Transcribed, translated and annotated by Donald L. Stilo. Supplied with folklorist notes and edited by Ulrich Marzolph

Vafsi Folk Tales

Twenty Four Folk Tales in the Gurchani Dialect of Vafsi as Narrated by Ghazanfar Mahmudi and Mashdi Mahdi and Collected by Lawrence P. Elwell-Sutton

17.0 x 24.0 cm, 296 p., cloth
88,00 €

ISBN: 9783895004230
Table of Contents

Short Description

This volume consists of 24 folk tales told by two native speakers and tape-recorded by British Iranist, Lawrence P. Elwell-Sutton in Iran in August, 1958. Vafsi is an Iranian language spoken in four villages in central Iran: Vafs, Fark, Chehreqan and Gurchan, their population ranging from about 400 to 4500 inhabitants. Although the geographic extension of Vafsi thus can be defined quite clearly, its exact linguistic affiliation is still under question. While it has been classified as belonging to the Tatic group, particularly closely related to the Southern Tatic Dialects, other researchers see Vafsi possibly as a Central Plateau dialect. Furthermore, there are features that are typical of Kurdish, but the presence of these features has yet to be assessed or explained.
Elwell-Sutton not only recorded the tales but also made a transcription, which, however, he never published. On the basis of the records and with the help of native speakers Sutton’s work was revised and is now presented refined and corrected. Additionally, the author gives an insight into the grammatical structures of this otherwise rarely studied Iranic language and supplies the reader with an extensive glossary as well as an English translation of each tale. Those who are especially interested in folclorist aspects may find the annotations to each story helpful. They inform about paralels in Persian and Arabic folk tale traditions but also comment on specific sentences as to syntax and semantics.
The accompanying CDs contain all 24 tales as they were told by two male speakers aged 16 and about 60. Together this amounts to nearly four hours of spoken Vafsi.


„This book is an important contribution to Iranian folklore and dialectology that contains 24 oral tales in Vafsi, a little-known unwritten northwestern Inranian language, whith their English translations. The materials were collected in August 1958 in west-central Iran by the late Professor L. P. Elwell-Sutton, the distinguished British Iranist who recorded the Vafsi texts and their Persian translations from two native speakers on a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Elwell-Sutton later transcribed and researched the materials, but they remained unpublished in his lifetime. It is due to the effforts of Dr. Ulrich Marzolph, one of the most outstanding contemporary experts on Middle Eastern folk literature , that these unique oral texts have now become available to us.
D. L. Stilo, an American expert on the Vafsi language, was engaged for the project (and) reworked and computerized Elwell-Sutton’s original tape recordings and transcriptions and made a detailed linguistic analysis. (...)
This careful study adds to our understanding of the linguistic diversity of Iran with its array of local languages, many of which exist only orally and have a dwindling number of speakers, and where Persian functions as the language of administration, communication, and literacy.“

In: Asian Folklore Studies. Vol. LXVI 1-2 (2007). S. 284-285.

Series Description

The series Beiträge zur Iranistik was founded in the 1960s by Georges Redard and subsequently edited by Nicholas Sims-Williams from 1997 to 2020; the present series editor is Agnes Korn. The series publishes works on the languages of the Iranian branch of Indo-European. The focus is on linguistics, including grammars, dictionaries, text editions, philology as well as diachronic and synchronic studies of linguistic topics. Neighbouring fields such as literature, archaeology and anthropology are likewise represented. The languages of the series are English, German and French. The Beiträge zur Iranistik are represented in libraries internationally and are widely used standard works of Iranian studies.

Verwandte Reihen:


Historical & comparative linguistics (398) || Indic, East Indo-European & Dravidian languages (107) || Indo-Iranian languages (97) || Iran (122) || Iranistik (57) || Linguistics (731) || Sprachwissenschaft (142) || Übrige Germanische Sprachwissenschaft (11)