by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/05/23 11:56 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2006/05/23/604843.aspx
In the post from the other day (Persian? Or Farsi?) I briefly touched upon one of the common and reasonable answers to the question of what to call the language, which first came up a few years ago:
The language name has become a confusing issue: Not only are Dari and Tadjik often considered to be different languages by many non-linguists because of their names, but also is the native name “Farsi” now increasingly used for “Persian”. This is like calling Spanish “Español” in English, though.
The story does not completely end there, however. Since there are people who will use "no habla Español" or "sprechen zie Deutsch" freely in English and then take those language names into the language in other contexts. And it is not like the ISO codes used for languages don't tend to encourage this tendency in a small way....
Since in this case the use of the word Farsi as a word in English does in fact exist (and a typical speaker of English may not know that Farsi is a transliteration of فارسی) it is perhaps not as simple of a matter of this (though that 'fa' ISO code does help/hinder the issue). What are some of the reasons for the more recent push, both inside and outside of Iran?
Well, not all of the push is completely recent, and it is not like people were ever talking about serving in the Farsi Gulf if they were a part of Desert Storm, were they? There is a reason why you see more search hits on Persian than you do on Farsi if only for the reason that we don't buy Farsi rugs or eat Farsi food or own Farsi cats!
Certainly there are connotations that may be attached to both words, it seems more likely that the Farsi -> Persian push has a lot more to do with a 'connotation preference' than anything else, right? I suppose we should be pleased that no one has been pushing the notion of a language known as 'Iranian' to further confuse matters. :-)
Is Persian more familiar to people speaking English? In one sense it is since we are more likely to know the word in the first place, but in another sense it may suggest something much older. My own first experience with the word was the ancient kingdom of Persia as the home of Esther in the story of Purim. And it is not just the memory of a past adloyada or two that I attended that makes me more likely to smile here; I enjoyed the Purim holiday growing up, if for no other reason than the argument for costumes seemed so much more wholesome than for Halloween....
Even now I do some mental gymnastics to seperate the older and the newer use of the word when I think off things like the PersianCalendar class. Thankfully, my lack of coordination does not hinder such gymnastics.
And in the end, I'd rather use the name that speakers of the language prefer I use, and the trend clearly seems to favor Persian. Easy enough for me!
This post brought to you by "ف" (U+0641, a.k.a. ARABIC LETTER FEH)
# bmm6o on 23 May 2006 2:15 PM:
# Alun Jones on 23 May 2006 4:54 PM:
# Michael S. Kaplan on 23 May 2006 5:12 PM:
# Gabe on 23 May 2006 6:14 PM:
# Mark on 14 Aug 2006 3:57 PM:
Kellen on 13 Dec 2008 10:45 AM:
to quote something i recently wrote elsewhere, The Academy of Persian Language and Literature issued a declaration on 19 November 2005 to the effect that in English, the proper name of the language should in fact be called Persian, going so far as to call Farsi "incorrect".
They're the official keepers of the language in relation to the government of Iran, so i'm going to go with what they say, despite previously using 'Farsi' as the name in English.
loved this + the uyghur/uighur post, btw.
Otaku on 13 Aug 2010 7:40 PM:
The word "Farsi" is used in English to mean "the language spoken in Iran." The fact that "Dari" is the "language spoken in parts of Afghanistan" is inconsequential (note: Hazaragi is generally lumped in with Dari, but the Hazara would never call it Dari unless they are with a non-Hazara person). I know many Americans who have never said "I speak English" - they say "I speak American" and they tend to mean what they say because they don't speak English as spoken in England. Also, it's not the same as calling Chinese "Zhongguo Hua", "Putong Hua" or "Hua Yu" (or the other names for Standard Mandarin Chinese), which are wholly foreign in English.
Back to Farsi though. "Farsi" is the lingu-franca in Iran, and in particular the Tehran version of it. There are other dialects, like Despili, that folks from Despil would argue is the "original" Persian language. It was the Arabs that started calling it "Farsi" (from Fars province, which is about as far north as they went) and standarized that term (amongst Persian speakers).
Back to the first paragraph and the "I speak American" thing. There are plenty of Iranians who don't say "I speak Farsi" - they say "I speak Iranian". (Note to self-rightous Persian-speaking critics who are overly educated in school systems - yes, many Iranians say that all the time). But generally, like the Chinese, their happy to accept a number of names for their language - "Farsi", "Tehrooni" (no, not Tehrani), and some times even "Dari" (which evokes a sense of pride).
If you're asking me, I would generally say Farsi. But I'm happy with Persian as well. Either or. In either case though, I'll usually have to explain that it is the language spoken in Iran. Oh, I'm not Iranian. Just standard white American fella, but I have a degree in Persian (not a degree in Farsi).
Interesting fact - there are 5 heads of state that speak Persian. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Israel.
2008/03/12 Chaudhuri vs. Chaudhary?
2008/02/02 Bangalore or Bengaluru (Bengalūru)?
2007/08/12 Hello Madda, Hello Father (Iranian style)
2007/07/24 Pluralization(s) can be singularly difficult
2006/07/15 Uighur or Uyghur?
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