glottal tension in the Irânian region had the following consequences:
At this point the proto-Nuristânis departed from Irânian influence and did not partake in the further changes that characterize the Irânian languages. Through a series of laxing processes, Irânian speakers reduced s to h, stop consonants to spirants, and, in the east, dropped the occlusion of the dental affricates, so that *ć became s and *ź became z; in the west, as attested by Old Persian, the dentality of those affricates was strengthened, so that *ć > θ and *ź > d.
As Morgenstierne (e.g. 1945) first demonstrated, it was the development of the affricates produced from the First Palatalization that mainly distinguishes the Nuristâni languages from the Irânian and Indo-Âryan ones. Where Nuristâni shows ć, Irânian shows s or θ and Indo-Âryan shows š; where Nuristâni shows ź, Irânian shows z or d and Indo-Âryan shows ǰ or *ǰh; e.g., K.km. d'uć, Av. dasa-, Skt. daša- 'ten'; K.km. ź'o˜, Skt. ǰânu- 'knee'; K.km. ź'im, Skt. hima- (h from earlier *ǰh) 'snow'.
- 3. Transitional Phase. Perhaps between the time that the early Nuristânis separated from the Irânians and the time that they came under Indo-Âryan influence (v. below), another distinguishing change in the Nuristâni languages took place: loss of aspiration after voiceless stops. Indo-Âryans retained the aspirated stops, while Iranians spirantized them; thus *khand- 'laugh' > K.km. kân'a- but Fârsi xand; K.km. p'ul 'small spherical object' vs. Skt ph'ala-. If these changes had happened later, there would be little motivation for a loss of aspiration in an Indo-Âryan-speaking milieu that maintained it.
- 4. Indo-Âryan Phase. Having been initially out of range of the Indo-Âryan side of the Âryan expansion, the proto-Nuristânis subsequently entered the Indo-Âryan sphere, where they acquired many IA loanwords and participated in many of the Middle Indo-Âryan (MIA) changes that characterize the northwestern IA languages. According to their oral traditions, before they settled in Nuristân, the Nuristânis migrated from Khorasân to Kandahâr to Kâbol to Kâpisa to Kâma, at the confluence of the Konar and Kâbol Rivers. Kâma at that time was solidly within the Indo-Âryan-speaking world; even today speakers of the Indo-Âryan language Pašaî border the district, which is now Pashto-speaking. Processes of change during this phase are revealed through comparison with Sanskrit and reconstructed Old Indo-Aryan (OIA) forms (Turner 1966); they included:
The many changes and borrowings of this phase have lead some linguists to erroneously classify the Nuristâni languages as belonging to the Indo-Âryan subgroup of Indo-Irânian; but as can be seen from the changes in Phases 1 to 3 above, the proto-Nuristâni speakers were well on their way to linguistic independence before they fell under Indo-Âryan influence.
- a. Retroflexion of tongue-end consonants next to r or after vocalic r. Clusters of r with adjacent consonant merge into a single consonant, with compensatory lengthening of a preceding vowel; cases include:
- i. with postconsonantal r, examples are *ćr > c̣ as in *ćrâva- > K. c̣'o 'shout', cf. Skt. šrâva-; *aćru- > K. âc̣'ü 'tear', cf. Skt. ášru-; but initial tr and dr remain unchanged (K. tr'e 'three', dr'u˜ 'bow').
- ii. With preconsonantal r there are two outcomes.
- a). With a following voiceless obstruent the r assimilates the stricture of the following consonant while retroflexing the cluster, as in rt > ṭṭ: *varta- > *vaṭṭa- (> *vâṭa > K. v'oṭ 'stone'); rṣ > ṣ: *karṣa- 'scratch' > *kâṣa- (> K. kâṣa- 'scrape').
- b). With a following voiced stop the r remains while the consonant drops: *ardu- > K. âr'u 'peach', *várdha- > K. vâr'a- 'grow', *parna- > Skt. parṇa- but Proto-Nuristani *pâra (> K. p'or 'leaf').
- iii. The development after vocalic r̥ is exemplified by *bhr̥t'a > *br̥ṭa > K.km. bâř'a 'taken'.
- b. Nasal latency, with the nasalization of a preceding n spreading across a vowel to a following stop consonant; e.g., Skt. nad'î- > *nandî > K. nan'i 'river', Skt. nagara- 'town' > *nangara > K.km nâŋ'ar 'name of a village in Chitral'.
- c. Weakening or loss of single intervocalic stop consonants. Thus,
- i. labials become v: n'apât- > K.km. nâv'o 'grandson', *â-bhr̥t'a > K. âv'ařa 'brought'.
- ii. Dentals are lost: -ita (passive-participle ending) > K. -i (retrospective verbal suffix), pad'a- > K. p'u 'step'; godh'ûma- > A.s. go:m, Kal.n., Tr., K. g'um 'wheat'; however, d(h) becomes l in V.: godh'ûma- > V. uly'um.
- iii. Affricates remain unchanged.
- iv. Retroflexes become flapped ṛ in A. and Kal., r in V., and are further reduced to ř in K. and Tr.: ghoṭa- > A.s. goṛa, Kal.n. guṛa 'horse', Tr. gořa; mr̥dâ- > *mr̥ḍâ- > V. mira, K.km. muř'i 'clay'.
- v. Velars are lost: *ćâka- > Kal.n. ćâ 'kind of bean' K. ć'o 'greens', Skt. šâka-, *â-gasća- > K. 'âća- 'come', Skt. âgaččha-.
- vi. Intervocalic n and ṇ merge to become a nasal flap in A. and Kal. and a nasal approximant in K.: Skt. kâṇá- 'one-eyed' > A. kâňa, K.km. kâň'a 'blind'; but n is retained in V.: Skt. stená- > V. ištn'e, K.km. št'âňa 'thief'.
- d. Simplification of consonant clusters. Consonants in clusters assimilate to each other and reduce, in most cases, to a single consonant.
- i. In intervocalic clusters of stops, the second one predominates: ut-pâtaka- > K. up'a 'scorpion'; saptá > K. s'ut 'seven', čitta- > K. č'at 'will', abhukta- > K.ktv. âvt'a, kiṭṭâla- 'pot' > K.km. kṭ'ol, A.s. čiṭâl 'stomach'; *makkaṭa- > K.km. mâk'ař 'monkey', etc; also âtmán- > K. âm'u 'oneself'.
- ii. Postconsonantal v shows various outcomes: loss, occlusion with anaptyxis (initially in A.) or assimilation (V.), or retention with anaptyxis (K.); e.g., čatv'âraḥ > A.s. ćâtâ:, Kal., Tr. čatâ, K.ktv. štav'o, V. čp'u 'four'; similarly, in initial clusters, with occlusion and anaptyxis in A.: *sva-ćura- > šipasu, but loss in K.ktv. saći'uř 'father-in-law', with anaptyxis in K.: *ćvâta- > K.ktv. ćav'o 'rhubarb', with loss: svásr̥ > K.km s'us 'sister', *dvara- > Kal. dor, K. d'u 'door'.
- iii. Postconsonantal y palatalizes a preceding dental stop: satyá- 'true' > K. s'uč 'pre-Islamic ritual utterance' madhya- > K.km (pâ)m'üč 'in the middle'.
- iv. An r before v drops: sárva- > A.s. savâ:k, K.ktv. s'uv 'all'; before y it is reduced in K.km. and lost with retained fronting in Kal.: kâryà- > K.km. k'oř 'to be done', Kal.n. kö 'work'.
- v. Nasals are
- a). reduced in A. and lost in K. and V. before voiceless stops: vasanta- > Kal.n. osunt, A.s. voso˜t, K.ktv. vas'ut, V. usti 'spring'.
- b). Post-nasal voiced stops are absorbed in Kal., K., and, in later final position, in A., but in V. it is the nasal that is lost: *kanda- > A.s. kanda, Kt. kan'a 'tree', Kal.n. kana 'twig'; *khand- > K.ktv. kan'e-, V. wyöida- 'laugh'; stamba- 'post' > K. št'um, V. ištobu 'tree(-trunk), stem'; k'âṇḍa- > A., Kal. kâṇ, K. k'oṇ 'arrow'.
- e. Anticipation of r. In medial clusters of r plus non-apical consonant, the r is anticipated to the consonantal onset of the preceding syllable: dîrghá- > Kal. drigala, K.km. draŋ'aňa, V. ǰign'i 'long'; kárman- > A.s. kram 'work'. Sporadic anticipation of postconsonantal r in this period appears in támisrâ- 'darkness' > K.km. trâmš'a 'twilight', *vikriṇâti 'sells' > K.km. vř'e˜č (č from another source); but such anticipation is normal in K. today, as seen in forms with the locative prefix: pa- + gř'om > *břag'om > K.km. břâk'om 'in the village'. (Development of *r is fully treated in Morgenstierne 1947b, Hamp 1968.)
- f. Development of vocalic r̥. Vocalic r̥ became a, â, i, or o depending on environment or dialect; e.g., r̥ṣabhá- > A., K.ktv. âṣ'a 'bull', kr̥tá- > K.ktv. kař'a 'done', *r̥čsa- > Skt. 'r̥kṣa-, A., K. 'ić, Kal. oć, Tr. woć 'bear', kr̥ṣí- > K., Kal. k'iṣ 'ploughing'.
- g. Assimilation in diphthongal sequences. The sequences aya, ava are reduced to the open front or back vowels e and o, respectively: tráyaḥ > K., Kal. tr'e 'three'; náva > A.s. no, > K., Kal. n'u 'nine'.
- h. Loss of word-final syllables, as illustrated by most of the preceding examples; but final u and i in some instances may have been retained, as seen in *aćru- 'tear', *ardu- 'peach', and nad'î- 'river', cited above.
- 5. Nuristân Phase. According to local traditions, the Nuristânis were expelled from the Kâma region during the Ghaznavid invsion of Nangarhâr in the early 11th century A.D, ending up as refugees in the middle reaches of the Konar, Pech and Laghmân Valleys before dispersing to their current abodes in the isolated valleys of the Hindu Kush. In the millennium since the Nuristânis entered Nuristân, their languages have undergone further changes that distinguish today's dialects. Notable among these are the progressive raising of the tongue's dorsum, with concomitant fronting and rounding of stressed vowels. Syncope of close vowels occurs in K. and V. Anticipation of fronting and rounding to vowels in preceding syllables (umlauting) is characteristic of Kal. and V. Consonants in A. have undergone changes reiterating those of Phases 1 and 2 above, while those in V. have been lost initially, resulting in virtually no comprehension of V. by speakers of other Nuristâni languages. Many developments during this phase are obscured by interdialectal borrowings, but sequences of phonological changes and their underlying processes can be reconstructed as follows:
- a. Assimilations and dissimilations of successive syllable onsets. Successive consonantal syllable-onsets tend to form an articulatory unit, with one feature selected to dominate both onsets. When the second onset contains an affricate or a stop, a preceding affricate may be deaffricated, or a preceding spirant may be affricated; both onsets are usually produced with the same articulator. Resulting onsets may coalesce through later syncope (Step 5.d below). Such assimilations appeared sporadically in individual dialects, some spreading over wider areas and others remaining locally confined. Examples include:
- i. Initial affricates lose spirancy to become d or t: *źiźû- 'tongue' (cf. Avestan hizû-, Skt. ǰuhû-, ǰihv'â-) > *diźû, becoming K.ktv. d'iz, K.km. d'ić, V. *zizû); Kal. ǰip is an IA loanword; *źasta- 'hand' (cf. Skt. hásta-) > *dasta > A., Kal. dost, K.km d'üšt, V. l'ust, if this is not an early borrowing of Fârsi dast; *ćiča- (< *ćikya-, cf. Skt. šikyà- 'carrying-sling') > *ćića- > K.km. tić'a 'goatskin sack', but K.ř. ćać'a, K.ktv. sać'a; Skt. ǰyeṣṭá- 'eldest' > A.s. diṣṭo, Kal. düṣṭö, but K. ǰ'eṣṭa; MIA loanword *ǰandra (< OIA yantrá- 'device') > *ǰaṇḍra > *ḍâṇḍr'a > K.km. ḍrâṇr'a [ḍraṇḍr'ɨ] 'hand-mill'.
- ii. Initial spirants assimilate following occlusion to become affricates: *šr̥čil'a 'slack' (< OIA *šr̥thilá-) > V. čič'il, Kal. čičila, A. ćićila, K.km. čal'a 'soft' (with syncope), but with no occlusion in K.ktv. šač'ala; Skt. sûč'î- 'needle' > *čuči > K. (čam)č'ač, A. (âr)ćus; *sasč'anka 'coagulated' (<*sasčanaka < OIA *sa˜-styânaka-) > A.m. čučo:ŋ 'buttermilk solids', A.s. c̣oc̣o:ŋ, but K.km. sâč'üŋ, K.ktv. saći'uŋ.
Other processes of this type include:
- iii. dissimilation of st (and later, čt) to št in K. and Kal.; e.g., K. št'um 'tree'; K. št'or 'quiver', K.km. št'o '4'.
- iv. Voicing assimilation on the locative prefix pa- in K., which becomes ba- before voiced consonants; e.g., K.km. pâkṭ'ol 'in the stomach' but bâg'otr 'on the upper arm'.
- b. Dorsal raising. For vowels, progressive dorsal raising determines the following sequence:
- i. Dorsal raising starts in A., K., and V., where a > [ɨ] and, in A., o > [ọ] with a resulting slight fronting of u. But in A. and K. an initial a is strengthened by opening to â, so that no initial a appears in those languages.
- ii. In Kal., K., and V. further dorsal raising and fronting pushed accented u forward to ü while raising o to u; e.g, duv'â > Kal., K.km d'ü, V. l'ü 'two', but A. du; Skt. doṣ'â- 'night', Kal., K. d'us, V. ul'us 'yesterday', but A. dos; óṣ'âdhi- 'herb' > *oṣ'a > K. uṣ'a 'medicine'.
- iii. In A., Kal., and K. accented a is rounded, except when it was in an ancient suffix (e.g., -aka-). In A. and Kal. it becomes o; with further dorsal raising it becomes u in K.; e.g., saptá > *s'at > A., Kal. s'ot, K. s'ut 'seven'; loanword *'ašpa 'horse' (cf. Skt ášva-) > K.km. 'ušpa.
- iv. In K. accented â, when not followed by i, is rounded to a phonetically open o, continuing the trend started with the rounding of a, as in K.km. gř'om but A., Kal. grâm, V. g'am 'community'; K.ktv. âz'or but A.s âźâ:r, Kal. âzâr 'four hundred'.
- v. In Kal. and Kâta-vari, but not in Kâmviri, nasalization is enhanced by velar and dorsal raising, so that nasalized o > u; e.g., K.e. 'u˜ć, but K.km. 'o˜ć 'I', Kal. punč, but A. po˜č 'five'. In K.ktv. velar raising in all nasal environments is taken to the point where the velum is closed off to exclude vocalic nasality; e.g., 'uze 'I', âč'e vs. K.km. âč'e˜ 'eye', zař'a vs. K.km. źaň'a 'red'; also next to nasal stops: gř'um 'community', m'uč vs. K.km. m'oč 'man', n'uṭ vs. K.km. n'oṭ 'dance', but not always in final open syllables: ân'o 'meat', âŋ'o 'fire'.
- vi. In V. raising of the tongue extends to earlier *e, yielding i: m'iza 'urine', (cf. Skt meha-), ištn'e 'thief' (cf. Skt. stená-), with syncope of the resulting i.
- c. Initial-syllable opening ("vriddhi"). In K.km. an a in initial syllables is strengthened by opening to â: K.km. vâs'ut, vs. K.ktv. vas'ut 'spring', kâlṣ'a vs. K.ktv. kalṣ'a, Kal. kalaṣa 'Kalasha'.
- d. Syncope. A characteristic of K. and V. is the syncope of pretonic close vowels between voiceless obstruents and certain other consonants, as illustrated by K.km. *ṣup'iṣ > ṣp'iṣ 'drizzle [noun]' and *ṣupiṣ'a- > ṣupṣ'a- 'drizzle [verb]'. In K. syncope produces many complex initial consonant clusters, e.g., K.km. pṭ'i 'back', ṭk'u 'nail', ćk'ara 'whey solids', kṣt'a 'unadulterated', trk'iṭ 'knucklebone', pštr'a 'broken'. In K.km. there is assimilation of resulting homorganic clusters: K.km. ć'üř vs. K.ktv. saći'uř 'father-in-law', K.km. čal'a vs. K.ktv. šač'ala 'soft'. In K.ktv. syncope is apparently subphonemic with rounded vowels after (velar?) stops, the rounding being retained on the stop; e.g, Kal. kuṭa, K.ktv. kuṭ'a [kʷṭ'ɨ]; K.km. kṭ'a 'lame', Kal. küṣüv, K.ktv. kuṣ'i [kʷṣ'i], K.km. kṣ'ü 'bean'. In V. syncope occurs ubiquitously in interior syllables, less frequently in initial syllables; e.g., pš'ik 'cat', psn'ok 'thing', kšč'u 'crippled', kṣ'u 'left', čne- 'sneeze'. Notable is the treatment of *duǰit'â 'daughter', with early internal syncope before the loss of intervocalic *t in V.: *dužit'a > *d'ušta > *l'ušta > l'üšt, but with spreading of u, loss of *t, and subsequent syncope in the first syllable of the other languages: *duǰut'a > *duǰ'ua > *dʸǰ'ua > Tr. ǰu:, K.km, Kal. ǰ'ü; and with intermediate dentalization in A.: *duǰut'a > *duǰ'ua > *duź'ua > źua > A.s. zu:.
- e. Epenthesis. Epenthesis before an earlier initial st occurred throughout Nuristân, except perhaps in Tr.; e.g, A. istu˜, Kal. üstüm 'pillar', V. ištob'u 'stem'. In K. the epenthetic vowel was later lost, but left traces with the locative prefix pa- in K.km.: št'ü˜ 'pillar', but *pa-ištü˜ > p'eštü˜ 'to the pillar' (not **pâšt'ü˜; but cf. K.ktv. pšti'uřâ). In V. epenthesis occured before all initial clusters beginning with s plus occlusive, as well as before initial continuants and clusters with subsequently lost r and v: üšk'öp 'bridge', cf. Skt skambha-, üšp'u˜ 'flute' < K.km ṣp'o˜, ul'us 'yesterday', cf. Skt. doṣ'â-, un'ü 'new', cf. K.km. nu·i˜, üč'ü 'horn' < *ćrû-, uć'âpar 'rhubarb' < *ćvâtvara-. The basic epenthetic vowel is i in each language, with added anticipatory rounding in Kal. ü and V. ü and u (see next).
- f. Vocalic-component spreading. Anticipation of vocalic fronting to a preceding vowel is usual in Kal., producing the front vowels ä and ö, and grammatical alternations in stem vowels with a following feminine suffix i; e.g., Kal.n. dä 'beard', cf. K.km. dâř'i, sö 'sun', cf. Skt. s'ûrya-; čüväli 'walker' (fem.) vs. čüvala (masc.), ćaṭäki 'sharp' (fem.) vs. ćaṭaka (masc.). In V. there is anticipation of both fronting and rounding; e.g., iž'i˜ 'eye', cf. K.km. âč'e˜, üč'ü 'tear', cf. K.km. âc̣'ü, plus the forms cited above. In K. fronting extends through following velar consonants to produce subphonemic palatalization (e.g., K.km. v'âik [v'akʸ] 'lamb'); similarly in V., with a wider range of following consonants (üšk'öp [üškʸ'öp] 'bridge', ištob'u [ištʸob'u] 'stem', ütn'ok [ütnʸ'ok] 'cultivated field'), the progressive palatalization is probably non-phonemic.
- g. Voiced deaffrication. In all dialects except K.km. and Tr. the voiced apico-dental affricate ź laxes to z: K.km. ź'otr 'kinsman' but K.ktv. z'otr 'affine', A.s. zâ:tr, V. z'âṭ; K.km. ź'u 'milk' but K.ktv. zu, A.s. zo:, Kal.n. zor, K.km. ź'im 'snow', Tr. źim but K.ktv., Kal. z'im, V. z'ima.
- h. Developments of r.
- i. Initial *r is strengthened to ẓ in A. and V. (further to ž when palatalized in V.), J in Tr., bolstered with v to vř (phonemically vṛ ?) in Kal., and weakened to ř in K.: e.g., A.s. ẓo:-kânda, Tr. Jo, Kal. vřo, K. ř'u 'deodar', A.s. ẓât-â:r, V. ž'eṭ, Tr. Jâtr, K. ř'otr, Kal.n. vâtr (< *vřâtr) 'night'.
- ii. Postconsonantal *r after non-apicals is reduced to ř in A. (phonetically) and K.; e.g., A. brâ [břa] 'younger brother', K. bř'o 'brother', A.s. grâm [gřam], K. gř'om 'community'. It is lost in V. except after a dental stop, where its retroflexion is absorbed or subsequently palatalized before a front vowel: b'â 'Brother!', g'am 'community', uṭ'us, K. tr'us 'avalanche', ḍui, K dr'u 'head-hair', čü'u, K.km. tr'üa 'yoghurt', ǰign'i, K.km. draŋ'aňa 'long', wyâč'i, K.km. v'etr 'fairy'; but the loss after non-dentals must have followed Step 5.j.i below.
- iii. Final postvocalic *r is lost in some cases; e.g., Kal. dor but K. d'u 'door', Kal. zor but A.s. zo:, K.km. ź'u 'milk'. In K.ktv. ř metathesizes or drops before i: K.ktv. křu·'i, K.km. kuř'i 'dog', ka·'i [kɨy'i], K.km. kâř'i 'made' (fem.).
- i. Consonantal development in Âṣkuṇu. As shown by examples from A.s., A. underwent developments in its lingual obstruents that in part repeat changes that occurred in the Early Iranian Phase (2) above. The data are highly obscured by interdialectal borrowings, and it is not possible to find a sequence of changes to account for all the outcomes of earlier forms. The responsible articulatory processes were primarily deaffrication, laminalization before front vowels ("palatalization"), and "prognathizing," i.e., slightly protruding the jaw while keeping the tongue's blade fixed against the back of the lower teeth, resulting in a forward shift in the point of articulation from alveolar to dental and from apico-alveolar (retroflex) to lamino-alveolar. These processes occurred perhaps in the following order:
However, this sequence of processes leaves unaccounted the change of ǰ > z seen in zu: 'daughter' vs. K.km. ǰ'ü, zâliak 'omasum' vs. K.km. ǰâlik, pamaz 'in the middle' vs. K.km. pâm'üč (< *pa-maǰ).
- i. Deaffrication:
- a). of ć to s: saṇu 'person from Wâmâ' vs. K.km. ćâň'u; sâu 'branch' vs. K.ktv. ć'ov; gas 'length of outstretched arm' vs. K.km. g'eć; with further palatization ši:ṭ 'fertilizer', vs. K.km. ć'iṭ, viši 'twenty', vs. K.km. vić'i.
- b). of ǰ > ž before i: ži 'sinew' vs. K.km. ǰ'a; žirik 'shame' vs. K.km. ǰar'ik.
Deaffrication of ź previously occurred in Step 5.g above.
- ii. Palatalization before i:
- a). of k to č: ćilâ 'cheese', (with further dentalization) vs. K.km. kil'âř; čiṭâl 'stomach' (via *c̣iṭâl, with further palatalization) vs. K.ktv. kṭi'ol, K.km. kṭ'ol.
- b). of the apical spirants *s > š and *z > ž: šikâ: 'fat', vs. K.km. ski'o; žim 'snow' vs. K.ktv. z'im; also ši:ṭ and viši above.
- iii. Prognathizing, resulting in:
- a). Dentalization of the alveolars č > ć, ǰ > ź, and š > s: ćâm 'skin' vs. K. č'om; ćiatr 'carved design' vs. K.km. č'etr; also ćilâ above; źâda 'other' vs. Kal.n. ǰâta; źâl'âi 'duck' vs. K.ktv. ǰâl'âi; źit 'body' vs. Kal.n. ǰit; sâl 'stable' vs. Kal.n. šâl; sâli 'rice plant' vs. K.km. šâl'i; but before i the laminal spirants of Steps 5.i.i.b and 5.i.ii.b remain.
- b). Laminalization of retroflexed c̣ > č and ṣ > š: čila 'abomasum' vs. K. c̣al'a; šiŋ 'horn' vs. K., Kal. ṣ'iŋ; also čiṭâl above.
- j. Consonantal Development in Vâsi-vari. The most aberrant of the Nuristâni languages is V., which, in addition to the changes noted in previous steps, has undergone loss of initial consonants and various fronting and voicing assimilations. The analysis of sound changes in V. is due to Morgenstierne (1949) and includes:
- i. Lenition of initial occlusion, so that initial k, g, ǰ, t, and p were lost, b > v, ć and ź (v. Step 5.g) > z, č > ž, while initial (and medial) d had earlier become l (Step 4.c above); e.g., ip'a 'Kâta' < *kitva < *kitivâ < *kântivâ, cf. K. kt'ivi, Pashto kântiw'â (place name); uly'um 'wheat plant', cf. Skt. godh'ûma-; z'o˜ 'cow dung', cf. K.km. ć'u˜; eštek 'elder', cf. Skt. ǰyéṣṭha-; y'u 'thou', cf. K.km t'ü; y'â 'father', cf. Skt. pit'â 'father'; v- 'become', cf. Skt. bhû-; žim'a 'iron', cf. K. čam'a. Initial consonants before r remained, with the r subsequently lost (v. Step 5.h above).
- ii. Intervocalic voicing of affricates: Intervocalic voiceless affricates, otherwise unaffected by the changes in Step 4.c, become voiced: lez'e '10', cf. K. d'uć; uz'â 'herding', cf. K.km. pâć'o; ürǰ'uk 'light', cf. K. ř'uč; but the development of -č- is ambiguous.
- iii. Palatalization of retroflex stops: In the environment of front vowels, retroflex stops are palatalized, so that ṭ > č and ḍ > ǰ; e.g., ič'i 'bone', cf. K. âṭ'i; müǰ'ü 'drum' < *maḍü < *maṇḍu, cf. K.km. mâṇ'ü. This change must follow the absorbsion of r after dental stops treated in Step 5.h; cf. the similar change in A., Step 5.i.iii.b.
- 6. Afghân-Islâmic Phase. After entering Nuristân, the pre-Islâmic ("Kâfir") Nuristânis managed to hold off encroachments from their Muslim neighbors, until they were conquered by the Afghâns in 1896 A.D. At that time the "Kâfirs" were forcibly converted to Islâm, and since then they have been assimilating thousands of words of Arabic, Persian, and Pashto origin into their lexicons, to the detriment of many traditional terms. Despite the changes brought about by such borrowings, the Nuristâni languages continue to thrive and do not appear to be in danger of dying out.
[Transcription updated 10 September 2010]