Detailed explanation of why Persian / Farsi is actually easier than the major European languages most people study

Friday, August 01, 2008


I've written about why Persian / Farsi is not only not a difficult language as a lot of people seem to think, and why it's actually easier than the languages most people study in university, such as German, French, Spanish, Latin, and so on. Today I think I'll try to write up a more complete overview that can put the matter to rest and act as a good reference point for the next time you notice a discussion on which language is easier / harder than others.

First, a general overview of what kind of language Persian is: Persian is an easy language cloaked in an air of seeming difficulty. It's not easy to learn for two reasons: 1) it uses the Arabic alphabet; 2) it's just not as easy to find places to use it as with languages like Spanish, French, German, and so on.

The language itself is quite easy to learn though, and because of reason 1) above I would recommend that anybody seriously learning or teaching the language over a long period of time (say over a 4-year period in university) should spend the first six months or so without learning the alphabet. It's much easier to get an idea of what the language is like when you don't have to up and learn a whole new alphabet at the same time.

Lastly, before beginning a detailed explanation of where Persian is easier to learn than a lot of other languages, I'd like to make clear the distinction between passive and active understanding. German is a perfect example of a language with relatively high passive understanding but with a complex grammar. Something like this for example:

Die deutschsprachige Wikipedia gratuliert der chinesischsprachigen Wikipedia zu 200.000 Artikeln.
is quite easy for anyone with an elementary knowledge of German: it says "The German language Wikipedia congratulates the Chinese language Wikipedia on (to) 200,000 articles". Writing this is on your own is a different level of difficulty however, because you need to know that Wikipedia is feminine (die), that deutschsprachig (German speaking) becomes deutschsprachige after die, and so on. It's certainly not the world's hardest language but there's a lot to remember when writing things by yourself.

Persian is the opposite - it has much lower passive understanding for the English speaker but it's much, much easier to use. Now, let's get into the details:

Persian verbs are ridiculously easy.

Verbs in Persian are extremely easy. Like most Indo-European languages, they conjugate by using suffixes after the stem of the verb. Unlike most Indo-European languages, they are extremely regular. This regularity is seen in the following:
  • Every single verb is regular in the past tense.
  • The only verb irregularity ever seen is in verbs that have an irregular present stem. Once you have learned this stem, however, it conjugates regularly like any other.
Here is how it works:
  • All verbs end in -tan or -dan in the infinitive.
  • Take off the -an from this to get the past stem.
  • Now we add a suffix to this. Suffixes are: -am for I, -îd for you, -îm for we, -nd for they, and no ending for he/she/it.
  • All done! Close your book, there's no more learning the past tense anymore.
Some examples:

To be is budan. Take off the -an and we get bud. Now put on the suffixes, giving budam (I was), budîd (you were), budîm (we were), budand (they were), bud (it/he/she was). Another example is raftan, to go. Raftam, raftîd, raftîm, raftand, raft.

The present tense is like this except it takes off the whole -tan or -dan whereupon you add a mi- prefix, and some verbs have the irregular stem that you will need to learn once. Some examples:

To read is khândan. Take off the -dan and you have khân. Put the mî- prefix in the front, then put the same endings on the end (add an extra -d in the 3rd person). Now you have Mikhânam (I read), mikhânîd (you read), mikhânîm (we read), mikhânand (they read), mikhânad (he/she/it reads). That's easy. For verbs with the irregular stem you just remember that along with the regular stem when you learn it, and you're done. One example:

The verb to go, raftan, has an irregular rav- present stem. When learning raftan, remember that its present stem is rav, and you're done. Now it conjugates as regularly as the rest: miravam (I go), miravîd (you go), miravîm (we go), miravand (they go), miravad (he/she/it goes).

This may seem complicated at first glance, but remember that I've just explained just about everything you need to know to form the past and present tense in Persian. Let's compare this to a Western European language. We'll go with French:

être, to be:

je, j-
suis

tu
es

il/elle/on
est

nous
sommes

vous
êtes

ils/elles
sont


Hmm, all irregular. How about:

aller, to go:

je, j-
vais
tu
vas
il/elle/on
va
nous
allons
vous
allez
ils/elles
vont

Irregular again! Hm, thinks the French student, maybe French verbs in the first person all end in -s. Nope:

donner, to give:

je, j-
donne

tu
donnes

il/elle/on
donne

nous
donnons

vous
donnez

ils/elles
donnent


Up to six irregular forms for each verb in French. In Persian you'll find maybe one, and after you know that both past and present tense conjugate using the same suffixes.

Persian has no articles.

Persian has no words for the English the/a. That means that mard-e-khûb for example means good man, a good man, or the good man. But since English has articles too, not having them wouldn't be such an advantage, would it? Admittedly this is a bigger advantage for people that have a mother tongue that has no articles, but note that articles aren't used in the same way between languages, which is why you'll see the definite article for general terms like philosophy in French ("the" philosophy) and place names ("the" Canada), whereas German is the opposite in that you don't use the indefinite article when talking about professions (Ich bin Portier - I am doorman). That's where the Ich bin ein Berliner bit comes from, that Kennedy would have been better off saying Ich bin Berliner. With Persian you don't even have to think about that in the first place.

Persian has no cases.

(Note: this depends a bit on what you consider to be a case, but the main point here is that there's much less to learn)

Cases almost don't exist in English except in pronouns, which is why you have to say "she gives it to me" as opposed to "she gives it to I", and "for them" instead of "for they". Cases are bad enough when they apply to all nouns like in German, but even in languages where they don't you have to learn extra words with I, me, my, his, him, her, hers, their, them, and so on. Persian doesn't have this.

I is man in Persian. To is be, so "to me" is be-man. You is shomâ, so to you is beshomâ.

Genitive case (her, my, his, their, etc.) is the same thing. You take a noun, put an -e- in between, and then put the pronoun on the end. Water is âb, so my water is âb-e-man. Office is daftar, so your office is daftar-e-shomâ.

Persian adjectives can be used as adverbs.

For the most part adjectives can be used as adverbs. This means that khûb, good, can also mean well, just like how English often says "you did good" instead of "you did well". In Persian this is grammatically correct, however.

Persian words are intuitive and easy to build.

Here are a few examples:
  • Kaghaz (paper) + khosk (dry) + kon (present stem of 'to do') = Kaghaz-e-khosk-kon (blotting paper, literally paper of dry make).
  • Shahr (city) + dâr (present stem of 'to have') = shahrdâr, municipality. Adding an î to the end of this makes it into an adjective, giving shahrdârî, municipal.
Persian has quite a few cognates with English and other Indo-European languages.

Given the large amount of Arabic and Turkish loanwords these aren't as frequent as the student might like, but a lot of words are the same or almost the same: bad (bad), mâdar (mother), barâdar (brother), (foot, think pedestrian), ast (there is, think German ist), nist (there isn't, think German nicht), pedar (father), to (informal 'you', think thou), etc.

And some other random notes:
  • Ordinal numbers except 1st are all regular. Just put -om on the end of the number.
  • Plurals are regular, ending in -hâ or -ân for living things. There are Arabic plurals for some words but there is nothing wrong with not using them (like Latin plurals of words like octopi for octopus).
  • Relative clauses are easy, just using ke to join two clauses. "The coffee that he drank" for example is literally "Coffee ke he drank it". "The boy that went to school" is "Boy ke he went to school".


Conclusion:

This post was written not with the intent of convincing anyone to drop German/French/what have you for Persian, because in spite of its grammatical simplicity Persian remains difficult to use in terms of finding places to use it, and economically it doesn't have that much clout.

However, due to the script there seems to be a lot of grouping it in with Arabic as one of those insanely hard languages capable of breaking even the most dedicated of minds. Arabic is certainly up there in terms of difficulty. Persian is not. If for example you are entering university and thinking of a career to do with the Middle East / intelligence gathering / international diplomacy and fluency in languages such as Persian / Arabic / Turkish is a plus, you might want to give Persian a closer look. Avoid the Perso-Arabic script for the first six months, focus on sentence structure and grammar, and then you'll realize that this language you've chosen to study is not the grammatical demon it's made out to be. And then after you learn it you can pretend that it was insanely difficult.

See, even Wikipedia agrees with me:

Persian grammar is similar to many other Indo-European languages, especially those in the Indo-Iranian family. Since Middle Persian it has had a relatively simple grammar, having no grammatical gender and few case markings.


Anything else to add on or any corrections? Feel free to leave comments below and I'll add them to the article if necessary.

----

Edit August 2nd: A member on reddit.com has made the point that I didn't really address how Persian is easier to learn than Arabic, which is a valid point because the title I used there was in reference to how much easier Persian is to learn, and that people interested in the Middle East / intelligence gathering / foreign relations and the like that don't like the thought of trying to learn Arabic might be interested in learning Persian instead. Since the two are unrelated (Arabic is a Semitic language whereas Persian is Indo-European) besides a lot of foreign loanword borrowing and using the same script (much in the same way that Japanese is unrelated to Chinese but has borrowed a lot of vocabulary) there are many ways in which Persian is easier for your average English speaker to learn than Arabic. I won't go over them all but here are a few good examples:
  • Plurals: Persian plurals are regular; Arabic, like Latin, pluralizes words depending on what kind they are (gender for example). In Persian you can pluralize a few Arabic loanwords in the Arabic way if you want, but it's not necessary. Here are a few examples (note that the Arabic pronunciation is probably a bit different): hêivân (animal) becomes hêivânât, mîvé (fruit) becomes mîvéjât, manzel (house) becomes manâzel, khatar (danger) becomes akhtâr, zarf (bowl) becomes zorûf, mosâfer (traveler) becomes mosâferîn. In Persian the basic rule is just that -hâ is suffixed to non-living things, and -ân to the living.
  • Arabic also has dual number in addition to the singular and plural.
  • Arabic has 28 consonant phonemes, Persian 23.
  • Arabic nouns and adjectives are marked for case, number, gender and state.
  • Arabic verb conjugation is more complex, and depends on gender, number (including dual), etc. Here's a good example of how Arabic conjugation works.
  • Being a Semitic language, there are almost no cognates like the Persian bad (bad), mâdar (mother), barâdar (brother) etc. given above. They certainly aren't the majority in Persian, but at least there are some. There are quite a few French loanwords as well; here is a list of some of them.
Those are just a few examples of how Arabic takes more time to learn than Persian, but suffice to say that Persian is basically just an Indo-European language in disguise whereas Arabic requires a lot more effort before being able to use it with confidence. In addition, Arabic varies from region to region much more than Persian does.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds similar to Turkish, which I studied once: no gender, no articles, extremely regular conjugation, etc.

Turkish does have cases, but they seemed perfectly logical to me (as opposed to, say, German cases). Also, Turkish has the tiny advantage of using the Latin alphabet. :-)

Anonymous said...

One thing I would point out where Arabic has an advantage is the amount of material available (bookstores, etc) compared to Farsi. I would venture to guess that the average bookstore has 20x more material on Arabic (even taking into acount different dialects like Egyptian, etc) than you will find for Farsi. The same goes for tapes like Pimsleur. There are 3 levels of Arabic available compared to just 1 level for Farsi.

Mithridates said...

Re: the first commenter: there are definitely a lot of similarities to Turkish though I haven't yet figured out in every case whether it was Persian that influenced Turkish or the other way around. One way to denote ownership in Persian for example is with a suffix like in Persian, with -am for my (Turkish im/ım/um etc.), emân for our (Turkish imiz/ımız etc.), and so on.

One obvious borrowing from Turkish is the -chi suffix to denote profession (Turkish ci/çi/cu/etc.). Telefonchi is a telephone operator, tofangchi is a rifleman, etc.

Sean B said...

Wish I would have known this BEFORE taking on Arabic :)

Very informative post. Where is Farsi spoken outside Iran? I know it is spoken in parts of Afghanistan (or a dialect of it at least), but anywhere else?

Anonymous said...

mithridates: Things that violate the extreme regularity of Turkish tend to be Persian, for one. :-) They're surely regular by the Persian rules, but they look weird in Turkish. I think Turkish "maalesef" (unfortunately) is from Persian: I can't think of any other Turkish word with a doubled vowel.

Turkish was greatly simplified in the 1920's when they switched to the Latin alphabet. I would not be at all surprised if they borrowed some good ideas from Persian at that time. Of course, when you're living near somebody for hundreds of years, there's plenty of opportunity to steal pieces of their language.

Ben said...

A very interesting article. I am an Englishman and am fairly fluent in Persian, the only thing I would disagree with would be ignoring the alphabet early on, at least for six months or so, but that would depend on how and what you intend to learn, if you want to learn to speak Persian then feel fre to ignore the alphabet.

If you do wish to learn to speak Persian then I'd mention that present tense verbs are spoken differently to how they are written.

I will use Raftan as it was used as an example. Here is how the present tense is spoken.

miravam becomes miram
miravim becomes mirim
miravi becomes miri
miravid becomes mirin
miravad becomes mireh
miravand becomes mirand

This change is regular throughout present tense verbs when spoken.

To the person who asked about Persian in Afghanistan, well that is technically called 'Dari' and I would describe it as an old fashioned version of Persian, Persian has evolved in its own way but Dari has stayed more 'pure'.

Regarding Dari you also have to take into account Pashto. Pashto is the other main language in Afghanistan and speakers of Dari often use Pashto words when speaking.

All of that said, if all you want to do is listen to the news on national radio, then you can ignore me, it follows the rules and as with most languages, the man on the street speaks how he wants to.

If you (the blogger or anyone else) wishes to discuss this further you can contact me on admin AT chuchuleh dot co dot uk.

Sepehr said...

This article raises many valid points. However, as a native speaker of Persian language and someone who's devoted much time to learning the grammar and teaching this language to non-native speakers, there are a number of corrections that I would like to make.
First, learning the script is quite independent of learning the language. I actually have taught people who have never been exposed to Arabic or Persian the entire alphabet and letter sounds in 48 hours to the point that they were able to write every English word using Persoarabic alphabets with little difficulty.
Second, the number of irregularities in present tense stems is so large, that many Persian grammar scholars believe there are no rules in determining the present stem, and that the present stems must be memorized by the students.
Third, there is no dispute that Persian language lacks definite articles. However, there are indefinite articles in the language. For example "man," as mentioned in the article is "mard" in Persian. "A man" is "mardi" in Persian. Therefore, by adding "i" at the end of a word, one can make the noun indefinite.
Fourth, in verb conjugations mentioned in the article, the second person singular is missing. The pronoun for the second person article is "to" as is noted at the end of the article.
Fifth, adjectives cannot be used as adverbs correctly. In many cases, adverbs are made by adding "ane" at the end of the adjective; for example, "agah" means conscious, and "agahane" means consciously. Other adverbs can be created by adding the word "be" before the adjective and the suffix "i" to the end of it; for example, "khub" means good, and "be khubi" means well.
Sixth, deconstructing words such as "shahrdar" make them easy to understand, but this does not mean one can make words by combining words just based on the meaning of components. Words such as "shahrdar" or "kadkhoda" are conventional and not made based on any grammatical rules.
Seventh, considering cardinal numbers, even the Persian word for "first" can be considered regular. One can use the Persian word "yekom," and it would be perfectly correct.
I enjoyed reading this article. Thank you for putting it together.

Marilynn said...

This is a fascinating post. I am currently teaching myself Hindi and Arabic through the "Teach Yourself" series and Pimsleur -- I had considered Farsi, but thought it too difficult.

However, not only does Farsi now seem to be within linguistic reach -- it also offers a much greater number of movies available in the U.S. for viewing to help learn the language. And many of these are beautiful, award-winning films. Farsi is definitely on my list now!

Ali said...

Hi Mithridates. Thanks for informing people of the easiness of Persian grammar. As one who has tasted many different languages, I totally agree with you. The funny thing is that, this simplicity starts from Middle Persian (2300+ years ago) and not from New Persian (1100 years ago). I just stumbled upon your page and quickly remembered you. You had posted a topic in Unilang's Persian forum (where I'm moderator). Unfortunately, my Persian primer is still a draft and I can't offer it to you but you can find an outline of it in (http://wikitravel.org/en/Persian_phrasebook). The "basic grammar" on that page is simply a "copy and paste" from my work. And also take a look at the pronunciation guide; you might find sections about stress position and syllable interesting. Regarding verb conjugation, you can read my collection here (http://www.jahanshiri.ir/pa/v/foreword.html). Although, it leaves a lot to be as I want it to be but anyway, you can't find another source having mentioned so many tenses (neither in books nor in online resources). You have some mistakes but here is not a good place to talk about them. Sepehr just talked about some of them; I disagree with him on some points but it's not really handy to talk with you two here. Mithridates, if you liked, you can ask it in the forum. Just create a new thread and name it "member work : TITLE", introduce your page and ask for opinions, suggestions and corrections. Alternatively, you can create a new thread and name it something like "why Persian is actually easier than the major European languages" and discuss about it. I personally like talks on comparative grammar. - Good luck

Ali said...
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Ali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ali said...

(Sorry for deleting it twice but I noticed several typos. I hope it's less now !)

Anonymous who talked about "maalesef" should know that it's originally an Arabic word. However, just like the majority of originally Arabic words found in Turkic languages, Turkish should have taken it from Persian.

Sepehr, how many simple verbs do you think Persian has? It is less than 350 and practically, much less than 200 of them are in common use. I have classified Persian verbs here. They are not as irregular as you think. For example, verbs constructed with -idan and -ândan are all regular.

Sepehr, regarding your 5th, I think the point of Mithridates was that adjectives can be used to modify verbs (act as an adverb), which is completely correct. There are certainly some ways to make adverbs in Persian but basically, just like German, adjectives can act as an adverb. Many languages don't have such a feature e.g. Romance languages, where for example French uses the feminine form of the adjective plus -ment to make an adverb. Even a constructed language like Esperanto differentiates adjectives and adverbs, which I think it has probably been for having followed the trend of the major languages or IMHO, it's nice to modify verbs with the same adjectives.

Sepehr, regarding your 6th, šahrdâr is completely meaningful to one acquainted with the different meanings of the words. dâštan does not only mean "to have"; among other things, it also means "to keep, to tend" (look after; be the keeper of; have charge of). šahrdâr means "one who looks after the city" (šahr). ostândâr means "one who looks after the province", dehdâr means "one who looks after the village", we have also baxšdâr but I don't know its English. Also, consider "kešvardâri", mamlekatdâri, etc. mehmândâr "one who looks after the guess" (the Persian word for flight attendant), gusfanddâr means "one who looks after the sheep", maqâzedâr means "one who looks after the shop", and if you think for a while, you can find many more examples.

Mithridates, Persian morphology is seamlessly at hand and productive; that is, if you know the meaning of morphemes you can both guess the meaning of (new) words and make many new words. Consider biâbân (desert), for example. it is from bi (without) + âb (water) + ân (suffix of time / place). One reason I like Japanese is that you can learn words from their imaginative structure; for example the Kanji of fire and the Kanji of mountain makes volcano. Persian is also so. You can break up words and extract meanings.

SK said...

Marilynn, I'd do Hindi and Persian rather than Hindi and Arabic because then I could get a more whole understanding of Hindi-Urdu.

I'm a native Hind-Urdu (more Urdu) speaker, and this blog has inspired me to try picking up Persian as well.

Michael Damato said...

Hi, there!

The comment about the 3rd person singular having no ending in the past tense is correct, however in the present tense the ending is -ad.
To do: kard-an (present stem: kon)
He was doing: mi-kard
He is doing: mi-kon-ad.

Source: Elementary Persian Grammar
L.P. Elwell-Sutton (U of Oxford Press)

Regards,
Michael

Mithridates said...

Ah, that's right. Duly noted, and thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hey-
I really like your article. Its a pretty legitimate and straightforward, and I agree: farsi is a super-easy language. There are two things I would like to point out however: you have left out a verb conjugation that is pretty important, I believe. It is the conjugation for "you all." Now, as a native speaker who's family originates from Tehran, I have learned that the suffix for this would be "een," such "khoob hasteen?" or "kay rafteen?" or whatever. the second thing i would like to point out is that, although the conjugation for 'you' can be "eed," most native speakers just place "ee" after the end of the stem. "eed" is a more formal conjugation of the verb. For example, "deeshab tou raftee khaneh." Other than these details, your on the spot

Mike Farahbakhshian said...

Interestingly enough, a lot of the stuff that Farsi lacks (cases, dative markers, &c) DO exist in the older variants of the language.

They exist to *some* degree in two languages: literary (e.g., Ferdowsi) Persian, and Middle Persian/Parsik (which are to a great degree mutually intelligible, cf. Shakespeare and Chaucer). For example, you will notice that there is an increased distinction between the continous-action marker (ha)mi- (which in prosaic Farsi has become mi-); the perfective/aorist marker be (which is in prosaic Farsi only used for imperative and subjunctive, but in MP/Literary Persian used for concepts like U Be-kard "He did it, and it is finished, and the act of doing is finished as well.")[*] MP/Literary Persian also has optative and injunctive cases, and uses -ra as a marker not only of the direct object, but also of the indirect object (dative marker).

Old Persian and its closely related language Young Avestan carry this trend even farther. (Both courses are available for free online from the Harvard Iranian Studies Website by Professor Oktor Skærvø.) They have three genders, six cases, light use of dual (opp. single/plural) and aorist, and mediopassive voice (so that there is active voice, passive voice, and then a voice used for actions performed for one's own benefit or directed toward oneself). The origin of the ezâfe as genitive/dative marker is seen here in OP -ahåya, as well as the origin of -ra (from râdiy, meaning "reason," (cf. Lation "ratione") as in avahåya-radiy, meaning "for that reason"[**].

A step beyond that is Old Avestan, the oldest attested Iranian language, which is so similar to Sanskrit in its grammar that simple phonological rules can be applied and one can be translated into the other with a search-and-replace function. Heavy use of dual forms, eight cases, and aorist usage. Old Avestan is also available from the Harvard site as an addendum to the Young Avestan course. Sanskrit courses can be found elsewhere.


[*] as an aside, this is why dâshtan and budan do not have (ha)mi- or be- as a marker in most cases, because the act of holding or being is neither one which requires continual exertion, nor is it atomically performed and then finished.

[**] literally "reason of that": râdiy- reason, ava = that (cf. u/ân), and the aforementioned -ahåya genitive/dative marker, "of X"

Anonymous said...

I definetely think Persian is WAY easier than any other language in the region, not only the grammar and vocabulary but its pronunciation. as compared to turkish with vowel harmony and that stupid dotless i, and arabic forcing you to strangle yourself to say some of those consonants (like ayin) :P I actually think the arabic script is fun to write in though, it just takes concentration and practice.(!)

Anonymous said...

khayle khub ;-)

Shirin said...

The point is very true about learning to write and speak Persian. However, when it comes to listening, I think it is even harder than any other language that you've mentioned. It is not about the man on the street and slangs. Almost no one speaks like what is written!" No One!"
I am not sure how long it takes to understand a "regular" spoken Persian. Compare this simple sentence:
Written: Shoma in kar-ha ra kardeh-id? (Have you done these things/jobs?)
Spoken: Shoma in kararo kardin?
One who wants to understand Persian, definitly has to know (compare written, with spoken):
be-rav-id (go) --> be-rid
mi-khah-am (I want)--> mi-kham
mi-shav-ad (becomes) --> mi-sheh
.
.
.
almost all of the verbs are pronunced different from their written form.
The same thing is true about many other words.

پریسان said...

OMG ,
Your text has a lot of mistakes .
exm :
All verbs end in -tan or -dan.
these are not verbs . these are infinitives .
and all infinitives with out -tan or -dan are verbs ...

Daniel said...

If you want to learn a language just for fun or you are in fields such as religion or literature sure Farsi is a good choice.
But if you want to learn a language for business or having more job opportunities then Arabic is a far more better choice in the region.
It doesn't matter that a language is easy or hard to learn if you can't use it for your purpose.
Take Esperanto for example, very easy to learn but no real use.

Anonymous said...

I am an American; my husband is from Iran; and we have a large number of Iranian friends and acquaintances. I am very good with polite phrases, including terms used with children and food. However, so far, speaking longer sentences and getting more conversational has eluded me, mostly because we live in a country of a third language which was more important for me to learn. Therefore Persian got left by the wayside.

Thanks to your article, I can approach learning it more systematically. I want to learn to understand and speak without learning to read and write, i.e. to be a part of the group when relatives and friends are gathered.

Someone should create a course that teaches the language using a western style alphabet. I know that must be fairly easy because many of our friends write email messages using familiar letters.

Thanks for the encouragement offered by your article. And to you academics contributing more confusion--please don't make it more difficult. You'll take away the motivation. We learners can get more sophisticated after taking baby steps; then we can run more with the fine tuning of the language.

데이빛 / Mithridates said...

Anonymous: agreed. I try to avoid technical terms as much as possible when explaining a language.

I actually do have a Persian course written in English that I could send to you, so send an email to the address found here:

http://www.pagef30.com/2009/06/about-page-f30-faq.html

and I'll send it to you.

Anonymous said...

I was amazed about people comparing Turkish or Arabic to Persian. These comparisons are, by definition wrong. First we are talking about Indo-European languages, second Persian language has the advantage of 1. Being essentially a continuation of Old and Middle Persian. 2. The language Persian does use a lot of Arabic loanwords, but it does not mean Almost-Pure persian does not exist: There ARE some people in Iran who ARE able to use almost (less than 2-3%) Arabic words. Therefore some comment here on over-usage of Arabic loan words in Persian is simply uninteresting.

I would however say that Persian language should also be learnt along with one Old language (like Sanskrit).

The huge amount of literature in Persian language makes Persian language a good-for-educated language to learn.

I am however a bit disappointed that why there is no reference yet easy book on "common root of Indo-European languages".

It always amazes me that native Persian speakers DO understand WITHOUT MUCH DIFFICULTIES texts from 1200 years ago. Note that some of them use Rudaki, Ferdowsi, Rumi, Hafez in their everyday life. Is this also common in Hindu?

Thanks for the article anyways.

Orbis Pictus said...

To a conlanger, Farsi seems to be a good place to start thinking about language regularity, simplicity and usability. It could be simpler, yet. When we start thinking about what counts in an artificial language, we cleary understand that declinations, conjugations, etc., are a real balast. Pick a simple language and learn it. There's no point in complexity, we see. Simplicity will always rule. Long live Farsi!

Ajesh said...

farsi really seems to have a lot in common with hindi/urdu and punjabi. I can speak hindustani and punjabi with native level fluency and a lot of the vocabulary seems to be shared. for example

namak (salt) is the same in hindi and farsi
sabzi (vegetable)
mard (man) though you can also use admi in hindi
khub (good)

maybe i should give farsi a shot instead of frech or german.

데이빛 / Mithridates said...

Admi - Persian also has âdam for man so there's another word you don't need to learn.

As for Persian vs. French or German - that's a personal decision so I couldn't say but there's always the option of learning Persian for a while and then using that to learn German through something like Deutsch - warum nicht? or Radio D. The languages are different enough from each other that one's mind doesn't tend to mix them up.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ajesh. Indeed, Parsi was the official language of the Moghol Empire and thus influenced heavily Hindustâni. It was still in use at the begin of the British rule and it is still considered as a language of culture. The Pakistani national anthem is in Parsi.
Because of this, Sambahsa includes a significant amount of Parsi-Hindustani words.

Olivier
http://sambahsa.pbworks.com/

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. While Persian is considered a "pro-drop" language, the verb inflections at least tell you unambiguously whether you are talking about I, you, or he/she/it. Not the same for killers like Japanese, which hardly does it at all. Does Persian drop object pronouns (him/her/it) as well, or does it keep those?

AlJaahil said...

One note, I learned elsewhere - and think it more likely given Ottoman Turkish - that the suffix -chi was borrowed from Persian into Turkish, not from Turkish to Persian. Could be wrong, though.

I do know it heavily influenced the Urdu side of Hindi/Urdu, and to some extent Punjabi. As far as I know Urdu has no words *directly* borrowed from Arabic, they all came into the language via Persian. Even people who identify their language as "Hindi" tend to use Persoarabic words rather than Sanskrit ones in normal speech. No one I know who speaks Hindi would dream of calling a book a *pustak*, it's a *kitâb*.

As for object pronouns, from what I remember of learning a little Persian years ago is that it tacks them onto the end of the verb, and they're very similar, or identical, to the possessive suffixes.

šahrdâr municipality
šahrdâreš his/her(/its) municipality

mikonam I make/do
mikonameš I make/do (him/her/)it

(Using parentheses around less-likely possible translations)

One Tehrânî thing (I'm told) is changing ân and sometimes âm to ûn and ûm in some words.

nânetân y'all's bread (= nân-e-shomâ) -> nûnetûn at least in casual speech.

I've heard Dari spoken and the difference I noticed was that the long Persian â like English father isn't so rounded; mâ sounds more like "mah" in Dari, in Iranian Persian it sounds to an English-speaker more like "maw."

Expat said...

Funny how for the most part one can tell who is Persian from their comments; too much arrogance & pride! Still a hang-up & a true handicap! They don't like to be compared to Arabs & Turks, but are OK w/ EU comparisons, so they keep harping on indo-european this or that (superiority/inferiority complex?!)
& they so desparately want to seem sophisticated so just to prove themselves superior they jump down anyone's throat who says Farsi is easy (even if it was just to promote the language & motivate learners).
& what's with the nit-picking on linguistic jargon? Grow up for pete's sake!
Good god folks, how about we get over ourselves & realize we need to cooperate & collaborate for a greater world vision past historical heritage &/or ancient claims! Welcome to the global era! & for the persians REMEBER them fruitful trees (derakht harchi saresh por tareh...

Expat said...

Funny how for the most part one can tell who is Persian from their comments; too much arrogance & pride! Still a hang-up & a true handicap! They don't like to be compared to Arabs & Turks, but are OK w/ EU comparisons, so they keep harping on indo-european this or that (superiority/inferiority complex?!)
& they so desparately want to seem sophisticated so just to prove themselves superior they jump down anyone's throat who says Farsi is easy (even if it was just to promote the language & motivate learners).
& what's with the nit-picking on linguistic jargon? Grow up for pete's sake!
Good god folks, how about we get over ourselves & realize we need to cooperate & collaborate for a greater world vision past historical heritage &/or ancient claims! Welcome to the global era! & for the persians REMEBER them fruitful trees (derakht harchi saresh por tareh...

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. While Persian is considered a "pro-drop" language, the verb inflections at least tell you unambiguously whether you are talking about I, you, or he/she/it. Not the same for killers like Japanese, which hardly does it at all. Does Persian drop object pronouns (him/her/it) as well, or does it keep those?

Orbis Pictus said...

To a conlanger, Farsi seems to be a good place to start thinking about language regularity, simplicity and usability. It could be simpler, yet. When we start thinking about what counts in an artificial language, we cleary understand that declinations, conjugations, etc., are a real balast. Pick a simple language and learn it. There's no point in complexity, we see. Simplicity will always rule. Long live Farsi!

Ajesh said...

farsi really seems to have a lot in common with hindi/urdu and punjabi. I can speak hindustani and punjabi with native level fluency and a lot of the vocabulary seems to be shared. for example

namak (salt) is the same in hindi and farsi
sabzi (vegetable)
mard (man) though you can also use admi in hindi
khub (good)

maybe i should give farsi a shot instead of frech or german.

데이빛 / Mithridates said...

Admi - Persian also has âdam for man so there's another word you don't need to learn.

As for Persian vs. French or German - that's a personal decision so I couldn't say but there's always the option of learning Persian for a while and then using that to learn German through something like Deutsch - warum nicht? or Radio D. The languages are different enough from each other that one's mind doesn't tend to mix them up.

SK said...

Marilynn, I'd do Hindi and Persian rather than Hindi and Arabic because then I could get a more whole understanding of Hindi-Urdu.

I'm a native Hind-Urdu (more Urdu) speaker, and this blog has inspired me to try picking up Persian as well.

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