Thesis defense in Iranian Languages: Participant Reference in Three Balochi Dialects

Uppsala Universitets sigillOn March 30, Maryam Nourzaei will defend her doctoral thesis Participant Reference in Three Balochi Dialects. Male and Female Narrations of Folktales and Biographical Tales.

The defense act is publicly open, and starts at 14.15 in Ihresalen, Department for Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University.

Faculty opponent is Associate Professor Henrik Liljegren, Stockholm University.

Description of thesis:

The aim of the present study is to investigate how men and women in three Iranian Balochi dialects, Coastal Balochi, Koroshi Balochi and Sistani Balochi, refer to 3rd person participants in oral narratives of two genres: folktales and biographical tales. The stories that are analysed were recorded during several field trips to Iran and the approach used is that of Levinsohn (1994, 2015).

The three Balochi dialects being studied demonstrate three different strategies of orality. As with the alignment system, Coastal Balochi (CoB) was the most conservative one in the present study and presented orality in all social contexts. Koroshi Balochi (KoB) preserved orality in prose with language switching for narration mostly to Turkic Qashqa’i. In Sistani Balochi (SiB) oral storytelling was almost forgotten, except for the reciting of songs, which was still common among the older generation. SiB society has switched from an oral style to a more written style of storytelling. This observation suggests a strong correlation between the fading of orality and the fading of ergativity in Balochi. In the dialect that has preserved ergativity (CoB), orality is a living art. In the dialects that have lost ergativity (KoB and SiB), the state of orality was not so prominent. The existence of a written tradition does not exclude the preservation of ergativity, though. In contrast to KoB and SiB, CoB has also developed a written tradition beside the oral one within the last hundred years. There are no social class restrictions for telling stories in the Balochi dialects being studied. In the majority of cases, lūḍīs, old women and Afro-Baloch are considered professional storytellers in Balochi society. Only CoB still has professional and expert storytellers in addition to the aged people in a village. The oral culture in CoB also includes the audience, who fulfil an important role. They use certain formulaic phrases for praising and encouraging the storytellers, something which is unique to this dialect. The dissertation concludes with four Appendices. Appendix A presents six texts that were interlinearised using the FLEx programme, while Appendix B consists of participant reference charts of the same texts following Levinsohn’s approach. Appendix C presents details of the case system and alignment for each of the three dialects. Finally, the chart in Appendix D compares the approaches of Levinsohn and of Gundel et al. to participant reference in a specific text. A CD with audio files of the six texts and some photos taken during fieldwork is also available.