Type Fusional
Alignment Nominative-Accusative
Head direction Front
Tonal No
Declensions Yes
Conjugations Yes
Genders No
Nouns decline according to...
Case Number
Definiteness Gender
Verbs conjugate according to...
Voice Mood
Person Number
Tense Aspect
Progress 0%
Nouns 0%
Verbs 0%
Adjectives 0%
Syntax 0%
Words of 1500
Creator luxo1

Classification and Dialects[edit | edit source]

Bactrian is an Iranian language spoken in Bactria and shares a lot of vocabulary and grammar with the Persian language, precisely with Farsi, and has also a lot of words coming from Ancient Greek (e.g.: xelj - sun; from Ancient Greek ἥλῐος / hḗlios), Armenian (e.g.: kamj - wind; from Armenian քամի / k'ami) or even French (e.g.: otobus - bus; from French autobus). Standard Bactrian (called in Bactrian "Pârse Bâtris"; translated in English as "Persian Bactrian") is based partly on the dialect spoken in Antiochopolis (in Bactrian Ântjoxopolj), the capital city of Bactria, and the classical language used in older literature.  

Writing System[edit | edit source]

Letter a b c d e f g h i j k l
Sound /a/ /b/ /dʒ/ /d/ /ε/ /f/ /g/ /h/ /i/ /j/ /k/ /l/
Letter m n o p r s t u v x z â
Sound /m/ /n/ /ɔ/ /p/ /r/ /s/ /t/ /u/ /v/ /x/ /z/ /ɒ:/
Letter ç ş
Sound /tʃ/ /ʃ/

The Latin alphabet was chosen in 1887 to be the new alphabet used to write Bactrian, in order to replace the Avestan script. There were multiple reasons in favour of this decision :

  • The Avestan script has letters that represent sounds that don't exist in modern Bactrian anymore
  • The classical language, called Classical Bactrian, using the Avestan script was old-fashioned and didn't correspend at all with the spoken language that is modern Bactrian
  • By changing the script and basing the language mostly on the spoken dialect in Antiochopolis, alphabetization and scholarization became more easy and feasable

Grammar[edit | edit source]

Nouns[edit | edit source]

Nouns in Bactrian may be in the singular, plural or countable form, inherited from the dual form in Classical Bactrian. Even though, Classical Bactrian did make a difference between masculine and feminine nouns (and Ancient Bactrian even knew a neuter form), Bactrian nowadays doesn't have any genders for nouns. Nouns may be in different cases depending on their function in the sentence : nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, partitive, vocative.

Declension[edit | edit source]



singular plural countable


nominative xelj xelje xelja
accusative xeljem
dative xelji xeljim xeljis
genitive xeljej xeljem xeljam
partitive xelje
vocative xeljo xelje xelja

Even if the declension system is very regular in Bactrian, there are some defective cases, that are used for a certain set of nouns :

  • Locative : indicates the position in question ; the locative case is only used for countries, cities and islands in the singular and its ending is -âj, e.g. : Bâtriâj sum. (=I'm in Bactria.)
  • Comitative : indicates the accompaniment ; the comitative case is only used with family members and proper names of people and its endings are -en, -enim and -enâ, e.g. : Te seşteren tâj dixtim. (=I saw you with your sister.)
  • Temporal : specifies the moment in time ; the temporal case is only used with the months of the year and the days of the week and its ending are -or and -orim (there is no countable form), e.g. : Se efardior dâjdaştâme. (=We will see each other on Friday.)

Telicity[edit | edit source]

Telicity expresses the accomplishment of an action by changing the noun, mostly through noun declension. So an atelic action is an incompleted action with its noun being put in the partitive case, whereas the tlic action is a completed action with its noun being put in the accusative case. So note here the difference : Matjânem micândâm. (=I'm reading a book completely. - accusative case for telic action ; so the speaker implies that he is going to finish the book), but : Matjâne micândâm. (=I read a book partially. - partitive case for atelic action ; so the speaker implies here that he is not going to finish the book).

Definiteness[edit | edit source]

In Bactrian, there are three types of definiteness : neutral, proximal and distal.

  • Neutral definiteness : it is translatable with the English definite pronoun "the" and is formed by adding the prefix e-, e.g. : E-xeljem midâjdâm. (=I see the sun.)
  • Proximal definiteness : it shows that the noun, which the speaker is talking about, is close to the speaker, it is translatable with the English prounoun "this" and is formed by adding the suffix -ne to the noun in addition to the neutral definiteness, e.g. : E-vahânejemne miareçâm. (=I like this house.)
  • Distal definiteness : it shows that the noun, which the speaker is talking about, is far from the speaker, it is translatable with the English prounoun "that" and is formed by adding the suffix -ve to the noun in addition to the neutral definiteness, e.g. : E-vahânejemve miareçâm. (=I like that house.)

Adjectives[edit | edit source]

Adjectives in Bactrian mostly don't decline like nouns. However, if attached to a noun, the adjective must take the suffix -i (called "izâne", related to the ezafe in Persian), e.g. : Vozârgi e-vahânejem midâjdâm. (=I see the big house.). However, if an adjective stands alone, it becomes nominalized (mostly into an abstract concept) and then it must be declined like a noun, e.g. : E-vozârgem midâjdâm. (=I see the beautiful thing / the beauty.).

Comparison[edit | edit source]

An adjective may be in the positive, comparative or superlative form. The ground form of an adjective is its positive form.

  • The comparative is formed by adding the suffix bis- to the adjective followed by the compared noun put in the dative case, e.g. : Vahânej mâj bisvozârg vahâneji tâj âst. (=My house is bigger than your house.)
  • The supperlative is formed by adding the suffix tobis- to the adjective, e.g. : Vahânej mâj e-tobisvozârg âst. (=My house is the biggest.)

Numerals[edit | edit source]

There are four categories of numerals : ordinal, distributive, cardinal and adverbial.

Cardinal numerals[edit | edit source]

The cardinal numerals represent the number itself. Most numbers do not decline, but some do, notably "jog", "do" and "sre" (=one, two and three).







nominative jog do sre
dative joj dojm srejm
genitive jogej dojem srem
partitive joge
vocative jog do sre

If a noun follows a cardinal number, the noun must be put in the countable form (except for the cardinal "jog"), e.g. : Do vozârgi vahâneja midâjdâm. (=I see two big houses.). The cardinal "jog" can be translated as "own", e.g. : Jog şexelj mâj âst. (=This is my own fault.).

To form numbers from eleven to nineteen, "daşt" (=ten) is followed by "ut" (=and) and the number under ten, e.g. : daştutdo (=twelve - literally : ten-and-two). Multiples of ten are expressed by the multiple followed by "daşt", e.g. : dodaşt (=twenty - literally : two-ten). To add to the multiple of ten a number, the same proceedure is taken as with the number frame between eleven and nineteen, e.g. : dodaştutdo (=twenty-two - literally : two-ten-and-two). Note that numbers ending in "jog", "do" or "sre" are invariable, e.g. : E-biskvita daştutdo martoximis dehim. (=I gave the cookies to twelve people. - and not : E-biskvita daştutdojm martoximis dehim.).

Ordinal numerals[edit | edit source]

The ordinal numbers are used to rank nouns. Mostly, they're formed by adding -(v)om to the cardinal number (except for jog - avom), e.g. : dovom (=second) ; or : pencom (=fifth). Ordinal numerals do follow the "izâne", e.g. : Pencomi tobisxoşi fedic de e-universitejej mâj sum. (=I am the fifth best student in my university.).

Ordinal numerals are also used to express time (but note that in this case the "izâne" doesn't apply anymore and that the noun is put in the partitive case in the countable form), e.g. : Pencom oram âst. (=It is five o'clock.).

Distributive numerals[edit | edit source]

Distributive numerals are mostly used to express the ditributivity, which translates into English as "one by one", "two by two", etc. and is formed by adding the suffix -ber to the cardinal number (note that here izâne doesn't apply), e.g. : Jogber nim goptaştâ. (=He will talk to us one by one.).

However, the distributive may be used as a cardinal, if it is put after the noun (the noun is still put in the partitive case), e.g. : E-biskvita martoximis daştutdober dehim. (=I gave the cookies to twelve people. - note that this construction is more literary and is not used that much in the oral language). The distributive numbers are also used in a scholar context, if one speaks about marks in a test for example, and they stay invariable, even if they're theoretically nominalized, e.g. : De e-şkâljej tanhân dodaştber mi budi. (=At school, I had only A's.).

Lexicon[edit | edit source]

Origin percentage of the listed vocabulary (total : 35 words) :

  • Proto-Iranian : 60% (21 words)
  • Ancient Greek : 22% (8 words)
  • Armenian : 9% (3 words)
  • French : 9% (3 word)
word translation origin additional


xelj sun Ancient Greek : ἥλῐος - hḗlios = sun -
kamj wind Armenian : քամի - k'ami = wind -
otobus bus French : autobus = bus -
seşter sister Proto-Iranian : swasar = sister has comitative case
dâjdan to see Proto-Iranian : daih = to look; to see infinitive perfect : dixtan
efardi Friday Ancient Greek : ἡμέρα Ἀφροδίτης - hēméra Áphrodítēs = Friday has temporal case ; expression : huşefardim = every Friday
cândan to read Proto-Iranian : kanati = to read; to sing infinitive perfect : cinan
matjân book Armenian : մատեան - matean = book -
vahânej house Proto-Iranian : wahana = house expression : vahâni = at home
âreçan to like Ancient Greek : ἀρέσκω - aréskō = to satisfy infinitive perfect : eresan
vozârg big Proto-Iranian : vazarka = big -
jog one Proto-Iranian : haywah = one ordinal : avom
do two Proto-Iranian : dwah = two -
sre three Proto-Iranian : θrayah = three -
çâhar four Proto-Iranian : čaθwarah = four -
penc five Proto-Iranian : panča = five -
seş six Proto-Iranian : šwaš = six -
hapte seven Proto-Iranian : hapta = seven -
haşt eight Proto-Iranian : ašta = eight -
nox nine Proto-Iranian : hnawa = nine -
daşt ten Proto-Iranian : daśa = ten -
heşt hundred Ancient Greek : ἑκᾰτόν - hekatón = hundred -
xilja thousand Ancient Greek : χίλιοι - khílioi = thousand -
şexelj fault Armenian : սխալ - sxal = mistake; fault expression : şexem budân = to be accused
ut and Proto-Iranian : huta = and -
dâdan to give Proto-Iranian : deh = to give infinitive perfect : dehan
biskvit cookie French : biscuit = cookie -
martoxim person Proto-Iranian : maltum = people -
xoş good Proto-Iranian : xwaš = good -
fedic student Ancient Greek : φοιτητής - phoitētḗs = pupil -
de in Proto-Iranian : antar = inside of + genitive
universitej university French : université = university
ora hour Ancient Greek : ὥρᾱ - hṓrā = season expression : orisaat = on time
goptan to talk Proto-Iranian : gap = to speak infinitive perfect : gaptan
şkâlj school Ancient Greek :  σχολεῖον - skholeîon = school -

Example text[edit | edit source]

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