KERMAN xvi. Languages



xvi. Languages

The province of Kerman is characterized by two indigenous, “Southwest” Iranian languages, Persian in the mountainous north and Garmsiri in the lowland south (Figure 1), supplemented by the Median-type dialects spoken by the Zoroastrian and Jewish residence of the city of Kerman, and possibly by Turkish residues in western-central districts.

This article is divided into four sections: (1) Historical perspective; (2) varieties of Persian; (3) Garmsiri dialects, (4) Abbreviations, sources.


Unlike the three historical super-provinces of Iran, Fārs, Media, and Khorasan, whose language histories are relatively well known, at least in outline, the language history of Kerman can only be conjectured on account of the paucity of documentation. The pre-historic civilization of Jiroft, one of the oldest on the Iranian plateau, left no written record, yet may have left a substratum in toponymy and flora, which call for detailed studies.  It is known, however, that the Carmania of Classical authors was well integrated into the Iranian-speaking domain, to the extent that its people had customs and language similar to those of the Persians and Medes. The reports on Carmania point to the southern, hot climate region of Kerman adjoining the Strait of Hormuz, within the “date palm zone” (for references, see Brunner), as does a Darius inscription (DSf 34-35; Kent, pp. 143-44) in citing Karmāna as a source of yakā, a timber identified by I. Gershevitch (1957) with jag “sissoo tree,” which is native to the southern districts of Kerman, from Jiroft to Bašākerd. Classical authors further observe that “the Persians” already had settled on littoral Carmania (cf. Brunner). Within this context, one may surmise an ancient time-depth for language contiguity that exists today between the Garmsiri dialects of southern Kerman (see section 3, below) and the Lārestāni group of dialects in southern Fārs.

The Arabic geographies of the 10th century provide brief but useful information regarding the languages spoken in the province of Kerman. They describe the Kufčis (see QOFṢ) as inhabitants of the region between Jabal Bārez and the Gulf of Oman, and associate their language with that of the Baloch (Bosworth). As the Kufči habitat nearly matches Kerman’s lowland south, their language could be the precursor of the current Garmsiri dialects, which also share significant phonological features with Balochi. This conjecture, however, should be ruled out, because the warlike Kufčis could only be adversary to the intensive agricultural and commercial economy practiced in the Halilrud valley, centered at Jiroft (cf. Le Strange, pp. 314-16). The Kufčis may only have left a trace in the dialect named South Baškardi by Ilya Gershevitch (1959).

The early Islamic geographers further state that the inhabitants of Kerman spoke an intelligible Persian that was close to Khorasani (Eṣṭaḵri; Moqaddasi, apud Ḵānlari, I, p. 286). These statements are of utmost importance, for Kermani Persian remains otherwise undescribed, much less documented, down to the 20th century. Subsequently, we face a dark millennium between (1) the 10th century, when, according to the geographers, New Persian had already become indigenized in highland Kerman, as it was in Khorasan, from which a standard, literary New Persian was emerging, and (2) the 20th century, when the grammar of Kermani Persian, even in distant districts, is hardly distinguishable from that of Tehran, and many other urban centers of Iran for that matter. These two ends of the time spectrum leave us with little explanation about the period in between: neither do the current Kermani vernaculars resemble those of the Greater Khorasan and Transoxiana in the latters’ remarkable idiosyncrasies vis-à-vis standard modern Persian, nor does there exist in Persophonic parts of Kerman any residue of pre-Persian languages, as is the case with the Perside dialects in Fārs and the Median dialects in central Iran, the urban centers of which had not given up their Median until after the Mongol period (for Isfahan, see Borjian, 2014). The Persian varieties of Kerman also show little trace of the “southern” varieties of Early New Persian that Gilbert Lazard (1990) hypothesizes to have once spread from Khuzestan in the west to Sistān in the east.

Kerman is linguistically far less diverse than either Fārs or central and western Iran, not only in lacking non-Persian languages of Iranian stock within a Persian milieu, but also in assimilating the Turkic dialects that have been introduced to the province at different stages in history. Beginning with the coming of the Ḡozz in the 11th century, much of the history of the province saw Turkic-speaking ruling classes and influx of various Turkic tribes (Lambton). The Afšārs, whose migrations to the western parts of the province began in the 16th century and who were reported to have been speaking Turkish in the mid-19th century (de Rochechouart, p. 28), have now virtually lost their language to Persian (personal communication with residents of Sirjān, Bāft, and Bardsir). In Kuhbanān, at the northwestern corner of the province, Turkish speakers are unremarkable (interviews), and the Ḵālu tribe of Rābor and Bāft allegedly spoke “a mixture of Persian and Turkish.” Overall, the presence of Turkish in Kerman shows an opposite effect with respect to Fars, where the Qašqāʾi tribal confederation remained intact until recently, and to Azerbaijan, which has fully shifted to Turkish.

The last but not the least historical paradox poses itself in the languages of the Zoroastrian and Jewish communities of Kerman. The city had, until lately, sizable quarters populated by the two religious minorities, who spoke Median languages of the Central-Plateau type not otherwise indigenous to Kerman. The striking similarity between the Kermani and Yazdi Zoroastrian dialects (see BEHDINĀN DIALECT) and between the Kermani and Yazdi Jewish dialects (Lazard, 1981; Borjian, 2014, sec. 6.5 and table 7) leaves little doubt about the recentness of linguistic exchanges between the two cities. Historical records suggest a Jewish population flow from Yazd to Kerman (Yeroushalmi, p. 200; English, p. 42; cf. xiv, above), with the implication that their Median dialect followed the same path. This justification does not seem to hold for the Zoroastrians. While there was an influx of Zoroastrians into Kerman, in the early 18th century, it was not particularly from central Iran, but from Sistān, whose Zoroastrian community were either native to the city or recent immigrants from southern Khorasan. On the other hand, there existed in the late 16th century a deep-rooted Zoroastrian community in Kerman, comparable in size with that of Yazd, the other Zoroastrian stronghold in Iran (Ghereghlou). Accordingly, we are left in the dark about the original language of Kermani Zoroastrians and the way they adopted their current Median language. A comparative study with Kermani Persian will elucidate how early the Behdinān dialect could have been implanted in Kerman.


The varieties of Persian spoken in the northern parts of Kerman Province, from Šahr-e-Bābak eastward to Fahraj and from Kuhbanān southward to Bāft, are sufficiently coherent to be perceived by the natives as a single Kermani accent (lahja), yet sufficiently close to standard spoken Persian to be effortlessly intelligible to Persophones at large. The individuality of Kermani comes not from its grammar, which is nearly identical to the standard modern Persian, but from its characteristic sound system and, to a lesser degree, to its native vocabulary, which shows considerable uniformity across the Persophonic districts of the province.

The distribution of Kermani varieties may bear certain areal patterns. One that surfaced in this study is fronting of u/ow to i/ew in the northern and southern districts but their retention along the Rafsanjān–Kerman–Bam trade artery, which cuts through the province, and in the town of Sirjān, which is located on the old caravan route to Hormuz. Nevertheless, as Ḥāmed Mowlāʾi (2011) demonstrates in his microanalysis, the northernmost district of Kuhbanān itself is bisected on this sound development. Moreover, the urban variety known as maḥalla-šahri (Bāstāni-Pārizi, 1996), spoken in the inner city of Kerman, seems to be a koine, in contradistinction to lahja-ye dehāti, the appellation given to the rural or provincial vernaculars by urban dwellers.

Documentation and studies. The earliest known documentation of Kermani Persian is found in the works of Mirzā Qāsem Adib-e Kermāni, later known as Qāsemi Kermāni, written in the early 20th century. His best known works are Neyestān, a satirical manẓuma of 800 couplets, and Ḵārestān, which challenges the celebrated Golestān, both in the book title (ḵār “thorn” vs. gol “rose”) and in indigenizing Saʿdi’s melodic prose with a vocabulary specific to Kerman. The main themes of these works are criticizm of the exploitation of the textile workers (šālbāf) and sympathy with folk culture, including the vernacular of Kerman.

While serving as British Consul in Kerman during 1912-14, Colonel David L. R. Lorimer and his wife Emily collected lullabies, children’s rhymes, games, riddles, folk medicine, folksongs, and folktales of Kerman. The collected data was published in 1919 with English translation, and was further edited and translated into Persian by F. Vahman (see Bāstāni-Pārizi, 1984, pp. 149-70). Probably inspired by Lorimer, Ḥosayn Kuhi Kermāni documented hundreds of songs, mostly dobaytis (1931, 1938, and multiple editions since) and stories (1935), mainly from Kerman Province, but also from elsewhere, without specifying their provenances for the most part. His editions suffer from inaccuracy and lack of authenticity (Bāstāni-Pārizi, 1984, pp. 159-60).

Contributions by Iranian scholars include the lexicon Farhang-e kermāni (1957; repr., 1966) by Manučehr Sotuda, who compiled words collected by local pundits, perhaps from various localities in the province, as well as the items gleaned from the works of Mirzā Qāsem (ca. 400 items, with much textile and agriculture terminology) and Kuhi Kermāni. Nāṣer Baqāʾi published a series of articles on the Persian spoken in the city of Kerman (1963-70) and a volume on proverbs (2002). In the last two decades, the Markaz-e Kermān-šenāsi has published glossaries, typically appended with a list of idioms and expressions, for several dialects throughout the province. Irān Kalbāsi (2009) has a short text transcribed in several Kermani varieties (see Bibliography).

Phonology. The consonant inventory of Kermani largely agrees with standard modern Persian. A salient idiosyncrasy, shared with Yazdi Persian, is the phonemic distinction between /q/ and /ḡ/ [γ], as demonstrated in Ker., Bard., Zar. qâl “noise”≠ ḡâl “cave, nest” and qam “funnel” ≠ ḡam “sorrow.” /k/ is conditionally palatalized before front vowels; hence that variant is not phonemic. /ž/ is rarely encountered. Zarandi nasals, unless onset, fade and make the preceding vowel nasalized, e.g. “I” vs. man-o-to “I and you.”

The vowels, /a e i â o u/, are compatible with those of standard Persian. Some varieties have a mid vowel, [ə], conditioned to certain syllabic patterns (see the following paragraph). There are morphonological rules in play, such as the loss of final vowel in the plural: Ker. kuče “lane” kučâ “lanes.”

A noticeable feature of the Kermani accent is the prevalence of the vowel e (ə, according to Baqāʾi, 1963, p. 214) corresponding to a in formal Persian. Šahin Neʿmatzāda has argued that the shift a > e is regular in open syllables in underived contexts (e.g., bedan “body, saltenat “monarchy,” tebeqe “floor”) as well as derived contexts, where a coda has been resyllabified as an onset due to suffixation: yax “ice,” yéxe “is icy,” in par per-e merḡ-e “this feather is hen’s feather.” Her argument may be generalized to include the reverse shift e > a when an open syllable becomes closed: sag bešo “become a dog!” səg-i “a dog,” səg-e nadide “he hasn’t seen the dog,” səg-e zard “yellow dog” (examples from Baqāʾi, 1991, idioms 875, 78, 100).  The syllabic process holds in other varieties as well, e.g., Sir. xune “house” vs. xunaš “his house”; Zar. sar, kar, kal, šol yielding sərấ “heads,” kərí “deafness,” kəlú “the bald one,” šə́le “it is soft.”

The diphthongal sequence /ow/ (often heard as [oː]) in certain varieties (see Historical phonology, below, for distribution) corresponds to /ew/ in other varieties, e.g., Raf. jow, gow, Zar., Guḡ. jew, gew for “barley” and “cow.” /ew/ may be analyzed as a long central mid-high round vowel [ɵː], considering the need for the epenthesis v in prevocalic positions: Zar. gewvâ [gɵːvɑ] “cows,” šewví “a night,” néwve/newye “it is new.”

Noun phrase. The suffix -u, found in most dialects of southern Iran, is multifunctional in Kermani Persian: (1) it is a definite marker: Ker. ketâbu “the book, Raf. sag “dog,” segu “the dog”; (2) it forms adjectives from nouns: Ker. korču “wrinkled,” jetku “sticky” (from jetk “resin”), gelu “muddy,” Bard. geleku “clay brazier,” rešku “lousy” (from rešk “nit”), gulu “baby’s dummy, pacifier”; (3) it forms nouns from nouns: Bard. ârusu “ladybug,” Sir. teterku “smallpox” (from teterk “hail”), Kuhb. zoretu “hail” (allegedly due to resemblance to ẕorrat “corn”); (4) it forms adjectives from adjectives: haftu “seven months pregnant”; (5) it forms nouns from adjectives: Guḡ. âbâdu “wedding songs”; (6) it forms verbal nouns: Ker. xâbu “one who sleeps excessively,” Zar. češguru (< gir-?) “hide-and-seek”; (7) it forms toponyms: Rāv. Čenâlu (from čenâl “plain tree”), Âduru (âdur “a thorn bush”), Šuru “the salty,” Ew-kuru “the little-water”; (8) it is a diminutive marker: Ker. doxt(ar)u “little girl,” Zar. kafteru “pigeon,” telezgu (Pers. telesk) “smaller bunch attached to a whole bunch (of grapes),” Bard. raxtu “newborn’s dress”; proper names: Glb. Malu “Moḥammad,” Mâšu “Māšāʾallāh,” Mehru “Mehri,” Margamu “Maryam,” Ker. Fâteku/Fâtelu “Fatima,” Requ “Roqiya,” Sek(ol)u “Sakina,” Peru “Parivaš, Parvāna.” The novelist Hušang Morādi Kermāni employs diminutives such as Hušu, Mâšu, Nameku, Rezvu, and Kobru in his children’s stories.

An areal preposition (extended to the garmsir and central Iran) is xod(e) “with,” xodə ham “together.” Other prepositions are little different from those of standard Persian: a (< az) “from, to, for”; var “for” (Ker. var xodet “for yourself,” Š-B var-em, Sir., Bam. var ma “for me”); var “by” (Ker. yek sâl-e ke var-pis-e mâ nowmade “it has been a year that he hasn’t come by us,” Glb. âb var âteš rex “he poured water on fire”); Š-B ve(r), Goruhi (Ker.) “to” (with the verb “say”). — The epenthetic -š- appears with enclitic pronouns: Bard. var-š-am, Bam. va-š-am, Kahnšahri (Sir.) berey-š-am “for me,” Lālazāri (Bard.) va-š-eš, Zar. be-š-eš “to him,” Glb., Sir. ve-š-et “for you,” Guḡ. bei-š-et, Zar. bə-š-et “to you,” a-š-et (Pers. az-at) “from/for you.”

Verbs. The stems tend to shorten in the final position: Zar. ra “he went” vs. rafte “he has gone”; ruf “he swept” vs. rufte “he has swept.” All affixes and endings are similar to standard Persian. However, the epenthesis -t- or -k- is inserted between the second and third singular endings and the direct object clitics: Ker. bord-i-t-am “you took me,” did-ø-at-eš “he saw him,” ferestâd-et-eš “he sent him,” Kuhb. borditam, Zar. did-i-t-eš “you saw him”; Guḡ. didə-k-om, didə-k-et, didə-k-eš “he saw me, you, him.” The third singular enclitic copula is -(y)e: Ker. dass-eš terâzu-e “his hand is a scale,” az un xomâ pi-xorde-ye “is one of those fat-coated (seepage resistant) jugs,” Š-B kutâ-ye “it is short,” Guḡ. haj raftan bonə-ye, haj dər-e xonə-ye “going to Mecca is an excuse, Ḥajj is at the gate of the house”; the negative is Ker., Guḡ. niste (cf. Tehrani nisteš, for formal nist).

The preverbs - and var- are prevalent. Examples: Bard. vâstidan “to stop, stand,” vâxezidan “to get up,” vârextan “to disperse,” vâzedan “to reject”; Glb. var-serengidan “to revoke,” var-derezkidan “to startle from sleep,” var-bâr kerdan “to prepare food,” var-šâpidan “to dry (intr.),” var-korčidan “to wrinkle.”

The tense-aspect-mood system is very much in tune with common Persian, as demonstrated here in the Kermani forms of vâstâdan “to stop, stand” for the third person singular: future vâ-m-est-e, present progressive dâre ~, present subjunctive vâ-b-est-e, aorist vâ-stâd-ø, present perfect vâstâdé, pluperfect ~ bud, evidential ~ bude, past subjunctive ~ bâše, imperfect vâ-m-estâd-ø, past progressive dâšt ~, evidential durative (dâšte) vâ-m-estâd-e.  On the other hand, one finds occasional individualities: Zar. - : vâs- “must” has full conjugation in some tenses, e.g., mivâsam beram “I ought to have gone” (Bābak, pp. 149-51).

Historical phonology. Notwithstanding its geographical position in the southeastern part of the Iranian Plateau, Kermani Persian is little influenced by the outstanding southeastern isogloss w- > g(w), found in the Garmsiri dialects (see section 3, below), Balochi, and the “Sistāni” Early New Persian variety of Qorʾān-e Qods (see Lazard, 1990; Filippone). An exception can be gok “frog,” found throughout the Persophonic north of the province, and in Garmsir (gwak), which could be related to archaic Pers. ḡōk “id.,” contrasting with Lāri bok, archaic Pers. bak < wak.  Noteworthy are also a few words of Northwest pedigree not commonly found in standard Persian: Ker., Sir., Zar. borz “high, uphill” and its antonym Sir. jahr, Ker., Bft., Zar. ja(:)r (< *jafra-); Glb. jerg “astute” (<? *jīra-ka-; cf. Pers. zīrak, zerang); Sir. kermejek, Glb. kermejak “worm” (cf. -ejak with Mid. Pers. az “serpent”). On the other hand, the truly Southwest forms jok, joḡ, jug, for common Persian yuḡ “yoke,” is common across the province.

Q and ḡ are pronounced distinctly and occur in words of Iranian, Arabic, and Turkic origins. Diachronic validation is generally held in native words: Guḡ. zâḡ “green vitriol,” bâḡ “orchard,” Ker. ruḡan, “ghee,” čerâḡ “light,” Rāv. beḡal “shoulder,” Kuhb. tonḡor (probably a coalescence of tondar and ḡorr(eš)) “thunder,” Ker. ḡeliz (Bard. geriz, Glb., Sir. geliz) “saliva,” quz (< kuz) “hunch,” but note Guḡ. teḡerse vs. Sir. teqarse “hail.” — In words of Arabic origin the historical agreements is fuzzy, both within and across dialectal boundaries: Ker. ḡorur “pride,” Ker., Bam., Guḡ. qele “castle, quarter,” but Ker., Raf., Zar., Bft. loḡme “bite,” Ker. ḡows “Taurus,” Kuh. aql vs. Guḡ. aḡl “intellect.” Hence, Kermani is not comparable to the entirely etymological Tajik orthography in transmitting Arabic q and ḡ. — A high degree of randomness exists in Turkic loanwords: Ker., Bard., Guḡ. quč vs. Zar., Kuhb., Bft. ḡuč “ram” (< qoč, Doerfer, no. 1550); Zar., Kuhb., Bft. âḡâ “sir” vs. Ker. âqâyu “cry baby” (cf. Doerfer, no. 21); Ker., Bft. jiq, Kuhb. jik “scream” (<? čïγ, Doerfer, no. 1028); Ker. qâtoqu vs. Bard. qeteḡ “side dish, food” (< qatïq, Doerfer, no. 1373) ; Ker. qâšeḡ vs. Zar., Bft. qâšoḡ “spoon” (< qašuq, Doerfer, no. 1393); Ker., Zar., Bft. ojâḡ “stove” (< očaq, Doerfer, no. 421); Ker. šeluḡ, šeloq vs. Zar., Bft. šoloq “crowded” (not in Doerfer); Bard. oqin vs. Guḡ. ewḡin, Jir. vuḡin, Kah. vugin (= nowbat dar âsiâb) “turn, succession” (of obscure origin). — Guḡeri reveals the synchronic pattern of the absence of ḡ at the word-initial position vis-à-vis a free distribution for q: qosse “sorrow,” qârat “looting,” qərib-gazu “bedbug, lit. stranger-stinger,” aḡd “marriage contract,” aḡl “intellect,” loḡme “bite,” maḡrâz “scissors,” jiq scream.”

Lenition of postvocalic labials into either ow or ew (merging with the outputs of the classical Persian diphthong aw) is systematic: Glb. šow, xow, kowš, Zar. šew, xew, kewš “night, sleep, shoe.” Interestingly, āb “water” has resisted the process in some varieties (Ker., Sir., Bft. âb, Guḡ. âv), but not its derivatives: Ker. owbend “water distributor,” owguštāb-gušt,” Sir. oxune, Guḡ. ewxone “mortuary,” Sir. osiow, Guḡ. âsiew “mill.” Note also sporadic intervocalic lenition of b: Glb. bivi “grandmother,” Zar dəvir (< dabir) “high school teacher.” — Lenition of -k/g is seen in Zar. say “dog,” xây “soil,” nəmay “salt,” səboy “light,” xorây “food”; Guḡ. aye “if,” məyas “fly,” ays “picture,” Kuhb. ayse (<? *akse < ʿaṭse) “sneeze.” An opposite effect, ry > rg, is noticed in Glb., Guḡ. Margam “Maryam,” Guḡ. gerge, Bard. gergi (cf. Kuhb. geri) “cry.”

Other common consonant developments (also found in Garmsir) are: r > l, as in Ker., Zar., Bard., Bft. balg “leaf,” Zar. palvâr “fattened,” səhal “dawn,” Ker., Bft. čenâl “plane tree”; devoicing of final dentals in some varieties: Ker. pelit “wicked,” Ker., Zar., Kuhb. dumât “bridegroom,” Ker., Zar., Bft., Š-B ârt, “flour,” Ker., Zar., Bard., Kuhb. dut, Bft. dit (Š-B dud) “smoke”; participle suffix - > -ešt in Ker. borešt, xârešt, mâlešt, and the like; Old initial clusters *šk-, *sp-, *st- typically receive epenthesis, as in (all varieties) eškam “belly,” ešpeš (< spiš) “louse,” Ker. estun “column,” Bard. estâle, Guḡ. essâle, Zar. e:sâle “star.” The glottal fricative tends to disappear in closed syllable, resulting in -uh > â, e.g., Ker., Sir., Zar., Bard. mâre (from muhra) “bead,” fâš (fuḥš) “insult,” zâr (zuhr) “noon.”

Vowels. Final -ag > -e in all varieties. ām and ān yield uN (Zar. xune, darmun, Ker., Bard. čune “chin,” Sir. xum “ripe”), but oN in the southern varieties (extending into Garmsiri dialects): Guḡ., nom “name,” xone “house,” Bft. šone “brush,” xom “raw,” Goruhi qeron “qerān,” šone “shoulder.”  Note āŋ > on in Ker. dong (< dāng) “one-sixth,” Bard. bong “voice, call” (hence ŋ should be analyzed as a historically distinct phoneme). am > om in Zar. õbor “pliers,” põbe “cotton,” Bft. ombor, po:me (cf. Guḡ. pamme).

Fronting of ū is exemplified in the gloss “chick”: Zar., Š-B, Bard., Kahnšahri (Sir.) čiri, Lālazāri (Bard.) čirik, Kisekāni (Bft.) čerik vs. Ker., Raf., Sir., Kuhb., Glb., Bam. čuri (cf. Jir. čurek, Min., Rudn. čurak, Bal. čūrī).  A similar areal distribution governs fronting of ow (< aw or labials, see above) to ew.

Colloquialisms. Even more curious than idiosyncrasies of Kermani Persian is the universality of its colloquialism nationwide. These included modern vulgarisms such as Zar. tâski “taxi,” vâsk “wax, shoe polish” ask “photograph” (-ks > sk), šolḡ “profession,” salt “bucket”—a national consistency among the uneducated that is remarkable, given that they are not disseminated via mass media or books. There are also age-old colloquialisms such as Zar. qolf “lock,” harzat “saint,” vaxm “endowment,” Ker. zaft “gathering,” moftelâ “afflicted,” widely used elsewhere throughout Iran. A diachronic investigation of such terms can be useful in understanding the history of the development of spoken Persian.

Lexis. We find a fairly uniform lexical distribution among the varieties of Kermani Persian. Following is a list of words not otherwise typical to common Persian of Iran, with allusion to partial contiguity between Persian and Garmsiri of Kerman.

Material culture. General Ker. kahn, ha:n “subterranean aqueduct, kāriz,” with the derivatives Sir. kahkin, Zar., Glb. ka:kin “master of digging and dredging underground irrigation systems,” kahni “pool at the outlet of a kāriz”; there are dozens of toponyms Kahn, Kahnu, Kahnuj, and Kahnak throughout the province (Razmārā, pp. 340-45); lard “outside; plains” (also volard, valard) (common through Kerman Province, including the Garmsir, and Lārestān; cf. Khuri, Yazdi lard “plaza”); Ker., Sir., Zar. (also Min., Lār., Khuri) sâbât “covered alley”; Bard., Rāb. xerasm, Guḡ. hərasm, “roof purlin”; Guḡ. teḡesk “rafter”; Ker., Glb., Bard., Bft., Raf., Sir. garjin “threshing machine”; Ker., Kuhb., Jir. owšin, Bard., Sir. ošin, Zar., Guḡ. ewšin (Pers. afšān) “winnowing fork”; Ker., Glb., Bard. esten(bil), Zar. e:sã “spade handle”; Ker., Zar., Sir., Bft., Guḡ., Kuhb. juḡan, Glb. jiḡan (Min. joḡan, Bal. jogin, joḡin; Pers. hāvan) “mortar”; Ker., Sir., Glb., Bard., Bft., Guḡ. nâsâr “gutter.”

Flora and fauna. Ker., Bard., Guḡ. Jir., Man., Min. âdur “a thorny bush”; Ker., Glb., Bard. espidâl “poplar tree”; Gen. Ker. mok (Min. moḡ, Bal. muk, Khuri mog “date palm”); Ker., Bard. morik, Ker., Raf., Kuhb. murik, Š-B muri, Glb. meri, Guḡ. moruče (Jir. murik, Min. mürük, Bal. morink) “ant”; Ker., Zar., Bard., Bft., Guḡ., Kuhb. kârbâfu; Glb. kârtunu “spider”; Ker., Bard. gip; Kuhb. târk “moth”; Ker., Glb. madu, Sir. modu/medu “cockroach”; Zar., Kuhb. kerpu, Glb. kerpu, kalpak, Bard., Bft., Jir., Rudn., Min. kalpak; Jir., Rudn., Min. karâs (cf. Lār. kalpok; Pers. lexicography karpāsu, Ṣādeqi, p. 156) “lizard, chameleon”; Ker., Bard., Golb., Bft., Sir. kâs(e)epoš(t) (= Min., Lār.) “turtle”; Ker., Kuhb. sixor, Bard. sixur, Glb., Guḡ., Kah. sikor “hedgehog, porcupine”; Ker., Glb., Bft., Sir. čeḡuk, Guḡ. čoḡuk, Kah. čokuk, Zar., Sir. čeḡut, Kuhb. čoḡut, Ker. čuḡut “sparrow”; Ker., Glb., Kuhb. nešk, Bard. nešg; Ker., Zar., Glb., Bft., Sir., Min. čeng “beak”; Ker., Glb., Bard., Bft., Guḡ., Kuhb., Jir., Min. pot “hair, wool.”

Human body. Ker., Sir. mojeng, Glb., Bard. mejeng “eyelash”; Ker., Kuhb., Glb., Bft., Guḡ. nâfk (Jir., Kah., Min. nâk) “navel”; Ker., Glb., Guḡ. govâf, Sir., Bard. gavâf; Kuhb. afâk “yawn” (cf. Jir. âjahk, see section 3, below); Ker., Bard., Glb. xok; Kuhb. solfe “cough, hack”; Ker., Glb., Guḡ., Sir. sabr(i) (zadan) “(to) sneeze”; Ker., Bard., Sir., Kuhb. ruti (Jir. rutič) “intestine”; Raf., Sir., Bard., Bft., Guḡ., Jir. mud (Jir., Min., Horm. id, Band. müd, Balochi mūd), but Ker. mu “hair”; Ker., Sir., Glb., Bard. oves(t), Ker., Sir. also âbest “pregnant.”

Kinship. Ker. dâdâ, Bard., Glb. dâdu , Guḡ. dâdu, dede “sister” (not in Kuhb.); Ker., Bft. kâkâ (as in Garmsir of Kerman, and Fars), Glb., Guḡ. kâku “brother” (not in Kuhb.); Ker., Bard. hamriš (as in Garmsir of Kerman and Fars) “wife’s sister’s husband”; Sir., Kuhb. hamârus, Guḡ. həmârus; Kuhb. hamgodu “husband’s brother’s wife.”

Verbs. Ker., Bft., Guḡ., Sir., Jir., Min. jekid- “jump”; Ker., Glb. rekid-, Zar. rəkid- “itch,” Sir. rekund- “scratch”; Ker., Sir., Bft., Guḡ. Jir., Min. kotid- (Bal. koṭ-, kuṭṭ-) “pound, crush”; Sir., Guḡ. palmâsidan “to touch,” Ker., Bard. polmâs kerdan “to grope”; Ker., Glb. tombid-, Guḡ. tommid- “implode” vs. tombond- “demolish”; Zar., Guḡ., Sir. feres(s)id- “send”; Ker., Raf. oftâd vs. other varieties oftid- “fall”; all varieties me:lam/milem “I will put,” hešt “he put”; Ker., Sir., Bft., Bard., Min. nešt-, Zar. nəšes- “sit.”

Miscellaneous. Ker., Glb. dinšab, Kuhb. din(e)šew, Kuhb. dišew, dinešab “last night”; Guḡ. meyrjon, Sir., Bard. mehrjun (Jir. mehrejon) “Mehragān, autumn”; Ker. gohort (=Min., Bš.), Bard. gohark (Jir., Kah., Bš. gozer) “big” (see Gershevitch, 1964); Ker., Sir., Zar., Glb., Bard., Guḡ., Kuhb. park “half, piece”; Ker., Sir., Bard., Guḡ., Kuhb. kot “(blind) hole” (= Jir., Kah., Min.); Ker., Glb., Bard. teterk(u), Zar. tatark, Bard., Guḡ. teḡerse, Sir. teqarse (Mid. Pers. tadarg) “hail”; Sir. estun, Jir. ostun; Ker., Zar., Glb., pâye “thunder,” Sir., Kuhb., Jir. ~ “shower.”


Garmsiri is a continuum of closely related dialects extending from the Halilrud river valley in the north down to the Strait of Hormuz in the south. This study focuses on the dialects spoken in the Halilrud valley, namely Jirofti, Kahnuji, and Rudbāri, while comparing them to those spoken in southern districts, i.e., Manujāni, Minābi, Bandari, and Baškardi. Abbreviations and sources are listed in section 4, below.

Geography. The Halilrud valley is separated from Kerman highlands by the imposing mountain chains Jebāl/Jabal Bārez and Sārduʾiya, the latter giving rise to the Halilrud. The river drains into the Jāz Muriān basin, forming a natural barrier between Kerman Garmsir and Baluchistan. The major districts (and towns) of the valley are Jiroft in the north and Kahnuj in the south. More recently, the new district of Rudbār (“river valley,” named after a local designation of the Halilrud valley) has been carved out of Kahnuj.

A series of small mountain chains to the south of Kahnuj gives rise to the southerly Manujān and Rudān rivers, which join to form the river Mināb, which drains into the Sea of Oman. Belonging to this basin are the districts of Rudān, Manujān, and Mināb, which share a dialect, even if divided by the administrative border between Kerman and Hormozgān provinces.

Further southwest on the Strait of Hormuz stands Bandar ʿAbbās overlooking the islands of Hormoz, Qešm, and Lārak, all of which have dialects of the Garmsiri type. A kindred but isolate dialect is spoken on the south side of the strait in Kumzar, which belongs to the Sultanate of Oman.

The Jāz Muriān basin is flanked on its southern side by Baškard (or Bašākerd) mountain chain. Baškard as a sub-district centered at Angohrān (now Gowharān) and belonged to Kahnuj (Razmārā, p. 49). The Baškardi dialect spoken in northern Baškard, as far to the east as Ramešk, is closely related to those spoken in the rest of Kerman Garmsir.

Classification and designations. The dialects investigated here as Garmsiri had long been known as (outer) Baškardi, a designation Ilya Gershevitch gave to the vernaculars outside of Baškard proper (which he divided into North and South Baškardi) to include the dialects spoken by the Jusi and Dinār Bor tribes (in Rudbār proper?), Bandari (the Evazi dialect of Bandar ʿAbbās), Minābi, and Rudāni of Berentin rural district (see Skjærvø, 1988, 1989). The first major step to draw together the kindred dialects of the region was taken by P. O. Skjærvø, who had collected additional data from Mināb and Hormoz (Skjærvø, 1975). His work appeared in Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum as “languages of Southeast Iran: Lārestānī, Kumzārī, Baškardī” (Skjærvø, 1989); it treats Bandari, Hormozi, and Minābi under the general umbrella of ‘Baškardi’ and makes due comparison with the related dialects of Greater Lārestān in southern Fārs Province. The same classification is presented under “Baškardi group of dialects” by V. V. Moshkalo (1997) in the Russian compendium Iranskie yazyki.  Moreover, in his introductory chapter to The Iranian Languages, Gernot Windfuhr groups together Lārestāni and ‘Gulf’ (Bandari, Minābi, Baškardi, Kumzari) as the ‘non-Perside group’ of the Southwest Iranian language family (Windfuhr, 2009, p. 13). None of the aforementioned references incorporate the dialects spoken in the Halilrud valley.

The significant amount of new data from the last two decades (see sources in section 4, below) reveals that the dialect group designated as (outer) Baškardi or Gulf actually extends as far north as Jiroft, which is located in the interior river valley of Halilrud and sufficiently distant from the southern coastal plains to render the previous designations untenable. The term ‘Garmsiri’ adopted in this study not only accords with the longstanding appellation garmsir for the hot climate region of historical Kerman, but also perfectly matches the entire dialect area under study, from the Halilrud valley to the southern littoral plains. Subsequently, since the same term has been in use for the related dialects spoken in Lārestān of Fārs (Ṣādeqi, 1985), it would be possible to designate the entire band of the dialects stretching along an upward-facing crescent from Lārestān to Halilrud as the Garmsiri languages of Kerman and Fārs, in lieu of the verbose terminology used to this date.

Dialect groups. As this study reveals, the Garmsiri dialects of Kerman can clearly be grouped into two main groups: (1) the mutually intelligible dialects of the Halilrud valley, or Halilrudi, consisting of Jirofti, Kahnuji, and Rudbāri, and (2) the dialects spoken along the Mināb river and its tributaries, i.e., Minābi, Rudāni, and Manujāni, as well as Bandari, that is, the coastal dialects spoken in and around Bandar ʿAbbās. The degree of intelligibility among the Garmsiri groups has not been studied; my informants stated that Halilrudi and Minābi are mutually intelligible. North Baškardi shows striking resemblance to both Minābi and Halilrudi, while the status of South Baškardi remains obscure due to paucity of data.

Table 1 outlines selective phonological (nos. 1-3), grammatical (nos. 4-15), and lexical (nos. 16-22) features in the major Garmsiri dialects of Kerman and Lārestāni of southern Fars. The features that unite these two language groups vis-à-vis Persian are bud- as the past stem of “become” (no. 16; for Pers. šod-) and e(t)- as imperfective marker (no. 8; for Pers. mi-); South Baškardi employs be- for present progressive. A notable split of Lārestāni from Kerman Garmsiri occurs in the development of Middle West Iranian consonant w at initial positions (no. 1), the second person singular ending (no. 6), and the perfective verb formants (nos. 12-15).  The distinctive features separating the Halilrud valley from its southern Garmsiri relatives are the past progressive construction (no. 11) and several significant lexical items (nos. 18-22). An interesting overlap between the two major Garmsiri groups occurs in Rudbār, where the present progressive is optionally expressed in two parallel structures (no. 10). These features are explained in more detail in the respective topics that follow.

In the Halilrud valley, the configuration of language variation is far from clear, and the delineation between Jirofti, Kahnuji, and Rudbāri is poorly defined. The population structure is primarily tribal, rather than village-based, such as is otherwise prevalent on the Iranian Plateau, resulting in the speech of a given district or even village being noticeably different among various clans. The complexity increases due to the seasonal migrations of the nomads, who summer in the highlands of Jebāl Bārez and Sārduʾiya (Ṣafā, pp. 6-7). The presence of the Baloch has been conspicuous in the valley, but probably many of them, known as balučkāra (seasonal workers), as well as the Siāhbāb (black people) are largely assimilated (Ṣafā, pp. 149-50).

A case in the point of areal intrusion is Moḥmedi, a dialect spoken by a clan of the same name in the piedmont Kušk Mur rural district, in Jebāl Bārez to the east of Jiroft. Moḥmedis believe that they originated from a Lor tribe that migrated to their current habitat during the Zand dynastic rule (Kordestāni, 2010). Their language, however, demonstrates an anomalous dialect but still within the Garmsiri group. It agrees with Minābi and Bandari in certain features, such as the stems gin- : did- “see” (Table 1, nos. 18 and 19) and the ending for the third person singular, as in anin-t “he sits” (no. 8), but disagree with all dialects in the enclitic pronoun, third person singular -e/-r (no. 5) and plural -non/-ron, and the verb stems omes- “come” and rafs- “go,” among others.

Sociolinguistics. Garmsiri is rapidly losing its ground to Persian, the language of mass media and education. Towards the northern end of the Halilrud valley, in the district of Jiroft, the language is already moribund, while it is far better preserved in the eastern, piedmont districts Amjaz and Gāvkān of the Jebāl Bārez, and in the southern parts of the Halilrud valley. A hybrid patois has developed, especially in Jiroft proper, which blends the Garmsiri lexemes into Persian grammar, as in the following example (cf. Niknafs, p. 18):

Jirofti sarkot-i a-dah-am
hybrid sarkot-eš mi-d-am
Persian sarzaneš-aš mi-kon-am
  “scold”-3sg IMPF-“give”/“do”.PRES-1sg
  “I scold him”  


To the ever increasing Persophonic population of the valley, Garmsiri is a language of aram–nâram, contrasting to Persian mira(va)m–nemira(va)m “I go–I don’t go.”

The language loss parallels the vanishing of the indigenous culture, as echoed in nostalgic poems recently written by the locals (Niknafs, pp. 387-454). The poverty-stricken districts of southern Kerman, which largely remained underdeveloped and rural, have been a subject of disdain, not only from the provincial capital, but also in the national media. Following the début of the television series Šahr-e Daqyānus (an old epithet for Jiroft) in September 2011, a mass demonstration erupted in Jiroft, protesting misrepresentation of their language (as Kermani Persian) and deriding their culture. This was followed by formal objections expressed by academics, Jiroft’s representative in the Majles, and Jiroft’s emām-e jomʿa. The protests had a wide repercussion in electronic social media (DAE; Bozorg; ʿĀdeli; Rajā News), but were played down by national media (IRNA; Eṭṭelāʿāt, 23 Sept. 2011, p. 5) in an effort to curtain a growing array of complaints in recent years against the belittling of local cultures in the Islamic Republic media.

Historical Phonology

SW Iranian pedigree. The sound changes typified as “Southwest” Iranian normally occur in the Garmsiri dialects (examples are from Halilrudi unless specified): OIr. *dz > d: don- “know,” dom(m)â “son-in-law,” duši/dušne “yesterday,” bâhug “arm,” Min., Bš. gohort “big” (< *vaδṛta-, but Halilrudi gozer(g) < vazṛ-ka?; see Gershevitch 1965; Stilo), Bš. domestān “winter” (cf. NW zemeston in other dialects). — *tsw yields SW Min., Horm. šöš, Lāraki šiš “louse” (cf. Lar. heš; but NW ešpeš in Halilrudi). — *θr > s: âsow “mill,” Kah. pos “son,” âvos “pregnant.” — *št > st: most “fist” (Mid. Pers. must, Bal. mušt, OIr. *mušti-), lest- “lick” (OIr. *rišta-, √raiz- < PIE leiǵh-), rest- “spin,” rast- “send,” gasten (giyz-) “to bite.” — Old Pers. *j, *-č- > z: zan “woman,” ruz “day.” *dw- > b: dar “door.” *y > j: jow “barley,” jog “yoke” (NBš. jag, Bal. jug, Man. Mid. Pers. jōg), jag “sissoo tree” (cf. OPers. yakā, Gershevitch, 1957). Salient Southwest lexical items include kan- “do,” gu- “say,” gariv- “cry, weep.”

SE areal features. The Garmsiri dialects of Kerman distinguish themselves from those of Fars in two historical developments found in the southeastern Iranian Plateau: *w- > g(w)- (best known in Balochi but existing also in the isolate Parāči-Ormuri and Biābānaki; see FARVI) and the retention of *xw- (for Bal. w-). (1) g(w)- has a strong presence in the area: Jir., Kah., Rdb. g(o)wask “calf” (Min., Band., Horm. gwask < *wasaka) “calf,” g(o)wak “frog” (Moh., Min., Ban. gwak; archaic Pers. bak), g(o)war (Moḥ., Min. gwar; Pers. bar, var) “beside,” g(o)wačeg “child,” gozer(g) (Min., Bš. gohert) “big,” giyšte/giešte “more,” g(w)âzi “game,” gâft- “weave,” gi(e)č- “sift,” Jir., Kah. guzik, guder (Min. uz, Band. z, Bal. gwabz; Mid. Pers. wabz) “wasp, hornet,” garug (Min. gow(g)) “bride,” gowalm (Min., Rudn. gwalm, unknown etymon) “deep,” gowast “dried river” (id.). Note counterexamples barre “lamb,” bâd “wind,” bong “call,” bohne “pretext.” (2) *xw- persists in Jir., Kah., Rdb. x(o)waš (Rudn. Min. Band. xwaš; Lar. xaš) “good, pleasant,” x(o)wah (Min. xwah/xwâh, Band. xwah, Horm. xwâh) “sister,” x(o)wad- (but Min. xod-, Band xo) “self,” x(o)war- (Min. xwar-, Band. xor-) “eat,” x(o)was- “sleep,” xowaser(e)k “father-in-law,” Rdb. xowasuk (Jir. xasug, Band. xasu, Bal. wassī(g)) “mother-in-law.” (A notable exception is xond- “read, sing.”) This areal feature, which includes Baškardi, contrasts the w- output in Balochi. Subsequently, a buffer zone phenomenon may be inferred in these overlapping isoglosses of the Halilrud basin: xoway/xey/vey (Min. , Band. , Moḥ. hey) “with” and veyt-/vâst-/xâst- (Min. xâst-/wâst-, Band. vāst- “want”).

Labials. Weakening of postvocalic labials is evident in Jir., Kah. šow “night,” owr “cloud,” sowz “green,” kowg “partridge,” kowš, powzâr “shoe,” owšin (Pers. afšān) “winnowing fork”; (intervocalic) tavar “axe,” ruvâh “fox,” âvâdi “settlement.” On the other hand, OIr. suffix *-pāna- yielding -pon in gowpon “herdsman,” âsowpon “miller,” bâxpon “gardener, geripon “collar” (for the expected form *gerivon, etc.) is an oddity.

Dentals. OIr. *-t- shows some peculiar developments. It may elide or lenite, as in Jir. barâr “brother,” “game,” dom(m)â “bridegroom,” Ruebâr, Ruowbâr “Rudbār” (cf. “Reobarles” in Marco Polo), -iy (2 pl. ending), but not in verb stems: peymid- “weigh,” čok-id- “kiss.”  Note the heterogeneous development of *kadag “house” in keybonuk “house lady” and kazxodâ “village headman.” Rhotacization of intervocalic t (common in North Baškardi, Minābi, Hormozi, Kumzari) is has limited reflex in the Halilrud valley: the morpheme ar- “was” (< *at); Kah., Rdb. barâzâr (Min. berâzâr) “niece.” One also finds rutič “intestine” (< *rautaka-) and espiyt “white,” with probable retention of the Old Iranian stop otherwise particular to Balochi (and South Baškardi by extension). Correspondingly, *-d- is found in mud “hair” (also in Min., Horm. id, Band. müd, Bal. mūd; cf. Lāri < *mauda-) and mude (<? *maud-aka-) “moan,” which has another (rhoticized?) form, murk.

Dorsals. *x- > k, a Balochi trait, is found only in Halilrudi korus “rooster,” as is the case in Min., Horm. (korǖs). — q > k is the rule in Kahnuji (as well as in Minābi and Bandari): kand “sugar-cubes,” kabul “accepted,” karz “credit,” kâli “carpet,” kale “fort,” kolf “lock,” kalami “formal Persian” (< qalam “pen”), kahom (< qāʾem) “sturdy,” rakam “type,” rafik “friend,” xâlek “creator,” čâku “knife.” Rudbāri changes q to either k or x (Moḥmedi to x) quite regularly. — Kahnuji/Rudbāri have g (for Jirofti ḡ), as in rugen/ruegen “ghee,” dorug/dorueg “lie,” čerâg “light,” morg “hen,” čagal “throw,” šâgul “plumb,” mazg “brain.” — Mid. Ir. -ag normally yields -e in Jirofti (e.g., xone “house”) but -eg in Kahnuji mohreg “bead,” dereg “gorge,” poleg “ashes,” rešteg “noodles,” gordeg “back,” and possibly gortik “kidney,” murik “ant,” or with omission of the vowel: pâg (Pers. pāya) “wooden leg,” sâg “shade,” mošk “mouse,” nišk “fang,” neyg “reed,” zeberk “rough” (cf. Skjærvø, 1975, no. 17).

Clusters. *xt > ht governs Kah. doht “daughter,” reht- “pour, spill,” foruht- “sell,” duht- “sew” (Rdb., Man., Min. have similar forms; cf. Jir. rext-, foroxt-, doxt-, Moh. riext-, etc.). — Likewise, *ft softens in past stems: Kah., Rdb., Man. xowt- “sleep,” rowt- “go,” kowt- “fall,” Rdb. goht- “say,” Kah., Min. padoht- “swell” (cf. raft-, kaft-, geft-, padoft- in Jirofti, as well as in the very toponym Jiroft). — *-xr and *fr- yield Kah. sohr “red,” rastâd- (Min., Horm. räst-; Band. ferest-) “send.” — šm remains in Jir. češm, but reduces in Min., Bš. čehm, Band. čehem, Lāraki čum, Kumz. čōm “eye.” — Old initial clusters receive epenthesis, as in eškam “belly,” estâl “star,” etc.

The presence of ht in verb stems is most likely a late development of an original st, considering the multiplicity of the morphological bases at the earlier stages: Rdb. geriehten (pres. geriev-) “to weep” (Pers. geristan, with nominal griy suffixed with -ist), šekahten (trans. and intr.) “to break” (Pers. šekastan, from OIr. *škasta); note also Kah. pohiden “to decay, rot” (Min., Pers. pusidan < inchoative stem of the root *pauH), Jir. âmâh “injured” (cf. Pers. âmâs inflated < *ā-māsa-, inchoative stem).

Other changes. Persian participle suffix - (< Mid. Pers. -išn) emerges as -ešt: Jir., Kah. bârešt “precipitation,” parešt “jump,” uzmâšt “test,” čâhešt “catching a cold,” girâyešt “attraction,” gap-del-ranješti “annoying talk.” — There is an active tendency for r > l in all dialects: nalges “narcissus,” hasil “straw mat,” taraktol “tractor.” — Random developments include nemis- ː nemešt- “write,” nesm (from neṣf) “half,” saxm (from saqf) “ceiling,” among many others.

Vowels. *ā is raised to o before nasals systematically (pahnom “hidden,” harom “forbidden,” done “grain”), but not in xân “khan” and korân “Koran.” — Low vowels receive prostheses in initial position: Jir., Kah., Man. yârt “flour,” yâvorde “brought,” yow “water” (as in Bš.; cf. Min. how, Lāraki hāw “water”); homru “today,” homšow “tonight,” homsâl “this year” (cf. Min. hõsāl, NBš. homsāl, SBš. homsār “this year”). — The old majhul vowels stay or diphthongize: Jir., Kah. heč “none,” dege “other,” giyšte “more,” hameyše “always,” Haliyl “Halēl (river),” Rdb. zier “under,” ruez “day.” Jirofti in particular has systematically preserved the majhuls in verb stems: ger- “seize,” došt- “milk,” âmoxte “learned.” Rudbāri further differentiates transitivity by means of diphthongization: intr. soz- ː soht-, tr. suez- ː sueht- “burn,” intr. riez- ː reht-, tr. riez- ː rieht- “pour” (Moṭallebi, 2006).


Nouns. The plural marker is -ón for all nouns, e.g., Jir. šayinon “shirts,” Kahn. mogon “palm trees,” Rdb. pârokon “calves.”  The indefinite is marked with -iy/ie, as Kah. doht jón-iy-n “she is a pretty girl,” Rdb. čok xób-ie “a good boy.”  Direct object noun phrases remain normally unmarked: Jir. ye bede bey bâvâ-t “give this to your father!” A-S â kuze vorgen “pick up that jar!” Rdb. nom-i Novâsti heš-šon-ar “they had named him N.”; Pers. -rā can be traced seldom: ču-ow bedey mo “give me the wood!”  The eżāfa is largely absent in the Halilrudi dialects, hence its sporadic presence might be stimulated by Persian: Jir. pot-ø sag “dog’s hair,” gozer doht “elder daughter,” seng telow “big stone,” harfon hasâbi “sensible talk,” bibiak češm “pupil of the eye,” but xone-y mâ “our house,” xormâ-y jon “good dates.”

Pronouns and deixis. Personal pronouns are the freestanding sg. mo(n), to, â, pl. mâ, šomâ/tomâ, âvon and the enclitic sg. -(o)m, -(e)t, -i/-š, pl. -mon, -ton, -šon.  The singular clitics vary depending on the preceding sound: Jir. ketâb-om/-et-/-i “my/your/his book,” but (for xone) xonam/ xonat/ xonaš “my/your/his house”; the third singular -i may also succeed vowels, e.g., nane-i, nanaš “his mother.”  The epenthetic ‑š- (a Kermani feature) appears with prepositions: bey-š-et “for you,” ey-š-i “from him,” vâ-š-om “with me.”  The enclitics may act as (1) possessive: Jir. mudon-i “his hair”; (2) object: deh-iy-š “clobber him!” var-i-gen “pick it up!” Rdb. hamtie-šon dist-in “they saw us right here”; (3) reflexive with the base xwad-, e.g., xwad-i “himself”; (4) agent in the ergative construction (see Fronting, below), as in ketâb-om xari I bought a/the book.”

Demonstratives are proximate ye “this” and yovon (Rdb. yewon) “these” and remote (cf. 3rd sg.) â “that” and âvon “those”; hamiy “this very,” hamâ “that very.” Other deictics are etiy/itiy “here,” âtiy “there,” isun/ibâl “this side,” âsun/âbâl “that side,” imajâ “this time, right now.”

Prepositions. The language is entirely prepositional, with major Halilrudi prepositions (1) bey, ey  “to, for”; (2) vey, xwey, xey, Min. “with, to”; (3) ey “from, for”; (4) var (Rdb., Man. gowar) “to, on”; (5) kaš, Rudb. kel “beside”; (6) tu “in.”

Examples (Jir. when unmarked): (1) del-om bey-š-et tang-e “I miss you (lit. my heart is tight for you)” Rdb. ey to adaham “I will give you,” zan gwačeg ey mo ayâre “the wife will bring me children,” Dmš. dâzan be me čuk atâret “id.”  (2) (comitative) xey xowh-i raft-ar “he had gone with his sister,” vey če rafti (Pers. bā če) “what did you take?” (with “say”) A-S â xey/vey mard gofti “he told the man,” Rdb. xwey-š-i agom “I will tell him.”  (3) (ablative) ey itiy tâ Kahnuo “from here to Kahnuj”; (abstraction) ey bayom tâ vaxte ivâr “from dusk to dawn,” derip ey yow-ar “it was full of water”; ey-š-i bepors “ask him!”; (comparative) ye ey hame jonter-en “this is better than all”; (possession) â bâḡon-iy ke dist-et, ey mon-en “those orchards that you saw—they are mine”; (adverbial) ey-tah (< az-tah) “never, certainly not,” ey-rad to yah “he came after you did.” (4) (locative) var kojâ rafte “where did he go to?” Kah. čiš-i var rugen gow ko “his eye caught the cow ghee,” Rdb. xormâ gowar-e gošne aziz-e “dates are dear to a hungry person.”  (5) in behel kaša a “put this beside that!” Rdb. kel ham aren “they were together.”  (6) mo tu bâḡ arom “I was in the orchard.”

Verb stems. As in other Iranian languages, the Garmsiri verb has a pair of stems, which, as [present ː past] nen(d)- ː nešt- “sit,” afford no obvious synchronic relationship. The past stems derivable from the present stem take in the formant -id-, as jek- ː jekid- “jump.” Present stems regularly absorb the causative formant ‑an-/-on-; the past causative stem receives an additional suffix -t or -d, e.g., Jir. gariv-an-t- “make cry,” beriyz-on-d- “roast.” Nominal forms constitute the past stem suffixed by -e or -en: gaste “bitten,” gasten “to bite.” Stems may shorten at word final or when making up a tripartite consonant sequence; for example, the pair did- ː dist- yields be-did “see!” distmonen “we have seen.” The present stem forms the present indicative and subjunctive and the imperative; the past stem forms the preterit, the imperfect, and the perfect tenses, as shown in Table 3. Rudbāri, Minābi, and Bandari have a present progressive built on the infinitive.

Affixes. The imperfective a- marks the present and the imperfect, as explained below, under respective sections. The prefix be- marks the imperative and the subjunctive, as in Rdb. bopors “ask!” boporsi “that you ask.” Prevalent preverbs are var-/vor- and vey- as in Jir. varagarde “it returns,” vorgeften “to pick up,” vorestâden “to stand up,” veystâden “to stop moving.” Note also Jir. gowar naxowarde “he hasn’t encountered,” Kah., Rdb. xoru(e) rowten “to dip.” The preverb -, absent in Halilrud, is used only in the Minābi and Bandari verb hâ-dâden “have.”

The infixes -Vh- and -ar- mark the intransitive past perfect and pluperfect respectively (see Table 3). In a broader, comparative perspective, we may analyze them as h- and ar- (< *at), the present and past stems of “be,” corresponding to Pers. h- and bud-.

Person marking. The personal endings are listed in Table 2. The second singular imperative and third singular past are zero. In the third person singular, the dialects of Halilrud (with -e/-a) differ from the rest of Garmsir (with -(e)t), e.g., Min. bo-kon-t “that he do,” Dmš. a-nos-et “he puts.” Rudbāri optionally adds a diphthong to the final consonant, e.g. 1st pl.-in(ie).

The transitive past tenses employ an ergative construction with pronominal clitics (Table 2) acting as the agent. The clitics take various positions: final in simple verb forms; between the stem and the third singular of verb “be” in periphrastic forms; optionally fronted (see Fronting, below).  In Bandari, the clitics are prefixed to the verb.

The third singular clitic is -i (also -ie in Kahnuji) in transitive preterit and imperfect, -šen- in perfect and pluperfect: disti “he saw,” adisti “he would see,” disšenen “he has seen,” disšenar “he had seen.” Either -i or -š (especially in Rdb.) may be used when the agent is fronted.

Conjugations. Verb forms are summarized in Tables 3, 4, and 5. See also Fronting, below.

Present. Both the present-future and the progressive present are built on the present stem in Jirofti and Kahnuji, e.g., Jir. a-did-om “I see,” a-rez-i “you pour,” a-nend-e guše-i “he is sitting in a corner,” darmaški a-rez-e “it is pouring (raining) hard.” Southern dialects, on the other hand, categorically distinguish the present progressive by employing the form with the infinitive (i.e. past stem + -en): Min., NBš. a-kerden-om, SBš. be-kert(en)-īn “I am doing.”  Rudbāri makes compromises between the two Garmsiri groups, as well as with colloquial Persian, by holding three interchangeable constructions for the present progressive: dâr-om a-kah-om ≈ a-kowten-om ≈ dârom akowtenom “I am falling” (Moṭallebi, 2006).

Nevertheless, the form with the infinitive is occasionally encountered in Jirofti proverbs and verses, but without aspectual distinction: ešpeš kal akerdene ruz be kuh beru “he (habitually) buries lice [until] the day is over” (proverb on futility); čupon age del-i bexâ boduše, nar-i a-došten-e “if the shepherd want to milk, he will milk the male as well”; har-či garmâ-vo mehrejon aye-vo aru, na-did-om-et / Xodâbaxš-om, ke xowi del-om vaʾde-ye sâl a-kerden-om “no matter how many summers and autumns come and go, I don’t see you / I am Ḵodābaḵš, I take vows to my heart [yet another] year” (verse by Ḵodābaḵš Deliri of certain ʿAliābād in Jiroft district).

Past. Commensurate with transitivity, the past tenses employ either the endings or the enclitic pronouns, as in Jir. yaht-i “you (sg.) came” vs. bord-et “you (sg.) carried,” with the possibility of fronting for the latter. The imperfect further receives the aspectual marker: a-yaht-i, a-bord-et. Halilrudi past progressive has adopted the analytical Persian construction with the auxiliary “have,” e.g., Jir. dâšti a-yaht-i, whereas Minābi agglutinates with the past copula: second person singular of “go” and “do”: imperfect a-rowt-i, a-kerd-et; past progressive a-rowt-ar-i, a-kerd-et-a,” where -a is the third singular copula. Bandari fronts the agent to the verb-initial position, except in intransitive preterit: first person singular of “go” and “see”: preterit raft-um, um-dī, imperfect: m-a-ra, m-a-dī. Past progressive forms are not attested in Bandari.

Perfect. The transitive present perfect in the Halilrudi group formally employs the formative -eh- (first person singular -oh-) (comparable to NBš. -eh-, SBš. x-) between the past stem and the ending. The underlying construction, however, could be the past participle + the copula with h- stem, e.g., nešte-hi (for Pers. nešasta-i) “you are sitting.” The paradigm for “jump” is: jekid-ohom, -ehi, -e, -ehin, -ehiy/-ehie, -ehen. Note the third person singular is simplified, yet remains distinctive from the preterit jekid “he jumped.” Minābi and Bandari agree with Halilrudi in the perfect, but employs the plain copulative verb, e.g., Min. rowtam, rowtey, rowten “I have gone, etc.” (cf. rowtom, rowti, row “I went, etc.”).

As to the transitive perfect, the underlying construction may be inferred as the past stem suffixed by the enclitic pronouns (probably with no option of fronting) and the third person singular of the copula, -en in Jirofti and Kahnuji, but normally -e in Rudbāri. However, in this setting the enclitic pronouns take the singular forms -me-, ‑te‑, -še- followed by a nasal, but still distinguished from the plural forms by the vowel, e.g., disšenen “he has seen” vs. disšonen “they have seen.” See Table 4 for a full paradigm. The forms are simplified when the agent is fronted: Jir. dâh-iy kafte tu-šon “a rumor has spread (fallen) among them,” bey to-š če yavorde? “what has he brought for you?” Rdb. â-m geste “I have thrown it.” Minābi follows similar pattern, only better graded: sg. kerd-om/et/iš-en, pl. ker-mân/tân/šân-en “I have done, etc.,” with fronted forms: -om kerd-en, etc.

A progressive perfect is noticed in Rudbāri, limited for the third person, e.g. “fall” sg. a-kowt-e, pl. a-kowte-hen; “throw” a-ges-šen-e, pl. a-ges-šon-e, but for all persons in the negative (Moṭallebi, 2006, p. 123).

Pluperfect. Intransitive verbs are formed from the past stem and endings, infixed with -ar-, the past stem of “be,” e.g., Jir. “fall”: kaft-ar-om, kaftari, kaftar, kaftarin, kaftariy, kaftaren; cf. Min. rowt-ar-i, Band. raft-ar-um “I had gone,” NBš. bast-ar-en “they have been bound.” Halilrudi transitive pluperfect follows the model of its transitive perfect, including the adjustments in the singular forms, but terminating in -ar “it was” (see Table 4). Similar morphology is found in Minābi kerd-et-a but with the agent-initial option et-kerd-a “you had done,” where -a is the third singular copula. The option in Bandari is narrowed down to agent-initial forms:  et-seid-a “you had picked up.”

Fronting. In the transitive past, the agent either stays on the verb or is optionally fronted to the nominal component of the verb (Table 5), or to a preceding noun phrase in the sentence. In Rudbāri, the agent may additionally be prefixed to the imperfective marker: ketâb-om agestketâb m-agest “I threw the book.”

Examples: agent on direct object: Jir.  ketâbiy-m beyš-et xari “I bought a book for you”; Rdb. če-kâr-et kerdar? “what had you done?”; A-S {sar kuze}-yi ge “he took the jar by the rim”; Rdb. {sar kuza}-š ge “id.”; A-S, Rdb. {mâston mon}-et bey-če reh? “why did you spill my yogurt?” — agent on indirect object: Jir. heči {ey kâron to}-m sar dar nayâvo “I don’t make sense of what you do” — agent on adverb: Rdb. hamtie-mon gest “we threw [it] right here” — agent on the subject: Rdb. tomâ-ton gieči “you sifted,” Jir. âkadariy to-t avey, nadârom “I don’t have the amount you want” — across the clause boundary: Jir. če kâron-om, ke bey to nake “what favors I did not for you!” (see also Negation; Modals, below).

Negation. The negative marker - merges with the imperfective a- to form -nâ‑. Examples: Jir. rag-om nabasmenen “I haven’t had my breakfast,” nâram “I don’t go,” Kah. nârawtom “I didn’t used to go,” Rdb. dast nâgerini “we don’t hold.” The agent fronts in the transitive past: na-t-porsi “you didn’t ask,” Rdb. nâ-šon-puši “they wouldn’t wear.” The prohibitive is marked with -, as in Jir. manend “don’t sit!”

Be, become. The clitic copula differs from the personal endings only in the third person singular -(e)n. The stem h- is used with the negative and optionally with the locative-existential verb. Examples: Jir. ye bahâyí-n? “is this for sale?”; čok šomâ kučekter-en “your child is younger”; (locative) xonamon âtiy-n “our house is there”; tu Jiroft dohton xobiy ha “there are good girls in Jiroft”; (negative) itow ne-h-en, âtowr-en “it’s not this way, it’s that way”; Rdb. ne-h-e aslan be yâd-e muvo bâvu “he does not recall mother and father.”

The past stem of “be” is ar- (yar- after vowels), hastar-, or har-, without a clear differentiation between the copulative and locative senses. Examples: Jir. mo tu bâḡ arom “I was in the orchard,” sobhi kojâ yar-i? “where were you this morning?” hastarom mo šâd-e šâd “I was rejoicing,” Rdb. xoš-astar â zamân “those days were happy.” The stem hast- serves to express possession, from Mināb southward, e.g., Dmš. yatâ jahlâ hast-iš-a “he had a jar.”

“Become” is conjugated regularly with the stems bah- (present) and bud(ar)- (past), e.g., pres. Jir. a-bah-am, abahi, abu “I, you, he becomes,” bo-bu “that he become,” xob abu (Pers. xub mišod) “it would be great,” age budar mariz “if he became sick.” The passive is constructed analytically with past participle and “become” as the auxiliary: Rdb. gozer abahan “they become big,” Jir. diste budom “I was seen,” melinč budi “you got soaked,” bačaš gom bude “his child is lost.”

Modals. “Want” is expressed by two interchangeable sets of stems, vey- ː veyt-/vâst- and - ː xâst- in the Halilrud valley. For this verb the ergative is extended to the present, e.g., Jir. kodom t-a-vey? “which one do you want?” nâ-š-vey “he doesn’t want,” Rdb. â šeyin gozer m-a-vey “I want that big shirt.” Other modal verbs are tâh-est “can” and mâh-est- “dare,” e.g., Rdb. tâhestom berram “I was able to go.” “Must” is the invariable bâyad.


The following is a selection of Garmsiri lexical items to supplement those already mentioned in the body of this entry as well as those introduced in section 2, on Kermani Persian: Jir. ančâr “sightless” and antohte “frail (old person)” (with the negative prefix an-); Kah. (diminutive) bâdoh(t) “girl,” bâmard “man,” bâzan “woman” (with similar forms in Rdb., Min., Bš.); Jir., Kah., Rdb. čok, Min., Horm. čuk, Band. čük “child, son” (also in Balochi); Jir., Kah. nowk, Min., Horm. nȫwk, Band. nük, Bš. nauk “grandchild”; Jir., Kah., Min, Horm., Bal., Lār. mošk “mouse”; Jir., Kah., Rdb., Min., Horm., Lār. maš “fly”; Jir. xomin “wheat harvest season, summer,” Lāraki hāmin, Bal. hāmen “date harvest season” (Mid. Pers. hāmīn “summer”); Kah. (vâ)bayom “dawn,” va-pegâh “daybreak,” vâ-pasi “dusk”; Jir. âjahk “yawn” (possibly â, cf. Av. āh- “mouth” + jahak “jumper”; closest to Khuri âvofk, Shirazi hâkak, Lori až-ažaki); Jir. padom “swell” (similar forms in Rudn., Min., Lāraki, Lar.);  Jir. xunčâvošân “drug applied to the skin” (< xun-e Siāvošān).


A-S (Allāhābād-e Abu Saʿidi, Boluk district), see Jir.
Bam. (Bam): Kalbāsi, 2009.
Band. (Bandar ʿAbbās): Fatḥi, 2002; Pelevin, 2010.
Bard. (Bardsir): Borumand-Saʿid, 1991; Kalbāsi, 2009 (Lālazār).
Bft. (Bāft): Farhādi-Rād, 2002; Āʾina-Negini, 2003 (Rābor); Naqawi, 2006 (Guḡer); Kalbāsi, 2009 (Kisekān).
Bš. (Baškardi): Skjærvø, 1988, 1989; Moshkalo, 1997.
Domš. (Domšahr), see Min.
Glb. (Golbāf, formerly Gowk): Asadi, 2000.
Goruhi (in Rāyan district): Kalbāsi, 2009.
Guḡ. (Guḡer), see Bft.
Horm. (Hormoz Island): Skjærvø, 1975.
Jir. (Jiroft): Niknafs, 1998; Rafʿati, 2000 (ʿAnbarābād); Kalbāsi, 2009 (Allāhābād-e Saʿidi).
Kah. (Kahnuj): Niknafs, 1998; Kalbāsi, 2009; Reżāyati and Botlāb, 2013.
Ker. (Kerman): Baqāʾi, 1963-69, 2002; Sotuda, 1957; Waʿeẓ Taqawi, 1984; Żiāʾ-Ebrāhimi, 1987; Neʿmatzāda, 1990; Purḥosayni, 1991; Ṣarrāfi, 1996.
Kuhb. (Kuhbanān): Ruḥ-al-Amini, 1979, pp. 87-91; Mowlāʾi, 2011.
Lār. (Greater Lārestān): Eqtedāri, 1965; Kamioka et al., 1986; Skjærvø, 1989; Molchanova, 2004.
Lārak: Anonby and Yousefian, 2011.
Man. (Manujān): Niknafs, 1998; Barbera, 2005; Yazdānfarr, 2011.
Min. (Mināb): Skjærvø, 1975; Barbera, 2005; Moḥebbi, 2006; Moṭallebi and ʿAbbāsi, 2010 (Domšahr).
Moḥ. (Moḥmedi, spoken in Kušk Mur): Kordestāni, 2010; Moṭallebi and Kordestāni, 2014.
NBš. (North Baškardi), see Bš.
Rāb. (Rābor), see Bft.
Raf. (Rafsanjān): Kalbāsi, 2009.
Rāv. (Rāvar): Karbāsi, 1986; Kārbaḵš, 1996.
Rdb. (Rudbār): Niknafs, 1998, pp. 387-407; Moṭallebi, 2006.
Rudn. (Rudān, aka Dehbārez): Moʿtamedi, 2002; Barbera, 2005.
Š-B (Šahr-e-Bābak): Ḥosayni, 2009.
SBš. (South Baškardi), see Bš.
Sir. (Sirjān): Saryazdi, 2001; Moʾayyad-Moḥseni, 2002; Kalbāsi, 2009 (Kahnšahr); Yusofiān and ʿAbbāslu, 2010.
Zar. (Zarand): Bābak, 1996; Ṣādeqi, 2000; Kalbāsi, 2009.

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(Habib Borjian)

Originally Published: August 10, 2016

Last Updated: August 10, 2016

Cite this entry:

Habib Borjian, “KERMAN xvi. Languages,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at (accessed on 10 August 2016).