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Indo-Iranian Languages and Peoples$
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Nicholas Sims-Williams

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780197262856

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197262856.001.0001

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Ancient Afghanistan and its invaders: Linguistic evidence from the Bactrian documents and inscriptions

Ancient Afghanistan and its invaders: Linguistic evidence from the Bactrian documents and inscriptions

Chapter:
(p.225) Ancient Afghanistan and its invaders: Linguistic evidence from the Bactrian documents and inscriptions
Source:
Indo-Iranian Languages and Peoples
Author(s):

Nicholas Sims-Williams

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197262856.003.0011

During the last ten years the corpus of Bactrian texts has increased dramatically. The dates of the Bactrian documents range from 342 to 781 a.d., a span of more than four centuries extending through the Kushano-Sasanian, Kidarite, Hephthalite, and Turkish periods, well into Islamic times. Apart from a few unidentifiable fragments and texts of uncertain type, the new Bactrian documents may be divided into four groups: (i) legal documents such as contracts and receipts; (ii) lists and accounts; (iii) letters; and (iv) Buddhist texts. As a result of these new finds, the corpus of Bactrian available for study is now much larger-perhaps as much as a hundred times larger—than it was ten years ago. Our knowledge of the Bactrian lexicon has increased correspondingly, perhaps by three or four times. This chapter examines this enlarged Bactrian vocabulary for linguistic data in the form of names and titles, loanwords and calques, in which one may hope to identify traces of the languages of the many peoples who held sway in Bactria during the course of its long and turbulent history.

Keywords:   Bactrian texts, Bactrian language, legal documents, lists, accounts, letters, Buddhist texts, Bactrian vocabulary, names, titles

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