Mazanderani language

"Tabarian" redirects here. For places in Iran, see Tabrian.
Mazanderani مازندرانی
Tabari طبری
Geleki گلکی
Native to Iran, province of Mazandaran and parts of the provinces of Alborz, Gilan, Tehran, Semnan and Golestan
Region South coast of the Caspian Sea
Native speakers
3.3 million (1993)[1]
  • Mazanderani
  • Shahmirzadi
  • Gorgani†
Persian alphabet
Official status
Regulated by None. But the Linguistic faculty of Mazanderan University officially gathers materials and resources about it.
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Either:
mzn  Mazanderani
srz  Shahmirzadi
Glottolog maza1305[2]

Areas where Mazanderani is spoken as the mother tongue

Mazanderani (مازندرانی) or Tabari (طبری) or Geleki (گلکی) is an Iranian language of the Northwestern branch, spoken mainly in Iran's Mazandaran, Tehran and Golestan provinces. As a member of the Northwestern branch (the northern branch of Western Iranian), etymologically speaking it is rather closely related to Gilaki, and more distantly related to Persian, which belongs to the Southwestern branch.[3][4] Mazandarani is closely related to Gilaki and the two dialects have similar vocabularies.[5] The Gilaki and Mazandarani languages (but not other Iranian languages) share certain typological features with Caucasian languages (specifically South Caucasian languages),[6][7][8] reflecting the history, ethnic identity, and close relatedness to the Caucasus region and Caucasian peoples of the Mazandarani people and Gilaki people.


The name Mazanderani (and variants of it) derives from the name of the historical region of Mazandaran (Mazerun in Mazanderani), which was part of former Kingdom of Tapuria. People traditionally call their language Geleki, the same as Gilekis do.[9]

Gileki consist of two morphemes : Gil + postfix ki. The name Tapuri (or Tabari) which was the name of an ancient language of somewhere in former Tapuria, Nowadays becomes prevalent into youth groups instead of Gileki. However, Gilan and Mazanderan were part of the same state known as Tapuria which its national language was known as Gileki.


Among the living Iranian languages, Mazanderani has one of the longest written traditions, from the tenth to the fifteenth century. This status was achieved during the long reign of the independent and semi-independent rulers of Mazandaran in the centuries after the Arab invasion.[10]

The rich literature of this language includes books such as Marzban Nameh (later translated into Persian) and the poetry of Amir Pazevari. The use of Mazanderani, however, has been in decline. Its literary and administrative rank was lost to Persian perhaps long before the ultimate integration of Mazandaran into the national administration in the early seventeenth century.[11]


The Mazanderani language is closely related to Gilaki and the two languages have similar vocabularies. In 1993, according to Ethnologue, there were more than three million native speakers of Mazanderani.[12]

The dialects of Mazanderani are Saravi, Amoli, Baboli, Lafori, Chaloosi, Kelari, Shahsavari, Delandi, Shahmirzadi, Kholardi, Firoozkoohi, Astarabadi and Katouli.

Furthermore, an extinct variety, Gorgani, was documented back to the 14th and 15th centuries, from writings of the Horufi movement.


Mazanderani is an inflected and genderless language.[13] It is considered SVO, but in some tenses it may be SOV, depending on dialects however.[14][15]


The Gilaki and Mazandarani languages (but not other Iranian languages) share certain typological features with Caucasian languages (specifically South Caucasian languages),[6][7][8] reflecting the history, ethnic identity, and close relatedness to the Caucasus region and Peoples of the Caucasus of the Mazandarani people.


Like other modern Iranian languages there is no distinction between the dative and accusative cases, and the nominative in the sentence takes almost no indicators but with word order (depending on dialects it may end in a/o/e). Since Mazanderani lacks articles, there is no inflection for nouns in the sentence (no modifications for nouns). For definition, nouns are added with e at end (me dətere meaning The daughter of mine while me dəter means my daughter). The indefinite article for single nouns is a-tā with for determination of number (a-tā kijā meaning a girl). There are some remnants from old Mazanderani that female nouns in nominative were ending with a and male nouns in nominative were ending with e (as in jənā meaning the woman and mərdē meaning the man) grammatical gender still exists in other present-day close languages such as Semnani, Sangesari and Zazaki.

Function cases

Case Position Meaning
Sere -(a/o/e) Nominative The Home
Sere re Accusative To the Home
Sere -(o/e) Vocative Home!
Sere şe Genitive Home’s
Sere re Dative To the Home
Sere ye jä Ablative/Instrumental By the Home


Adjective Position Meaning
And-e Sere Applicative  
Gat e Sere Comparative Big Home
untä Sere Determinative That Home

Notable postpositions

Adpositions in Mazanderani are after words, while most of other languages including English and Persian have preposition systems in general. the only common postpositions that sometimes becoming preposition are Še and . Frequently used postpositions are:

postposition meaning
dəle in
re of / to
je from / by
vəse for
həmrā with
səri on / above
bəne under / below
Pəli near / about
vāri/ tarā like
derū among / inside


The list below is a sample list obtained from the Online Mazanderani-Persian dictionary.

Suffix Example Meaning
Kash Kharkash Good Place
Kel Tutkel Mulberry Limit
Ij Yoshij Yoshian
Bun Chenarbon At the Plantain
Ja Səre Ja Of Home
Sar Bənesar At the Below

Suffix Example Meaning
Chaf Au Chaf Water Sucker
Rush Halikrush Drupelet Seller
Su Vərgsu Wolf Hunter
Kaf Ukaf Who acts in water
Vej Galvej Mouse Finder
Yel vəngyel Bandmaster


Mazanderani is commonly written in the Perso-Arabic script.[16] However, many use roman alphabets for example in SMS messages.


Spoken in a territory sheltered by the high Alborz mountains, Mazanderani preserves many ancient Indo-European words no longer in common use in modern Iranian languages such as Persian. Listed below are a few common Mazanderani words of archaic, Indo-European provenance.

English Mazanderani Persian Proto-Indo-European Example of
New Neo No/Now *newos Adjective
Great Gat Bozorg, Gonde, Got Adjective
Better Better Behtar Adverb
Been Bine Budeh Auxiliary Verb
Being Bien Budan Infinitive of Verb
Moon Moong/Mong Mâh *mehnos Noun
Daughter Deter Dokhtar *dheugh Noun
Cow Go/Gu/Guw Gâv/Gow Noun
My Me/Mi (before the noun) am (after the noun), om Verb
Gab Gab Gap Verb
Right Rast Râst Adjective

Mazandarani is rich in synonyms,some such nouns also retaining the gender they possessed in Indo-European times : for instance the words Miš, Gal, Gerz all have the meaning of mouse, although they are not all of the same gender. While many Indo-Iranian languages use a masculine noun taking such related forms as Muš or Muska or Mušk, in Mazandarani the most commonly used name for the mouse is the feminine noun Gal.

Another example is cow, as most important symbol animal in Indo-European culture, in Mazanderani there are more than 1000 recognized words used for different states of cow, table below is specimen of vocabulary. Even contests hold for knowledge of these words.

Mazanderani name Meaning Mazanderani name Meaning
ahl Bull subdued nū dūş Young bull to plow used for the first time ...
āhy Eye black cow that is its name paei varzā Single bull used for plowing
alaşt One of the tools Miner - Two wooden arc that ends it ... parū Cattle for plowing
baKhte bāri Bullock and trolleys raji A cow that is ready to mate
bāreng That is reddish brown cow raş go Cow crimson color with black spots
batkoniye Castrated male bovine cattle to eliminate it from washing down ... raş jūnkā Young bull with red and black streaks
būr gele A cow that is yellow to red raş kamer Cow that is White and brown
būr şāx The final section of cow horns and sharp red sārū The forehead is white bull - the bull forehead White
būrek It is light yellow colored bull sārū The forehead is white bull - the bull forehead White
būreng blond colored cow şelāb beze gozūr The new wide calf rain caused a sharp volley crumbled ...
būrmango Is fawn-colored cow selnāz cow from the forehead to the tail has white veins
das kare Bull fighting situations sembe band Ox that has wood on her neck
de jet Ferrous cows, two bulls kill it serxe sel Red Cow is a band of white from neck to tail
demes mār A cow with her calf is about two years old. setāre a cow that had white and black spots
demis mār A two-year-old bull calf is seyā bare The black cow with a white forehead.
dūşt hākerden Provoke the bull to attack seyā kachal Black cow with black spots on the tail end of the frontal
elā elā şāğ cow that its horns grow in opposite seyā sel Black cow with a white line of humps and spine to the tail
elā kal A cow with horns and large open seyel cow that color of its belly is white
elā şiro A cow with horns is apart şir vej A Calf or bull testicles are drawn to
elāşāx A bull that has horns and large open şirū A cow with a white head and tail
emūj Ox that once trained for plowing şūkā Pale yellow cow
eşte Pair of cows for work tā şū Miner's cow, only to be closed
ezāli cow that is bred to plow tağr in The four-year inseminate cows to conventional methods - Pair ...
fal Cow ready for mating tal go A cow that is ready for plowing
fares Ox that has not been taught to portage tāle mār Cow that bells hung around his neck
ğalfer Bovine name of the color is yellowish tarise A cow that is the first delivery - a two-year-old female calf ...
jandek Bull bison that used for mating tersekā The two and half year old cow is ready to fertility
jānekā Young bull intact strong that it used for breeding or war teş kūle A young bull
jinekā Young bull teşk Young bull that is not yet ready for plowing
jonde kā sare Telling where young bulls and breeds cattle to be raised teşkel Small bull
jone kā kole Bullock that does not work and is less than two years old titāppeli mango Black and white cow
jūndekā Bullock is not a job for more than two years old tolom Young cow - heifer
jūnekkā Young bull breeds tūz kel bull
jūnekkā jang Young male bovine bicker varzā Bullock
Khāmod Ox plow xāl dār Name bovine skin bicolor
lāch kal Cow have horns open xes xesi go A cow that lays on the floor on work
lachchi There is open and cow horns that grow in opposite directions xetūr alarmed cow
lase sar gū cow that goes to everyone xik chaf A cow that refuses to give milk to calves or its owner
lūş beni grooms gift cow zām borde Cow missed after giving birth
māgū A cow zanā gū cow fighting by horn
mango Of lactating cows zar xāl Black with yellow spots cow - a cow that has one point spot
mārşan Young cow zargele The name of the cow that is yellow in color
mārū The forehead white cow zemessūni kar Cow that leans due to food shortages in the winter
merem lovely young cow zingāl The black cow with white legs

Influences exerted by Mazanderani

Modern-day of Iran

In Iran, there are some popular companies and products, like Rika (son) or Kija (daughter), which take their name from Mazanderani words.[17]

In non-Iranian languages

There are some Mazanderani loanwords in the Turkmen language.[18]


áme kεrkā šúnnε nεfār-sar. nεfār-sar xεsέnnε. badími nεfār-sar-e čεl-o-ču hamε bapíssεnε. bāútεmε, “vačε jān! injε, kεlum-e pali, mé-vesse έttā kεrk-kεli dεrεs hā́kεn!” vε εm nεmāšun ke pe dar-biārdε, hamun šō badímε bεmúnε sεre piεr o vačε. ande-tumi piεr o vačε bεmúnε sεre, nεmāz kέrdεnε, qεzā xέrdεnε; ba:d εz nεmāz šínε ún-var, sāāt-e čār harkεt kέrdεnε.

Our chickens go onto the nefār and sleep on it. [Once] we noted that the wood of the nefār was all rotten. I told [my son], “Dear child! Here, next to the stable, make me a chicken coop.” In the evening that [my son] was setting the foundation, the father [-in-law] and [his] son came home. As soon as the father and son came home, they would say their prayers, eat something, and then, after the prayers, they would go over there (to the next room); then at four o’clock they would set off.

(from Maryam Borjian and Habib Borjian, “Ethno-Linguistic Materials from Rural Mazandaran [: Mysterious Memories of a Woman],” Iran and the Caucasus 11/2, 2007, pp. 226–254.)

ozεrε-vâ énε dámbe sεvâí

iấnnε búye dεlbárrε dεvấi
qam o qossέye dεl vónε kεnârí
me jấne gεl dénε búye xεdâí

At break of dawn blows the cool breeze.

Bearing the healing odor of the beloved.
Heart's sorrow will depart.
My dear flower has the sweet savour of God.

basutέ sinέye miónnε hấreš!

tévεsse – nấzεnin! – baímε nâxεš
tε armúne dέl i, εy nâzεnin yâr!
tévεsse mέsle bεlbεl zámbε nâlεš

Behold,a heart's core ravaged by the flame!

For you – O worthy of love! – I am sick with longing.
You are the heart’s aspiration, O beloved!
For you, like the nightingale, I moan.


Dεl-e armun “Heart’s Aspiration”
Rezaqoli Mohammadi Kordekheyli
Transcribed and translated by: Habib Borjian

mosalmunun! mέrε šabgir varέnnε
āx, mέrε bā kamεr-e haftir varέnnε
mέrε bavέrdεnε Tεrkεmun-e dam
Tεrkεmun kāfεr o gεlilε be-ra:m
Muslims! They are carrying me off at the crack of dawn.
O, they are taking me away with a pistol on the[ir] waist.
They bear me where the Turkmen [tribes] dwell.
Turkmen [are] unbelievers and the bullet [is] ruthless.
ašun xō badimā mεn še Ali-rε
sio dasmāl davέsso še gali-rε
age xā́nnε bā́urεn ámi badi-rε
bázεne xεrusεk šέme gali-rε
volvol sar-e dār gέnε εy zāri-zāri
me gol dāš báio sarbāz-e Sāri
He would say,
Last night I dreamed of my Ali.
He [had] wrapped a black kerchief [round] his throat.
If it chance they wish us harm,
May croup-cough seize your throat!
The nightingale on the tree constantly bemoans (?)
My dear brother drafted in Sāri.

Quatrains sung by Sabura Azizi, transcribed and translated by Habib Borjian; Ref. Habib Borjian and Maryam Borjian, “Mysterious Memories of a Woman: Ethno-Linguistic Materials from Rural Mazandaran,” Iran and the Caucasus 11/2, 2007.

See also


In dates given below, A.P. denotes the Iranian calendar, the solar calendar (365 days per year) which is official in Iran and Afghanistan.

  1. Mazanderani at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Shahmirzadi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Mazanderani–Shahmirzadi". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Coon, "Iran:Demography and Ethnography" in Encyclopedia of Islam, Volume IV, E.J. Brill, pp. 10,8. Excerpt: "The Lurs speak an aberrant form of Archaic Persian" See maps also on page 10 for distribution of Persian languages and dialect
  4. Kathryn M. Coughlin, "Muslim cultures today: a reference guide," Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. p. 89: "...Iranians speak Persian or a Persian dialect such as Gilaki or Mazanderani"
  5. Dalb, Andrew (1998). Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference to More Than 400 Languages. Columbia University Press. p. 226. ISBN 0-231-11568-7.
  6. 1 2 "Concomitant Replacement of Language and mtDNA in South Caspian Populations of Iran". Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  7. 1 2 Academic American Encyclopedia By Grolier Incorporated, page 294
  8. 1 2 The Tati language group in the sociolinguistic context of Northwestern Iran and Transcaucasia By D.Stilo, pages 137–185
  9. Borjian, Habib (2004). "Māzandarān: Language and People". Iran & the Caucasus. Brill. 8 (2): 289–291. JSTOR 4030997.
  10. Windfuhr, G. L. 1989. New Iranian languages: Overview. In Rüdiger Schmitt, ed., Compendium linguarum Iranicarum. Wiesbaden: L. Reichert. pp. 246–249.
  11. Borjian, Maryam. 2005. Bilingualism in Mazandaran: Peaceful Coexistence With Persian Archived September 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.. Language, Communities and Education. Languages, Communities & Education: A Volume of Graduate Student Research. New York: Society for International Education, Teachers College, Columbia University. pp. 65–73.
  12. Ethnologue report for language code:mzn
  13. Fakhr-Rohani, Muhammad-Reza. 2004. She means only her 'husband': politeness strategies amongst Mazanderani-speaking rural women. (Conference abstract) CLPG Conference, University of Helsinki, Finland, PDF
  14. Johanson, Lars. Turkic-Iranian Contact Areas Historical and Linguistic Aspects. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2006.
  15. Csató, Éva Ágnes, Bo Isaksson, and Carina Jahani. Linguistic Convergence and Areal Diffusion: Case Studies from Iranian, Semitic and Turkic. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005.
  18. Nasri-Ashrafi, Jahangir-e (ed.). Farhang-e vāžegān-e Tabarī [A Dictionary of Tabari]. v. 5, p. 5, Tehran: Eḥyā’-ketāb”: 2002/1381 A.P. A comparative glossary containing lexical units from almost all major urban and rural centers of the region of the three provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran, and Golestan. Reviewed in Iran and the Caucasus, 2006, 10(2). Volume 4 contains a Persian-Mazanderani index of approximately 190 pp. Volume 5 includes a grammar of the Mazanderani language.

Further reading

Mazanderani edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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