Skip to main content
Select Source:

Persian

PERSIAN

an indo-european language related to english, sanskrit, kurdish, and pashto.

Modern Persian arose about the ninth century c.e. It is the national language of Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. It is known generally and in Iran as Farsi; in Afghanistan, as Dari; and in Tajikistan, as Tajiki. It has exerted great influence on the Indian sub-continent and in Ottoman Turkey.

Persian has twenty-three consonants and six vowels. It has two consonants lacking in English: gh (similar to the French r ) and kh (similar to the ch in the German Buch ). It lacks the th sounds (as in thin and this ); the consonant w; the vowels in bit, but, and put; and syllable-initial consonant clusters (as in strip ). It has neither gender, articles, nor number agreement.

Persian uses a slightly modified Arabic script, written from right to left (except for the numerals). There are seven diacriticals (three seldom used). Seven letters cannot join each other or any following letter. Under Soviet rule, Tajiki briefly used the Latin script, then switched to the Cyrillic. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there has been a movement for the return to the Arabic script. The Persian script's main features are inconsistent representation of certain vowels and alternative spellings of some consonants and vowels. These and other features, causing problems in reading and writing, have since the nineteenth century led some Iranians to advocate the adoption of Latin or some other script.

Persian has changed little in the last thousand years or so: a person who knows Persian can understand tenth-century Persian (except for a few words and phrases). Persian includes an extensive Arabic element, the language of Islam, and was for a time the language of science and scholarship for all Muslims. There are also a number of Turkish and Mongolian loanwords, reflecting Turkish and Mongol rule in Iran. Growing contacts with Europe since the nineteenth century have led to extensive borrowings from French and, since World War II, from English. Greek, Aramaic, and Indian languages also account for a few words. In its turn, Persian is the source of some words in Arabic, large numbers in Turkish and Urdu, and smaller numbers in Western and other languages. Most of these words have found their way into Western languages through classical Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Spanish (for example, the English tulip, narcissus, khaki, orange, sugar, julep, jasmine, pajamas, magic, arsenic, and cushy, and the names Cyrus and Roxanne).

Bibliography


Jazayery, Mohammad Ali. "Western Loanwords in Persian, with Reference to Westernization." Islamic Culture 40 (1966):207220 and 41 (1967):119. London: K. Paul, 1935.

Windfuhr, Gernot L. "Persian." In The World's Major Languages, edited by Bernard Comrie. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

m. a. jazayery

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Persian." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Persian." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/persian

"Persian." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/persian

Persian

Per·sian / ˈpərzhən/ • n. 1. a native or national of ancient or modern Persia (or Iran), or a person of Persian descent. ∎  (also Per·sian cat) a long-haired domestic cat of a breed originating in Persia, having a broad round head, stocky body, and short thick legs. 2. the Iranian language of modern Iran, written in Arabic script. Also called Farsi. ∎  an earlier form of this language spoken in ancient or medieval Persia. • adj. of or relating to ancient Persia or modern Iran or its people or language.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Persian." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Persian." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/persian-0

"Persian." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/persian-0

Persian

Persian (Farsi, Iranian) Official language of Iran. It is spoken by nearly all of Iran's population as a first or second language. It is also widely used in Afghanistan. Persian belongs to the Indo-Iranian family of Indo-European languages. Persian has borrowed from Arabic and is written in the Arabic script.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Persian." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Persian." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/persian

"Persian." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/persian

Persian

Persian.
1. Telamon sculpted with clothes suggestive of a Persian origin. Persae occur e.g. on the portal of the Friedrichsbau, Heidelberg Castle (1601–7).

2. The C19 Persian style embraced a range of motifs associated with Islamic and Moorish architecture.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Persian." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Persian." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/persian

"Persian." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/persian

Persian

Persian XIV. ME. persien — OF. — medL. Persiānus (repl. L. Persicus), f. Persia, f. Gr. Persis — OPers. Pārsa (mod. Pārs, Arab. Fārs); assim. to -IAN XVI.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Persian." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Persian." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/persian-1

"Persian." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/persian-1

Persian

Persianashen, fashion, passion, ration •abstraction, action, attraction, benefaction, compaction, contraction, counteraction, diffraction, enaction, exaction, extraction, faction, fraction, interaction, liquefaction, malefaction, petrifaction, proaction, protraction, putrefaction, redaction, retroaction, satisfaction, stupefaction, subtraction, traction, transaction, tumefaction, vitrifaction •expansion, mansion, scansion, stanchion •sanction •caption, contraption •harshen, Martian •cession, discretion, freshen, session •abjection, affection, circumspection, collection, complexion, confection, connection, convection, correction, defection, deflection, dejection, detection, direction, ejection, election, erection, genuflection, imperfection, infection, inflection, injection, inspection, insurrection, interconnection, interjection, intersection, introspection, lection, misdirection, objection, perfection, predilection, projection, protection, refection, reflection, rejection, resurrection, retrospection, section, selection, subjection, transection, vivisection •exemption, pre-emption, redemption •abstention, apprehension, ascension, attention, circumvention, comprehension, condescension, contention, contravention, convention, declension, detention, dimension, dissension, extension, gentian, hypertension, hypotension, intention, intervention, invention, mention, misapprehension, obtention, pension, prehension, prevention, recension, retention, subvention, supervention, suspension, tension •conception, contraception, deception, exception, inception, interception, misconception, perception, reception •Übermenschen • subsection •ablation, aeration, agnation, Alsatian, Amerasian, Asian, aviation, cetacean, citation, conation, creation, Croatian, crustacean, curation, Dalmatian, delation, dilation, donation, duration, elation, fixation, Galatian, gyration, Haitian, halation, Horatian, ideation, illation, lavation, legation, libation, location, lunation, mutation, natation, nation, negation, notation, nutation, oblation, oration, ovation, potation, relation, rogation, rotation, Sarmatian, sedation, Serbo-Croatian, station, taxation, Thracian, vacation, vexation, vocation, zonation •accretion, Capetian, completion, concretion, deletion, depletion, Diocletian, excretion, Grecian, Helvetian, repletion, Rhodesian, secretion, suppletion, Tahitian, venetian •academician, addition, aesthetician (US esthetician), ambition, audition, beautician, clinician, coition, cosmetician, diagnostician, dialectician, dietitian, Domitian, edition, electrician, emission, fission, fruition, Hermitian, ignition, linguistician, logician, magician, mathematician, Mauritian, mechanician, metaphysician, mission, monition, mortician, munition, musician, obstetrician, omission, optician, paediatrician (US pediatrician), patrician, petition, Phoenician, physician, politician, position, rhetorician, sedition, statistician, suspicion, tactician, technician, theoretician, Titian, tuition, volition •addiction, affliction, benediction, constriction, conviction, crucifixion, depiction, dereliction, diction, eviction, fiction, friction, infliction, interdiction, jurisdiction, malediction, restriction, transfixion, valediction •distinction, extinction, intinction •ascription, circumscription, conscription, decryption, description, Egyptian, encryption, inscription, misdescription, prescription, subscription, superscription, transcription •proscription •concoction, decoction •adoption, option •abortion, apportion, caution, contortion, distortion, extortion, portion, proportion, retortion, torsion •auction •absorption, sorption •commotion, devotion, emotion, groschen, Laotian, locomotion, lotion, motion, notion, Nova Scotian, ocean, potion, promotion •ablution, absolution, allocution, attribution, circumlocution, circumvolution, Confucian, constitution, contribution, convolution, counter-revolution, destitution, dilution, diminution, distribution, electrocution, elocution, evolution, execution, institution, interlocution, irresolution, Lilliputian, locution, perlocution, persecution, pollution, prosecution, prostitution, restitution, retribution, Rosicrucian, solution, substitution, volution •cushion • resumption • München •pincushion •Belorussian, Prussian, Russian •abduction, conduction, construction, deduction, destruction, eduction, effluxion, induction, instruction, introduction, misconstruction, obstruction, production, reduction, ruction, seduction, suction, underproduction •avulsion, compulsion, convulsion, emulsion, expulsion, impulsion, propulsion, repulsion, revulsion •assumption, consumption, gumption, presumption •luncheon, scuncheon, truncheon •compunction, conjunction, dysfunction, expunction, function, junction, malfunction, multifunction, unction •abruption, corruption, disruption, eruption, interruption •T-junction • liposuction •animadversion, aspersion, assertion, aversion, Cistercian, coercion, conversion, desertion, disconcertion, dispersion, diversion, emersion, excursion, exertion, extroversion, immersion, incursion, insertion, interspersion, introversion, Persian, perversion, submersion, subversion, tertian, version •excerption

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Persian." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Persian." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/persian

"Persian." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/persian