Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics



First Advisor

Jerold Edmondson


Sarikol Tajik has been reported to be an unusual language, containing up to twelve diphthongs and being the only language in the Gorno-Badakhshan family to not contain a short and long vowel distinction among monophthongs. However, the basis of such claims is not clear and could be accounted for by any of several factors. For example, different researchers have utilized different definitions of diphthongs, some researchers have (perhaps unknowingly) studied different dialects at different times, while others simply failed to account for the variation that is often found in languages in change. This dissertation reevaluates these claims and the potential reasons behind such claims by examining field recordings from Sarikoli speakers in three locations, utilizing prototype theory, time analysis, and the nature of diphthongs. Spectrographic analysis reveals that, contrary to previous reports, Sarikoli contains both long and short vowels and three diphthongs. After examining the definition of a diphthong, this dissertation takes the approach that diphthongs can be more or less prototypical instantiations, showing that some Sarikoli long monophthongs are very diphthong like, particularly in their release pattern. Spectrographic and statistical analysis also revealed dialectal differences in the instantiations of the diphthongs across dialects, with the eastern most dialect (Burungsali) containing lower, more central vowels than the eastern most dialect (Tashkorgani). After examining the data, a prediction is made about the developmental pattern among the Pamiri mountain languages and the three dialects of Sarikoli. Implicational scales show that the Burungsal dialect of Sarikoli is the most advanced in a process of diphthongization of long monophthongs. This change is traced historically in relation to Avestan and across four current Pamiri mountain languages. All things being equal, it is predicted that all of these languages will continue in a pattern of developing diphthongs from long monophthongs.


Linguistics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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