D2. The Work: The Language of the Text.
As the press in which this is printed does not possess Arabic types, and as it is
still very difficult to avail oneself of the services of presses equiped with these,
I am compelled to quote Persian words in translation. I use the same system as
in all my preceding works, and hope that it will not inconvinience the student.
It is an interesting fact which I would never have believed had not I personally
witnessed it many times, that while the Ismailis generally treat with great
respect the text of their religious works, being afraid to alter anything in these,
even if an emendation suggests itself quite unequivocally, the Ismailis of
Badakshan, in a broad sense, form an exception. I saw many times how the
people of Chitral, Hunza, and some other places in that part of the world, who
would scarcely be able to understand Persian or write a simple sentence in it
correctly, would not hesitate a moment to introduce what they regarded as a
"correction" into the text when they thought it was required. Very often such
"corrections" are hopelessly stupid, rendering the whole sentence meaningless,
but no amount of persuation helps to make the ignorant fool desist in his
mischief. The result of this custom is that while in Arabic Ismaili works
preserved amongst the Bohoras of India variants are exceptionally rare, other
obvious mistakes may be many, in the Badakhshani copies very rarely does a
single line not contain several variants. I am not sure whether this is a blessing
of modern times or was practised since long ago. The latter seems the more
probable case. Perhaps only in Syria the position is worse. After all, Persian is
a foreign language for the Badakhshanis, and only their ignorance makes them
introduce mistakes, while for the Syrian Ismailis the language of their literature
is their mother tongue, and they cannot plead an improper understanding of it.
The peculiarities which the pamphlet shows in its language partly depend on
the real corruption of the text, and partly on irregular and inconsistent
orthography which has a general tendency in the Badakhshani Ismaili literature
to preserve various archaic usages, inherited from earlier manuscripts. For
instance, it is quite common to see the relative pronoun ki, written simply as k:
kasi-k, zira-k, hamchunan-k. But contrary to this one may meet ki for ki. The
particle of duration with verbs, mi, is usually written separately, and added to
the tenses which in good Persian do not require it, as in mi namuda and (f.4).
The use of bad- for ba- with pronouns seems to be really archaic, as in bad-in,
bad-an, bad-ishan. There is a general tendency to use ba instead of ba. The
third pers. Sing. Of the substantive verb, ast, is, even after consonants, written
In the use of words the text shows many mistakes against Persian syntax, as in
the cases of the verb in the plural being used after a collective noun: haywan
sharik-and; mawjudy az mawjudat sharik na-bashand, etc. In true Central
Asian style, ishan is often used instead of an-ha.
In verbal forms often the particle mi is either superfluous or stands instead bi-
that can be expected: u-ra ba-qatl mi-rasanad, quite obviously for bi-rasanad.
An expression may lead perhaps to interesting finds. Speaking of Jabra'il, and
other angels, the author gives them the title mihtar (f. 7). It would be
worthwhile tracing the use of this title in the literature of Persia proper. I have
noted a few cases of a similar use of it in the work of the author of the beg. of
the xi/xvii c., the saint of Peshawar, Akhund Darwiza Ningarhari (Sharh-I
Amali, manuscr. Of the Asiatic society of Bengal, Ad 17).