Persian & Other Iranian Languages
Persian is an agglutinative language of an Indo-European origin with an Iranian mother. This language group also includes the languages of Kurdish, Mazandarani, Talyshi, Gilaki and Baluchi. For five centuries before the British invasion and colonization of South Asia, Persian was a very common second language for many people. Linguists consider three historical periods for the Iranian languages. Old Era (525 BC - 400 BC: The Medes - Achaemenid), Middle Era (400 BC - 900 AD: Sassanid) and Modern Era (900 AD – present).
Modern Persian: Locally known as Farsi is spoken in post-Islamic Iran and gradually dominates other Iranian languages. Modern Persian is now a major language of Iran and a prominent language in Afghanistan (Dari) and Tajikistan (Tajiki). It has official-language status in all three countries. Modern Persian is written from right-to-left. Modern Persian is mainly spoken in Iran and in many other countries around the world including Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Bahrain, Iraq, Russia, Pakistan, India, Kuwait, and Lebanon. It is the language of Iranian diaspora (estimated 5 million) after 1979 Islamic revolution in the USA, Europe, Israel, Canada and Australia. Around 80 million people are estimated to speak Persian as their first language.
Persian language and culture has contributed to many literary and scientific endeavors in the eastern half of the world and had a strong influence on many neighboring languages. We can see this most heavily in the Turkic languages in Central Asia, and in many South Asian languages as well, most notably Urdu.
Why Learn Persian? As you read, Persian is spoken in so many countries around the world that it is a very practical language to learn if you are thinking of travelling or working anywhere in those areas. Learning Persian will offer you a great deal of freedom within these many countries to explore. It is the Middle Eastern equivalent of learning English, as there are pockets of speakers all over this area of the world. In terms of the language itself, if you are of a literary mind, then learning the Persian language can open up a surprising new area of interest for you in the form of Persian poetry and literature. There is a rich and plentiful history of over 2500 years of literature and poetry, with many beautiful stories and traditional epic pieces. Furthermore, the rich Persian culture has elements from the oldest civilization such as Elamite and Achaemenians to the modern Islamic era.