Khwarezmian language

Khwarezmian language
Spoken in Khwarezm
Extinct ca. 13th century
Language family
Writing system Aramaic alphabet, Sogdian alphabet, Pahlavi script
Language codes
ISO 639-3 xco

Khwarezmian, also known as Khwarazmian or Chorasmian, is the name of an extinct East Iranian language[1][2][3][4] closely related to Sogdian. The language was spoken in the area of Khwarezm (Chorasmia), centered in the lower Amu Darya south of the Aral Sea (the northern part of the modern Republic of Uzbekistan, and the adjacent areas of Turkmenistan).

Our knowledge of Khwarezmian is limited to its Middle Iranian stage and much like Sogdian, we are not sure of its ancient form. Before the advancement of Islam in Transoxiana (early 8th century), Khwarezmian was written in a script close to that of Sogdian and Pahlavi with its roots in the imperial Aramaic script. From the few remaining pieces of this script (from coins and artifacts), it has been observed that written Khwarezmian included Aramaic logograms or ideograms, that is, Aramaic words written to represent native spoken ones.

After the advancement of Islam, Khwarezmian adapted a version of the Perso-Arabic alphabet with a few extra signs to reflect the specific Khwarezmian sounds, such as the letter څ, which represents /ts/ and /dz/, as in traditional Pashto orthography.[5]

From the writings of the great Khwarezmian scholars, Biruni and Zamakhshari, we know that the language was in use at least until the 13th century, when it was gradually replaced by various dialects of Turkish as well as by Persian.

Other than the astronomical terms used by Biruni, our other sources of Khwarezmian include Zamakhshari's Arabic-Persian-Khwarezmian dictionary and several legal texts that use Khwarezmian terms to explain certain legal concepts.

The noted scholar W.B. Henning was preparing a dictionary of Khwarezmian when he died, leaving it unfinished.


  1. ^ Encyclopedia Iranica, "The Chorasmian Language", D.N.Mackenzie. Online access at June, 2011: [1]
  2. ^ Andrew Dalby, Dictionary of Languages: the definitive reference to more than 400 languages, Columbia University Press, 2004, pg 278
  3. ^ MacKenzie, D. N. "Khwarazmian Language and Literature," in E. Yarshater ed. Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. III, Part 2, Cambridge 1983, pp. 1244-1249
  4. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica, "Iranian languages" (Retrieved on 29 December 2008)

See also

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Khwarezmian — The name Khwarezmian (also Khorezmian, Khwarezm, Khwarizmim, Chorasmian, Carizmian, and others) may refer to: Khwarezm, a series of states in what is now known as Greater Iran Khwarezmian language, an extinct East Iranian language Khwarezmian… …   Wikipedia

  • Khwarezmian Empire — Infobox Former Country native name = خوارزمشاهیان conventional long name = Khwarezmian Empire common name = Khwarezmian Empire continent = Asia region = country = Iran era = Medieval status = status text = empire = government type = Monarchy year …   Wikipedia

  • Persian language — Farsi redirects here. For other uses, see Farsi (disambiguation). Persian فارسی, دری, تاجیکی Wri …   Wikipedia

  • Bengali language — Bangla redirects here. For Bangla speaking people, see Bengali people. Bengali বাংলা Bangla The word Bangla in Bangla Assamese alphabet …   Wikipedia

  • Marathi language — Marathi मराठी Marāṭhī Marathi written in Devanāgarī and …   Wikipedia

  • Punjabi language — ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, پنجابی, Panjābī The word Punjabi in Gurmukhi, Shahmukhi and Devanagari Spoken …   Wikipedia

  • Kurdish language — Kurdish كوردی, Kurdî, Kurdí, Кöрди[1] Spoken in  Turkey …   Wikipedia

  • Maldivian language — Maldivian (divehi) Spoken in Maldives and Minicoy (India). Region South Asia …   Wikipedia

  • Old Azari language — This article is about the Iranian language of Azerbaijan. For the Turkic language of Azerbaijan, see Azerbaijani language. Azari آذری Āḏarī Spoken in Iran (Persia), Azerbaijan Region Middle East, Central Asia …   Wikipedia

  • Pashto language — Pashto پښتو Pronunciation [paʂˈto], [paçˈto], [paxˈto] Spoken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran (minor) and by the Pashtun diaspora …   Wikipedia