University of Tunceli
Linguistic research on the Zaza language of East Anatolia was until 1998 solely restricted to the southern dialect. On the important northern dialect there was no considerable work, however.
Only the detailed grammatical description of the north dialect in Grammatik der Zaza-Sprache, Nord Dialekt (1998) by Z. Selcan completed the overview of the Zaza language. Great iranistic compilations like Grundriß der iranischen Philologie (1901) neglected the Zaza language while Corpus Linguarum Iranicarum (1989) touched the subject superficially and only represented it from a kurdocentric view. As part of their research Russian scholars of Iranian Studies occasionally included the Zaza language in the series Osnovy Iranskogo Jazykoznanija. Here Lija A. Pirejko’s first extensive historical language study of the Zazaish (1997) is a noteworthy example. But the language data only encompassed the south dialect, (recorded in 1906, published in 1932), the north dialect was not taken into account. This article offers a concise description of the research history on the Zaza language and examines its position within the Iranian language family. It also examines the historical phonology and the historical morphology of this language. Taking into account the 158 Zülfü Selcan two main dialects at the historical phonological level, special consideration is given to the development of the initial sounds of words. Additionally, at the historical morphological level the following issues will be addressed: Preservation of the final syllable; preservation of the feminine ending; verbal nouns: verbal noun on – ene, verbal noun on -is, -ış; Infinitive: Infinitive on -ene, infinitive on -is, -ış; Preservation of the morphological passive; similarity and contrast of several West Iranian languages in comparison.