Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Multi-level lexical convergence along the Silk Road
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics, General Linguistics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3907-0930
2013 (English)In: 46th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea: Book of abstracts / [ed] Bert Cornillie and María Sol Sansiñena Pascual, Split, 2013, 213-214 p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This preliminary study, partly based on fieldwork data, partly on available descriptions, looks at lexical convergence resulting from language contact in the Greater Hindu Kush (northern Pakistan, north-eastern Afghanistan, and Kashmir), a region characterized by a combination of linguistic diversity (including Indo-Iranian, Nuristani, Tibeto-Burman and the isolate Burushaski), a high level of multilingualism and by serving as an age-old transit zone between South, West, and Central Asia (Tikkanen 1988; Bashir 2003, 821–823). A few influential “culture carriers” of change are: Islam; a common Persian culture; poetry; and, in more recent times, media in which regional lingua franca-filtered English plays an increasing role. The lexical convergence can be observed on three interrelated levels: a) a micro-level characterized by shared internal semantic structure, b) a mid-level, whereby the structure of entire semantic domains display significant similarities, and c) a macro-level, with shared features of lexicon organization.

The first level encompasses single lexemes across languages, e.g. shared specializations (Kamviri (Strand 2013): nuč ‘three days ago’, nutrí ‘the day before yesterday’, dus ‘yesterday’, strák ɡaaǰaar ‘today’, daalkẽ́ ‘tomorrow’, aatrí ‘the day after tomorrow’, aačǘ ‘three days hence’; Dameli (Morgenstierne 1942, 137–178, Emil Perder pc.): učoo/čoo diyoo,itrii, doos, mu(n)dya, beraa, truida, čoo/čooa ki, respectively), shared polysemy (Kalasha (Trail and Cooper 1999, 112): ɡríik; Pashto: axistəl ‘take’ – ‘buy’), and metaphorical extensions (Kashmiri: toon; Palula: šidáalu ‘cold’—‘hostile, unkind’). The second level is defined by semantic domains, and includes lexical relations between semantically related concepts (Khowar: ma oraru ɡoyan [lit. to-me sleep is coming] ‘I’m feeling sleepy’ vs. xaphosi parir ‘Xaposi sleeps’; Palula: asaám húluk dítu de [lit. on-us heat is fallen] ‘We were feeling hot’  vs. anú wíi táatu ‘This water is hot’; where the subjective experience is expressed as the stimulus coming to the experiencer) and shared derivational pathways, such as a participial ‘attaching’ marking the “manipulee” in causative constructions (Kalasha (Trail and Cooper 1999, 289; Bashir 2003, 823): a ísa aawái, ɡoník čhinawáis ‘I had him break the stick’; Kalam Kohistani (Baart 1999, 94–95): yä murād ā ǰämāl bakānt ‘I’m making Murad beat up Jamal’). The third level is probably the most interesting, as it facilitates lower-level convergence. One example is the gradual substitution of the single verb inventory by “new” complex predicates (Ladakhi: ban-coces (cf. indigenous satces); Indus Kohistani (Zoller 2005, 301): bʌ́n karʌ́v̄; Pashto bandawəl [lit. closed-do] ‘to turn off’, modelled on Urdu band karnaa). Other examples are the prevalence of co-lexicalized intensifiers (Burushaski (Berger 1998, 226–227): qhal-matúm ‘pitch black’; Gilgiti Shina: khutún šaróo ‘full autumn’, the first component often being a unique lexical unit) and the presence of cross-cutting pro-categories, reflecting multiple deictic contrasts (Kohistani Shina (Schmidt and Kohistani 2008, 97–98): paár ajóo ‘over there where I point’, paár adí ‘right over there’, paár asdí ‘right over there somewhere’, pér adí ‘over there (near, known but invisible)’, pér asdí ‘over there (out of sight)’; Kashmiri (Koul 2003, 914): kūtāh ‘how much?’, yūtāh ‘this much’, hūtāh ‘that much (within sight)’, tˈūtāh that much (out of sight)’).


Baart, Joan L. G. 1999. A Sketch of Kalam Kohistani Grammar. Islamabad: National Institute of Pakistan Studies  Quaid-i-Azam University and Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Bashir, Elena L. 2003. “Dardic.” In The Indo-Aryan Languages, ed. George Cardona and Danesh Jain, 818–894. 1 Mul. London: Routledge.

Berger, Hermann. 1998. Die Burushaski-Sprache von Hunza und Nager 3. Wörterbuch. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Koul, Omkar N. 2003. “Kashmiri.” In The Indo-Aryan Languages, ed. George Cardona and Danesh Jain, 895–952. 1 Mul. London: Routledge.

Morgenstierne, Georg. 1942. “Notes on Dameli: A Kafir-Dardic Dialect of Chitral.” NTS 12: 115–198.

Schmidt, Ruth Laila, and Razwal Kohistani. 2008. A Grammar of the Shina Language of Indus Kohistan. Beiträge Zur Kenntnis Südasiatischer Sprachen and Literaturen 17. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Strand, Richard F. 2013. “Richard Strand’s Nuristân Site: Lexicons of Kâmviri, Khowar, and Other Hindu-Kush Languages.” Accessed January 10.

Tikkanen, Bertil. 1988. “On Burushaski and Other Ancient Substrata in Northwestern South Asia.” Studia Orientalia 64: 3030–325.

Trail, Ronald L, and Gregory R Cooper. 1999. Kalasha dictionary with English and Urdu. Islamabad; United Kingdom: National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University ; Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Zoller, Claus Peter. 2005. A Grammar and Dictionary of Indus Kohistani: Volume 1, Dictionary. Trends in Linguistics 21-1. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Split, 2013. 213-214 p.
Keyword [en]
convergence, lexicon, Hindukush, semantic domains
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-94009OAI: diva2:650937
Societas Linguistica Europaea 2013
Available from: 2013-09-24 Created: 2013-09-24 Last updated: 2013-09-25Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Liljegren, Henrik
By organisation
General Linguistics
General Language Studies and Linguistics

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 184 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link