Proto-Iranian language

Proto-Iranian, or Proto-Iranic,[1] is the reconstructed proto-language of the Iranian languages branch of Indo-European language family and thus the ancestor of the Iranian languages such as Pashto, Persian, Sogdian, Zazaki, Ossetian, Mazandarani, Kurdish, Talysh and others. Its speakers, the hypothetical Proto-Iranians, are assumed to have lived in the early 2nd millennium BC, and they are usually connected with the Proto-Indo-Iranians and early Andronovo archaeological horizon.

Proto-Iranian was a satem language descended from the Proto-Indo-Iranian language, which in turn, came from the Proto-Indo-European language. It was likely removed less than a millennium from the Avestan language, and less than two millennia from Proto-Indo-European.[2]


Skjærvø postulates that there were at least four dialects that initially developed out of Proto-Iranian, two of which are attested by texts:

  1. Old Northwest Iranian (unattested, ancestor of Ossetian)
  2. Old Northeast Iranian (unattested, ancestor of Middle Iranian Khotanese and modern Wakhi)
  3. Old Central Iranian (attested, includes Avestan and Median)
  4. Old Southwest Iranian (attested, includes Old Persian, ancestor of modern Persian)