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The Difference between Farsi and Persian
Home Reference & Education Language
By: Charlene Lacandazo Email Article
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Commonly, the term "Persian" has been used in the English language, describing both the country of Iran and the language that the people have been using since the rise of the first Persian Empire. Although the word ‘Farsi’ is increasingly used to describe the Persian language, it is still linguistically incorrect, especially in addressing the language itself.

This has always been an issue in American and European media; they have always used the word ‘Farsi’ to refer to the Persian language. However, people around the world, especially Iranian people are not in favour of the linguistic term that Western people normally use in the media.

So, how should these two words be used in English and other Western languages?

It should be clear that using the appropriate term for a language is significant in the history and culture of the Iranian people. Thus, an improper address for the language term of the Iranian nation may create insult and rudeness to the heritage of Iranian culture.

The Persian language or New Persian is an Indo-European language; it is one of the Modern Iranian languages, along with Kurdish, Baluchi, Pashto, and Ossetic. The New Persian language is described as a member of the Western Iranian branch of the Iranian languages, which are a subgroup of the Indo-Aryan family of languages. Hence, Persian is related to European languages, such as the English language.

Over the years, Persian has developed through three distinct stages: Old, Middle, and New. New Persian is directly derived from Middle Persian, and has two phases: classical and modern, and both variants are mutually intelligible.

But what are really the differences between Farsi and Persian?

Farsi is an Arabic form of ‘Parsi’, while ‘Persian’ is the English equivalent term for the word Farsi. This is same status as the German language has. Although the native name of the German language is ‘Deutsch’, linguists would never use ‘Deutsch’ in place of ‘German’ as a term in the English language.

The New Persian language is one of the most spoken languages in South Asia, and there are also significant numbers of immigrants who speak the Persian language, such as in the U.S, Canada, Australia, and Europe.

The bottom line is that the English name of this language is Persian, and Farsi is its internal or domestic equivalent. However, the term Farsi is used by Iranians to show the distinction of their languages from other forms of Persian; while term Persian encompasses all aspects of the Iranian culture.

Persian is a language that provides ultimate access to the culture and history of the Iranian people. In addition, experts and Persian native speakers agree that writers, translators, media, educators, and researchers should use the word ‘Persian’ for Iran language system, instead of any usage of the word ‘Farsi’.

Charlene Lacandazo works for Rosetta Translation, a leading international translation agency specialising in legal translations, as well as professional Farsi translation services.

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