Parthian language

Parthian language image

The Parthian language, also known as Arsacid Pahlavi and Pahlawānīg, is a now-extinct ancient Northwestern Iranian language spoken in Parthia, a region situated in present-day northeastern Iran and Turkmenistan. Parthian was the language of state of the Arsacid Parthian Empire (248 BC – 224 AD), as well as of its eponymous branches of the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia, Arsacid dynasty of Iberia, and the Arsacid dynasty of Caucasian Albania.

This language had a significant impact on Armenian, a large part of whose vocabulary was formed primarily from borrowings from Parthian; its derivational morphology and syntax was also affected by language contact, but to a lesser extent. Many ancient Parthian words were preserved, and now only survive in Armenian.



Parthian was a Western Middle Iranian language. Language contact made it share some features of the Eastern Iranian language group, the influence of which is attested primarily in loanwords. Some traces of Eastern influence survive in Parthian loanwords in Armenian. Parthian loanwords appear in everyday Armenian vocabulary; nouns, adjectives, adverbs, denominative verbs, and administrative and religious lexicons.

Taxonomically, Parthian, an Indo-European language, belongs to the Northwestern Iranian language group while Middle Persian belongs to the Southwestern Iranian language group.

Written Parthian

Main article: Pahlavi scripts

The Parthian language was rendered using the Pahlavi writing system, which had two essential characteristics: First, its script derived from Aramaic, the script (and language) of the Achaemenid chancellery (i.e. Imperial Aramaic). Second, it had a high incidence of Aramaic words, rendered as more

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