Saturday, 5 August 2006

Persian: the name of the language

See this photo? It's a calligraphy of a Persian poem from my favorite poet, Sohrab Sepehri. I'll tell you about him one of these days......

But what language is this? It may look like Arabic to some of you, since the alphabet is almost the same. But Persian and Arabic are different languages written with the same alphabet. You can simply think of French and German that almost have the same alphabet but are absolutely not the same.

I use the name "Persian" language. but am I right? Is it the correct name of the language? I can explain it in a simple way. Just look at the sentences below and tell me which group of sentences is correct in your point of view:

Group A:

1. He speaks français (Il parle French).
2. She speaks Deutsch (Sie spricht German).
3. They speak español (Hablan Spanish).

Group B:

1. He speaks French (Il parle français).
2. She speaks German (Sie spricht Deutsch).
3. They speak Spanish (Hablan español).

If you think that the sentences in Group A is correct, or you think that both groups are equally fine, please write to me and tell my your reasoning. I'll be very happy to hear that.

Otherwise, if you think that Group B is the good group, we share the same opinion. Now let me show you the same comparison regarding Persian language:

Group A:

* I speak فارسی [pronounce: farsi] (حرف می‌زنم Persian من [pronounce: mæn pershiën hærf mi-zænæm])

Group B:

* I speak Persian ( من فارسی حرف می‌زنم [pronounce: mæn farsi hærf mi-zænæm])

I think it is clear now that "Persian" in the name of the language in English (in French it is "Persan," in German "Persisch," in Dutch "Perzisch," in Italian "Persiano," etcetera). On the other hand "فارسی" [pronounce: farsi] is the name of the language in Persian (local name). It's easy to see the connection between the local name and the international name of the language. Persian is derived from Pars (the ethnicity of the royal family of the first Persian Empire). فارسی (pronounce: farsi) is also derived from Pars; it is actually the Arabized version of Parsi, an adjective meaning "related to Pars."

You may hear that many people use the local name of Persian language when they speak English or other Western languages. It's just a mistake that became popular after 1979, when many Persians immigrated to Western countries, and started using the local name. This mistake is now so popular that even Microsoft used the local name of Persian language in its programs! But not everybody made that mistake. Mac OS X (the operating system of Apple computers), for example, worked out all different languages so professionally, and you can see the correct name of the language there.

By the way, I should tell you about my Mac Book Pro! I got it immediately when it came to the market, and I use it almost everyday. And I love it almost every day!

OK, let me finish what I started in this post. Next time, you face somebody using the local name of Persian language, or read it in a newspaper or a magazine, make a comment on that! You can show how professional you are!

by Fakhredin

No comments: