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Tuesday, 15 July 2014 04:46

Iranian Notables, Sources of Global Honor (8)

Previously, we spoke of the geographical and cultural territories of Iran and mentioned a rise in the cultural influence of Iran, after Iranians converted to the sacred religion of Islam. We also referred to the spread of Farsi language across the world in those days. Now, we will speak of terms of spread of Farsi language in the world, and the global status, influence, and realm of Farsi language.


Language is one of the main and fateful elements of any culture. Given that language is the most important means for transference of a culture from one generation to another generation, it plays a vital and decisive role in continuation of culture.  The developments in language reflect bitter and sweet experiences, which a community has witnessed. Hence, study of developments in language is one of the ways of assessment of reactions of each community within the framework of its social relations.

Farsi language, more than any other cultural element, reflects the unique and prominent feature of Iranian culture, which is flexibility, coupled with maintenance of identity. Farsi language, alike the Iranian community, has gone through developments in thousands of years to be able to continue its existence in the face of variable conditions. It is for this reason that the current Farsi language has maintained its original identity and nature, despite all the developments that have transpired in the history of Iranian culture. Farsi language, in relation to its terms and structure, has been relatively influenced by all historical periods of time and different cultures, which Iranians have become familiar with. However, Farsi language has not lost its original identity.

Farsi language, like the Iranian community, has been prepared for exchanges with other cultures and languages. Throughout the course of history, Iran’s proximity with other ethnicities and different cultures has enriched the Iranian culture. Similarly, entry of terms and concepts of foreign languages to Farsi language has boosted the communicational and conceptual capacity of this language throughout the world, turning this language into a major communicational means in a large segment of the world within the Middle Ages.

Farsi language is indebted to ancestors. The history of some of its terms and words dates back to more than 3,000 years ago; and to Aryans. These terms are witness to commonalties of Indo-European ethnicities, including Iranian ethnicities, in the past. The structure of Farsi language has still maintained its Indo-European feature and has not been influenced as such by other languages it has been in touch with, throughout the course of history. Still in Farsi language and Indo-European languages, noun comes first in sentences, followed by the related verb. The structure of terms in Farsi language, alike the past, maintains an Indo-European structure.

As soon as Aryans set foot on Iran plateau, Iranian languages blended with more encompassing languages. Prior to emergence of Achaemenian Empire; the Aramaic language, which was conversed in Mesopotamia, was highly inclusive in the ancient world. Throughout the Achaemenian Empire, for the first time, the majority of languages of different ethnicities became in touch with each other and the stage was set for exchanges of languages among ethnicities.

The Greek language, which was known in Iran in the pre-Alexander era, due to military and cultural exchanges between Iranians and Greeks, replaced the Aramaic language as the official language by the successors to Alexander.

Based on existing evidence, although Iranian ethnicities maintained their own languages; they were realistic enough to accept a language which was more developed than their indigenous language and maintained further capacity in establishment of bonds across the world, as their official language.

Throughout the era of Achaemenian and Parthian Dynasties, Pahlavi and Dari Farsi languages were used along with the official languages of Aramaic and Greek, and Iranians, in their everyday lives, conversed in their indigenous languages.

Throughout the Sassanid era, Pahlavi language was the official language of Iran. Meanwhile, the tradition of translation of works from foreign languages, which was founded by the Achaemenians, continued within the Sassanid era.  Thanks to these translations, following the downward spiral of Greek culture in its homeland, the achievements of the Greek culture were not forgotten. The major accomplishments of the Greek culture were later on translated from Pahlavi to Arabic language in the post-Islamic era, gaining entry to the European civilization.

In the first centuries of the Islamic era, Iranians didn’t maintain a well-established language to expand their cultural activities. The Pahlavi language, due to its complexity could not be globalized. Hence, initially upon the efforts of Iranian literary figures and scientists, the Arabic language turned into an acceptable language in the World of Islam.

The prominent Iranian scientist of the 4th and 5th Centuries AH, Abu-Rayhan Birouni, who was born in Kharazm, notes that his mother tongue, Kharazmi language doesn’t maintain the capacity to be used as a global scientific language. In addition to this language, Birouni was well-versed in Arabic, Dari Farsi, Sanskrit, Syriac, and Greek languages.

In the first centuries of the Islamic era, Arabic and Farsi languages were both used in major Islamic cities. In Basra and Kufa, people mainly used Farsi language.

Iranians, after familiarization with Arabic, swiftly mastered this language. The difference of this period of time was that Iranians maintained a more complex culture that Arabs, and were more experienced in development of culture and civilization. The Arab culture was mainly orally transferred from one generation to another generation, and Arabs didn’t attach importance on recording sciences and teachings.

The geographer of 4th Century AH, Mohammad ibn-e Ahmad Moqaddasi, in his tour of Islamic countries, pointed out that the residents of Khorasan used the purest form of Arabic language.

The Cambridge History of Iran points out that Iranians highly contributed to Arabic literature.

As of the initial centuries of the post-Islamic era, Farsi terms entered Arabic language and Arabic terms entered Farsi language, expanding the constructive exchanges of Arabic and Farsi languages.

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