Talysh is classified as a Northwest Iranian language that is spoken by roughly 200.000 people both in northwestern Iran and southern Azerbajdžan. This booklet concentrates on the northern (Azerbajdžani) variants of the language spoken by about 80.000 people in the Astara and Lenkoran areas. The morphosyntax of Northern Talysh is characterized by a complicated split system which is based on the Northwest Iranian type of accusativity/ergativity dichotomy: It shows accusative features with present stem based transitive constructions, whereas past stem based construction tend towards an ergative behavior. Salient features are among others: a general oblique case to cover peripheric functions (split-O in accusative structures, split-A in ergative structures); tripartite system of personal pronouns, floating clitics in ergative structures that cross-reference the agentive function A; backgrounding of S and A in some types of subordination. Due to interferences with Azeri, Northern Talysh shows remarkable features of 're-agglutination' both in its case system and in verbal inflection.
The present portrayal of Northern Talysh is based on the author's fieldwork and is both descriptive and explanatory: it concentrates on features of actance typology explaining the architecture of its 'Operating System' and the emergence of split structures from both a typological and a cognitive perspective. Other important explanatory parameters make reference to Historical Linguistics. Additionally, the interaction of Northern Talysh phonology and grammar is described. The sketch is supplemented by the documentation of an oral account (palangi ahvolot 'Encounter with a leopard') – given with full morphological glosses and translation – and by a word index.
ISBN 9783895866814. Languages of the World/Materials 380. 76pp. 2000.