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Fársi: "recently appeared language!"
by Prof. Ehsan Yarshater, Ph.D.

Below is an extraction and translation into English from an article by Professor Ehsan Yarshater (http://www.perlit.sailorsite.net/yarshater) titled "Farsi, recently appeared language".

It is known that a new language has recently appeared in English writings which was not known before and it is still practically not known but for the name. If you ask an American graduate; "What kind of language is this?" he most probably suspect that it would be a language of Southern Asia or Africa.

If they still ask him if he knew any works in this language, the answer would be "no", since I have asked the same question repeatedly and have heard nothing but "No". On the contrary if they ask " What Persian Language is? And the listener only having a basic General Knowledge; he would not have a problem to connect this language with the Persian Empire, Persian Art, Persian Poetry and even Persepolis. He or she would probably know that this is the same language Omar Khayyám has versed his Rubáiyát, which is well known in English. He would also know that this is a language of an ancient country called "Persia" with her wars with Greece, and her arts and carpets. The only thing he would not know is that "Persian language" has a newly acquired name of "Farsi" and it is in relation to one of the Muslim and Arabic spoken countries of The Middle East, called Iran.

In spite of this, we unfortunately witness yet another usage of "Farsi" instead of "Persian" in English writings on a daily occurrence. This happens mostly by the Iranians living in The USA; while they answer questions about languages that they know in their application forms for jobs or university Courses. I suspect that they even feel gratified to realize that "The known word of Farsi" can now be used and is a usual occurrence in the English language. If they only knew that the word "Farsi" has no background in English language and its relationship to the identity of Persian (Iranian) Civilization and Culture that is reflected in phrases such as " Persian Literature" and "Persian art" and "Persian Poetry", is not clear at all, they would find themselves damaging irreparably the fame and cultural status of Persia (Iran). The damaging contribution of "The Voice of America" [VoA] and some of the American Universities' planners have not been ineffective in this trend.
We should, in order to protect our literature and ancient cultural credibility in the west, strictly avoid using the word " Farsi" and instead use the same old and well-known word of "Persian" and to realize that usage of "Farsi" instead of "Persian" is the negligence of our national interests.

Editor's comment:
The Voice of America (VoA) has officially changed the name of its Persian programs from "Fársi" to "Persian". At the time this article was written, VoA Persian service was wrongly called Fársi service. (related link: VoA Persian)

You may send your comments on this article only to the editor. PD Editorial: editor@persiandirect.com.

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Last updated: 14-02-05.