Grammaticalization Process of engâr / engâri

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph. D. Graduate in Ancient Culture and Languages, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Assistant Professor of Department of linguistics, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran


In Modern New Persian, two adverbs “engâr” and “engâri” are used to represent irrealis modality when the speaker introduces a simile or a parable or expresses doubt and uncertainty about what he/she says. Some grammarians consider “engâri” as two other adverbs “guyi” and “pendâri”. They believe that these adverbs are originated in second-person singular verbs which have acquired adverbial function. In this article, we will discuss the process of grammaticalization of the two adverbs “engâr” and “engâri”  using evidence from ancient texts written in Persian (either verse or prose post-Islamic texts) and Middle Persian, focusing on semantic changes the verb “hangār- / hangārd” has gone through: In Middle Persian, “hangār- / hangārd” is a lexical verb meaning “to consider”. After going through certain semantic changes, the verb obtains the meanings “to count” and “to assume”. Later on, the second-person singular imperative form of the verb shifts to the beginning of the clause which leads the noun phrase object to be replaced by a subordinate clause. Such changes speed up the progress of grammaticalization and make it easier for “engâr” to be reanalyzed as an adverb. After being decategorized, “engâr” is used as a modal adverb to indicate hypothetical actions and irrealis modality. On the other hand, there is a grammatical rule in Middle Persian according to which, the morpheme “ē” can be added to present stem of the verbs to construct the optative mood mainly functioning as a device to imply irrealis modality. This applies to “engâri” which is reanalyzed as an adverb indicating simile, allegory, doubt and uncertainty since in New Persian, modality is more expressed by linguistic devices such as modal verbs and adverbs than the verb moods. Phonological changes lead speakers to reanalyze “engâri” and consider it to be originated from second-person singular verb due to resemblance in orthography and pronunciation.


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Volume 11, Issue 2
February 2021
Pages 49-72
  • Receive Date: 15 January 2020
  • Revise Date: 24 October 2020
  • Accept Date: 30 October 2020
  • First Publish Date: 31 October 2020