Old Persian


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Related to Old Persian: Avestan

Old Persian

 

one of the ancient languages of the Iranian group. Old Persian is known from cuneiform inscriptions dating from the time of the Achaemenid dynasty (558-330 B.C.). The largest collection of inscriptions was preserved from the period when Darius I (522-486 B.C.) and Xerxes I (486-465 B.C.) ruled. Old Persian was spoken in southwestern Iran.

Phonetically, Old Persian is characterized by oppositions based on vowel length. The grammatical structure ot Old Persian, which possessed a well-developed system of inflectional forms, is similar to that of Avestan and Sanskrit. Distinctions were made between masculine, feminine, and neuter genders; singular, dual, and plural number; and nominative, accusative, genitivedative, locative, ablative, instrumental, and vocative cases. The verb system consisted of active and middle voices; indicative, imperative, optative, and subjunctive moods; present, imperfect, aorist, and perfect tenses.

REFERENCES

Oranskii, I. M.Vvedenie v iranskuiu filologiiu. Moscow, 1960.
Oranskii, I. M.Iranskie iazyki. Moscow, 1963.
Bartholomae, C.Altiranisches Wörterbuch, 2nd ed. Berlin, 1961.
Brandenstein, W., and M. Mayrhofer.Handbuch des Altpersischen. Wiesbaden, 1964.
Kent, R.Old Persian: Grammar, Texts, Lexicon, 2nd ed. New Haven, 1953.
Meillet, A.Grammaire du vieux perse, 2nd ed. Paris, 1931.

V. S. RASTORGUEVA

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Hinz's erroneous translation of a paragraph (DB [section]70) of Darius's Behistun Inscription to maintain that it was this king who invented the Old Persian (OP) script.