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This paper seeks to combine the insights gathered in a corpus study of the periphrastic perfect in Classical Armenian texts from the 5th century CE and research into the socio-historical and political interactions of the Armenians and their Iranian neighbours in the same time period.

It is argued that the construction of the Classical Armenian perfect, which consists of a participle in -eal (< PIE *-lo-) and an optional form of the copula, is most accurately described as tripartite morphosyntactic alignment:

– intransitive and transitive passive verbs construe with a nom subject under subject agreement of the copula;

– transitive active verbs take gen agents, acc objects, and the copula is an invariant 3.sg.

This pattern shows some diachronic variation and by the 8th century CE has given way to nomacc alignment under pressure from the rest of the verbal system. Based on observations in the corpus and typological data, this alignment pattern can be explained as a case of pattern replication and pivot matching of a Middle Iranian, specifically Parthian, ergabs model in pre-literary times and subsequent adaptation to Armenian requirements cf. Meyer (2016; 2017).

This explanation is lent further credence by the existence of both a great wealth of Iranian loanwords in Armenian, as well as a small number of other syntactic patterns that have clear Iranian parallels. Furthermore, the prevalence of political quarrels between the Parthian rulers of Armenia and other Iranians, their adoption of Christianity in c. 301 CE, frequent intermarriage with Armenians, and the lack of any Parthian language documents in the area suggest that the existence of Iranian syntactic patterns in Armenian is due not only to language contact, but indeed to language shift of the Parthian ruling class to Armenian. This, in turn, may provide a partial explanation of the first ‘death’ of Parthian, a significant attestation gap between Arsacid inscriptions and later religious documents.

In: Ancient Indo-European Languages between Linguistics and Philology
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Structuralists and generativists have insisted for a long time that the elements and structures one language could borrow from another are constrained by typological compatibility, naturalness, and other factors (cf. Thomason and Kaufman 1988: 13–34). Such constraints are still thought to apply to structural interference, or pattern replication in the terms of Matras and Sakel (2007), and the often concomitant contact-induced grammaticalisation of non-native structures.

This paper suggests that a priori there are no typological constraints against pattern replication in general. It is proposed that typological differences between model and replica pattern are only of relevance during the grammaticalisation and maintenance of such patterns in the replica language; in other words, typological constraints do not apply at the stage of pattern replication. It will be argued that typology, in the form of system pressure, interacts with pattern frequency and socio-historical factors, which together determine retention, adaptation, or loss of a replicated pattern.

This argument is illustrated on the basis of three short studies of partial alignment change in Old Aramaic, Classical Armenian, and North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic, all of which have been in contact with Iranian languages for extended periods. In each case, Iranian ergative alignment patterns have been replicated, adapted, grammaticalised to varying degrees, and finally ousted in favour of nominative-accusative alignment. The loss of the replica pattern in each case is shown to be dependent on both typology, extent of bilingualism, and pattern frequency.

Open Access
In: Journal of Language Contact
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Abstract

The 18th-century Georgian-Armenian poet and bard Sayatʽ-Nova is well known amongst scholars of Armenian language and literature as the author of numerous poems composed in the Tiflis-dialect of Armenian. Next to the idiosyncrasies of this dialect, however, the language used in Sayatʽ-Nova’s poetry is replete with lexical material from many other languages widely spoken in the Caucasus and its environment, particularly Georgian, Azeri Turkish, and Farsi. This is unsurprising: the Caucasus is a highly multilingual region and Sayatʽ-Nova a multilingual poet.

Next to the work of Charles Dowsett (1997), which treats mainly of the life, poetic topics, and style of Sayatʽ-Nova, little further literature is available as concerns his language; even an English translation of his poetry is as yet a desideratum.

This paper addresses the lack of a modern translation that does justice to Sayatʽ-Nova’s language. It proposes two manners in which his multilingual poetry can be translated without losing entirely the richness and expressiveness of his language: a multilingual approach to the target language environment (combining English as the matrix language with French elements); and a rendition by materilingual estrangement, using typographical means to translate originally non-Armenian elements.

Open Access
In: Armenia through the Lens of Time
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While Armenian is not a member of the Iranian language family, its lexicon is replete with borrowings from esp. Parthian. This paper ventures to show that borrowing is not restricted to lexical items alone, but extends to the realm of syntax as well. This will be demonstrated by means of a corpus based investigation of the usage of Middle Persian xwd, Parthian wxd and its functional counterpart, Armenian ink‘n; furthermore, parallels regarding the expression of reflexivity in both language groups are addressed. The tripartite function of the respective pronouns as intensifier, discourse anaphora and clause level anaphora are the result of extended language contact between Armenian and Western Middle Iranian.

In: Iran and the Caucasus
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Abstract

The Armenian version of the Art of Grammar attributed to Dionysius Thrax has long been a staple of research into the so-called Hellenising School of Armenian translation. To date, scholarship has undervalued the modus operandi and content of the Armenian τέχνη, and thus the problematic relationship between ‘translation’ and original. Three different approaches to the Greek original can be distinguished: straightforward translation; extension of Greek grammatical concepts with Armenian data; and adaptation of Armenian data to Greek grammatical concepts. This paper argues that the Armenian τέχνη is more than just an example of grecising Armenian. It represents a clear indicator of Armenian scholarly practice caught between received Greek grammar and an attempt at making the grammar relevant to Armenian speakers. Thus, it is equally caught between translation, extension, and adaptation, and between the ‘Self’ and the ‘Other’. By comparing the Armenian τέχνη with both the Greek original, current thinking on Classical Armenian linguistics, and its later commentaries, this paper illustrates that this attempt at bridging the divide between Greek ‘guidelines’ and Armenian linguistic realities did not succeed. The Armenian non-translation cannot be used in isolation, nor is it a useful description of either Greek or Armenian grammar.

In: Armenia and Byzantium without Borders
In: Armenia through the Lens of Time