Persian language
فارسی, دری, تاجیکی
Written in native script (Nastaʿlīq style), pronounced in the Persian language as Fārsī.
Pronunciation [fɒːɾˈsiː]
Spoken in


(see article for full list)
Region Western Asia, Central Asia
Native speakers 80–100 million  (2006 estimates)[1]
60–110 million[2]
Language family
Iranian Persian (pes)
Tajiki (tgk)
Bukharic (bhh)
Pahlavani (phv)
Hazaragi (haz)
Aimaq (aiq)
Dzhidi (jpr)
Dehwari (deh)
Writing system Persian alphabet
Cyrillic script (Tajikistan)
Official status
Official language in  Iran
Regulated by Academy of Persian Language and Literature (Iran)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 fa
ISO 639-2 per (B)
fas (T)
ISO 639-3 fas – Macrolanguage
individual codes:
pes – Western Persian
prs – Eastern Persian
tgk – Tajiki
aiq – Aimaq
bhh – Bukharic
haz – Hazaragi
jpr – Dzhidi
phv – Pahlavani
deh – Dehwari
Linguasphere 58-AAC (Wider Persian) > 58-AAC-c (Central Persian)
Countries with significant Persian-speaking populations
(Click on image for the legend)

Persian (فارسی, IPA: [fɒːɾˈsiː]) is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence. The Persian language is classified as a continuation of Middle Persian, the official religious and literary language of Sassanid Persia, itself a continuation of Old Persian, the language of Persian Empire in the Achaemenid era.[3][4][5] Persian is a pluricentric language and its grammar is similar to that of many contemporary European languages.[6]

Persian has ca. 110 million native speakers, holding official status respectively in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. For centuries Persian has also been a prestigious cultural language in Central Asia, South Asia, and Western Asia.[7]

Persian has had a considerable influence on neighboring languages, particularly the Turkic languages in Central Asia, Caucasus, and Anatolia, neighboring Iranian languages, as well as Armenian, Arabic and other languages. It has also exerted a strong influence on South Asian languages, especially Urdu, as well as Hindi, Punjabi, Sindhi, Saraiki, Sylheti, Bengali, Oriya.[3][6][8][9][10][11]

With a long history of literature in the form of Middle Persian before Islam, Persian was the first language in Muslim civilization to break through Arabic’s monopoly on writing, and the writing of poetry in Persian was established as a court tradition in many eastern courts.[7] Some of the famous works of Persian literature are the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, works of Rumi (Molana), Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Divan of Hafiz and poems of Saadi.



Persian belongs to the Western group of the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family, which also includes Kurdish, Mazandarani, Gilaki, Talyshi and Baluchi. The language is in the Southwestern Iranian group, along with the Larestani and Luri languages,[12] and the Tat Persian of the Caucasus.[13][14][15]


Contemporary local nomenclature

The term “Fārsi” often refers to three groups of dialects:

English nomenclature

Persian, the more widely used name of the language in English historically, is an anglicized form derived from Latin *Persianus < Latin Persia < Greek Πέρσις Pérsis, a Hellenized form of Old Persian Parsa. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term Persian as a language name is first attested in English in the mid-16th century.[21] Native Iranian Persian speakers call it Pârsi.[22] Farsi is the arabicized form of Pârsi, due to a lack of the 'p' phoneme in Standard Arabic (i.e., the 'p' was replaced with an 'f').[23][24] In English, this language is historically known as "Persian", though some Persian speakers migrating to the West continued to use "Farsi" to identify their language in English and the word gained some currency in English-speaking countries.[25] "Farsi" is encountered in some linguistic literature as a name for the language, used both by Iranian and by foreign authors.[26] According to the OED, the term Farsi was first used in English in the mid-20th century.[22] The Academy of Persian Language and Literature has declared that the name "Persian" is more appropriate, as it has the longer tradition in the western languages and better expresses the role of the language as a mark of cultural and national continuity.[27] Most Persian language scholars such as Ehsan Yarshater and Kamran Talattof have also rejected the usage of "Farsi" in their articles.[28][29]

International nomenclature

The international language encoding standard ISO 639-1 uses the code "fa", as its coding system is mostly based on the local names. The more detailed standard ISO 639-3 uses the name "Persian" (code "fas") for the dialect continuum spoken across Iran and Afghanistan. This consists of the individual languages Dari (Afghan Persian) and Iranian Persian.[30][31][32]

A similar terminology, but with even more subdivisions, is also adopted by the LINGUIST List, where "Persian" appears as a sub-grouping under "Southwest Western Iranian".[33] Currently, VOA, BBC, DW, and RFE/RL use "Persian Service" for their broadcasts in the language. RFE/RL also includes a Tajik service, and an Afghan (Dari) service. This is also the case for the American Association of Teachers of Persian, The Centre for Promotion of Persian Language and Literature, and many of the leading scholars of Persian language.[34]


History of the
Persian language
Proto-Iranian (ca. 1500 BC)

Southwestern Iranian languages

Old Persian (c. 525 BC - 300 BC)

Old Persian cuneiform script

Middle Persian (c.300 BC-800 AD)

Pahlavi scriptManichaean scriptAvestan script

Modern Persian (from 800 AD)

Perso-Arabic script

Persian is an Iranian language belonging to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family of languages. In general, Iranian languages are known from three periods, usually referred to as Old, Middle, and New (Modern) periods. These correspond to three eras in Iranian history; Old era being the period from sometime before Achaemenids, the Achaemenid era and sometime after Achaemenids (that is to 400-300 BC), Middle era being the next period most officially Sassanid era and sometime in post-Sassanid era, and the New era being the period afterwards down to present day.[35]

According to available documents, the Persian language is "the only Iranian language"[3][36] for which close philological relationships between all of its three stages are established and so that Old, Middle, and New Persian represent[3][37] one and the same language of Persian, that is New Persian is a direct descendent of Middle and Old Persian.[37]

The oldest records in Old Persian date back to the Persian Empire of the 6th century BC.[38]

The known history of the Persian language can be divided into the following three distinct periods:

Old Persian

Old Persian evolved from Proto-Iranian as it evolved in the Iranian plateau's southwest. The earliest dateable example of the language is the Behistun Inscription of the Achaemenid Darius I (r. 522 BC – ca. 486 BC). Although purportedly older texts also exist (such as the inscription on the tomb of Cyrus II at Pasargadae), these are actually younger examples of the language. Old Persian was written in Old Persian cuneiform, a script unique to that language and is generally assumed to be an invention of Darius I's reign.

After Aramaic, or rather the Achaemenid form of it known as Imperial Aramaic, Old Persian is the most commonly attested language of the Achaemenid age. While examples of Old Persian have been found wherever the Achaemenids held territories, the language is attested primarily in the inscriptions of Western Iran, in particular in Parsa "Persia" in the southwest, the homeland of the tribes that the Achaemenids (and later the Sassanids) came from.

In contrast to later Persian, written Old Persian had an extensively inflected grammar, with eight cases, each declension subject to both gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) and number (singular, dual, plural).

Middle Persian

In contrast to Old Persian, whose spoken and written forms must have been dramatically different from one another[citation needed], written Middle Persian reflected oral use. The complex conjugation and declension of Old Persian yielded to the structure of Middle Persian in which the dual number disappeared, leaving only singular and plural, as did gender. Middle Persian used postpositions to indicate the different roles of words, for example an -i suffix to denote a possessive "from/of" rather than the multiple (subject to gender and number) genitive caseforms of a word.

Although the "middle period" of the Iranian languages formally begins with the fall of the Achaemenid Empire, the transition from Old- to Middle Persian had probably already begun before the 4th century. However, Middle Persian is not actually attested until 600 years later when it appears in Sassanid era (224–651) inscriptions, so any form of the language before this date cannot be described with any degree of certainty. Moreover, as a literary language, Middle Persian is not attested until much later, to the 6th or 7th century. And from the 8th century onwards, Middle Persian gradually began yielding to New Persian, with the middle-period form only continuing in the texts of Zoroastrian tradition.

The native name of Middle Persian was Parsik or Parsig, after the name of the ethnic group of the southwest, that is, "of Pars", Old Persian Parsa, New Persian Fars. This is the origin of the name Farsi as it is today used to signify New Persian. Following the collapse of the Sassanid state, Parsik came to be applied exclusively to (either Middle or New) Persian that was written in Arabic script. From about the 9th century onwards, as Middle Persian was on the threshold of becoming New Persian, the older form of the language came to be erroneously called Pahlavi, which was actually but one of the writing systems used to render both Middle Persian as well as various other Middle Iranian languages. That writing system had previously been adopted by the Sassanids (who were Persians, i.e. from the southwest) from the preceding Arsacids (who were Parthians, i.e. from the northeast). While Rouzbeh (Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffa, 8th century) still distinguished between Pahlavi (i.e. Parthian) and Farsi (i.e. Middle Persian), this distinction is not evident in Arab commentaries written after that date.

Gernot Windfuhr considers new Persian as an evolution of the Old Persian language and the Middle Persian language[39] but also states that none of the known Middle Persian dialects is the direct predecessor of the [New] Persian [40][41] Professor. Ludwig Paul states: "The language of the Shahnameh should be seen as one instance of continuous historical development from Middle to New Persian"[42]

New Persian

The history of New Persian itself spans more than 1,000–1,200 years. The development of the language in its last period is often divided into three stages dubbed early, classical, and contemporary. Native speakers of the language can in fact understand early texts in Persian with minimal adjustment, because the morphology and, to a lesser extent, the lexicon of the language have remained relatively stable for the most part of a millennium.[43]

Early New Persian

New Persian developed from the 8th century on as an independent literary language.[44] Upon the decline of the Caliphate at Baghdad in the ninth century a.d. began the re-establishment of Persian national life and Persians laid the foundations for a renaissance in the realm of letters. New Persian was born in Eastern Iran through the adaptation of the spoken form of Sassanian Middle Persian court language. The cradle of the Persian literary renaissance lay also in Eastern Iran.[45]

The mastery of the newer speech having now been transformed from Middle- into New Persian was already complete during three princely dynasties of Iranian origin Tahirid (820-872), Saffarid (860-903) and Samanid (874-999), and could develop only in range and power of expression.[45]

Abbas of Merv is mentioned as being the earliest minstrel to chant verse in the newer Persian tongue and after him the poems of Hanzala Badghisi were among the most famous between the Persian-speakers of the time.[46]

The first significant Persian poet was Rudaki. He flourished in the 10th century, when the Sāmānids were at the height of their power. His reputation as a court poet and as an accomplished musician and singer has survived, although little of his poetry has been preserved. Among his lost works is versified fables collected in Kalilah wa Dimnah.[7]

The language spread geographically from the 11th century on and was the medium through which among others, Central Asian Turks became familiar with Islam and urban culture. New Persian was widely used as a transregional lingua franca, a task for which it was particularly suitable due to its relatively simple morphological structure and this situation persisted till at least 19th century.[44] In the late Middle Ages, new Islamic literary languages were created on the Persian model: Ottoman, Chaghatay and Urdu, which are regards as "structural daughter languages" of Persian.[44]

Classic Persian

Kalilah wa Dimna, an influential work in Persian literature.

The Islamic conquest of Persia marks the beginning of the new history of Persian language and literature. This period produced world class Persian language poets and the language served, for a long span of time, as the lingua franca of the eastern parts of Islamic world and South Asia. It was also the official and cultural language of many Islamic dynasties, including Samanids, Buyids, Tahirids, Ziyarids, the Mughal Empire, Timurids, Ghaznavid, Seljuq, Khwarezmids, Safavid, Afsharids, Zand, Qajar, Ottomans and also many Mughal successor states such as the Nizams etc. For example, Persian was the only oriental language known and used by Marco Polo at the Court of Kublai Khan and in his journeys through China.[47] The heavy influence of Persian on other languages can still be witnessed across the Islamic world, especially, and it is still appreciated as a literary and prestigious language among the educated elite, especially in fields of music (for example Qawwali) and art (Persian literature). After the Arab invasion of Persia, Persian began to adopt many words from Arabic and as time went by, a few words were even taken from Turko-Mongol languages under the Mongol Empire and Turco-Persian society.

Use in South Asia

For five centuries prior to the British colonization, Persian was widely used as a second language in South Asia. It took prominence as the language of culture and education in several Muslim courts in South Asia and became the sole "official language" under the Mughal emperors. Coinciding with the Safavid rule over Iran, when (royal) patronage of Persian poets was curtailed, the centre of Persian culture and literature moved to the Mughal Empire, which had huge financial resources to employ a veritable army of Persian courtly poets, lexicographers and other literati. Beginning in 1843, though, English gradually replaced Persian in importance on the South Asia.[48] Evidence of Persian's historical influence there can be seen in the extent of its influence on the languages of the South Asia, as well as the popularity that Persian literature still enjoys in that region.Use of Persian words is common in Pakistan and north India.Almost all languages of these areas have been influenced by Persian not only in literature but also language of common men. Persian exerted a strong influence on Urdu. Punjabi, Sind hi in India and Pakistan. Other languages like Hindi, Marathi, Gujrati, Rajasthani have many loan words from Persian.

Contemporary Persian

A variant of the Iranian standard ISIRI 9147 keyboard layout for Persian.

Since the nineteenth century, Russian, French and English and many other languages have contributed to the technical vocabulary of Persian. The Iranian National Academy of Persian Language and Literature is responsible for evaluating these new words in order to initiate and advise their Persian equivalents. The language itself has greatly developed during the centuries.


Persian language

Regional and social varieties:


Language features:

Writing systems:

Geographic distribution:

  • Persian by country

There are three modern varieties of standard Persian:

The three varieties are based on linguistic classification. There are also several local dialects from Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan which slightly differ from the standard Persian. Hazaragi (in Central Afghanistan and Pakistan), Herati (in Western Afghanistan), Darwazi (in Afghanistan and Tajikistan), Tehrani (in Iran) and Dehwari (in Pakistan) are examples of these dialects. Educated speakers of Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan can understand one another with a relatively high degree of mutual intelligibility, give or take minor differences in vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar – much in the same relationship as shared between British and American English.

ISO 639-3 lists ten dialects of Persian, the three main literary dialects listed above and seven regional dialects: Hazaragi, Aimaq, Bukharic, Dzhidi, Dehwari, Darwazi, Pahlavani.[49]

The following are some closely related languages to Persian:

  • Luri (or Lori), spoken mainly in the southwestern Iranian provinces of Lorestan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, some western parts of Fars Province and some parts of Khuzestan.
  • Tat, spoken in parts of Azerbaijan, Russia, etc. It includes Judeo-Tat & Christian-Tat.
  • Lari (in southern Iran)


Iranian Persian has six vowels and twenty-three consonants.


The vowel phonemes of modern Tehran Persian

Historically, Persian has distinguished length: Early New Persian possessed a series of five long vowels (/iː/, /uː/, /ɒː/, /oː/ and /eː/) along with three short vowels /æ/, /i/ and /u/. At some point prior to the sixteenth century within the general area that is today encompassed by modern Iran, /eː/ and /iː/ merged into /iː/, and /oː/ and /uː/ merged into /uː/. Thus, the older contrasts between words like shēr "lion" and shīr "milk," were lost. There are exceptions to this rule and in some words, "ē" and "ō" are preserved or merged into the diphthongs [eɪ] and [oʊ] (which are descendents of the diphthongs [æɪ] and [æʊ] in Early New Persian), instead of merging into /iː/ and /uː/. Examples of this exception can be found in words such as [roʊʃæn] (bright).

However, in the eastern varieties, the archaic distinction of /eː/ and /iː/ (respectively known as Yā-ye majhūl and Yā-ye ma'rūf) is still preserved, as well as the distinction of /oː/ and /uː/ (known as Wāw-e majhūl and Wāw-e ma'rūf). On the other hand, in standard Tajik, the length distinction has disappeared and /iː/ merged with /i/, and /uː/ with /u/.[50] Therefore, contemporary Afghan dialects are the closest one can get to the vowel inventory of Early New Persian.

According to most studies on the subject (e.g. Samareh 1977, Pisowicz 1985, Najafi 2001,) the three vowels which are traditionally considered long (/i/, /u/, /ɒ/) are currently distinguished from their short counterparts (/e/, /o/, /æ/) by position of articulation, rather than by length. However, there are studies (e.g. Hayes 1979, Windfuhr 1979) which consider vowel-length to be the active feature of this system, i.e. /ɒ/, /i/, and /u/ are phonologically long or bimoraic whereas /æ/, /e/, and /o/ are phonologically short or monomoraic.

There are also some studies which consider quality and quantity to be both active in the Iranian system (e.g. Toosarvandani 2004). This view offers a synthetic analysis which includes both quality and quantity, often suggesting that modern Persian vowels are in a transition state between the quantitative system of classical Persian and a hypothetical future Persian which will eliminate all traces of quantity, and retain quality as the only active feature.

Suffice it to say that the length-distinction is strictly observed by careful reciters of classic-style poetry, for all varieties (including the Tajik).


Labial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n (ŋ)
Plosive p b t d k ɡ (q ɢ) ʔ
Affricate tʃ dʒ
Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ x ɣ h
Tap ɾ
Trill (r)
Approximant l j

(Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the right represents a voiced consonant. Allophones are in parentheses.)



Suffixes predominate Persian morphology, though there is a small number of prefixes.[51] Verbs can express tense and aspect, and they agree with the subject in person and number.[52] There is no grammatical gender in Persian, nor are pronouns marked for natural gender.


Normal declarative sentences are structured as "(S) (PP) (O) V". This means sentences can comprise optional subjects, prepositional phrases, and objects, followed by a required verb. If the object is specific, then the object is followed by the word and precedes prepositional phrases: "(S) (O + ) (PP) V".[52]


Native word formation

Persian makes extensive use of word building and combining affixes, stems, nouns and adjectives. Persian frequently uses derivational agglutination to form new words from nouns, adjectives, and verbal stems. New words are extensively formed by compounding – two existing words combining into a new one, as is common in German. Professor Mahmoud Hessaby demonstrated that Persian can derive 226 million words.[53]


While having a lesser influence on Arabic[9] and other languages of Mesopotamia and its core vocabulary being of Middle Persian origin,[6] New Persian contains a considerable amount of Arabic lexical items,[3][8][10] which were Persianized[11] and often took a different meaning and usage than the Arabic original. The Arabic vocabulary in other Iranic, Turkic and Indic languages are generally understood to be have been copied from New Persian.[54]

John R. Perry in his article "Areas and Semantic Fields of Arabic" indicates his belief that the overall range of Arabic synonyms vocabulary used along or interchangeable with their equivalents Persian words varies from 2% frequency in the Shahnama,[55] 14% in material culture,[56] 24% in intellectual life[56] to 40% of everyday literary activity.[56] Most of the Arabic words used in Persian are either synonyms of native terms[56] or could be (and often have been) glossed in Persian.[56] The Arabic vocabulary in Persian is thus suppletive,[56] rather than basic and has enriched New Persian.

The inclusion of Mongolian and Turkic elements in the Persian language should also be mentioned,[57] not only because of the political role a succession of Turkic dynasties played in Iranian history, but also because of the immense prestige Persian language and literature enjoyed in the wider (non-Arab) Islamic world, which was often ruled by sultans and emirs with a Turkic background. The Turkish and Mongolian vocabulary in Persian is way much minor in comparison to That of Arabic and these words were mainly confined to military, pastoral terms and political sector (titles, administration, etc.) until new military and political titles were coined based partially on Middle Persian (e.g. Artesh for army instead of Qoshun) in the 20th century.[58]

There are also adaptations from French (mainly in the late 19th century and early 20th century) and Russian (mainly in the late 19th century and early 20th century). Like most languages of the world, there is an increasing amount of English vocabulary entering the Persian language. The Persian academy (Farhangestan) has coined Persian equivalents for some of these terms.[citation needed] There are more words adopted from French than from English because Persian speakers more easily pronounce French words.[59]

Persian has likewise influenced the vocabularies of other languages, especially other Indo-Iranian languages like Urdu and to a lesser extent Hindi, etc., as well as Turkic languages like Ottoman Turkish, Chagatai language, Tatar language, Turkish,[60] Turkmen, Azeri[61] and Uzbek, Afro-Asiatic languages like Assyrian and Arabic,[62] and even Dravidian languages especially Telugu and Brahui. Several languages of southwest Asia have also been influenced, including Armenian and Georgian. Persian has even influenced the Malay spoken in Malaysia and Swahili in Africa. Many Persian words have also found their way into other Indo-European languages including the English language.[citation needed] Persian has also had a significant lexical influence, via Turkish, on Serbian, especially as spoken in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Use of occasional foreign synonyms instead of Persian words can be a common practice in everyday communications as an alternative expression. In some instances in addition to the Persian vocabulary, the equivalent synonyms from multiple foreign languages can be used. For example, the phrase "thank you" can be expressed using the French word merci (stressed however on the first syllable), by the hybrid Persian-Arabic word moteshaker-am (moteshaker being merciful in Arabic and am meaning I am), or by the pure Persian word sepasgozar-am.


Example showing Nastaʿlīq's (Persian) proportion rules.[ 1 ]
Dehkhoda's personal handwriting; a typical cursive Persian script.

The vast majority of modern Iranian Persian and Dari text is written with the Perso-Arabic script. Tajik, which is considered by some linguists to be a Persian dialect influenced by Russian and the Turkic languages of Central Asia,[63][64] is written with the Cyrillic script in Tajikistan (see Tajik alphabet).

Persian alphabet

Modern Iranian Persian and Afghan Persian are written using Persian alphabet (a modified variant of the Arabic alphabet), which uses different pronunciation and additional letters not found in Arabic. Tajik Persian, as used in Tajikistan, is typically written in a modified version of the Cyrillic alphabet. There are also Persian Romanizations like Desphilic, Unipers and Fingilish/Pinglish for writing Persian using Latin alphabet. After the conversion of Persia to Islam (see Islamic conquest of Iran), it took approximately 150 years before Persians adopted the Arabic script in place of the older alphabet. Previously, two different scripts were used, Pahlavi, used for Middle Persian, and the Avestan alphabet (in Persian, Dîndapirak or Din Dabire—literally: religion script), used for religious purposes, primarily for the Avestan language but sometimes for Middle Persian.

In modern Persian script, vowels that are referred to as short vowels (a, e, o) are usually not written; only the long vowels (â, i, u) are represented in the text, so words distinguished from each other only by short vowels are ambiguous in writing: kerm "worm", karam "generosity", kerem "cream", and krom "chrome" are all spelled "krm" in Persian. The reader must determine the word from context. The Arabic system of vocalization marks known as harakat is also used in Persian, although some of the symbols have different pronunciations. For example, an Arabic damma is pronounced [ʊ~u], while in Iranian Persian it is pronounced [o]. This system is not used in mainstream Persian literature; it is primarily used for teaching and in some (but not all) dictionaries.

It is also worth noting that there are several letters generally only used in Arabic loanwords. These letters are pronounced the same as similar Persian letters. For example, there are four functionally identical 'z' letters (ز ذ ض ظ), three 's' letters (س ص ث), two 't' letters (ط ت), etc.


The Persian alphabet adds four letters to the Arabic alphabet:

Sound Isolated form Name
[p] پ pe
[tʃ] (ch) چ če
[ʒ] (zh) ژ že
[ɡ] گ gāf

(The že is pronounced with the same sound as the "s" in "measure" and "fusion", or the "z" in "azure".)


The Persian alphabet also modifies some letters from the Arabic alphabet. For example, alef with hamza below ( إ ) changes to alef ( ا ); words using various hamzas get spelled with yet another kind of hamza (so that مسؤول becomes مسئول); and teh marbuta ( ة ) changes to heh ( ه ) or teh ( ت ).

The letters different in shape are:

Sound original Arabic letter modified Persian letter name
[k] ك ک kāf
vowel [i] consonant [j] ي ى ye

Writing the letters in their original Arabic form is not typically considered to be incorrect,[citation needed] but is not normally done.

Latin alphabet

The International Organization for Standardization has published a standard for simplified transliteration of Persian into Latin, ISO 233-3, titled "Information and documentation – Transliteration of Arabic characters into Latin characters – Part 3: Persian language – Simplified transliteration"[65] but the transliteration scheme is not in widespread use.

Another Latin alphabet, based on the Uniform Turkic alphabet, was used in Tajikistan in the 1920s and 1930s. The alphabet was phased out in favour of Cyrillic in the late 1930s.[63]

Fingilish is the name given to texts written in Persian using ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is most commonly used in chat, emails and SMS applications. The orthography is not standardized, and varies among writers and even media (for example, typing 'aa' for the [ɒ] phoneme is easier on computer keyboards than on cellphone keyboards, resulting in smaller usage of the combination on cellphones).

UniPers, short for the Universal Persian Alphabet (Fârsiye Jahâni) is a Latin-based alphabet popularized by Mohamed Keyvan, who used it in a number of Persian textbooks for foreigners and travellers.[66]

The International Persian Alphabet (Pársik) is another Latin-based alphabet developed in recent years mainly by A. Moslehi, a comparative linguist.[67]

Persá is yet another Latin-based alphabet that has been recently[when?] developed using new characters to represent sounds unique to the Persian language.

Desphilic is also a romanization which uses ordinary Latin character set for romanization of Persian.

Tajik alphabet

Tajik advertisement for an academy.

The Cyrillic alphabet was introduced for writing the Tajik language under the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic in the late 1930s, replacing the Latin alphabet that had been used since the Bolshevik revolution and the Persian script that had been used earlier. After 1939, materials published in Persian in the Persian script were banned from the country.[63][68]


Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Please note that the Tajik text is different from that of the Iranian Persian:

Iranian Persian (Farsi) UniPers IPA Tajik Persian (Tajiki) English Gloss
همهٔ افراد بشر آزاد به دنیا می‌آیند و حیثیت و حقوقشان با هم برابر است، همهٔ‌شان اندیشه و وجدان دارند و باید در برابر یکدیگر با روح برادری رفتار کنند. Hameye afrâde bašar âzâd be donyâ miâyando heysiyato hoquqešan bâ ham barâbar ast, hame andiševo vejdân dârando bâyad dar barâbare yekdigar bâ ruhe barâdari raftâr konand. [hæmeje æfrɒd bæʃær ɒzɒd be donjɒ miɒjænd o hejsijæt o hoɢuɢ ʃɒn bɒ hæm bærɒbær æst hæme ʃɒn ændiʃe o vedʒdɒn dɒrænd o bɒjæd dær bærɒbære jekdiɡær bɒ ruhe bærɒdæri ræftɒr konænd] Тамоми одамон озод ба дунё меоянд ва аз лиҳози манзилату ҳуқуқ бо ҳам баробаранд. Ҳама соҳиби ақлу виҷдонанд, бояд нисбат ба якдигар бародарвор муносабат намоянд. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

See also


  1. ^ Iran, 36 M (51%) – 46 M (65%), Afghanistan, 16.369 M (50%), Tajikistan, 5.770 M (80%), Uzbekistan, 1.2 M (4.4%)
  2. ^ Windfuhr, Gernot. The Iranian Languages. Routledge. 2009. p. 418.
  3. ^ a b c d e Professor. Gilbert Lazard, : The language known as New Persian, which usually is called at this period (early Islamic times) by the name of Dari or Farsi-Dari, can be classified linguistically as a continuation of Middle Persian, the official religious and literary language of Sassanian Iran, itself a continuation of Old Persian, the language of the Achaemenids. Unlike the other languages and dialects, ancient and modern, of the Iranian group such as Avestan, Parthian, Soghdian, Kurdish, Balochi, Pashto, etc., Old Middle and New Persian represent one and the same language at three states of its history. It had its origin in Fars (the true Persian country from the historical point of view) and is differentiated by dialectical features, still easily recognizable from the dialect prevailing in north-western and eastern Iran in Lazard, Gilbert 1975, "The Rise of the New Persian Language" in Frye, R. N., The Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 4, pp. 595–632, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^ Ulrich Ammon, Norbert Dittmar, Klaus J. Mattheier, Peter Trudgill, "Sociolinguistics Hsk 3/3 Series Volume 3 of Sociolinguistics: An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society", Walter de Gruyter, 2006. 2nd edition. pg 1912. Excerpt: "Middle Persian, also called Pahlavi is a direct continuation of old Persian, and was used as the written official language of the country." "However, after the Moslem conquest and the collapse of the Sassanids, Arabic became the dominant language of the country and Pahlavi lost its importance, and was gradually replaced by Dari, a variety of Middle Persian, with considerable loan elements from Arabic and Parthian."
  5. ^ Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2006). Encyclopedia Iranica,"Iran, vi. Iranian languages and scripts, "new Persian, is "the descendant of Middle Persian" and has been "official language of Iranian states for centuries", whereas for other non-Persian Iranian languages "close genetic relationships are difficult to establish" between their different (Middle and Modern) stages. Modern Yaḡnōbi belongs to the same dialect group as Sogdian, but is not a direct descendant; Bactrian may be closely related to modern Yidḡa and Munji (Munjāni); and Wakhi (Wāḵi) belongs with Khotanese."
  6. ^ a b c Richard Davis, "Persian" in Josef W. Meri, Jere L. Bacharach, "Medieval Islamic Civilization", Taylor & Francis, 2006. pp. 602–603. "The grammar of New Persian is similar to many contemporary European languages."Similarly, the core vocabulary of Persian continued to be derived from Pahlavi.
  7. ^ a b c Encyclopædia Britannica: Persian literature, retrieved Sept. 2011.
  8. ^ a b Lazard, Gilbert, "Pahlavi, Pârsi, dari: Les langues d'Iran d'apès Ibn al-Muqaffa" in R.N. Frye, "Iran and Islam. In Memory of the late Vladimir Minorsky", Edinburgh University Press, 1971.
  9. ^ a b Nushin Namazi (2008-11-24). "Persian Loan Words in Arabic". Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  10. ^ a b Classe, Olive (2000). Encyclopedia of literary translation into English. Taylor & Francis. p. 1057. ISBN 1884964362, ISBN 9781884964367. "Since the Arab conquest of the country in 7th century AD, many loan words have entered the language (which from this time has been written with a slightly modified version of the Arabic script) and the literature has been heavily influenced by the conventions of Arabic literature." 
  11. ^ a b Ann K. S. Lambton, "Persian grammar", Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press 1953. Excerpt: "The Arabic words incorporated into the Persian language have become Persianized".
  12. ^ Windfuhr, Gernot (1987). Berard Comrie. ed. The World's Major Languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 523–546. ISBN 978-0195065114. 
  13. ^ Gernot Windfuhr, "Persian Grammer: history and state of its study", Walter de Gruyter, 1979. pg 4:""Tat- Persian spoken in the East Caucasus""
  14. ^ C Kerslake, Journal of Islamic Studies (2010) 21 (1): 147-151. excerpt:"It is a comparison of the verbal systems of three varieties of Persian—standard Persian, Tat, and Tajik—in terms of the 'innovations' that the latter two have developed for expressing finer differentiations of tense, aspect and modality..." [1]
  15. ^ Borjian, Habib, "Tabari Language Materials from Il'ya Berezin's Recherches sur les dialectes persans", Iran and the Caucasus, Volume 10, Number 2, 2006 , pp. 243–258(16). Excerpt:"It embraces Gilani, Ta- lysh, Tabari, Kurdish, Gabri, and the Tati Persian of the Caucasus, all but the last belonging to the north-western group of Iranian language."
  16. ^ Or (زبان فارسی‎ — translit.: zabān-e fārsi
  17. ^ Or (فارسی دری \ فارسئ دری‎ — translit.: fārsi-ye dari
  18. ^ See Dari - Geographical distribution
  19. ^ Or (забони тоҷикӣ‎ / فارسی تاجیکی‎ — translit.: zabon-i tojiki
  20. ^ See Tajik language - Geographical distribution
  21. ^ Oxford English Dictionary online, s.v. "Persian", draft revision June 2007.
  22. ^ a b Oxford English Dictionary online, s.v. "Pârsi".
  23. ^ Cannon, Garland Hampton and Kaye, Alan S. (1994) The Arabic contributions to the English language: an historical dictionary Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, Germany, page 106, ISBN 3-447-03491-2
  24. ^ Odisho, Edward Y. (2005) Techniques of teaching comparative pronunciation in Arabic and English Gorgias Press, Piscataway, New Jersey, page 23 ISBN 1-59333-272-6
  25. ^ Pejman Akbarzadeh (2005). ""Farsi" or "Persian"?". Retrieved 2007-02-20. 
  26. ^ For example: A. Gharib, M. Bahar, B. Fooroozanfar, J. Homaii, and R. Yasami. Farsi Grammar. Jahane Danesh, 2nd edition, 2001.
  27. ^ "Pronouncement of the Academy of Persian Language and Literature". 2005-11-19. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  28. ^ "Persian or Farsi?". 1997-11-16. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  29. ^ "Fársi: "recently appeared language!"". 2005-02-15. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  30. ^ "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: fas". Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  31. ^ "Code PRS". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  32. ^ "Code PES". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  33. ^ "Tree for Southwest Western Iranian". Linguist List. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  34. ^ "Kamran Talattof Persian or Farsi? The debate continues". 1997-12-16. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  35. ^ (Skjaervo 2006) vi(2). Documentation.
  36. ^ cf. (Skjaervo 2006) vi(2). Documentation. Excerpt: Modern Yaḡnōbi belongs to the same dialect group as Sogdian, but is not a direct descendant; Bac-trian may be closely related to modern Yidḡa and Munji (Munjāni); and Wakhi (Wāḵi) belongs with Khotanese.
  37. ^ a b cf. (Skjaervo 2006) vi(2). Documentation. Excerpt 1: Only the official languages Ojhjlld, Middle, and New Persian represent three stages of one and the same language, whereas close genetic relationships are difficult to establish between other Middle and Modern Iranian languages. Modern Yaḡnōbi belongs to the same dialect group as Sogdian, but is not a direct descendant; Bac-trian may be closely related to modern Yidḡa and Munji (Munjāni); and Wakhi (Wāḵi) belongs with Khotanese. Excerpt 2: New Persian, the descendant of Middle Persian and official language of Iranian states for centuries..
  38. ^ Katzner, Kenneth (2002). The Languages of the World. Routledge. p. 163. ISBN 0415250048. 
  39. ^ Comrie, Bernard (1990) The major languages of South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Taylor & Francis,p. 82. Excerpt: " The evolution of Persian as the culturally dominant language of eastern Near East, from Iran to Central Asia to northwest India until recent centuries, began with the political domination of these areas by dynasties originating in southwestern province of Iran, Pars, later Arabicised to Fars: first the Achaemenids (599-331 BC) whose official language was Old Persian; then the Sassanids (c. AD 225-651) whose official language was Middle Persian. Hence, the entire country used to be called Perse by the ancient Greeks, a practice continued to this day. The more general designation 'Iran(-shahr)" derives from Old Iranian aryanam (Khshathra)'(the realm) of Aryans'. The dominance of these two dynasties resulted in Old and Middle-Persian colonies throughout the empire, most importantly for the course of the development of Persian, in the north-east i.e., what is now Khorasan, northern Afghanistan and Central Asia, as documented by the Middle Persian texts of the Manichean found in the oasis city of Turfan in Chinese Turkistan (Sinkiang). This led to certain degree of regionalisation".
  40. ^ Comrie, Bernard (1990) The major languages of South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Taylor & Francis,p. 82
  41. ^ Barbara M. Horvath, Paul Vaughan, Community languages, 1991, 276 p.
  42. ^ L. Paul (2005), "The Language of the Shahnameh in historical and dialetical perspective" pg 150:"The language of the Shahnameh should be seen as one instance of continuous historical development from Middle to New Persian" in Dieter Weber, D. N. MacKenzie, Languages of Iran: past and present: Iranian studies in memoriam David Neil MacKenzie, Volume 8 of Iranica Series, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. [2]
  43. ^ Jeremias, Eva M. (2004). "Iran, iii. (f). New Persian". Encyclopaedia of Islam. 12 (New Edition, Supplement ed.). pp. 432. ISBN 9004139745. 
  44. ^ a b c Johanson, Lars, and Christiane Bulut. 2006. Turkic-Iranian contact areas: historical and linguistic aspects. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
  45. ^ a b Jackson, A. V. Williams. 1920. Early Persian poetry, from the beginnings down to the time of Firdausi. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp.17-19. (in Public Domain
  46. ^ Jackson, A. V. Williams.pp.17-19.
  47. ^ John Andrew Boyle, Some thoughts on the sources for the Il-Khanid period of Persian history, in Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, British Institute of Persian Studies, vol. 12 (1974), p. 175.
  48. ^ Clawson, Patrick (2004). Eternal Iran. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 6. ISBN 1403962766. 
  49. ^ "Language Family Trees – Persian". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  50. ^ Perry, J. R. (2005) A Tajik Persian Reference Grammar (Boston : Brill) ISBN 90-04-14323-8
  51. ^ Megerdoomian, Karine (2000). "Persian computational morphology: A unification-based approach". Memoranda in Computer and Cognitive Science: MCCS-00-320. pp. 1. 
  52. ^ a b Mahootian, Shahrzad (1997). Persian. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-02311-4. 
  53. ^ / فرايران
  54. ^ John R. Perry, "Lexical Areas and Semantic Fields of Arabic" in Éva Ágnes Csató, Eva Agnes Csato, Bo Isaksson, Carina Jahani, Linguistic convergence and areal diffusion: case studies from Iranian, Semitic and Turkic, Routledge, 2005. pg 97: "It is generally understood that the bulk of the Arabic vocabulary in the central, contingous [sic?] Iranic, Turkic and Indic languages was originally borrowed into literary Persian between the ninth and thirteenth century"
  55. ^ John Perry, Encyclopedia Iranica, "Arabic Words in ŠĀH-NĀMA "
  56. ^ a b c d e f John R. Perry, "Lexical Areas and Semantic Fields of Arabic" in Éva Ágnes Csató, Eva Agnes Csato, Bo Isaksson, Carina Jahani, Linguistic convergence and areal diffusion: case studies from Iranian, Semitic and Turkic,Routledge, 2005. excerpt:"A dictionary based sample yields an inventory of approximately 8000 Arabic loanwords in current standard Persian or about forty percent of an everyday literary vocabulary of 20,000 words, not counting compounds and deravitives." excerpt: "In a random experiment, the Arabic Vocabulary of material culture was 14% while that of intellectual life was 24% percent in Persian." excerpt:"Most of the Arabic loans in Persian are either synonyms of attested native terms (as Arabic Mariz; Persian Bimar 'sick') or could be (and often have been) glossed in Persian native morphs (as Arabic ta'lim va tarbiyat 'education' was later replaced by Amuzesh o Parvaresh). Arabic vocabulary in Persian is thus suppletive, rather than basic."
  57. ^ e.g. The role of Azeri-Turkish in Iranian Persian, on which see John Perry, "The Historical Role of Turkish in Relation to Persian of Iran", Iran & the Caucasus, Vol. 5 (2001), pp. 193–200.
  58. ^ Xavier Planhol, "Land of Iran", Encyclopedia Iranica. "The Turks, on the other hand, posed a formidable threat: their penetration into Iranian lands was considerable, to such an extent that vast regions adapted their language. This process was all the more remarkable since, in spite of their almost uninterrupted political domination for nearly 1,000 years, the cultural influence of these rough nomads on Iran’s refined civilization remained extremely tenuous. This is demonstrated by the mediocre linguistic contribution, for which exhaustive statistical studies have been made (Doerfer). The number of Turkish or Mongol words that entered Persian, though not negligible, remained limited to 2,135, i.e., 3 percent of the vocabulary at the most. These new words are confined on the one hand to the military and political sector (titles, administration, etc.) and, on the other hand, to technical pastoral terms. The contrast with Arab influence is striking. While cultural pressure of the Arabs on Iran had been intense, they in no way infringed upon the entire Iranian territory, whereas with the Turks, whose contributions to Iranian civilization were modest, vast regions of Iranian lands were assimilated, notwithstanding the fact that resistance by the latter was ultimately victorious. Several reasons may be offered."
  59. ^ Majd, Hooman. "Persian Cats", The Ayatollah Begs to Differ. 2008. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-52334-9. 33.
  60. ^ Andreas Tietze, Persian loanwords in Anatolian Turkish, Oriens, 20 (1967) pp- 125-168.
  61. ^ L. Johanson, "Azerbaijan: Iranian Elements in Azeri Turkish" in Encyclopedia Iranica
  62. ^ Pasad. "". Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  63. ^ a b c Perry, John R. (2005). A Tajik Persian Reference Grammar. Boston: Brill. ISBN 90-04-14323-8. 
  64. ^ Lazard, Gilbert (1956). "Charactères distinctifs de la langue Tadjik". Bulletin de la Société Linguistique de Paris 52: 117–186. 
  65. ^ "ISO 233-3:1999". 2010-05-14. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  66. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  67. ^ Pársik tutor,
  68. ^

Further reading


  1. Thackston, W. M. (1993-05-01). An Introduction to Persian (3rd Rev ed.). Ibex Publishers. ISBN 0936347295. 
  2. Mace, John (1993-03). Modern Persian (Teach Yourself). Teach Yourself. ISBN 0844238155. 
  3. Mace, John (2002-10-18). Persian Grammar: For Reference and Revision (illustrated ed.). RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0700716955. 
  4. Schmitt, Rüdiger (1989). Compendium linguarum Iranicarum. L. Reichert. ISBN 3882264136. 
  5. Windfuhr, Gernot L. (2009-01-15). "Persian". In Bernard Comrie (ed.). The World's Major Languages (2 ed.). Routledge. ISBN 0415353394. 
  6. Skjærvø, Prods Oktor (2006). "Iran, vi. Iranian languages and scripts". Encyclopaedia Iranica. 13. 
  7. Asatrian, Garnik (Expected November 2010). Etymological Dictionary of Persian. Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series, 12. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 978-90-04-15496-4. 

Other Languages

  1. Lazard, Gilbert (January 2006). Grammaire du persan contemporain. Institut Français de Recherche en Iran. ISBN 978-2909961378. 
  2. Dahlén, Ashk (October 2010). Modern persisk grammatik. Ferdosi International Publication. ISBN 9789197724180. 

External links

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