In the northern part of Iran, in Mazandaran, we negate like this (this is the only verb being used like this as far as I'm aware of):

bɜtʊ̈ndɜ: he/she can
bætʊ̈ndɜ: he/she can't

is there anything like it in other Indo-European languages?

edit: another example can be:

bænʃɜnɜ --> Persian: nɜmɪʃævæd   meaning "it is not possible (to happen)"
bɜnʃɜnɜ --> Persian:   mɪʃævæd   meaning "it is possible (to happen)"
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    Apophonic morphology is common.
    – amegnunsen
    Aug 21, 2019 at 7:52
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    i thought in most indoeuropian languages "n" sound or a variation of it indicates negation.
    – shetal
    Aug 21, 2019 at 8:37
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    @shetal If your question is restricted to negation, so I am not aware of that. But, apophony, as a morphological process, is very common in IE. In Riffian, there is smth like this, but it is in combination with other markers (e.g. icca/he ate >>> ur icci ci/he didn't eat).
    – amegnunsen
    Aug 21, 2019 at 9:27
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    @fdb Can you enlighten me?
    – amegnunsen
    Aug 21, 2019 at 9:29
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    @amegnunsen I solely mean the negation matter.what I'm saying is that at least (as far as I know of course) this kind of negation is not present in any other neo-Iranian language. and I'm extremely curious about the origin of it.
    – shetal
    Aug 21, 2019 at 10:00

1 Answer 1


Basically what you are saying is that for this one verb the negative form changes the vowel of the prefix from /ɜ/ to /æ/. Is that right? These correspond to classical Persian bi-tawānad بتواند and na-bi-tawānad نبتواند respectively. I am not familiar with this construction in any other language.

  • yeah, that's exactly what I'm saying.and what I'm curious is how this kind of grammar came to being. is it an evolved form of Iranian grammar or it dates back before the Aryans intermingled with northern people.
    – shetal
    Aug 21, 2019 at 9:54
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    @shetal: One could imagine a proto-form with *na-bi-, then assimilation of the second vowel to the first, giving *na-ba-, and then loss of the negative particle, giving ba-, contrasting with the unassimilated bi- of the positive form.
    – fdb
    Aug 21, 2019 at 11:17

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