Iranian languages – An introduction 


Iranian languages are the group of languages which belong to the Indo-European and Indo-Iranian family of languages.


The languages belonging to the Iranian family which are especially connected to Zoroastrian studies are Avesta, Old Persian Inscription Pahlavi, Book Pahlavi (Middle Persian), Pazand and Persian (Farsi).


There are other languages too belonging to the Iranian family like Kurdish, Pashtu, Ossetic, Manichaenian and Tokharish.


Avesta is the oldest extant language of this family. It had a hypothetical mother language  which it shared with Vedic Sanskrit. This mother language is now no more extant.


The Iranian languages pertaining to the Zoroastrian religion flourished during different main historical eriods which can be seen from the table below:


Language Historical Period Time period
Hypothetical proto-Aryan language (now lost) Proto-Aryan Pre-historic
Avesta Peshdad-Kayan Pre-historic
Old Persian Achaemenian 556 BC to 330 B C
Inscription Pahlavi Ashkanian & early Sasanian 247 BC to 224 AC
Pahlavi (Middle Persian), etc. Sasanian and post-Sasanian 3rd to 9th century AC
Pazand Middle and later Sasanian 4th to 7th century AC
Neo-Persian Post-Sasnian After 9th century AC


Other important languages in the Indo-European family are Armenian, Baltic (Lithuanian, Latvian, Old Prussian), Anatolian (Hittite), Celtic (Gallic, Hispanic, Irish, Scot, Welsh, Tocharian), Hellenic (Classical Greek, Modern Greek), Germanic (Old Saxon, Modern German), Norwegian, Icelandic, Italic and Latin.