Farsi – Persian Language
Persian Language, also known as Farsi, is the most widely spoken member of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, a subfamily of the Indo-European languages. It is the language of Iran (formerly Persia) and is also widely spoken in Afghanistan and, in an archaic form, in Tajikistan and the Pamir Mountain region. Persian is spoken today primarily in Iran and Afghanistan, but was historically a more widely understood language in an area ranging from the Middle East to India. Significant populations of speakers in other Persian Gulf countries (Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates), as well as large communities in the USA. Total numbers of speakers is high: over 40 million Farsi speakers (about 60% of Iran’s population); over 14 million Dari Persian speakers in Afghanistan (50% of the population according to CIA World FactBook & Britannica); and about 2 million Dari Persian speakers in Pakistan. In Afghanistan Farsi is spoken almost everywhere and over 50% of Afghanistan’s total population speak Farsi or Dari. The map on the right should cover Herat and the nothern parts of Afghanistan where the majority of people speak Farsi. – Thank you, Laila Ahmadi Three phases may be distinguished in the development of Iranian languages: Old, Middle, and Modern. Old Iranian is represented by Avestan and Old Persian. Avestan, probably spoken in the northeast of ancient Persia, is the language of the Avesta, the sacred scriptures of Zoroastrianism. Except for this scriptural use, Avestan died out centuries before the advent of Islam. Old Persian is recorded in the southwest in cuneiform inscriptions of the Persian kings of the Achaemenid dynasty (circa 550-330 BC), notably Darius I and Xerxes I.
Old Persian and Avestan have close affinity with Sanskrit, and, like Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, are highly inflected languages.
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of the greater Indo-European ethnic group. The synonymous usage of Iranian and Persian has persisted over the centuries although some modern Western sources use Iranic/Iranian as a wider term that includes the term Persian as well as related Iranian languages and ethnic groups. However, these terms have been used both synonymously as well as in a complementary fashion since ancient times; as the Ancient Iranian peoples such as the Old Persians, Medes, Bactrians, Parthians and Avesta peoples considered themselves to be part of the greater Iranian ethnic stock ] The term Persian translates to “from or of Persis” which is a region north of the Persian Gulf located in Pars, Iran. It was from this region that Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid empire, united all other Iranian empires (such as the Medes and the Elamites), and expanded the Persian cultural and social influences by incorporating the Babylonian empire, and the Lydian empire. Although not the first Iranian empire, the Achaemenid empire is the first Persian empire well recognized by Greek and Persian historians for its massive cultural, military and social influences going as far as Athens, Egypt, and Libya. Besides modern Iran (Persia), ethnic Persians are also found in Central Asia (Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan) and are usually called “Tajiks” and “Farsiwans”. Persians are also found in Iraq particularly in southern Iraq (Babylonia) â€“ a region which has been historically an integral part of Persia. Other closely related Iranian languages and dialects to modern Persian (PÄrsi-ye Dari is one of the varieties of Persian/Iranian but due to its widespread usage as the most common Iranian language, it became synonymous with Persian), which derive from Western Middle Iranian languages, such as the Luri, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Talyshi, Tat-Persian and other closely akin Iranian languages have been mentioned as part of the Persian/Irani continuum. Some names such as “Tat” “Tajik”, “Sart” and “‘Ajam” have also been used by foreigners or Persians in reference to Iranians/Persians. The term Parsi, Tajik, Irani, and Tat have been used interchangeably for Persian and Iranian speakers of Iran during the Middle Ages including the Safavid and the Qajar era. The Persians of Central Asia who inhabit Tajikistan and parts of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan are also called Tajiks, while the term Tajik is contemporaneously used for Iranian people who speak Pamiri languages. Persians have generally been a pan-national group often comprising regional people who often refer to themselves as “Persians” and have also often used the term “Iranian” (in the ethnic-cultural sense). Some scholars, mechanically identifying the speakers of Persian as a distinct ethnic unit (the â€˜Persiansâ€™), exclude those Iranians who speak dialects of Persian, However,this approach can be misleading, as historically all ethnic groups in Iran, were always referred to, collectively, as Iranians (Irani).