Farsi – Persian Language
The official language of Iran is Farsi, or as it is also called Persian. Besides Iran, Farsi is also spoken in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It is estimated that around 110 million people around the world speak Farsi. It has also been the official language of India before it was colonized by Britain.
In the year 1872, Farsi was chosen as one of the four classic languages of the globe in the European linguists’ summit held in Berlin. The other three are Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. According to their definition, a language would be regarded as classical if it has the three following characteristics:
- Has a reach literature.
- Is considered an ancient language.
- Has not been considerably changed in the last millennium.
Farsi language has 32 alphabets and is written from right to left. The alphabets are similar to Arabic but there are 4 alphabets (گ چ پ ژ) that are lacking in Arabic compared to Farsi.
The name Farsi is derived from Parsi, meaning “belonging to Pars”. Pars was a state in the ancient Iran located at the center and south of the land (at the current location of Fars province). In the ancient Greece, Iran was referred to as Persis (the root of the word Persian). Pars is also an ethnicity from Aryan race that had a nomadic lifestyle (the name Iran means the land of Aryans).
By the count of proverbs, Farsi is among the first three languages in the world. Proverbs are frequently used in the day to day life of the Iranian people. Most of the proverbs are derived from famous Persian literatures.
ز گهواره تا گور دانش بجوی
ze gahvāre tā gur dāneš bejuy
“Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.”
sang moft, gonješk moft
“Nothing to lose!”
Literally, “Stones are free and so are the sparrows.”
Farsi has had a tremendous influence on the languages in the Middle East and even Europe. According to one source, there are 811 terms inherited from Farsi in the English language only. (Kaye, Alan S. 2004. “Persian loanwords in English”. English Today. 0 (4): 20-24). There are much more inherited terms in Arabic, Urdu, Indian, Greek, French and etc.
There are more than 52 different dialects and accents in Farsi language, most of them in Iran. By travelling from the north of the country to the south, it is easily noticed how the dialects of local people differ. These different dialects contribute a lot to the richness of the Farsi language and are widely appreciated.
Due to the rich literature of the Farsi language, it is being offered in many famous universities around the world as the main field of study for the students. Furthermore, besides hundreds of Farsi networks in the Farsi speaking countries, many large international networks have broadcasts in Farsi; such as: BBC, VOA, Euro News, Radio France, National Geographic, DW, Voice of Russia, China Radio International and etc.
The picture above is Ferdowsi (935-1025CE), a Persian poet and the author of the epic of Shahnameh, which is the world’s longest epic poetry by a single poet. Ferdowsi is considered as the most influential figure in the Persian language due to his contributions to the language during the 30 years of writing Shahnameh.