SOGDIAN LANGUAGE i. Loanwords in Persian

Loanwords from Sogdian into Persian were adopted through the cultural relations and commercial interactions which existed between Iran proper and Transoxiana, the birth place of Sogdian language.

 

SOGDIAN LANGUAGE

i. Loanwords in Persian

Loanwords from Sogdian into Persian were adopted through the cultural relations and commercial interactions which existed between Iran proper and Transoxiana, the birth place of Sogdian language. The Sogdians, the speakers of this Iranian language, played such a prominent role in the overland trade between China, India and the West, during a great part of the first millennium CE (see SOGDIAN TRADE), that their language was called a “lingua franca,” and they settled along one of the longest trade road of Central Asia, called later, not unsuitably, the “Silk Road” (see SOGDIANA iii. HISTORY AND ARCHEOLOGY). The economic and cultural prosperity of Sogdians just before the dawn of Islamic era is noteworthy, and the two Sogdian cities Samarqand and Buḵārā played a vital part in the promotion of Persian literature during the rule of the Samanid dynasty (819-1005 CE). Samarqand and Buḵārā, the homeland of the Sogdian language, became the birthplace of a Persian literary Renaissance and fostered many genre of prose and poetry.

Sogdian and Persian both belong to the great family of Iranian languages; Sogdian is an Eastern Middle Iranian, and Persian a Western New Iranian, language. Their difference is both geographical and chronological. Seventy-two years ago W. B. Henning wrote an article on “Sogdian Loanwords in New Persian.” He stated: “I think, it is proper to regard Eastern Iranian words in Persian as “loanwords”, in the same way as, say Arabic and Aramaic words; for no Eastern Iranian language is amongst the constituent dialects of modern Persian, which can perhaps best be defined as the descendant of the current language of culture and commerce which developed in Persia during the Sasanian era” (Henning, 1939, p. 93).

CONSONANT SOUND CHANGES

For the purpose of identifying loanwords, the sound change in the consonant system have to be considered. Sogdian kept the Old Iranian voiceless plosives p, t, k, and affricate č, in all position; Persian changed these to voiced plosives b, d, g, and z in postvocalic position, but kept them otherwise. Sogdian changed Old Iranian voiced plosives b, d, g, and affricate j, to fricatives , ḏ, ḡ, and ž in all positions, except after a nasalized vowel; Persian kept the Old Iranian voiced plosives b, d, g, except in postvocalic position. Sogdian has a range of voiced fricatives ḇ, ḏ, ḡ, z, ž, and voiceless fricatives, f, ṯ, s, š, ḵ; Persian has the voiced fricatives v, ḡ, z, ž, and voiceless f, s, š, ḵ, plus a palatal l and an aspirate h. Missing in Sogdian are the phonemes l and h and in Persian β, ḏ and . Following the general sound change of East Iranian, Sogdian has a set of consonant cluster as -ḡd- and -βd- (in Sogdian script -ḡt- and -βt-); Persian as a Western Iranian language has -ḵt- and -ft-.

In the lists that follows, most examples are first mentioned in Henning, 1939. Persian words are from Moḥammad Moʿin’s edition of Borhān-e qāṭeʿ (BQ) and Asadi’s Loḡat-e fors (LF). Sogdian words are from B. Gharib, Sogdian Dictionary (SD). Other source abbreviations are M (Manichaean Sogdian), B (Buddhist Sogdian), C (Christian Sogdian), and S (secular Sogdian texts).

Rule 1. Persian words containing consonant cluster -ḡd- (sometimes with variant -ḵt-) and -bd- or -fd- can be Sogdian loanwords, if they exist in Sogdian vocabulary. These are pronounced in Sogdian as ḡd and βd, respectively. The words: āroḡda “greedy” (BQ, p. 32) = M ʾʾrwḡtkyʾ “greed” (SD, no. 246); āsaḡda “prepared” (BQ, p. 129) = B ʾʾsʾḡtk (SD, 253); āsuḡda “burned” (BQ, p. 41, LF, 208) = B ʾʾswḡtk (SD, 274); pasaḡda “ready” (BQ, p. 279; LF, 258) = B ptsʾḡtk “arranged” (SD, 7870); pasaḡdidan “to arrange” (LF, 208) = M ptsḡtyy “to arrange, built” (SD, 7870); alfaḡda, alfaxta “collected, saved” (LF, 208) = M ḏβḡštč “saving” (SD, 3487); taraḡda “pressure” (BQ, p. 485) = M trḡtyh “depressed” (SD, 9654); ifda “frivolous” (BQ, p. 197)= B ʾʾyaβtʾk “perverted” (SD, 346).

Rule 2. Persian words with variant spelling of p and b can be borrowings from Sogdian if they exist in Sogdian vocabulary. These words are rendered in Sogdian with the phoneme /p/. For references see the list below. The words: p/basāk = Sogd. /pasāk/ psʾk “garland of flower” (SD, 7435); p/basāvidan = /pasāw/ psʾw “to touch” (SD, 7438) (see also the list below); p/banānč = /panānč / pnʾnč “co-wife” (SD, 6876) (see also the list below); p/batškam = /patškamb/ ptšknp “porch” (SD, 7925) (see also the list below); p/basaḡda = /patsaḡtk/ ptsʾḡtk “ready, prepared” (SD, 7870) (see also Rule 1); p/balandin = /paḏind /pḏynd “door frame” (SD, 6838) (see also Rule 4); p/batfuz = /patβūz/ ptβwz “muzzle, beak” (SD, 7609) (see also Rule 3); p/bālik = /pāḏe/ in (ḏārwk) pʾḏy “(wooden) shoes” (SD, 3425) (see also Rule 4); p/bārdu “pole to support fruit trees” = M prtʾw “seat, bench” (SD, 7238) (see also the list below).

Rule 3. Persian words containing an f that can be traced to Old Iranian b, written β in Sogdian script (Buddhist, Manichean, Christian, and all secular texts) and b in Syriac (mainly Christian texts), are suggested to be Sogdian loans. This Persian f also stands for β, which is written in some old manuscripts with 3 dots (see Henning, 1939, p. 97). The words: faḡ “idol” (BQ, p. 1492; LF, 137) = Sogd. B, M βḡ, C bḡ “god, sir, lord” (SD, 2543); fām (only in compounds) (BQ, p. 1437) = B, M βʾm(h) “color” (SD, 2452-53); fadrang (BQ, p. 1442) = B βtrnng “oppression” (SD, 2862) (see Rule 5); fež, fež(ā)kan/gin (BQ, p. 1485-86) = B, M (ʾ)βyj, β(y)ž, C byž, B βžknk “bad, dirty” (SD, 2981); farḵār (BQ, p. 1452) = B βrḡʾr, M frḡʾr “Buddhist temple” (SD, 2741); faḡestān “idol place” (BQ, p. 1437) = B, M βḡystʾn “God’s place” (SD, 2567, 2609-10); fuš (Pahl. buš) (BQ, p. 1490) = B βnš “mane” (SD, 2650); faḡān, afḡān (Moʿin, p. 318) = B (ʾ)βḡʾn “shouting” (SD, 2549); patfuz (BQ, p. 234) = B ptβwz “beak, muzzle” (SD, 7609) (see also Rule 2); fežm (BQ, p. 1487) = B βyzm “distress” (SD, 3066); feriz/ž (BQ, p. 1483) = B βrʾyz “medical plant” (SD, 2724); firdu “gain” (Tafazzoli, pp. 1-2) = B, M βyrtʾy, C byrty “obtained” (SD, 3031); farviš (BQ, p. 1479)= B βrʾwščy(h), prʾwyšcy, M, C frʾwyčy “to forget” (SD, 2714); alfaḵtan (see Rules 1, 4). Exceptions are: ferenj (LF, 53)= B, M prʾynk “cavity of the mouth” (SD, 7018); fetal-idan, fetardan (BQ, p. 1438; LF, 171) “cut off” = B (ʾ)ptʾr- “pull out” (SD, 1356, 7809); farḵonda (BQ, p. 454) = B prnḡwntk, M. frnḵwndy “fortunate” (SD, 7199, 3919); farḵāk (BQ, p. 1454) = M frḵʾk “a dish with chopping meat and eggs” (SD, 3949).

Rule 4. Persian words containing an /l/ can be considered as Sogdian loans, if this l represents Sogdian /δ/ (written δ in Buddhist, Manichean and secular texts; d orin Christian texts). Henning postulated that in most Sogdian dialects, Old Iranian d (δ) and θ had merged into one sound which was very near to l in West Iranian, while it was pronounced more like d in some East dialects; the distinction between δ and θ was preserved in Christian Sogdian and in Yaghnobi (Henning, 1939, p. 97). Some of these examples such as alfanj- might be from Bactrian, which shares this sound change. Later references are Moʿin, pp. 762, 942; Dehḵodā, pp. 5944 f.; Sims-Williams, 1990; idem, 2004, p. 190. The words: lād (LF, 78) “wall” = B, M ḏʾt(h) (SD, 3440); p/balandin (LF, 195; Henning, 1939, 95) “door frame” = M pḏynd (SD, 6838);  pālik “shoes” (LF, 159; Henning, 1939, 99, BQ, p. 359) = B (ḏʾrwk) pʾḏy “wooden shoes”; pāliz (BQ, p. 359) “fruit garden” = M prḏyz “orchard” (SD, 7103);  pilpel (LF, 173; Henning, 1939, 78) “heel” = C pdn(y) “heel, kick” (SD, 6820);  piālapayḡāla “cup, goblet” (Moʿin; Dehḵoda)= S, M ptḡʾḏ (SD, 7660), C ptḡʾd (Pahlavi paygāl) (Sims-Williams, 1990) (SD, 7660);  mul/mol “wine” (LF, 179; Henning, 1939, 98) = M mwḏ, B mḏw, C mdw (SD, 5511, 5295);  linj- “to pull out” (LF, 54; Henning, 1939, 104) = B ḏync, C *ṯynj- (SD, 3769);  balādebalāye (BQ, p. 195) “frivolous” = B, M (ʾ)pḏʾty “perverted, illicit” (SD, 6770);  alfaḡde, alfaḵte “saving” (LF, 208) = M *ḏβḡt-, S. ḏβḡštc “saved” (SD, 3487);  alfaḵtan “to save” (LF, 208) = M ḏβʾyz (SD, 3483) (see also Rules 1, 3);  alfanj- “to save” = M ḏβyjny, C ṯbyj- (SD, 3489, 9555);  sapal (BQ, p. 1090) = B ʾspt(ʾ) “hooves” (SD, 1646), cf. Yaghnobi sapalsabal (BQ, p. 1082) = B ʾspʾrḏt “related to pupil” (SD, 1601);  ḡulin (kind of vessel; measure) (BQ, p. 1429) = B ḡwḏʾk “vessel”, C ḡwdy “measure” (SD, 4362). Exception: lāyidan = Sogd. rʾy- and līr = ryrʾkh (see also the list below).

Rule 5. Persian isolated words with parallel cognates in Sogdian, can be Sogdian loans if they are not attested in Middle Persian or Parthian. Persian āḡāz “beginning” can be a Sogdian loan, comparing with Sogdian (present/past stems) (ʾ)ʾḡʾz-/ʾʾḡšt- (SD, 86, 98) “to begin,” the imperfect mʾḡʾz, the compounded frḡʾz-, and its imperfect frʾḡʾz (SD, 3887, 3869). Sogdian ʾʾḡʾz is also used as noun (SD, 87,689). Sogdian cognates indicate that the Persian isolated āḡāz, its denominative verb āḡāzidan, the obsolete past tense āḡāštan (Rawāqi, p. 14), are borrowed. The Sogdian cognates explains not only the correct past tense but also the structure of Persian āḡāz-, in which ā- is a prefix, like fra- and ham- in Sogdian. The Choresmian ʾʾḡʾz (Benzing, p. 37), imperfect mʾḡʾz should be considered as cognate with its equivalent in Sogdian, which remains the lending language to Persian āḡāz.

This rule can be extended to some other isolated and obsolete Persian words: Persian fadrang (BQ, p. 1442) “a mallet for beating clothes, a wooden beam used to door-bar” (Henning, 1939, 101); the Sogdian provenance will be undisputable if we compare fadrand to Sogdian βtrnng (SD, 2862) “oppression, subjugation,” related to (ʾ)βtrynč-/(ʾ)βtrḡt “to subjugate” and the noun βtrḡtkyʾ (SD, 2859-61) “submissiveness,” all derived from the root *tṛnk and the prefix abi-. Confirmation comes from other cognates: ptrnk “depression” (SD, 7818), with the prefix pati-; ʾntrʾḡs-/*ʾntrḡt- “to be pressed” (SD, 1140), the imperfect mntrʾḡs, with the prefix ham-/han-. The last examples lead to other Persian loanwords āḏarang (LF, 163) meaning “depression, stress” from*ʾʾtrʾnk (Hen, LW 101), and taraḡde (BQ, p. 485) “pressure, compulsion,” borrowed from Sogdian trḡtyy “depressed,” trḡtyʾq) “depression, sorrow,” trḡt- “to be depressed” (SD, 9649-56).

FULL LIST OF SOGDIAN LOANWORDS IN PERSIAN

For Persian references, see Borhān-e qāṭeʿ (BQ); Asadi (LF); Henning, 1939; for Sogdian references, see Gharib, 2004 (SD); Rawāqi; for entries starting with f-, see Rule 3.

āḏarang “depression” (Rule 5); āroḡda “greedy” (Rule 1); āroḵsida “greedy” (Rawāqi, p. 8) = M ʾʾruḵs- “to be greedy” (SD, 247-48); āsaḡda “ready”  (Rule 1); āsuḡda  “burned” (Rule 1); āsima “anxious, troubled” = C ʾsymy (SD, 1729); āškuḵ-(idan) “(to) stumble” (BQ, pp. 140, 1282) = C fškwḵ “stumbling block” (SD, 3998) (Rule 5); āḡār (LF, 104; BQ, p. 47) zeḡār (BQ, p. 1022) “moisture” = S azḡār, C zḡār (SD, 2306, 11254); āḡāz “beginning” (Rule 5); āγāšt- “to begin” (Rule 5); āw(ā)z “pool, lake” (Henning, 1939; Rawāqi, p. 17)= B ʾ(ʾ)wʾz, M ʾʾwzy (SD,  308, 330); arḡand “greedy, brave” (BQ, p. 106) = B arḡant (SD, 1446); astars “plough share” (BQ, p. 26; Rawāqi, p. 23) = B ʾstʾrs (SD, 1686); alfaḵtan/alfaḡdan “to save” (Rules 1, 4); andaḵsidan, andaḵswāra, andaḵs (Rawāqi, p. 32) “to take refuge, refugee, protect” = S ʾntʾḵs- (SD, 1132);

bot “idol” (BQ, p. 233) = B pwt, M bwt “Buddha” (SD, 2929); bātḡar ( BQ, p. 211) = B wʾtḡr “windy room, summer room where wind blows” (SD, 9878); barḵi/a (BQ, p. 252) = S prḵy “wage, reward” (SD, 7143); balāde, balāye “frivolous” (Rule 4); pāda (BQ, p. 319; Rawāqi, p. 80) = B pʾtk “pasture, herd” (SD, 6541), cf. Yaghnobi pātē; pāliz = M prḏyz “orchard” (Rule 4); pālik = pʾḏy “shoes” (Rule 4); panānč (BQ, p. 304; LF, 54) “co-wife” (Rule 2); patfuz (LF, 114) = ptβwz “muzzle, beak” (Rules 2, 3); pārdu (Henning, 1948, 304; Rawāqi, p. 91) (Rule 2); parmāsidan (BQ, p. 387; Rawāqi, p. 92) = M, C pcmrws- “to touch” (SD, 6679); pasāk (BQ, p. 777) = (ʾ)psʾk  “garland of flower” (Rule 2) (MP. pusag); pasāvidan (BQ, p. 404) = (ʾ)psʾw (SD, 7438) “to touch” (Rule 2); pasaḡda (BQ, p. 406)= ptsʾḡtk  “ready” (Rules 1, 3); pašk/gam- (BQ, p. 410, 284) = ptšknp “porch” (Rule 2); p/balandin = pḏynd  “door frame” (Rules 2, 3); payḵasta (LF, 222; BQ, pp. 332, 436; Rawāqi, p. 100) = C prḵʾy (*prḵwsty) “crashed” (Rule 2); payḡāla/piāla = ptḡāḏ   “cup, goblet” (Rule 4); pil (LF, 173; BQ, p. 794) = pḏ “heel” (Rule 4);

taranj-(idan) (LF, 220) = trʾnk “pressure” (SD, 9634); taraḡda = trḡtyy “pressed” (Rule 1); tul= twrḏn “paralyzed” (SD, 9723) (Rule 4); tim, timča (BQ, p. 547) = C tym “inn, resting place” (originally Chinese) (SD, 9747); čaḵ, čaḵidan (BQ, p. 624-25) = C čḵ-, “fighting, to fight” (SD, 3310); čaḡz-(vāra/rāva) (Rawāqi, p. 133; BQ, p. 644-45) = B čḡz(rʾwʾk) “frog, frog’s eggs” (SD, 3187) čuḡu (BQ, p. 646) = B čḡwt “owl” (SD, 3184); ḵšāidan (BQ, p. 750) = B ʾḡšʾy- “to chew” (SD, 743); ḵāzanda (Rawāqi, p. 151) = B ḡwyz- “to demand” (SD, 4508); ḵāsanda (Rawāqi,  159) = B ḡwys- “to perspire” (SD, 4503); dafsānidan, dusānidan,  (BQ, p. 896-98) = B, M pḏʾwβs- “to stick” (SD, 6772) (Rule 3);

rāfa “sickness” (Rawāqi, p. 70) = M rʾf-(ʾk) “sick” (SD, 8418); rabuḵa (BQ, p. 937) “pleasure” = B, M ʾrpʾwḡ/ḵ “penetrating, profit” (SD, 1466); rēž (BQ, p. 989) = M ryž “desire, lust” (SD, 8626); (ā)riḡ (BQ, p. 33) = B ryk (OP arika) “wicked” (SD, 8628); rožd (BQ, p. 946) = C rwž(tyʾ) “to desire” (SD, 8615);

zāč (BQ, p. 994) = B zʾtch “birth woman” (SD, 11197); zāq (BQ, p. 998) = B, M zʾk, C. zʾq “child,” M. zʾkʾnc “little girl” (SD, 11135); zāqdān (BQ, p. ibi) = M zʾqḏḏn “womb” (SD, 11139); zaḵ/žaḵ (BQ, p. 1006) = B *žḡ (žḡʾyr-) “hard voice” (SD, 11283-4); zand-bāf (BQ, p. 1037) = B *zntwʾβ (zntwʾc) “nightingale” (SD, 11362); zinhār-ḵvār (BQ, p. 1037) = B zyny ḡwʾry “truce breaker” (SD, 11559); zivar (BQ, p. 1035) = B zywr “ornament” (SD, 11612); zuf (Reżāʾi, p. 62) = B zwb “jaws” (SD, 11461; Sims-Williams, 1976, pp. 60, 23); žeḡār (BQ, p. 1059) = M jḡʾr “shout,” S (ʾ)zḡʾyr, M jḡyr, “shout, call” (SD, 4574, 4580); žēnda (pil) (BQ, p. 1063) = B zyntʾk pyḏh “angry elephant” (SD, 11555-56);

setāḡ (BQ, p. 1097) = B stʾʾḡ/ḵ “childless” (SD, 8982); setiḡ/ḵ (LF, 138) = B ʾstʾyḡ/ḵx “erect, top” (SD, 1695); sabal = ʾspʾrḏt “pupil” (Rule 4); sapal = ʾspt(ʾ) “hooves” (Rule 4); sekār (BQ, p. 1150) = C sqʾr “coal, ember” (SD, 8776); samuk (BQ, p. 1166) = C smwq “foolishness” (SD, 8832); sarčik (LF, 138) = B srcʾyk “chief” (SD, 8940); sang-sār (LF, 32) =C snqsʾr “stoned” (SD, 8867); sima-sār (BQ, p. 1212) = symy “anxious” (SD, 9124); sar-āsima (BQ, p. 1119) = C ʾsyny “anxious” (SD, 1929); šaḵ/šaḡ (BQ, p. 1257) = B šḡ/šḵ “hard” (SD, 9202); šarang (BQ, p. 1262) = B šrʾynk (< Skt. śṛngi) “poison” (SD, 9319); šekardan (BQ, p. 1278) “to pierce”= B škrḏʾk “piercer” (SD, 9229); šand (BQ, p. 1300) “beak”= B šnth “trunk” (SD, 9310); šekōḵidan (LF, 69; BQ, p. 282) = M fškwḵ “stumbling” (SD, 3998);

ḡarāš (BQ, p. 1405,  Rawāqi, 253) = B ḡrʾʾš “angry” (SD, 4172); ḡarašidan (BQ, p. 1405) = B ḡryš “to irritate” (SD, 4277); ḡanāva “musical instrument” (BQ, p. 1421) = B ḡnʾβ- (ḡnʾβnt) “to lament” (SD, 4121); kāḡaḏ (BQ, p. 1563) = B, M, C qʾḡḏʾ, kʾḡḏʾ(kh) “paper,” S kʾḡḏyʾk “of paper” (SD, 4632-35); kānā (LF, 24) = C qʾnyʾ “stupidity” (SD, 4651); katām (BQ, p. 1594) = C qṯʾm “city wall” (SD, 4946); kadvāda (BQ, p. 1404) = C qdwy “roof” (SD, 4725); karv(a) (BQ, p. 1631) = B krwʾ (ḏntk) “hollow tooth” (SD, 4875); kešāvarz (BQ, p. 1648) = M kšʾrzʾk “agriculture” (SD, 4907) (Gharib, 1994); kand (BQ, p. 1703) = B knḏ/ṯ “city (used also as suffix in city’s name)” (SD, 4761); kās(muy) (LF, 226) =B, M kʾs “hog” (SD, 4666); kāza (BQ, p. 1562) = B kʾzʾk “little house” (SD, 4682);

layidan (BQ, p. 1884) = B rʾy- “to cry, weep” (SD, 8445); lir (BQ, p. 1920) = M ryrʾkh “saliva” (SD, 8653); lād  “wall” (Rule 4); linj-  “to pull” (Rule 4); mastka/ār(-e) (Rawāqi, p. 329) = B mstk(ʾ)rʾk “making drunk, intoxicate” (SD, 5491); marḡula (BQ, p. 1994) = C mrḡwr “twisted lock” (SD, 5443); marḡundāra (Rawāqi, p. 327) = M mrḡwndy “lump, clod” (SD, 5441); muri (LF, 179) = S mwry(ʾy) “canal” (SD, 5552); moḡ (LF, 136) = C, S mwḡ/mḡw (SD, 5512); mol (BQ, p. 2030) “wine” (Rule 4); muḡāna (BQ, p. 2021) = C mwḡʾnč (SD, 5513); nažand (BQ, p. 2135) “sorrowful” = C n(y)znt “humble” (SD, 6376); nāhār (LF, 89; BQ, p. 2112) “dinner” = B nʾḡʾr “in fast” (SD, 5745); nus (LF, 127) = B nns “nose, nostril” (SD, 6017); noqra (BQ, p. 2157) = nʾkrtʾk/ʾy “silver, not coined” (SD, 5755-73); vāšāma (BQ, p. 2248) = C wʾšʾmy “veil” (SD, 9865); yaḵni (BQ, p. 2427) = M yxnyy “leftover food” (SD, 11098); yāfa (BQ, p. 2419) “lost, nonsense” = B yʾβk “roving” (SD, 10890).

 

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BQ, see Moḥammad Ḥosayn.

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LF, see Asadi Ṭusi.

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ʿA. Rawāqi, Ḏayl-e farhanghā-ye fārsi, Tehran, 2005.

Ḥ. Reżāʾi Bāḡbidi, “Čahār vāža-ye soḡdi dar Hedāyat al-motaʿallemin fi’l-ṭebb,” Nāma-ye Farhangestān 2/3, 2006, pp. 61-64.

SD, see Gharib, 2004.

N. Sims-Williams, “Sogdian Fragment of the British Library,” Indo-Iranian Journal 18, 1976, pp. 43-82.

Idem, Christian Sogdian Manuscript C, Wiesbaden, 1985.

Idem, “Old Persian Patišuvarna Cup,” in Iranica Varia: Papers in Honor of Professor Ehsan Yarshater,  Acta Iranica 30, Leiden, 1990, p. 242.

Idem, Bactrian Documents II, London, 2004.

W. Sundermann, Mitteliranische manichäische Texte kirchengeschichtlichen Inhalts, Berlin, 1981.

A. Tafazzoli, “Three Words in the Kitāb al-Ḥurūf,” Bulletin of Iran Culture Foundation 1/2, 1974, pp. 1-2.

(B. Gharib)

Last Updated: June 7, 2013