Written by Kamran Talattof
I have written and talked about this question since 1997. This article is an expanded version of my previous writings.1 Farsi is the name of the Persian lan- guage in Persian. In English it is called Persian. Although this sounds simple, in recent decades the word Farsi has been increasingly used in English. Ehsan Yarshater and some other scholars have also pointed out the error.2 In 1997, I published a short article in the Iranian Times, an Electronic Journal (aka the Iranian) stating that the use of the word Farsi instead of Persian while speaking or writing in English is wrong and damaging to Persian and Iranian culture. Since then, I have regularly pointed out to individuals or institutions who use the incorrect term encouraging them to think about the consequences of such alteration. In this article, I would like to explain further why such a substitution happens, who does it, and, finally, what the negative aspects of this replacement are.
As many historians and philologists have stated, the origin of the word Persian is the word Pars or Parsi, referring to the language of the Aryan tribes who migrated to the Perses land. The word is also associated with different forms of the language, including Old (spoken until the third century bc), Middle (until the ninth century ad), and New Persian. The word Parsi was, however, changed to Farsi after the arrival of the Arab Muslims because their alphabet lacks the letter “p” and it is common practice for Arabs to replace p with f. Thus Farsi arose as the standard pronunciation. Iranians accepted the Arabized form of the name of their language. The p and the word Pars, Pers, or other variations of it, were, however, present as the language was named in different European languages. In French it is persan, the German it is Persisch, the Spanish is pérsico, and the Italian is persiano, and so on. And of course, as mentioned, Persian has been the name of the language in English since the beginning.
Notwithstanding the change in its pronunciation from a p to an f in Iran itself, Persian remained important throughout the Islamic empires and was used side by side with Arabic, becoming an international language, especially in the Iranian Plateau and in Asia Minor. Until the nineteenth century, Persian was an official language in India as well.3 In this era, large volumes of literary works and writ- ings on history, social and human sciences, and natural sciences were written in Persian. Today, Persian is not only still the official language of Iran, but it is also one of the official languages of Afghanistan and the Republic of Tajikistan, and it is still the language of many communities in other parts of Asia.4
However, the main point of this discussion is about its name in English (and in other European languages) and not its history. Why all of a sudden has Persian been replaced by the word Farsi by so many people speaking and writing in English? Why would anyone want to use the vernacular indigenous version of the name of a language while speaking in other languages? Who contributes to this substitution? What are the implications of such a substitution?
In American and European newspapers, books, and publications prior to 1980, the word Persian is the established name of this language and the word Farsi is only occasionally used, and then most of the time to give the indigenous name, often in the form of parenthetical information. In fact, ordinary people had never heard the word Farsi. Thus, one can argue that it was after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 that the language began to be referred to as Farsi in English and in other European languages. The Iranian Revolution indeed changed many aspects of society, such as the ways culture, art, and meanings are produced, presented, and promoted. Moreover, the production of culture and symbolic significance was no longer the monopoly of elite groups; members of other social classes came to participate in many areas of cultural production. However, the new regime and its advocates who gave rise to and supported a religious discourse introduced a whole new set of ideas as well as a new set of Arabic words. With these ideas expressed in oratory assertions or textual production, they have been striving to promote the state ideology at both national and international levels. To do so, the new ruling elites focused on the promotion of religious traditions that went back as far as the seventh century and discouraged and in many cases even pro- hibited the prerevolutionary tendencies to revere the pre-Islamic past and glorify the ancient Persian empires. In addition, anything that was considered Western could not find a place in the media or anywhere else for public consumption. Indeed, whatever was considered to be ancient, Western, or secular in general was condemned by the dominant revolutionary discourse. This attitude toward Iranian heritage affected the treatment of ancient monuments and ancient names, and the status of the Persian language. Some authorities attempted to get rid of the ancient monuments and remains.
For the early twentieth-century intellectual and statesmen, the Persian lan- guage, very much like other ancient Iranian heritage, had a very unique status. I have written elsewhere that a concept I named Persianism can explain the view of the Persian language in that period and indeed the nature of the literary movement that resulted in the emergence of modern Persian literature. Persianism can be con- ceived of as a literary movement of the early twentieth century whose goal was to modernize Persian literature. It had several immediate purposes: to reduce the use of Arabic terminology, to work toward the purification of the Persian language, to promote a language closer to common parlance instead of the formulaic style, to link ancient Iran to the present through diverse linguistic structures, and, finally, to promote modernity by presenting new literary genres. Those advancing this discourse especially believed that the old forms, metaphors, and styles could not articulate the new social issues that people were facing. By Persianism, therefore, I refer to the literary discourse that reflected upon and criticized many aspects of the traditional culture of the country. The Persian language was considered the most significant index of an “Iranian” heritage. While questioning every other aspect of Iranian national heritage, the task for the Persianists was, therefore, to purify and secularize this language and, at times, to show that Islamic/Arab inva- sion has been damaging to the country.5 But after the revolution, both religion and the Arabic language gained a new significance. Authorities were not so much concerned with the status of the Persian language, let alone with its name in for- eign languages. Most did not know its name in other languages.
At the same time, the revolution forced many Iranians with different economic and cultural backgrounds into exile or migration. Once outside, these newcomers found an opportunity to rethink their identity because the way Iranian identity had been formulated had also changed: from being oriented to ancient Persia and pre-Islamic history to being primarily based on Islam. Explaining a new identity vis-à-vis the West, the word Persian held connotations with which the Islamic rulers did not wish to be associated. There were no more kings and no one talked about the past kings. Iranians abroad, meanwhile, found it easier to disassociate themselves from the revolutionary discourses in vogue back home but would not be able to relate to monarchy either. It is around this time and in this context that the word Farsi as the name of this language began to be used in the migrant com- munities just as it started to be used in Iran by the authorities.
More specifically, several groups that were affected by these revolutionary changes were most effective in the promotion of the use of the word Farsi, albeit with different intentions. The first group consisted of the postrevolutionary Iranian ruling elite who often used it in English and other languages’ news conferences, in English publications, in world travelers’ brochures, and in revolutionary mani- festos in different languages. Their motivation, if not just insufficient knowledge of the English language, was related to the anti-Western and anti–ancient Persian culture from which they had just freed themselves. Moreover, some English-language journals published in Iran and the textbooks published by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in the 1980s also often referred to Persian as Farsi.
As mentioned, this does not mean that in the previous government, no one and nowhere had ever used the native name of this language in foreign languages. There were some who did this, and, again, mostly in the context of explaining the indigenous name. But after the Revolution of 1979, and the following US hostage crisis, Iran became the center of the world’s attention and now everyone was closely listening to what the Iranian revolutionary rulers were saying. And they did use the word Farsi in their interviews and communications. Among these early important figures were Ebrahim Yazdi and Sadeq Qotbzadeh. They also included student leaders who took over the US embassy, who were often educated and had traveled extensively in the West and therefore knew that Iran’s official language was referred to as “Persian” in English and “al-Farsi” in Arabic, and they also understood the relation between the word Persian and ancient Persia; therefore, their choice of the word Farsi could have been quite purposeful. The desirability of the word Farsi for this group was not only that it could symbolize its anti-Western attitude, but also that it lacked the quality to conjure up the same immediate cognitive links to past “pagan” Persian culture, at least ideologically. This unspoken attitude was very well connected to the problematics of identity; subverting yet another of Pahlavi’s achievements: the glorification of ancient Persia and its assumed lingering effect on the present.
Nowadays, it is easy to see on some of the current government websites a tab or link for “Farsi services.” When an official organization refers to its native language as “Farsi” in other languages, many will naturally follow suit. Such an interaction will be much easier for foreign service officials and patrons in coun- tries such as Turkey, Pakistan, and the Arab countries, where Persian is referred to by a variation of the word Farsi. These people will then also refer to this language as “Farsi” when speaking English.
The other group that helped to popularize the word Farsi in English consists of foreign news reporters who had traveled to Iran in the 1980s for their reports on the hostage taking, on the Iran-Iraq war, and other newsbreaks. In the postrevo- lutionary period, Western reporters always had trouble maintaining a permanent office in Iran and they have always been restricted in their movements and con- tacts with Iranians. In the short time that they spent there, it wasn’t surprising that one of the few words they picked up was Farsi, especially since they were not hearing the word Persian in the news conferences or in English speeches of the Iranian administration. After their return, these reporters used their new knowl- edge, including the name of the language in Iran, in their news articles and reports. The trend continues today as there are still some who do this and try to avoid the correct name for this language.
Many linguists also use the word Farsi in English to refer to this language.6 Many of them believe that to better distinguish between the languages spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan in English it is better to refer to the language of Iran as “Farsi,” Afghanistan as “Dari,” and Tajikistan as “Tajik.” These designa- tions are based on their belief that these variations differ significantly. The fact is that the difference between these variations is mostly related to the accent, very much the same way accents differ in different parts of Iran. Linguists therefore exaggerate the difference between these variations to justify the naming. Some linguists may not believe in a huge difference between the Persian spoken in these countries, but they still use this type of naming, believing that the distinction will facilitate research work.
A Simple Solution
یک راه حل آسان
Persian: (Farsi) فارسی
به انگلیسی: پرژن
The reality is that people in all these countries have the same linguistic heritage and enjoy the same literary tradition. The difference in the spoken variations is not so great as to justify the subversion of the name and the separation of the common heritage. The English that is used in Britain and that used in the United States have some differences, but they are not differently named. At most some refer to the latter as American English. The French of France and the French of Quebec, which have bigger differences, are not designated as two languages either; they are both called French. At most the latter might be referred to as Quebec French or Québécois French (français québécois in French), which is one of the variations of Canadian French. To refer to it simply as “Québécois” or “Joual” is wrong or derogatory. Moreover, if we are to use a name for every accent of every language, we will have to make up a name for all the Persian accents each in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan; therefore, we may end up having such “languages” as Esfahani, Shirazi, Hamedani, Mazar Sharifi, Dushanbei, not to mention Yazdi. Speaking of accents, there are in fact accents in some areas of Iran that are not easy for other areas to under- stand, certainly not as easy as Iranian Persian is understood in Afghanistan or Tajikistan. For example, understanding Siyah Kuhi and Ardekani might be initially a challenge for people of Tehran.
If linguists are still worried about this issue, there is a realistic way of making the distinction between the Persian language in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. We could simply call them Persian, Dari Persian, and Tajik Persian. This is not seeing Iran as the center. Some ultranationalists in those countries insist on the distinction in their vernaculars even in Persian. However, recognizing the confu- sion that the use of the terms Farsi, Dari, and Tajik can cause, some Afghani and Tajik scholars have returned to the use the original name of the language. Jamal Musavi, an Afghan author, points out in one of his books that having two differ- ent names for the same language in Iran and Afghanistan has hindered the cultural development of the two countries. He mentions in his research that there has not been any historic reason to justify the use of the two names Farsi and Dari, and from this he concludes that naming the Afghan language as “Dari” is baseless.7 The indigenous names of these variations in all three countries and in many more communities across Asia indeed represent the same language that Farsi does, and they should all also be called Persian in English, persan in French, and so on.
Many, such as the Indians, Pakistanis, Arabs, Turks, Punjabis, and others who use the word Farsi in their mother tongues to refer to the Persian language, tend to use it when they speak in English or other foreign languages as well. This is not out of disrespect for the language. In some cases, very much like some Westerners who have close ties to Iranians, they want to show their affection for and knowl- edge of the Iranian culture. Those who teach Persian in Western universities have probably met such students.
Sometimes governmental institutions in Western countries, especially in the United States, use the word Farsi in English documents to be more specific about the language of Iran. This has become a more common practice after the September 11th terrorist attacks, because of which more attention has been paid to Middle Eastern languages in general. It is interesting to note that a StarTalk summer program aiming at educating language teachers in June of 2014 announced the languages covered in the workshop as Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Persian, Urdu/Hindi. In other words, to the linguists who have organized this government-sponsored program, the Urdu and Hindi are closer to each other than Dari and Persian. However, it is interesting to note that job announcements of these institutions often use the word Farsi, even for the positions that involve experts on Afghanistan. In other words, for the hiring institutions and the applicants, the word Farsi refers to both Iranian Persian and the Dari Persian; no distinction is made here as is desired by some linguists. Of course, this confusion means that the job posting might be found by interested parties no matter what term they use in their search; government offices, however, often use the correct word Persian in the text of the posting.
The other groups that spread the use of Farsi most effectively are the elderly Iranian immigrants and certain refugee populations of the postrevolutionary era, as well as their families who visit them in the West. These groups are large and dispersed, so communicating with them about the correct names for “Farsi” in different foreign tongues is challenging. Most of these expatriates at the time of migration to the West did not know any foreign language, and despite their long sojourns outside Iran or frequent traveling, some of them have not learned the language of their host countries either. They often live a good part of the year back in Iran. So, when asked what language they speak, they seem very comfortable replying, “Farsi.” When filling out US, Canadian, or European immigration forms, they often use Farsi to answer the question “What is your native language?” The result is that we have witnessed a large increase in the use of this term in the immigration and other official governmental documents of Western countries, as well as in the writings about these issues. In fact, some even insist on the use of the word Farsi in their interactions with Westerners. All this makes these groups most responsible for the “popularity” of the word Farsi. Even if some of them occasionally use Persian to refer to their language, or more likely to their ethnicity, they pronounce it as “Persheen” or “Pershian” and when the listener does not recognize it due to this pronunciation, they will then defer to the word Farsi even though that might also be a strange word to their listeners.
Iranian expatriates’ treatment of the name of their language contributes to mis- perceptions about Iranian culture and history. They and their Western acquaint- ances basically think that Farsi is the current name of our language and Persian was the name of the race and language of ancient Persia. Although most Farsi users might learn the depth of this problem with a short explanation, others unfa- miliar with the history of the language (and with Western languages) will remain adamant in their use of the word, in some cases even as an act of nationalism. In a sense they expect that Westerners, by using the word Farsi, recognize the Iranian culture officially. If not, they hold them responsible for ignoring their culture, unaware that by using Farsi, they actually are aiding the obliteration of a huge part of their history in Western consciousness. On the contrary, educated Americans, particularly those who attended large and top institutes that have a Persian program in their curriculum, usually have an accurate understanding of the use of the word Persian. For this group, distinguishing between these two words is not a problem.
This "nationalist" sentiment about Farsi is in fact highly misguided. As I have mentioned before, Farsi is the Arabized version of Parsi. In a sense, Parsi might be just as far from the word Persian as is the word Farsi in terms of sound modi- fication. Therefore the nationalistic idea that we must use the “native” name of our language (i.e., Farsi) and force its use upon the international society within their languages denotes a lack of understanding of the original form of the word. There is no conspiracy or collusion here; both are words in the Persian language, but what is appropriate in world languages that have devised their own version is Persian in English, and so on with other Western languages.
The next group of people that helps proliferate the use of the word Farsi in other languages is second- and third-generation Iranians living abroad. They have heard from their parents that their mother tongue is called Farsi, and this is prob- ably the name that is used at the weekend schools, which some may attend to learn or improve their ability in Persian. This is a natural outcome since the process of learning the language occurs in Persian. However, since the second-generation youngsters rarely have the chance to study their culture in the local language, they do not get the opportunity to discover their language’s name in that local lan- guage. When they enter the universities they often search for Farsi language and literature courses because of their interests and curiosity or a desire to continue language learning. However, they can fail to find them and become disappointed, unaware that these courses are offered as Persian language and Persian literature courses in all the major US (and Western) universities in all levels, from begin- ning to intermediate to advanced. Moreover, some of the second-generation chil- dren habitually use the words of one language in the other while speaking, a form of code switching, and the word Farsi is not immune from this practice.
Aside from these groups, most scientific, cultural, artistic, and academic socie- ties use the word Persian in English and the comparable term in other European languages. For example, the courses these students seek are listed under course titles such as Persian 101; there is no posting for Farsi 101. Also, Western scholars of Iran and Persian in general who study the culture of ancient Persia, classical Persian literature, or contemporary subjects have never faltered and quite reliably use Persian in all of their work.
And now let’s elaborate on the question of what might be wrong with using the word Farsi instead of Persian in English or its different variations in other European languages. Don’t they call it Farsi in Iran and most other Persian -speaking societies? Is the word Persian only relevant to ancient Persia? Are those who insist on this correction fighting a losing battle? The answer to all these questions points out to some contemporary cultural and historical confusion related to Iran and Iranian identity. Using Farsi in English and other European languages does not assuage the situation.
First, the use of Farsi in European languages is incorrect from a historical point of view. It is wrong because Westerners have never used this word in cultural and scientific contexts in the past. Up until the Revolution of 1979, this word belonged to encyclopedias and dictionaries alone, and then only to explain what the native name of this language is. Its recent appearance abroad is very much connected to the appearance of many other dichotomies related to Iranian identity. Of course, identity is a fluid concept and it changes along with the changes in social and cul- tural conditions, with the contacts of one culture with other cultures, and even with changes wrought within by economic conditions. The prerevolutionary emphasis and glorification of ancient Persia and the demise of its significance and relevance after the 1979 Revolution are some factors that explain the cultural dichotomy between Persian and Farsi. More than three decades later, it has become clear that ancient Persia, its festivities, its glory, and some of its fundamental philosophical influences on the culture have not disappeared despite the presence of a strong state ideology that opposes them. The word Persian keeps this connection alive. The word Farsi contributes to the disconnect.
Second, the use of Farsi when speaking in other languages such as English violates syntax. For a moment imagine that an English speaker says in English: “I went to Paris last year and I spoke français the whole time,” or “My español is very good.” Such statements are not common because the correct names of those languages in English are French and Spanish. A less hypothetical example is related to the name of the German language, which is called Deutsch in German and in German-speaking societies. At one point not long ago, English speak- ers, particularly in the United States, used the word Deutsch instead of German. However, Germans found such a reference to their language to be degrading. And today, if this substitution occurs, it simply signifies the speaker’s unawareness of this cultural issue.
Third, the word Farsi, as opposed to Persian, is not an incredibly pleasant sounding word in most European languages. It resembles the words farce or farci- cal in English. In French replacing persan with farsi is even more unpleasant. It can remind the listener of farci (stuffed) and farce (joke).
Fourth, the substitution is a cultural disservice to Iranian culture. In the mind of an English speaker, the word Persian recalls the Persian culture. This can happen on a conscious or subconscious level. The word Persian is associated with such positive cultural aspects as the Persian Empire, Persian poetry, Persian mysti- cism, Persian miniatures, Persian carpets, Persian cats, Persian pistachios, Persian caviar, Persian food, Persian saffron, Persian monuments, Persian script, and the Persian Gulf.8 Even canned Persian Gulf Tuna Fish has become a favorite dainty. Poetry, literature, food, and so on, are not bad concepts to be associated with the name of the language.9 In the minds of Westerners, Persia and Persian are close to each other: one is the name of the country the other is the language. During the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries in Europe, particularly in Germany, curiosity about Iranian culture was so high that European researchers felt a compulsion to connect their culture to the Persian culture.10 Even though some went perhaps too far by assigning an ideological and nationalistic character to their efforts, particularly in seeking the Arian roots in ancient Persian, the vol- ume of educational works and scholarly findings about Iranian culture, the Persian Empire, Persian and other Iranian languages, classical and even early modern literatures was impressively high and constituted a basis upon which future works thrived. It is now believed that the rise and demise of the Nazi ideology and its felonious treatment of innocent European minorities could be the factors that weakened that prolific and productive line of academic and cultural exploration.
Because people understood these age-old associations with Persian culture, some Iranians believed that the change of the country’s name from Persia to Iran in foreign languages was also a mistake since all of a sudden the new name did not represent the history of the country.11 In fact, Reza Shah himself, who had ordered or requested the use of the new name, changed his mind when he realized this potential disconnect. But it was too late; for the international society, Iran was adopted as the new name rather quickly. Of course, inside Iran the name change went almost unnoticed.
To recap, Persian is the name of the language and also an adjective that describes the ethnicity (and to a lesser extent, nationality) of a large group of Iranians (like the word Russian that is the name of the official language in Russia and also describes its citizens’ nationality). Of course, there are other ethnic groups and minorities in Iran who might define their ethnicity differently. Nevertheless, this is a positive point and it should not be taken for granted, especially in light of the fact that all the above references are quite positive. For example it is thought that the Persian Empire significantly improved human culture and even through its ancient religions such as Zoroastrianism it has influenced other cultures and religions in positive ways. Moreover, those who cherish classical Persian poetry know that this body of work influenced many in the West. For example, the work of the Iranian poet Nezami Ganjavi, “Seven Beauties,” written in the Persian lan- guage, influenced the Belgian poet and playwright Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1891 play The Seven Princesses and Giacomo Puccini’s early-1920s opera Turandot. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Muhammad Iqbal, Reynold Nicholson, Mahatma Gandhi, and Pope John XXIII were inspired by Rumi’s poetry, written in the Persian language. Older Americans still know by heart the poetry of Khayam, written in Persian and translated by Edward Fitzgerald into English. There are many more examples of the glorious images that the word Persian conjures up that Farsi does not. These and many other thinkers all over the world have been inspired by works that have been written in the Persian language. Changing the name of the language will help push these aspects of world history into oblivion.
All this, of course, does not mean that people should be imprisoned by their past and spend their lives bragging about their distant heritage. It is looking for- ward and exploring new horizons that best enable nations to also uphold their past. However, such practices of changing the name of the language or the name of the country can foster a disconnect or rupture with the past, adding to the already intense problematics of Identity in today's Iranian society.
In regard to the future, Iran will eventually have to fully rejoin the international community. At that time, even the economic exigencies will practically require a reference to the glories of the past, a playful reminder of history, or other representation of other cultural dispositions as is required nowadays by the nature of modern marketing. For example, when serious exporting begins again, the sale of Iran’s well-designed carpets, high-quality pistachios, or other delicious edibles will benefit more from being marketed as “Persian.” It is simply ridiculous to advertise Farsi carpets or Farsi pistachios. In other words, it would be truly strange to replace the names of the above cultural phenomena with such constructions as Farsi food, Farsi delicacies, Farsi services, Farsi conferences, a Farsi library, a Farsi club, the Farsi motherland, or Farsi cinema. But unfortunately some of these constructions have already begun to appear on the Internet.
Perhaps each of these arguments would not have much importance if they stood alone. Yet, when we look at the whole picture and all the problems that arise from the use of Farsi in foreign languages, we can see that it is worth the effort to reject and reverse this development. I am not forgetting the fact that languages have their own life. It is impossible to avoid change within language. Sometimes some words die in a language and others are born, and sometimes new words replace old ones. Usually this happens regardless of the will of the individual.12 In this case, the problem is even more complex, since we are talking about a change that is occurring in the English language, mostly among the speakers of another language, resulting in the obliteration of the beautiful, historical, and meaningful word, Persian.
Again, the problem of the name of this language in English and other European languages is a contemporary topic and dilemma. And it is only one of many cul- tural issues with which Iranians grapple. Similar to the problematics of the name of the language, the name of the country, the reform of the Persian alphabet, and the tasks facing the Academy of the Persian Language in regard to the fast-paced changes in technology and the information industry all require urgent attention. The case of the Persian alphabet is not a technical problem in my opinion, but it is in fact related to the culture, identity, education system, and harmony with technological advancements, especially in regard to the flow of information, and, finally, people’s social psychology. In some cases, such crises have been imposed from the outside without any mechanism to deal with them inside the country. Examples include the distortion of the language and identity of such poets as Nezami Ganjavi, Molana Jalaladin Rumi, and even Khayam, or the distortion of the name of the Persian Gulf by the Persian Gulf states who aspire to see the word Arab or an Arabic word in the title of all of the bodies of water in that region. However, the name of this language in English, French, German, and many other European languages, as well as in the international community and the United Nations, is one that can be fixed and maintained by virtue of a little more care and awareness. 13
1 See Kamran Talattof, “Persian or Farsi?: The Debate Continues,” Iranian: An
Electronic Journal, December 1997, http://iranian.com/Features/Dec97/Persian/index. html; “Persian or Farsi: That Is the Question!” Tehran Times, no. 5, April 9, 2003; and
“Farsi ya Persian: Name Zaban Ma Chist?” (Farsi or Persian: What Is the Name of the Language?), Majaleh Ferdowsi (Ferdowsi Journal), October 28, 2003. See also THIS.
2 See Ehsan Yarshater, “Zaban-i Nozohur,” IranShenasi: A Journal of Iranian Studies 4, no. 1 (Spring, 1992): 27–30; “Iran Ra dar Zabanha-ye Khareji Cheh Bayad Khand?,” Rahavard: A Journal of Iranian Studies 5 and 6, no. 20/21 (Summer and Fall 1988): 70–75; and Elahe Mir-Djalali, Persian Language and Culture, classroom guide, http:// eric.ed.gov?q=Elahe+Mir-Djalali+Persian+Language+and+Culture&id=ED350863.
3 See Edward G. Browne, A Literary History of Persia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1902–04); and Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature (Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel, 1968).
4 For more information, see Roland G. Kent, Old Persian: Grammar, Texts, Lexicon (New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society, 1953); M. A. Dandamaev, Iranians in Achaemenid Babylonia (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 1992); and Edwin Lee Johnson, Historical Grammar of the Ancient Persian Language (New York: American Book Company, 1917).
5 See Kamran Talattof, The Politics of Writing in Iran: A History of Modern Persian Literature (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1999); or Kamran Talattof, “Ideology and Self-Portrayal in the Poetry of Nima Yushij,” in Nima Yushij: His Life, His Works, His Legacy, ed. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak and Kamran Talattof (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 69–99.
6 Here are a few examples of recent titles in Persian linguistics: “The Semantics of Farsi: Applying the Principled Polysemy Model,” “Language Assessment of a Farsi-Norwegian Bilingual Speaker with Aphasia,” “Functional Constraints on Inversion in English and Farsi,” “The Influence of First Language Lexicalization on Second Language Lexical Inferencing: A Study of Farsi-Speaking Learners of English as a Foreign Language,” “A New Benchmark on the Recognition of Handwritten Bangla and Farsi Numeral Characters,” “Ellipsis in Farsi Complex Predicates; Farsi Lexical Analysis and Stop Word List,” “Free Indirect Discourse in Farsi Translations of Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway,” “Explaining Problems of Iranian Students by Comparing English to Farsi Verb Forms,” “A Structural Comparison of American English and Farsi Expository Writing,” and some ironic titles such as “Code-Switching and Universal Constraints: Evidence from Farsi/English” and “ Fading Farsi: Language, Policy, Ideology, and Shift in the Iranian American Family.”
7 See Jamal Musavi, Hamzamani va Bizabani (Tehran: Mohammad Ebrahim Shariati Afghanistani, 2003). Indeed, Pashtun rulers changed the name in the 1960s for political reasons.
8 The name of the Persian Gulf has also been distorted by many Persian Gulf states. In some ways, this distortion is related not only to the political issues at hand but also to the way the Iranian heritage is generally being perceived and treated.
9 On the contrary, Farsi is a remote concept. In a recent program about children’s social behavior on NPR, one of the guests was talking about kids who do not listen to the advice given to them by the grownup stating “it is like talking to them in Farsi.” Obviously many more in this country now speak Chinese (and Persian) than Farsi.
10 See Nikki Keddie, “Introduction,” special issue on Iranian Studies in Europe and Japan, edited by Rudi Matthee and Nikki Keddie, Iranian Studies 10, nos. 2–4 (1987): i–vii.
11 Regarding the issues related to the name of the country, see Ehsan Yarshater, “Nam-e Keshvar-e Ma Ra dar Zaban-e Engelisi Cheh Bayad Khand?,” Rahavard 8, no. 29 (spring 1992): 22–26.
12 In Iran, fortunately, Farhangestan-e Zaban Farsi has refused the use of Farsi instead of Persian. But more work is needed. The example of the French Academy in France might provide some lessons.
13. And by the way, no Persophile Greek leader could have ever been considered a Francophile.
Browne, Edward G. A Literary History of Persia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1902–04).
Dandamaev, M. A. Iranians in Achaemenid Babylonia (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 1992). Johnson, Edwin Lee. Historical Grammar of the Ancient Persian Language (New York:
American Book Company, 1917).
Keddie, Nikki. “Introduction,” special issue on Iranian Studies in Europe and Japan, edited by Rudi Matthee and Nikki Keddie, Iranian Studies 10, nos. 2–4 (1987): i–vii.
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Written by Kamran Talattof
A Simple Solution
یک راه حل آسان
In English: Persian
In Persian: (Farsi) فارسی
به انگلیسی: پرژن
به فارسی: فارسی
In Iran: Persian
In Afghanistan: Dari Persian
In Tajikistan: Tajik Persian
در ایران: فارسی
در افغانستان: فارسی دری
در تاجیکستان: فارسی تاجیکی