The Persian language is of the Indo-European language family, within the Iranian branch of the language. This language group also includes the languages of Kurdish, Mazandarani, Talyshi, Gilaki and Baluchi. For five centuries before the British invasion and colonization of South Asia, Persian was a very common second language for many people.
In several courts, predominantly Muslim, throughout these areas, Persian was considered to be a refined and genteel language to use, as well as having the added bonus of being relatively common and wide spoken among the gentry and learned members of society. It became the official language of the Mughal emperors.
There are three eras to the Persian language, which are Old Persian, Middle Persian and Modern Persian. Old Persian dates from around 525BC to 300BC, Middle Persian dates from around 300BC to 800 AD, and Modern Persian dates from 800AD to the present day. This means that many speakers of Modern Persian can also understand several texts that were written a thousand years ago. While the Persian language is a language that has managed to keep many of its original grammatical features, it is also a language that has influenced and been influenced by many of the languages surrounding it.
The Persian language is spoken in many countries around the world, in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Russia, Pakistan, Kuwait and Lebanon. Around 60 million people are estimated to speak the Persian language as their first language.
The Persian language, as we know it today, is considered by linguists to be a very similar language to both Middle Persian and Old Persian. The grammar itself is actually very similar to many Western languages, and the Persian language has been able to contribute to many literary and scientific endeavors in the eastern half of the world.
Not only has the Persian language contributed much to these areas of study, but it has also had a strong influence on many neighboring languages. We can see this most heavily in the Turkic languages in Central Asia, and in many South Asian languages as well, most notably Urdu.
These days, the word Persian is often not used when discussing the Persian language, due to various political and language upheavals in other countries. For example, in Afghanistan, Persian is now called Dari, while in Iran, Persian is called Farsi. It is also called Tajiki in most areas of Central Asia, specifically the country of Tajikistan. Whenever the languages of Dari, Farsi, or Tajiki are mentioned, the speaker is referring to the Persian language.
The word Persian itself comes from an Anglicized form of the word “Persianus”, which simply the Latin word to describe this language. The Academy of Persian Language and Literature prefers the use of the word Persian over other words such as Farsi, which has recently become popular to use instead, as they argue Persian has the strongest tradition and is a sign of cultural continuity.
The Academy of Persian Language and Literature also have the appointed task of examining the influences on the language, for example the modern influences being Russian, French and English, and evaluating their Persian equivalents. The Persian language, on account of the care that has been taken, is subsequently a very adaptable language.
Why Learn The Persian Language?
The Persian language is spoken in so many countries in the Middle East and Central Asia that it is a very practical language to learn if you are thinking of travelling or working anywhere in this area. Learning the Persian language will offer you a great deal of freedom within these many countries to explore. It is the Middle Eastern equivalent of learning English, as there are pockets of speakers all over this area of the world.
In terms of the language itself, if you are of a literary mind, then learning the Persian language can open up a surprising new area of interest for you in the form of Persian poetry. There is a rich and plentiful history of over 2500 years of literature and poetry, with many beautiful stories and traditional epic pieces. Learning the Persian language is a wonderful move for anyone looking to expand their literary knowledge.