Lambdacism and the Development of Old Iranian *tin Pashto

In: Iran and the Caucasus
Julian KreidlIndiana University, Bloomington

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It is a well-known fact that Pashto belongs to those Eastern Iranian languages, which show lambdacism. While similarities exist with Bactrian and Munji-Yidgha, the situation in Pashto is not exactly the same, and is in any case far more complicated. Especially interesting in this respect is the development of Old Iranian *t, which is sometimes shifted to l in Pashto proper and y in Waneci, sometimes yields the voiced dental d, or, as a third outcome, disappears in all varieties.

In this paper, it is argued that the first lambdacism of (Old Iranian *d >) *δ > l, in the early first millennium A.D., spread from Bactrian, the prestigious lingua franca of the Kushan and subsequent Empires, into the contemporary ancestors of Munji(-Yidgha), Pashto and Prasun. Almost a millennium later, there was another, geographically far more limited lambdacism. This time, one subgroup of Pashto from which all Pashto proper dialects would emerge, changed, at least in certain environments, (Old Iranian *t >) *d > *δ to l, while it was changed to a palatal glide in Waneci. In other phonological environments, *d had disappeared before it could be shifted to l and y, respectively, and left no traces in contemporary dialects. In those cases where *t corresponds to d in all contemporary varieties of Pashto, we are dealing with a secondary restoration of the dental or sandhi, which lead to a voicing of initial *t.

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