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. (November 2006)
Proto-Iranian, or Proto-Iranic, 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.
Skjærvø postulates that there were at least four dialects that initially developed out of Proto-Iranian, two of which are attested by texts:
- Old Northwest Iranian (unattested, ancestor of Ossetian)
- Old Northeast Iranian (unattested, ancestor of Middle Iranian Khotanese and modern Wakhi)
- Old Central Iranian (attested, includes Avestan and Median)
- Old Southwest Iranian (attested, includes Old Persian, ancestor of modern Persian)