Sunday, November 15, 2009
Thanks to Steve Rice for pointing this out. Librivox has a book here that I've seen before (it's a copyright-free Persian phrasebook) but didn't know had audio files as well. The phrasebook has some Perso-Arabic script as well but it's largely romanized, and thus is the perfect place to start for a person that simply wants to hear and follow along with a few phrases to see if they like the language or begin to study it.
Since it's a bit old some of the conversational phrases are quite formal, but certainly not all of them. It's probably best to concentrate mostly on the phrases that don't have to do with a person's health or their family etc. as suddenly the formality level shoots way up (unless you really want to sound like that), but phrases like "here are the keys" and "here is my luggage" are fine. Other phrases are fine but quite dated ("call a carriage", "here, boatman!"), as well as some vocabulary (bus is given as gârî (گاری) when the word used today is otobus).
The "safest" part of the book is probably simply the vocabulary section. Earth, air, hot, cold, etc., those are words that very rarely change with time and thus those parts of the book are probably best for putting in one's mp3 player when outside.
One other thing to note is that sometimes the romanization does not match up with current pronunciation. I'm not sure if that's the fault with the romanization itself or whether Persian pronunciation has changed over time. The section on the verb for example writes بوده ام (I have been) as buda am when you would only see it as bude am now, and the pronunciation from the file is in fact bude am. I took (گرفتم, gereftam) is also written as giriftam. I actually do suspect that it has to do with changing pronunciation over time since the present tense stem of take is gir (migiram, migiri, etc.) which is an irregular present stem (otherwise it would be migerefam but that's wrong) but perhaps the irregularity comes from changing pronunciation. Anyway, in situations like this simply pay more attention to the audio than to the romanization and you should be fine.
The part on the verb is also great because it shows just how regular Persian verbs are. The only irregularity ever encountered is the sometimes present irregular present stem, but even then the verb is then conjugated regularly afterward so the only burden on the student when learning a verb is sometimes having to remember a single irregularity.