Persian language

From Academic Kids

Persian ( </b>فارسی  )
Spoken in: Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Uzbekistan.
Region: Middle East, Central Asia
Total speakers: est. 61.7–110 million
Ranking: 29
Genetic classification: Indo-European
    Modern Persian
Official status
Official language of: Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan
Regulated by: Academy of Persian Language and Literature
Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan
Language codes
ISO 639-1fa
ISO 639-2per (b)/fas (T)
See also: LanguageList of languages

Persian (فارسی), (local name in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan: Frsi), Prsi (older local name, but still used by some speakers), Tajik (a Central Asian dialect) or Dari (Another local name in Tajikistan, Afghanistan), is a language spoken in Iran,Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Bahrain. Persian has official-language status in some of those countries. There are over 75 million native speakers [1] ( It belongs to the Indo-European language family. It is of the Subject Object Verb type.



Persian is a member of the Indo-European family of languages, and within that family it belongs to the Indo-Iranian (Aryan) branch. Scholars believe the Iranian subbranch consists of the following chronological linguistic path: Old Persian (Avestan and Achaemenids Persian) → Middle Persian (Pahlavi, Parthian, and Sassanids Persian) → Modern Persian (Dari, c. 900 to present Persian).

Old Persian, the main language of the Achaemenid inscriptions, should not be confused with the non-Indo-European Elamite language (see Behistun inscription). Over this period, the morphology of the language was simplified from the complex conjugation and declension system of Old Persian to the almost completely regularized morphology and rigid syntax of Modern Persian, in a manner often described as paralleling the development of English. Additionally, many words were introduced from neighboring languages, including Aramaic and Greek in earlier times, and later Arabic and to a lesser extent Turkish. In more recent times, some Western European words have entered the language (notably from French and English).

The language itself has greatly developed during the centuries. Due to technological developments, new words and idioms are created and enter into Persian like any other language. In Iran the Academy of Persian Language and Literature is a center that evaluates the new words in order to initiate and advise its Persian equivalent. In Afghanistan, the Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan does the same for Afghan Persian (among other languages).


Persian, the more widely used and official name of the language in English, is the Hellenized form of the native term Parsi. Farsi is the Arabicized form of Parsi due to a lack of the /p/ phoneme in Standard Arabic. Its use in the English language is very recent. Native Persian speakers typically call it "Frsi" in modern usage. ISO, the Academy of Persian Language and Literature, and many other sources call the language Persian. The government of Afghanistan uses both "Dari" and "Persian" in English communications.

The Academy of Persian Language and Literature as well as most linguists and lexicographers believe that "Farsi" is not the appropriate term used for the Persian language in English. In the ISO 639-1, the local names form the basis for the language codes and for this reason "fa" is the designation for the Persian language in that system.

Dialects and close languages

Missing image
The region where Persian and other Iranian languages are spoken

Communication is generally mutually intelligible between Iranians, Tajiks, and Persian-speaking Afghans; however, by popular definition:

  • Dari is the local name for the eastern dialect of Persian, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan, including Hazaragi — spoken by the Hazara people of central Afghanistan.
  • Tajik could also be considered an eastern dialect of Persian, but, contrary to Iranian and Afghan Persian, it is written in the Cyrillic script.

The following are some of the closely related languages of various Iranian peoples within modern Iran proper:

Orthography and vocabulary

Modern Persian uses a modified version of the Arabic alphabet (see below). After the conversion of Persia to Islam, it took approximately one hundred fifty years before Persians adopted the Arabic alphabet as a replacement for the older alphabet. Previously, the Persian language (Middle Persian or Pahlavi at that time) used two different alphabets: a modified version of the Aramaic alphabet, and a native Iranian alphabet called Dndapirak (literally: religion script).

Despite their shared alphabet, however, Persian and Arabic are entirely different languages, from different linguistic families and with different phonology and grammar.

Persian adds four letters to the Arabic alphabet for its use, due to the fact that four sounds that exist in Persian do not exist in Arabic. Additionally, it changes the shape of another two. Some people call this modified alphabet the Perso-Arabic alphabet. The additional four letters are:

sound shape Unicode name
[p] پ Peh
(ch) چ Tcheh
(zh) ژ Jeh
[g] گ Gaf

The letters different in shape are:

sound original Arabic letter modified Persian letter name
[k] ك ک Kaf
[j] and [i:], or rarely [a:] ي or ى ی Yeh

The diacritical marks used in the Arabic script, a.k.a. harakat, are also used in Persian, although some of them have different pronunciations. For example, an Arabic Damma is pronounced as /u/, while in Persian it is pronounced as /o/.

Persian also adds the notion of a pseudo-space to the Arabic script, called a Zero Width Non-Joiner (ZWNJ) by the Unicode Standard. It acts like a space in disconnecting two otherwise-joining adjacent letters, but does not have a visual width.

It should also be noted that many Persian words with an Arabic root are spelled differently from the original Arabic word. Alef with hamza below ( إ ) always changes to alef ( ا ); teh marbuta ( ة ) usually, but not always, changes to teh ( ت ) or heh ( ه ); and words using various hamzas get spelled with yet another kind of hamza (so that مسؤول becomes مسئول).

Other languages, such as Pashto or Urdu, have taken those notions and have sometimes extended them with new letters or punctuation.

There are many loanwords in the Persian language, mostly coming from the Arabic, English, French, and Turkic languages. Also, the words that have originated in the languages spoken in the region before the Arab invasion are usually changed in the pronunciation.

Pinglish is the name given to texts written in Persian using the English alphabet. It is common for writing emails, posting to forums, and chatting.


Diachronically, Persian possessed a distinction of length in its underlying vowel inventory, contrasting the long vowels , , ) with the short vowels (, , ). In Modern Persian, this distinction of quantity is neutralized in most environments; short vowels lengthen in closed syllables. Because the neutralization is not complete and other processes, including a number of vowel quality alternations, depend on this distinction of length, it is not possible to analyze the underlying vowel inventory of Modern Persian without length. On the other hand, for reasons of concreteness, it is not desirable to analyze the short and long vowels as identical in quality (with their respective differences being derived by rule.) Thus, the most concrete and adequate representation of the vowel inventory is that given below.

Missing image
The vowel phonemes of Persian

Also note that and are affricates, not stops.






 voiceless stops
 voiced stops
 voiceless fricatives
 voiced fricatives


Suffixes predominate, though there are a small number of prefixes. Verbs can express tense and aspect, and they agree with the subject in person and number. There is no grammatical gender.


Normal sentences are structured as "(S) (PP) (O) V". If the object is definite, then the order is "(S) (O + "rɑ:") (PP) V".

See also


  • Mace, J. (2003). Persian Grammar: For reference and revision. Routledge-Curzon, London.
  • Mahootian, S. (1997). Persian. Descriptive Grammars. Routledge, London.
  • Windfuhr, G. L. (1987). Persian. In Comrie, B., editor, The Worlds Major Languages, pages 523–546. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

External links


da:Persisk de:Persische Sprache es:Idioma persa eo:Persa lingvo fa:فارسی fr:Persan ko:페르시아어 hy:Պարսկերեն id:Bahasa Persia it:Lingua farsi ku:Ziman faris nl:Nieuw-Perzisch ja:ペルシア語 no:Persisk sprk pl:Język perski pt:Lngua persa sv:Persiska tt:Farsı tele th:ภาษาเปอร์เซีย


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