Persian/Dari: Honorifics

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by go_neybee, Apr 27, 2013.

  1. go_neybee New Member

    Salam! I took a basic Dari course a couple of months ago. I asked the instructor the same question, but she was not sure either. Here it is:

    Are -khan and -jan somehow related to the Japanese -san and -chan?
  2. Treaty Senior Member


    I think the etymology forum is a better place for this question. Anyway, the roots of these words are as follows:

    -jān = soul, life. It is a genuine Persian word. I'm not sure if it is a true honorific as it mainly suggests intimacy or attachment (however, the usage may differ in Dari).
    -khān = (tribe) chief. It is a Turkic loanword (also used in Mongolian).

    I have no idea about the Japanese words, though a Sino-Mongolian influence is probable for khān.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013
  3. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    I suspect that the Afghan custom of attaching jān (< Middle Persian gyān “spirit”) to a personal name imitates the Indian use of jī (< Sanskrit jīva- “life”) in the same function.

    Obviously, there is no connection with Japanese.
  4. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Persians also use jaan/juun as an affix to personal names, though.
  5. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    That is true. In principle it could be the other way round (Hindi etc. imitating Persian), or it could be an independent development in both countries. In Persian at least NN-jān is not very old, as far as I can see.
  6. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    It is Urdu, I presume, that you have in mind. Urdu speakers do use "jaan" as in "ammii jaan", "abbaa jaan", "bhaa'ii jaan". Hindi would be "maataa jii", "pitaa hii", "bhaa'ii jii" etc.
  7. Treaty Senior Member

    In fact, the oldest Persian -jān that I found predates the peak of Indo-Persian relationship (15th-17th c.). Here, there are two poems by Molavi using the suffix (I hope I have read the correctly): verse #9

    There is a difference between Indian -ji and Persian -jān. While the former is mainly used for respect and honour (as far as I know), the latter is primarily a word of love and intimacy similar to "darling" or "honey". The word jān (as a noun in romantic contexts) was frequently used since 10th century. However, as a suffix, -jān is now often used informally. Maybe, it is not easy to find it in literary texts.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013

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