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).
Jazayery, Mohammad Ali. "Western Loanwords in Persian, with Reference to Westernization." Islamic Culture 40 (1966):207–220 and 41 (1967):1–19. London: K. Paul, 1935.
m. a. jazayery
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.