Department of Asian Studies
Department of Asian Studies

Short Course: Indo-Aryan Linguistics

Short course, February 1 - February 10, 2011, Meyerson Conference Room (WCH 4.118)

Tue, February 1, 2011 | Meyerson Conference Room (WCH 4.118)

4:00 PM - 6:00 PM


Dr. Claus Peter Zoller

University of Oslo, Norway

This course will cover the phonetics and phonology of Indo-Aryan languages, with practical exercises in transcription and an overview of their history.  It will also include an introduction to oral traditions in northern South Asia and a case study of the poetic language of a Himalayan version of the Mahabharata.

The course will be held in six meetings of two hours each. Suggested readings are posted below.

All meetings take place in the Meyerson Conference Room (WCH 4.118).

Please also see for more information.


Recommended readings (click on title to download PDF):

1. Anvita Abbi, Language Families, Language Contact, and Areal Universals

2. Colin Masica, Historical Phonology

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 4-6 p.m.  

Some basic principles of  phonetics and phonology with examples from Indo-Aryan
The lecture introduces some basic concepts and principles of phonetics and phonology and discusses them mainly with data from Indo-Aryan languages.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011 4-6 p.m.

Phonetic transcription exercises with a speaker of an Indo-Aryan language
The students get an opportunity to work with a native speaker in a simulated field situation. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011 4-6 p.m.

The Indo-Aryan languages: elementary structures and an outline of their history


Recommended readings (click on title to download PDF):

1. Rémi Bordes, Impossible Sons and Enemy Brothers: Remarks on the Cathartic Function of Two Heroic Poems (bharat) of Far Western Nepal

2. Claus Peter Zoller, Heroic Ballads and the Biography of a Woman: On Coping with Conflicts in the Western Garhwal Himalaya

3. Claus Peter Zoller, The Grammar of Poetics: On Some Linguistic Techniques in an Oral Epic from the Garhwal Himalayas

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 4-6 p.m.

Nuristani, Dardic and West Pahari as a separate subbranch of Indo-Aryan
There has been a long-lasting debate whether New Indo-Aryan can be divided into two subbranches, the inner and outer languages. Dr. Zoller presents linguistic data which show that in fact a third branch, comprising Nuristani, Dardic and West Pahari, needs to be added.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 4-6 p.m.

Bardic traditions of the Central and Western Himalayas
The bards of this region are important carriers of traditional knowledge. In some areas they are in the service of royal deities: they are in charge of the histories of their deities which they recite at specific festivals. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011 4-6 p.m.

The poetic language of a Himalayan version of the Mahabharata
The oral version of the Mahabharata from Uttarakhand is a highly complex work of art. The lecture explains how ordinary language is transformed by the professional bards into a large number of poetic forms by ways of composition in performance. 

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