Voice Over Sydney: Parsi or Persian was the language of the Parsa people who ruled Iran between 550 – 330 BCE. It belongs to what scholars call the Indo-Iranian group of languages. It became the language of the Persian Empire and was widely spoken in the ancient days ranging from the borders of India in the east, Russian in the north, the southern shores of the Persian Gulf to Egypt and the Mediterranean in the west.
Voice Over Sydney: Persian Language
Over the centuries Parsi has changed to its modern form and today Persian is spoken primarily in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and parts of Uzbekistan. It was the language of the court of many of the Indian kings till the British banned its use, after occupying India in the 18 century. The Mogul kings of India had made Persian their court language. Engraved and filled with gold on walls of Delhi’s Red Fort is the sentence “Agar Ferdows dar jahan ast hamin ast o hamin ast o hamin ast”; – ‘If there is a paradise on earth it is here it is here it is here.’
Voice Over Sydney: Types of Persian
Although the name of the language has been maintained as Persian or Parsi or its Arabic form Farsi (because in Arabic they do not have the letter P) the language has undergone great changes and can be categorized into the following groups.
- Old Persian
- Middle Persian
- Classical Persian
- Modern Persian
Old Persian is what the original Parsa tribe of the Hakahmaneshinian (Achaemenid) era spoke and they have left for us samples carved on stone in cuneiform script.
Voice over Sydney: Middle Persian is the language spoken during the Sasanian era also known as Pahlavi. We have plenty of writings from that era in the form of religious writings of the Zarathushti religion, namely the Bundahish, Arda Viraf nameh, Mainu Khared, Pandnameh Adorbad Mehresfand etc.
Classical Persian the origin of this language is not very clear. Words have their roots in different languages spoken in various parts of the country but the majority of the words have their roots in Old Persian, Pahlavi and Avesta. They are represented in classical writings and poems. Ferdowsi claims to have gone through great pains for a period of thirty years to preserve this language, which was under pressure from the Arab invaders, and was on the verge of being lost.
It is noteworthy that every country that the Arabs conquered lost its civilization, culture and language and adopted the Arabic language and way of life. For example Egypt whose people could build Pyramids, were good astronomers and possessed the art of mummification lost their culture and language to the Arabs and started living like them. It was only Iran that broke the trend and stood against the Arabs and preserved its culture and language and even adopted their own version of Islam by creating Shiaism.
Later when the Moguls invaded Iran the Iranians converted them into ambassadors of Iranian language, culture and art. The Moguls made Parsi their court language in India.