Did you know?: Iranian
The nearest relatives of Indo-Aryan
are the Iranian languages immediately to the west. These include. besides Persian and related dialects in Iran: Kurdish and Baluchi; Ossetic in the Caucasus; Gilaki, Mazanderani, Talishi, and Tati along the southern and southwestern shores of the Caspian; Pashto
and other languages in Afghanistan
and adjoining areas of Pakistan (mainly the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces); and the Pamir group of archaic dialects (Shugni, Sarikoli, Yazgulami, Wakhi
, Ishkashmi, Munjani, Yidgha) which extend into northeastern Afghanistan from Tajikistan (the main language of which, Tajiki, is closely connected to Persian).
Iranian languages once covered a much larger area, including most of Central Asia, large areas of southern Russia and the present-dayUkraine, and extending into Chinese Turkestan and even the Balkans. The area has contracted mainly as a result of the expansion of Turkic.
Older stages of Iranian are well documented in Old Persian (from the sixth century B e) and Avestan, Middle Persian (Pahlavi), Parthian, Sogdian (texts from both Soviet Central Asia and colonies in China), and Khotanese (Chinese Turkestan), and in more fragmentary form in other extinct dialects. Old Persian represents a Western Iranian dialect; Avestan, the language of the Zoroastrian scripture (the Avesta), called "Zend" by earlier writers, represents a Northeasterndialect. Until recently, the reforms of Zoroaster/Zarathushtra and the core of the Avesta were thought, on the basis of unreliable Sasanian traditions of the first millennium AD, to date from about 600BC. A number of scholars now incline to a much earlier date, 1000 BC or before - even as ..→