The Persian language
, a quick guide. It is sometimes referred to in English as Farsi
, but I can't see why: that's the Persian
word for 'Persian', not the English. Anyway, you may call it Farsi if you prefer. It's a descendant of the ancient language in which the inscriptions of Xerxes
were written, and which was closely related to the Avestan
language of the Zoroastrian
scriptures. What follows refers to modern Persian.
It is an Indo-European language of the Indo-Iranian branch, but has an enormous admixture of Arabic vocabulary. It is written in the Arabic script with a few extra letters (indicated by extra dots etc.) for the non-Arabic sounds p g zh ch.
Here are the Unicode numbers for the extra letters; see my Using Unicode on E2 for the Arabic alphabet in full.
پ پ p
چ چ ch
ژ ژ zh
گ گ g
In pronunciation an essential difference must be made between the two vowels a as in 'cat' and â somewhere between 'cart' and 'cot'.
The grammar of modern Persian is remarkably simple and regular, the only difficulty being that verbs have two stems, present and past, and in some cases the relationship to each other is not obviously predictable.
The demonstratives are in 'this', ân 'that'. There is no article as such, but there is an emphatically indefinite suffix -i (and see -râ just below):
ân mard = that man
in zan = this woman
zan ast = it is a woman
mardi = some man or other, any man
For prepositions, 'to' is be-, 'with' is bâ, 'from' is az, 'in' is dar, and 'of' is -e-. A definite object is marked with -râ:
be-zan = to the woman
bâ in mard = with this man
dust-e-zan = the woman's friend
in mard ân zan-râ did = this man saw that woman
mard dust-e-zan-râ did = the man saw the woman's friend
The plural ends in -hâ, and animate nouns can also take -ân. The complicated 'broken plurals' of borrowed Arabic words do exist, but need not be used:
sib = apple, sibhâ = apples
zan = woman, zanhâ or zanân = women
manzel = house, manzelhâ or manâzel = houses
Adjectives are suffixed onto the noun with the 'of' marker -e-:
manzel-e-bozorg = 'a big house'
The comparative and superlative are formed as e.g. bozorgtar 'bigger', bozorgtarin 'biggest'. One of the few irregularities is that khub 'good' makes behtar 'better'.
Verbs come at the end of sentences. The present tense of a verb has the prefix mi- and personal endings.:
minevisam = I write
minevisad = s/he writes
minevisim = we write
minevisid = you write
minevisand = they write
The past tense has an ending of -t- or -d- but there may be other phonetic changes:
neveshtam = I wrote
nevesht = s/he wrote
neveshtim = we wrote
neveshtid = you wrote
neveshtand = they wrote
The negative is formed with a stressed na-: naneveshtam 'I did not write'.
The numerals one to ten are yek do se chahâr panj shesh haft hasht noh dah.