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The fate of the subjunctive in late Middle Persian

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Abstract

Late Middle Persian, the written language of the Zoroastrians in the 9th and 10th centuries, exhibits vestiges of a once active and even expansive subjunctive mood with verbal paradigm reduced to 3rd person. Its only active function is that of expressing exclamatory wish in formulaic utterances. Meanwhile various elements have taken over some of its functions. Among them we find the preverb be ‘out’ with the secondary meaning ‘completion’ which has acquired new functions while retaining its older ones. It interacts with the basic actional content of the verb it precedes by marking its point of transformation in a number of well-defined circumstances, including in relation to another verb. Synchronically the late Middle Persian texts reflect the final phase of subjunctive mood and an early phase of the long process of grammaticalization of the preverb be which will eventually become the morpheme of subjunctive mood in modern Persian.

References

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