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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

Avestan is the language preserved in the sacred books of the Parsis, the ensemble of which is called the 'Avesta'. Avestan is an Indo-European language and belongs to the Indo-Iranian branch of the family. The difficult work of reconstituting the Avestan texts rigorously combines philology and linguistics, as the results that follow from the exegesis of the texts, together with textual criticism, must be compared with the results from linguistics. The Avestan alphabet is very complete and contains a detailed inventory of graphemes, whose goal was to represent with precision, in writing, a (liturgical) recited text. Avestan, from the outset, assigned a specific value to each sign and marked the vowels precisely. In this regard, the Greek writing system, which was well known throughout the East, may have served as a point of reference for the creators of the Avestan alphabet.

Keywords: Avestan alphabet; Avestan text; Indo-European language; textual transmission

10.1163/9789004257771_002
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