Persian: General question about "Persian" vs "Farsi"

chizinist

Senior Member
English
I was hoping I can get the thoughts of native speakers/Iranians on this issue. I know that in America there is a cultural debate between calling the language "Persian" vs "Farsi". Preferred usage here, in official respects, tends to be to use "Persian" and then subclassify Farsi and Dari as dialects. I am wondering how this works within Iran or Afghanistan? Perhaps this is a confusing question, but when an Iranian is speaking English in Iran, do they refer to their language as "Persian" or as "Farsi"? Similarly, do they refer to the language of Afghanistan as "Persian" or as "Dari?"

The way people conceptualize languages is interesting to me, because (for example) in Tunisia, Tunisians will often refer to their spoken dialect as "Tunisian", where as MSA Arabic is referred to as "Arabic".
 
  • arsham

    Senior Member
    Persian
    The dialectal differences between Iranian and Afghan Persian are not huge. Iranians and Afghans can talk to each other and would be able to understand each other although there are lexical differences for e.g. ta'mir in Iran means "reparation" but in Afghanistan it means "building". Such differences also exist between Tehrani, Esfahani or Nahavandi dialects as well, which are all spoken in Iran. The main reason for these distinctions is political. When Afghanistan became an independent state with the rise of Dorani dinasty, the official language of the country was Pashtu and it remained so until mid 20th century. The ruling Pashthu majority accepted "dari" as a second official language precisely because it is supposed to be a "distinct" language different from Persian/Farsi. As to Farsi, its usage in foreign languages is not recommended by the Persian Academy but most Iranians for reasons unknown to me tend to use it more often! Using "Farsi" in English is like using "Deutsch" in English instead of German, it's the local name of the language.
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    A friend told me once that the Persian language of Afghanistan is called in full farsi-ye dari. The Deutsch example is perfect, as far as English usage is concerned!
     

    arsham

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Caution with the phrase farsiye dari! Its use as the full official name for Afghan Persian is recent and political. It stems from the "perception" that farsiye dari, i.e. the form of Persian spoken in the Sassanid courts in Ctesiphon, located in southern Irak, originated in Central Asia and Afghanistan and then spread westwards. Historically and linguistically it is simply false! Farsiye dari spread from the western part of the Sassanid empire to its eastern end and even then, when Muslims conquered Afganistan, which back then was largely budhist people mostly spoke eastern Iranian languages like sogdian, tocharian etc not Persian. It was the rise of the Samanid dinasty in Central Asia that helped the spread of Dari Persian and the extinction of of a good deal of eastern Iranian languages. But to most Afgans it is the othet way around despite the fact that there are no serious pieces of evidence supporting this "political interpretation of history".
     

    damavand

    Senior Member
    Persian
    1- I deem Farsi /Persian the same and use them interchangeably.
    2-If I am speaking about Afghanistan language, I will say: They speak Dari. But, They speak Farsi ye Dari to people whom I am not familiar with their general knowledge. The reason being : "Dar" means "door" in Farsi and if I suffice to "Dari", then I am bound to repeat and stress "Farsi ye Dari".
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    There may be some confusion in what the enquirer has actually asked. I hope he/she will correct me if I have got the wrong end of the stick.

    I don't think S/he is enquiring about Farsi (Iran)/Dari (Afghanistan) and their historical connection. S/he wants to know whether you (as speakers of this language) prefer to refer to your language as "Persian" or "Farsi" say when you are walking in the streets of London or New York. The reason behind the "debate" is that, at least in English speaking world, the language has traditionally been called "Persian". This term carries a lot of pride for the Iranians, in terms of Persian wars (with the Greeks)/ culture/ literatire/cooking/music/carpets and rugs/cat...

    I hope this makes sense.
     

    arsham

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Dar in Middle Persian and early Classical Persian also meant palace, so dari in farsiye dari can only mean court (Persian)!
    The use of farsi in foreign languages as I explained in the 2nd post is not recommended!
     

    chizinist

    Senior Member
    English
    There may be some confusion in what the enquirer has actually asked. I hope he/she will correct me if I have got the wrong end of the stick.

    I don't think S/he is enquiring about Farsi (Iran)/Dari (Afghanistan) and their historical connection. S/he wants to know whether you (as speakers of this language) prefer to refer to your language as "Persian" or "Farsi" say when you are walking in the streets of London or New York. The reason behind the "debate" is that, at least in English speaking world, the language has traditionally been called "Persian". This term carries a lot of pride for the Iranians, in terms of Persian wars (with the Greeks)/ culture/ literatire/cooking/music/carpets and rugs/cat...

    I hope this makes sense.

    This is what I was getting at. I'm wondering if the term "Persian" cares any sort of importance for the average Iranian given its cultural history, as opposed to "Farsi". The above answers have definitely been very useful.
     

    golsanam

    New Member
    persian
    Persia= pars = Fars
    Parsian= Farsi
    no diffrence between them!
    we call our language parsi or Farsi here in iran but call it Persian in English.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Persia= pars = Fars
    Parsian= Farsi
    no diffrence between them!
    we call our language parsi or Farsi here in iran but call it Persian in English.

    Agreed to a point but there is a difference!

    Can we have a Farsi cat, Farsi food, Farsi wars, Farsi music, Farsi cuisine, Farsi carpets, Farsi Gulf?
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    Interested parties may find this article by Gilbert Lazard very informative.

    http://fis-iran.org/en/programs/noruzlectures/literary-persian
    Not only informative, but enlightenig, too. Of course it is the same story as of Urdu/Hindi dispute, thus a politicized one, I believe. I'm sure, though, that the language should not be called Farsi in English but Persian, as it is the case on this forum; I hope it's more depoliticized term acceptable to all. I understand, however, that asking a person who doesn't speak English (or other contact language) which language she/he speaks can prove more fruitfull if you ask about Farsi instead of Persian.
     
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