The exotic lands of Persia bring to you our language pick of the month – Persian – from a culture of oriental carpets, glass lamps, heart-achingly beautiful women in their roosaris, and let’s not forget the royal Persian cats! Back in India, metropolitans have been a witness to the iconic street-corner Irani cafés, often adorned with shisha stands and ethnic rugs. Join us to explore this language spoken by the dwellers of this vibrant culture of vinegar-immersed salads and chelo-kebabs à la Mediterranean.
Persian – What’s that?
Persian (its conventional name being Fārsī, thanks to the Arabs) is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, with an array of Persian speakers spread across Armenia, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, India, Iraq, Oman, Pakistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Yemen and the UAE. Considered the second language in the Islamic world, its social influences also reach out as far as Athens, Egypt and Libya. The total number of speakers estimates to about 30 million, half of which falls under Iran alone.
How’s it trending
Here’s a fun fact – apart from its clichéd picturesque mosques, exquisite ceramics and pottery with its swirly patterns interlaced with traces of Islam, the Persians gave the world the first trench coats which we see their women sporting in almost any part of the world. Don’t even get me started on how many Indo-Persian aspects are integrated into our Indian culture. The Taj Mahal is one such standing illustration of pure brilliance. Did you know Persian was the official language during the Mughal Empire, back when Turkic languages were at their zenith? Needless to say, a lot of our architecture, food and languages are by-products of this culture.
Factor in Globalisation
Persian was considered the lingua franca of the cultural and political élite in early modern India. This poetry-influenced, melodious language is known to have an extremely rich literature base, fairly simple grammatical structures and shares a peculiarly large number of common words with French (such as merci, douche, automobile), English (such as soup, pistachio, saffron) as well as Arabic, Kurdish, Urdu and even Hindi! Talk about coolness quotient! It uses a modern Arabic script today, while many texts discovered dating back to the 6th century are in Old Persian!
Apart from the dozens of other similarities, Iranians share a lot with the Zoroastrian community, owing to the same origin. They celebrate festivals like Nowroz (New Year) which begins on the first day of spring (21st March). Iranian families all over the world celebrate by visiting each other, followed by food and celebrations with unparalleled gusto.