Meyma’i is spoken in the district of Meyma (Meymeh) in central Iran and belongs to the Central Plateau group of dialects, also known as Central dialects. This geographic language group is spread over a vast area from Isfahan in the south to Kashan in the north, and most of its dialects, Meyma’i included, are rapidly giving way to Persian, thus highly endangered. Central Plateau group, one of the major subgroups of Northwest Iranian languages, includes dozens of dialects which differ in major traits of phonology, morphosyntax and lexim, and thus show low mutual intelligibility. Many of the dialects remain undocumented and most have not received scholarly attention, notwithstanding their significance in both philology and typology.
This book offers the most detailed study ever done on a single dialect of the Central Iranian Plateau group. The grammar, which includes chapters on phonology and noun and verb morphology and syntax, is followed by a chapter on comparative-historical phonology of both consonants and vowels, appended with sample texts and glossaries. As much Meyma’i shares with its neighbors, it also differs in significant ways. Among the subjects studied in more details are diachronic vowel shifts (rarely studied in Iranistics), the dilemma of gender, and the rich inventory of Meyma’i adpositions. In a number of traits, such as the lexical choices of some verbs, we find Meyma’i—true to its geography—at the juncture of the Central dialects. The past tenses of transitive verbs show a peculiar form of split ergativity, represented by agential suffixes that freely float through the sentence, yielding complex syntactic structures.
Habib Borjian has carried out fieldwork and published on various languages of the Iranian family, especially those in danger of extinction. He collaborates with Endangered Language Alliance to document rare languages spoken by immigrant communities in New York City. Dr. Borjian is the associate editor of Journal Persianate Studies and a senior assistant editor of Encyclopaedia Iranica, to which he is a regular contributor.
Keywords: Central dialects, Northwest Iranian languages, Iranian dialectology, comparative-historical phonology, morphology, syntax