The Historical Evolution of Tabari

Document Type : Original Article


Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey


Tabari or Mazandarani has a history of documentation of nearly a millennium, that is, a language second in age, among the living Iranian languages, only to New Persian. It is the only language of the same family besides Persian into which the Koran is translated in pre-modern times. A historical periodization of Tabari is proposed by this author in Motun-e Ṭabari/ Tabari Texts (2009): Period I, 10-15 centuries, consisting of poems and individual verses, sentences, and words preserved in otherwise Persian works; Period II, interlinear translation of three manuscript of Koran's exegesis by the Zaydi sect, and of Maqāmāt al-Ḥarīrī, all sharig strong dialectal features once spoken in western Mazandaran and in early modern history; Period III, contemporary Mazandarani documented since the first half of the 19th century. A comparative study of the proposed three periods is attempted in this article. After a brief discussion of the sources and the current distribution of Caspian varieties, I propose a historical-comparative analysis of phonology and morphosyntax among the periods and conclude with a brief lexical inquiry.