Persian: Learning Persian

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Kahaani, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. Kahaani

    Kahaani Senior Member


    For the last couple of weeks I've been learning Farsi with online lessons along with learning Hindi from Ruper Snell's Complete Hindi.

    I've enjoyed the lessons a lot and Persian is very appealing to me. With full enthusiasm I tried out my first scentences on my Persian (Iranian and Afghan) friends. Although the grammar I used wasn't incorrect at all, they said some of it wasn't necessary and is never used coloquially, only in written Persian. Also, they said I shouldn't pronounce words exactly as they are written and that I'm better off not doing the lessons and that I should learn it colloquially from them. Also, my Afghan friends adviced me to learn Dari instead of Farsi.

    As you can imagine I'm pretty confused right now, so I'd value your opinion on this matter. The main reason I wanted to learn Persian is because of the beauty of the language. I want to be able to understand Persian poetry, songs, and maybe even literature. But I would also like to be able to have a normal conversation with an 'Irooni' person (I've understood that Irooni is somewhat slang for Irani).

    So what would you suggest me? Am I better off skipping the grammatical lessons and learning it colloquially? And should I rather learn Farsi or Dari? And what strategy should I apply?

    Thanks in advance,
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  2. Aryamp

    Aryamp Persimod

    You should NEVER stop learning the grammar. Indeed it´s true that the colloquial manner of speaking a language is different from its formal manner used in literature. For example " wanna tell me 'bout it? : is a sentence never taught in english learning books however it never eliminates the need to learn the grammatically correct phrase " Do you want to tell me about it"

    Similarly in persian, maybe more than english, we have a way of pronouncing things in normal daily speech and if you speak in a formal manner it will sound 'odd' . Your friends probably want you to speak like them as quickly as possible, but they're not language teachers and probably don't understand the importance of learning the grammar and the formal structure of the language. Tthey know the language by heart but they cannot underestimate the value of the formal education in school (that's if they attended school in Iran)

    There's a HUGE difference between someone who is a native persian speaker only by ear , and someone who has actually received formal education and is familiar with the formal grammar.

    So my advice to you is to carry on with learning the grammar and use whatever source you find useful to learn the language methodically! Not just by talking to native speakers, I mean that's also helpful but that's not enough. Also my personal experience tells me not all native speakers are really good teachers, I mean just because someone is a native speaker it doesn't automatically mean they can guide you well with learning the language.

    Farsi or Dari? well it's a matter of your preference, it's like asking whether someone should learn British English or American english. Farsi / Dari is the same language, just different accents and occassional variations in certain words or expressions. Then again here I can emphasize the importance of learning the grammar correctly because it will help you with different Persian accents since they're based upon the same grammatical principles.

    Moreover I think one of the most rewarding aspects of learning Persian is to be able to enjoy its rich literature and poems. Obviously you don't want to put so much effort into learning something and yet deny yourself its main privilege.

    Don't worry about the colloquial speech, you will learn it along the way anyway. On your long journey of learning persian you will probably find many people who will kindly try to "correct" your formal speech and turn it into colloquial .

    I wish you the best of luck :)
  3. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ^ Excellent advice!
  4. Treaty Senior Member

    Dear Nigel,

    Indeed it was a great post by Aryamp. I can only add a few more:

    Dari (Persian) or (Iranian) Persian?
    If it was 30 years ago I would have suggested you to learn Dari for the purpose of understanding old Persian literature, because it was less standardised a that moment. However, nowadays Dari is influenced by Iranian Persian because of many sociocultural events. Iranian Persian itself has been undergoing a "standardisation" since early 1900s. Let's say they don't have much difference in written form now (except for (origin of) a few loan words and (re)invented words).

    In terms of pronunciation, it is just a few simple rules which you can learn in a short time. The difference is less than that of Am. and Brit. English.

    Considering larger population of Iran and their internet usage, that you can find a substantially larger Persian resources online, along with clips, movies, new poems and songs.

    Formal, or colloquial or literary?
    Formal of course! both colloquial and literary are somehow abridged formal. If you learn formal, you can trace a way into the other types. Besides, all dictionaries and interpretations are written in formal language.
    In addition there is not such a single thing as "colloquial" Persian. It differs in various accents of Persian (not mentioning dialects). What is normally considered as colloquial Persian, for me seems to be originally a kind of Tehrani accent (or dialect).

    Best wishes,
  5. Kahaani

    Kahaani Senior Member

    Thanks a lot for the kind advices!

    My friends haven't been taught their language in schools in their native countries and sometimes when I ask them to correct me they don't even recognize some of the grammar.

    e.g. they didn't recognize the difference between the simple past tense and the present perfect tense;
    Man khordam, and man khordeam (excuse me for the romanized spelling). They said in 'real' Persian nobody makes a difference. I hope you can see now that I was getting a little scared that my efforts would be futile.

    Thanks for elaborating on this matter for me! I'm convinced, and I will continue to learn formal Farsi. I hope it won't be that hard.

    مرسي !

    Kind regards,
  6. Treaty Senior Member

    You're welcome.
    Just a tip for that: In simple past tense the stress is on the verb root, while in pp tense it is on the last syllable. (you should ask other people as well, because I might have been influenced by my parents who are not native speakers of main Persian dialects):
    'khordam = I ate.
    khord'am = I've eaten.
  7. Kahaani

    Kahaani Senior Member

    Thanks for the useful tip!
  8. mmahdavim New Member

    I've created a free website for learning Persian online. I appreciate it if you take a look.
  9. mahsasorbi New Member


    My native language is Persian, and not bcz because of this, but because of its beauty, I suggest you to learn Persian! Although these languages are close.
    According to your reason for learning this language, I think that both grammer and vocabulary are important. And after your conversation, reading and writing skills become ok, your exercises should be on poems, literature and so one.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2013
  10. WannaBFluent

    WannaBFluent Senior Member

    For your question on learning Dari or Parsi/ Farsi, I'd recommend you to learn Pashto instead. Very complicated language but you will find Persian/Dari easy after that!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2014
  11. puya Member

    Very strange suggestion.
    It is like suggesting someone who tries to learn french to learn first creole first because then "you will find French/Quebeqois easy after that!"
  12. WannaBFluent

    WannaBFluent Senior Member

    No, but if you learn French first, then you will find Creole easy to learn! :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2014
  13. puya Member

    If you want to get a sense of different between Farsi and Dari, basically Dari is sometimes closer to literary roots.
    So for example when afghan fellows talk, and I really like their accent, it sounds to me pleasantly 'classical'. as it remind me of the grammatical structurs that we learnt only in literature class:
    For example,
    من گفته نتوانم
    is normal for a Dari speaker but sounds too literal to an iranian ear who is used to say (formally):
    نمی توانم بگویم

    On the other hand, Farsi seems to be more 'exercised' to express modern concepts, and it is not a coincidence. Causes like relative prosperity thanks to oil revenue and linguistic revival of early 20th century, specially 'Persian Academi' which tirelessly constucted native equivalent for European words, backed by patriotism (or Chauvenism?) of Pahlavi dynasty, gave a momentum to revival of Farsi in Iran.

    So you can distinguesh quite a few European words which have been substituted with Persian in Farsi but beeing used in the original or traditional form in Dari or the Persian substitude is just being adopted recently.
    Examples: بیمارستان، دانشگاه instead of یونیورسیته, شفاخانه

    But as correctly mentioned above, there is a convergence of two branches specially in written level. This is, again is mostly due to massive influence of immigration of Afghans to Iran during the Russian invasion and subsecuent wars so that many elite Dari speakers were born or raised in Iran. Internet just catalized this interesting mingling. So nowadays, it often happened to me that I can not realise a news article is written by a Dari or Farsi. While the two accents are still very distinguishable, but the difference is also becomming deluted even at this level.

    And to finish, there are funny differences:

    Dari: جاکشی: Moving home, carrying furniture
    Farsi: جاکشی: ‌Being a pimp
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  14. WannaBFluent

    WannaBFluent Senior Member

    so learning Parsi/Farsi would be easier than Dari? (in your opinion)
  15. puya Member

    Well I can not judge because Fasi is my first language.
    But I would say the grammatical variations are not so radical that make significant difference in learning.

    bon chance :)
  16. WannaBFluent

    WannaBFluent Senior Member

    It is "bonne chance"! Well thank you. In fact I'm currently learning Arabic (MSA/Syrian) at the moment, Urdu and Turkish as well and a bit of Pashto and Kurmanci (dialect of Kurdish). I am going to start Farsi/Parsi as soon as possible!

    By the way, do you say Farsi or Parsi? Because I know someone who is Iranian and he hates when people say Farsi, because it is originally Parsi but the Arabs changed it because there is no pe/پ in their alphabet.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2014
  17. puya Member

    Thanks for correcting my broken french. Je parle assez bien francais mais dicte n'est pas mon point de fort!

    Answering your question: Yes I naturally say Farsi, not Parsi. Farsi is what I first learned the name of my native tangue. Parsi has some ideological bagages that I don't want to bear.
    As you know, there are puritaninst (سره گرایان) among Iranians who are obsessed with history of Arab invasion. These people also tend to say درود instead of سلام. ‌I find this mentality absurd, at best. At worst, a residue of dangerous Aryan mythology of Nazi era, which is admittedly strengthened after 1979 as Islamic regime continues to impose Arabic as the 'holy language' to reluctant children...

    nevertheless I suspect when these fellas took off their patriotic hats, they would also say: فارسی and سلام :)
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  18. WannaBFluent

    WannaBFluent Senior Member

    Je parle assez bien (le) français mais la dictée n'est pas mon point fort!

    Thank you for your answer. And at least, I would like to speak and write Farsi as good as your French!
    By the way, if you have any question about French, feel free to ask me through private messages!
  19. Dr. JCVRD Member

    Hello, dear Nigel.

    Your Afghan friends must have offered you to learn "Dari" because it's the variety of Persian used in their country. So it could be as a result of some personal bias or something. It depends on you to choose the "Persian" which is spoken in Iran or the one spoken in Afghanistan.

    But about grammar, I strongly suggest that you do not leave it aside. As a native Persian speaker, It's completely acceptable for me to see someone who speaks Persian (as his/her second language), but not colloquially. If you learn the formal and grammatical Persian, it's easy for you to understand both Persian scripts and verbal conversations. Plus, it generally looks more polite in situations where you're not sure how to speak with people who are not your close friends.

    Good luck, dear Nigel.
  20. ali likes the stars Member

    German, Persian
    I can account for this a 100%.
  21. PersoLatin

    PersoLatin Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    This topic comes up again and again. Even educated Iranians, at least the many I know who are educated to the 12th grade and beyond, may claim there's no difference, if you ask them.

    In colloquial/informal Persian, the difference between in the two is subtle but it is still there. So next time you come across someone who insist they are the same, simply ask them to say:
    1 - من پارسال اونجا بودم - I was there last year (Formal: من پارسال آنجا بودم)
    and then
    2 - من قبلا اونجا بودم - I have been there before (Formal: من قبلا آنجا بوده ام/man qablan ânjâ budaéam)

    and listen out for the difference between the pronunciation of /a/ in بودم/budam in each cases . For simple past, it is a short /a/ and for the present perfect tense, /a/ is stretched (assimilation of éa in budéam). If need be, get them to repeat these several times. Maybe you can point out this difference to them and have some fun.

    This applies to all verbs, basically the last vowel gets stretched, e.g. budi/budii, budéast/budé budim/budiim, budin/budiin, budan/budaan

    This apparent lack of knowledge is not specific to Persian. Although not quite the same, some English speakers, born, bred & educated in England, write 'of' in place of 'have' in sentences like: I would have done that
    they write
    I would of done that.

Share This Page