زبان و فرهنگ ایران

Iran, Persian Language & Culture

Iran's Geography & Environment: Iran is located in southwestern Asia; neighboring countries are Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan. Kazakhstan and Russia are also Iran's direct neighbors to the north through the Caspian Sea borders. United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia are Iran's neighbors to the south through the Persian Gulf. Iran is slightly larger than Alaska and has a variable climate. In the north and west, winters are cold with heavy snowfall and subfreezing temperatures during December and January. Spring and fall are mild, while summers are dry and hot. In the south, winters are mild and the summers are very hot. In general, Iran has an arid climate in which most of the precipitation falls from October through April.

Iran in Middle East

Here are some quick facts about Iran:
Area: 1,648,195 km2
Capital: Tehran تهران is a metropolitan city, located mid-north of Iran, less than 100 miles south of the Caspian sea. Tehran is the political, administrative, industrial and commercial capital of Iran, with a population of close to nine million people.
Time Difference: UTC+3.5
Terrain: Rugged and mountainous in the north and west. Desert in central plateau.
Lowest Point: Caspian Sea: -28 m دریای خــزر
Highest Point: Damavand Mountain: 5,671 m دمــاوند
Natural Resources: Petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, uranium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, and sulfur.
Cities: Iran has 31 provinces. Some of the most important Iranian cities include: Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, Shiraz, Tabriz, Yazd, Kerman, Kashan, and Rasht.
Open Sea: Persian Gulf and Oman Sea – open to Indian Ocean خلیج فارس – دریای عــمان
Ports: Northern ports in Caspian sea: Anzali, Astara. Southern ports in Persian Gulf: Asaluyeh, Bandar Abbas, Bandar Imam, and Boushehr.
Deserts: Dashte Loot & Dashte Kavir
Mountain Ranges: Alborz from the northwest to northeast (Damavand is in the middle), Zagross from northwest to southwest.
Prairies: Dashte Moghan in the northeast.
Rivers: Iranian rivers are mostly short with shallow streams. "Dez, Karkheh, Sefidrud, Zayanderud, and Jajorud". The longest river, "Karun", is 516 miles long. Three rivers form portions of Iran's international boundaries: The "Aras" river lies along the border with Armenia and Azerbaijan; the "Atrek" river borders Turkmenistan; and the "Arvandrud" river is part of the border with Iraq.

Timeline history of Iran in a nutshell


Historical Events

4000 BC

Tribe settlement in Iran plateau (Bronze Age: Hasanlu, Hissar)

2700 - 1600 BC

Akkadians and Elamites

Elamites borrowed Sumerian cuneiform and passed to Medes

1200 BC

Medes, Parthians, and Persians settled in Iran

1200 -
600 BC

Zoroaster followers spread the Zoroastrian faith. Diocese established Median Kingdom in 728 BC

550 BC

Cyrus the Great unites Persians and Medes under Achaemenians. Monotheistic Zoroastrianism became the official religion. Avesta collected in 16 spiritual verses
(Gathas) as the holy scripture. The first human rights charter is known to be a decree by Cyrus the Great engraved on a cylinder giving social and religious freedom to the defeated Babylonians. Iranian land expanded from Egypt and Greece in the west to Hindu Kush in the east.

331 BC

Greek invasion of Iran led by Alexander the Great. Seleucids controlled Iran after Alexander was killed. Lost Iran to Parthians after a century.

226 -
641 CE

Reign of Sassanid dynasty. Anushiravan constructed roads and buildings. Scholars were trained in the first ancient Iranian university named Gondishapour.


Iran was invaded by Muslims. Iranians converted to Islam in the span of a century. Arabs used rich and scholarly Iranian culture to develop their governments. The first Persian and Arabic grammar was written by an Iranian scholar named Sibawayh.

Umayyad Dynasty was founded after the demise of the prophet Mohammad. A dispute arose between the caliph, Muawiya, and Ali. Followers of Ali claimed that he was the rightful heir to the position of caliph, as he was the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law. Ali was killed in 661. Ali's son, Hossein, along with his followers, challenged the authority of Muawiya's son Yazid. Yazid killed Imam Hossein and some of his "Shiite" followers.


Abbasid caliphate succeeded the Umayyads and chose Baghdad as its capital. Abbasids reigned for 500 years in Iraq. Baghdad became the center of Islam. Shiite Islam increased its dominance.


Samanid dynasty rules Iran as the first Islamic Persian government.


Ghaznavid dynasty defeats Samanid.


Seljuk wrests western half of the empire from the Ghaznavids.


Mongols invade Iran under Genghis Khan, dismantling the political system and killing many Iranians.


Tartar tribes (from today’s Uzbekistan) under Tamerlane invade Islamic lands, dismantle Islamic government in Iraq.


Safavid Shah Ismail frees Iran from Mongols. He declares the Shiite religion as the official state religion. He begins building a powerful Iran.


Safavid Shah Abbas moves capital from Qazvin to Esfahan. He built Esfahan with the help of Sheykh Baha'i, the great Iranian scholar and architect. He defeated the Ottomans, retook Baghdad, and expelled Portuguese from the Persian Gulf area.


Mahmoud, an Afghan warlord ended Safavid dynasty.


Nadir Shah Afshar from Khorasan defeats Afghans and restores Iranian rule over Islamic lands.


Karim Khan Zand rules parts of Iran centered in Shiraz.


Qajar dynasty headed by Agha Mohammad Khan unifies Iran and returns political stability. They choose Tehran as their capital. Iran is defeated in Russian-Persian wars during Fath-ali shah (1804-28) and loses large parts of its northern lands (Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, and etc.). Nasereddin Shah, assisted by his famous minister “Amir Kabir”, assumed the rein of authority and established the first Iranian modern university known as “Dar-ol Fonoon”. Qajars sell minerals and newly discovered petroleum resources to Britain and Russia during 1850s-1900s. In 1906 the Constitution Movement leads to the founding of a parliament known as Majlis. Iran is occupied by British and Russian forces during the first World War of 1914-1918.


Reza Shah Pahlavi, a former officer in the Persian Cossack brigade ousts Qajar dynasty. He turns the Cossack brigade into a powerful Iranian force. Inspired by Ata Turk (Turkish secular ruler), he starts to westernize Iran. He asks the League of Nations to refer to the country by its native name, Iran, in 1935. He builds a modern infrastructure and reforms education. He bans use of the Islamic veil by women and enforces that ban.


Iran is occupied by the allied forces despite announcing a neutral position in World War II. Reza Shah is sent into exile in favor of his son Mohammad Reza.


The National Movement lead by Mossadeq is formed. He nationalized Iranian oil and challenged British claims in the Hague. The US and Britain stage a CIA-engineered coup that ousts Mossadeq. Shah, who left the country, returns and gradually aligns Iran with the West during the Cold War. Shah establishes a powerful secret police called SAVAK. Shah introduces “White Revolution” and initiates land reform acts and literacy corps. Women gain suffrage. Religious protests start, fueled by the approval of the Capitulation law. Ayatollah Khomeini is exiled to Baghdad and Turkey.


Shah abandons his monarch role and establishes a one-party system known as “Rastakhiz Party”, giving him still full control of the country. In 1978, demonstrations lead to “Black Friday” massacre of protesters. In September 1978, strikes in oil and heavy-industries leave Iran on the verge of revolution. Shah flees Iran on January 16, 1979; Ayatollah Khomeini returns from exile; Islamic revolution occurs on February 22, 1979.


The US Embassy in Tehran is stormed on November 4, 1979 by students; 52 US diplomats are taken hostage for 444 days, souring Iran-US relations. Iranians demand extradition of Shah in exchange of hostages. President Carter ordered a freeze on Iranian assets and stop on oil sales from Iran. This policy failed and eventually Carter approved an operation known as “Eagle Claw” to free the hostages. The operation ended in failure with eight marines killed in Tabas, the desert east of Iran near the border of Afghanistan.


Saddam Hossein invades Iran in September 1980. Eight-year war results in an estimated one million deaths and injuries. Ayatollah Khomeini passes away in 1989.


Ayatollah Khamenei is elected by the “Experts Assembly” as the new leader.


In a landslide election, Khatami is elected as a reformist candidate for presidency.


Ahmadinejad is elected president following the dominance of conservatives in the parliament and city counsels.


Rouhani is elected president following another reformist movement. A comprehensive nuclear deal is signed between Iran, European economic powers, and the USA during President Obama's term in 2016. President Trump cancels the deal in 2018.

Persian: is an agglutinative language of an Indo-European origin with an Iranian mother. This language group branches into a number of other languages, including: Kurdish, Zaza-Gorani, Luri, Gilaki, Mazanderani, Semnani, Taleshi, Tati, Pashto, Ossetian, Balochi, etc. For five centuries before the British invasion and colonization of South Asia, Persian was a 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).

Old Persian: Old Persian فارسی باستان was spoken at the time of Achaemenids. It was written using cuneiform symbols and engraved on stones and clays. The old Persian writing system was both syllabic and alphabetical. It was written from left to right and had 38 letters plus 8 logograms.

Cyrus Cylinder

Middle Persian: Middle Persian فارسی میانه was spoken during the Sassanid era. This language was syntactically different from the old Persian because it was not synthetic or inflectional, but rather analytical or derivational. Middle Persian was written using Avestan and two different versions of the Aramaic writing systems, known as "Pahlavi". It was written from right-to-left

Modern Persian: modern Persian, locally known as "فارسی" 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, which is written from right-to-left, 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 8 million) living in the USA, Europe, Israel, Canada, and Australia. Around 110 million people are estimated to speak Persian and its various dialects.

Persian language and culture has contributed to many literary and scientific endeavors in the eastern half of the world and has had a b 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.

Modern Persian Orthography: Modern Persian has adopted the Arabic orthographic system. Consequently, three main short vowels are omitted in the written words (shown as diacritics /a/= ـَ /e/= ـِ and /o/= ـُ . /e/ also known as "Ezâfe" has been defined as an enclitic phoneme which functions as a grammatical link between certain elements of a Noun Phrase.
/kelâs e fârsi/کلاس ِفارسی    class-NSg of-Ezâfe Persian-NSg    (class of Persian)

Iranian Bill

Absence of the short vowels within a word has also created syntactic and lexical ambiguities; the latter in the form of heterophonic homographs. Heterophonic homographs are words with identical written forms with two or more pronunciations, each associated with a different meaning.
/jang/ جنگ (war-NSg), frequency 684 (in a 1 million words text corpus)
/jong/ جنگ (show-NSg), frequency 1

Language Change: Comparison of the evolution at each stage of the language history shows great simplification in syntax and morphology, especially from the old Persian to middle Persian.
old Persian: /aspa/ > middle Persian /asp/ > modern Persian /asb/ (horse)
The change in syntax is much more visible from old Persian to middle and modern Persian. Examples include deletion of gender, reduction of number, and omission of case. Language change reflects social, cultural, political, economic, religious, and technological changes.

Learning Persian is harder than learning English. However, it is much easier to learn Persian than Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. The following chart shows the amount of time in terms of class hours needed to learn different world languages to an advanced high/superior lavel. "All estimates in this figure assume that the student is a native speaker of English with no prior knowledge of the language to be learned. It is also assumed that the student has very good or better aptitude for classroom learning of foreign languages. Less skilled language learners typically take longer." (Jackson, Frederick H. and Marsha A. Kaplan, 1999, p78).

Learning Different World Languages

Language Categories

Weeks to achieve goal


Class hours to achieve goal

Category I: Languages closely cognate with English: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch, Norwegian, Afrikaans, etc.

23–24 Weeks

Class hours

Category II: Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English: Albanian, Amharic, Azerbaijani, Bulgarian, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Khmer, Latvian, Nepali, Persian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese, Zulu, etc.

44 Weeks

Class hours

Category III: Languages that are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers to learn to speak and read: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean

88 Weeks

Class hours

Why should I learn Persian? As you read, Persian is spoken in many countries around the world, making it 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 to explore within these countries. 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, 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 civilizations, such as the Elamites and Achaemenians, to the modern Islamic era.

30 useful Persian words and phrases






















sorry, excuse me



I don't know



I don't understand

یعنی چی؟...

/... yani chi?/

what does ... mean?

این چیه؟

/in chi ye?/

what is it?

چطور می‌گیم ...؟

/chetor migim ...?/

how do we say ...?

یه سؤال دارم

/ye so'âl dâram/

I have a question?

میشه تکرار کنید؟

/mishe tekrâr konid?/

could you repeat?











/... mikhâm/

I want ...


/... ne-mikhâm/

I don't want ...

دیوید م

/dayvid -am/

I am David











/... chand e?/

how much is ... ?

آمریکایی ام

/âmrikâyi -am/

I am American


/khosh vaqt -am/

nice to meet you


/chetor -id?/

how are you?

بد نیستم

/bad nist-am/

I am not bad


/khub -am/

I am fine


/... kojâ -st?/

where is ...?


/khub -e/

it is good

Ervand Abrahamian (2008). A History of Modern Iran, London: Cambridge University Press.
Joyce Moss (2004). World Literature and Its Times: Middle Eastern Literatures and Their Times, Volume 6, Thomson Gale Publishing Company: USA.
Gernot Windfuhr (2009). The Iranian Languages, London: Routledge.
World Fact Book on Iran.
U.S. Library of Congress, Iran

Ethnologue, Languages of the World. Persian.
Encyclopedia Iranica, Ed Ehsan Yarshater (1989). Routledge & Keegan Paul.
National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project (2006). Standards for foreign language learning in the 21st century. Lawrence, KS: Allen Press, Inc.
Jackson, Frederick H. and Marsha A. Kaplan (1999). Lessons learned from fifty years of theory and practice in government language teaching, Georgetown University Round Table (GURT) on Languages and Linguistics, Georgetown University Press.