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The Modern Persian Language and Script

  • Written by Vahid

Modern Persian (or simply Persian) belongs to the new Iranian category of languages and differs very little grammatically from Dari Persian, out of which it has evolved.

Modern Persian is the official language of Iran.

It is also one of the two official languages of Afghanistan. The other is Pashto.

Back in the 13th century AD, the Ottoman kings became the patrons of the Persian language in Asia minor. Persian reached the peak of its greatness in the 16th and 17th centuries when the Mogul kings supported the expansion of Persian literature in India.

Today, outside of Iran and Afghanistan there exist small groups of Persian speakers in several Arab countries, the Caucasus, and central Asia.

Language

The grammatical structure of modern Persian is very close to that of Dari.

The number of vowels has reduced from 8 in Dari Persian to 6 (â, a, e, i, o, u). The vocabulary has gone through a tremendous upheaval. Many old and pure Persian words have been abandoned and given way to foreign borrowed words.

These foreign languages include Arabic, Turkish, Mongolian, and more recently French and English.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the three versions of the modern Persian spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikestan have been on increasingly divergent paths.

Russian words have entered Tajiki Persian, and Pashto words have been introduced into the Persian language spoken in Afghanistan.

Efforts have been made off and on in Iran, since the 1920’s, to purify the Persian language by reintroducing abandoned words and inventing new ones.

The results have been mixed. Much more needs to be accomplished. One of the great projects brought forth in this site is the commitment to reinvigorate this noble cause.

To find out more click here.

Alphabet

Persian is written in the Arabic script with 4 additional letters (p, c, g, ž).

This alphabet is also known as, Perso-Arabic. In the 19th century, and then again in the 1920’s, Painting by H. Mahjoubi - Bandare Pahlavi and the Seaunsuccessful attempts were made to simplify Perso-Arabic or replace it with a Latin-based alphabet.

The Perso-Arabic alphabet has many basic shortcomings.

In order to find a solution to these problems, scholars and enthusiasts have recently revived the commitment to introduce alternate alphabets for Persian.

One such proposed new alphabet, based on the Latin, is UniPers.


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Vahid Mokri
Persian linguist, engineer, father and husband.
"توانا بود هر که دانا بود"