or Western Farsi, natively simply known as Persian (, ), refers to the varieties
of the modern Persian language
spoken in Iran
and by minorities in neighboring countries, as well as by Iranian communities throughout the world
. These are mutually intelligible with other varieties of Persian, including Afghanistan's Dari
and Tajikistan's Tajik
Iran's national language has been called, apart from ''Persian'' or ''Farsi'', by names such as ''Iranian Persian'', ''Western Persian'' and ''Western Farsi'', exclusively. Officially, the national language of Iran is designated simply as ''Persian'' (, ).
[Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran: Chapter II, Article 15: "The official language and script of Iran, the lingua franca of its people, is Persian. Official documents, correspondence, and texts, as well as text-books, must be in this language and script. However, the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian."]
The international language-encoding standard ISO 639-1
uses the code
for the Persian language in general, as its coding system is mostly based on the native-language designations. The more detailed standard ISO 639-3
uses the code
for the dialects spoken across Iran and Afghanistan. This consists of the individual languages Dari and Iranian Persian.
is used for Iranian Persian, exclusively.
The main dynamics of the linguistic evolution of modern Persian are political and social changes such as population shifts, the advancement of particular regions, and the rise of ideological influences. In Iran, the Safavid period
in particular initiated a number of sociolinguistic changes that affected the country's national language, reflecting the political and ideological separation of Iran from Central Asia and Afghanistan. It is likely that the multiple relocations of the capital city of Iran
itself influenced the development of a distinctive metropolitan sociolect that would affect Persian dialects throughout the country.
During the late 12th and late 15th or early 17th centuries in Iran, the vowel repertory of the Persian language was reduced and a few consonants were altered in most of Iran's Western Persian dialects, while these features have been predominantly preserved in the Eastern dialects of Dari and Tajik up until the present day.
From the time of the Turco-Mongol invasions to the Safavid and subsequent Turkic-speaking dynasties, Persian received a number of lexical borrowings from Turkish, although never as much as those from Arabic. However, in contrast with the Tajik dialects of Central Asia, which are heavily influenced by Turkic, Persian in Iran has had its Turkic borrowings largely declined and assimilated. This is also reflective of the political realities in the Safavid, Qajar and Pahlavi periods.
Overall, Iran's Western Persian dialects appear to have changed more rapidly in lexicon and phonology than the Eastern Persian dialects of Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Comparison with other varieties
There are phonological, lexical, and morphological
differences between the Persian dialects of Iran and elsewhere. There are no significant differences in the written forms of Iran's standard Persian and Afghanistan's standard Dari, other than regional idiomatic phrases. However, Iran's commonly spoken Persian is considerably different in pronunciation and some syntactic features from the dialects spoken in Afghanistan and Central Asia.
The dialects of Dari spoken in Northern, Central and Eastern Afghanistan, for example in Kabul
, and Badakhshan
, have distinct features compared to Iran's Standard Persian. However, the dialect of Dari spoken in Western Afghanistan stands in between Dari and Iranian Persian. For instance, the Herati dialect shares vocabulary and phonology with both Dari and Iranian Persian. Likewise, the dialect of Persian in Eastern Iran, for instance in Mashhad
, is quite similar to the Herati dialect of Afghanistan.
The Kabuli dialect has become the standard model of Dari in Afghanistan, as has the Tehrani dialect
in relation to the Persian in Iran.
The following are the primary phonological differences between Iran's mainstream Persian and the dialects of Dari and Tajik, as well as Classical Persian.
# Most varieties of Persian spoken in Iran today lack the so-called "majhul" vowels.
The "majhul" vowels and have been merged into and respectively in Iran's Standard Persian, whereas in Dari and Tajik, they have been preserved as separate. For instance, the words for "lion" and "milk", which are written identically as in Perso-Arabic
and respectively as and in Tajik
, are both pronounced in Iran's Standard Persian, while Dari uses and and Tajik uses and for "lion" and "milk", respectively. The long vowel in meaning "quick" and meaning "strong" is realized as in Iran's Standard Persian, whereas these words are pronounced and respectively in Dari.
# The early Classical Persian diphthong
s "aw" (as "ow" in English "cow") and "ay" (as "i" in English "ice") are pronounced (as in English "low") and (as in English "day") in the Standard Persian of Iran. Dari and Tajik, on the other hand, preserve the earlier forms. For instance, the word ''Nowruz
'' ( in Perso-Arabic, in Tajik) is realized as in Iran's Standard Persian and in Standard Dari, and meaning "no" is in Iran's Standard Persian and in Standard Dari. Moreover, is simplified to in normal Iranian speech, thereby merging with the short vowel (see below). This does not occur in Dari or Tajik.
# The high short vowels and tend to be lowered in the Standard Persian of Iran to and , while in Dari and Tajik they might have both high and lowered allophones.
# The pronunciation of the labial consonant is realized as a voiced labiodental fricative
in Iran's Standard Persian and Tajikistan's Standard Tajik, whereas Afghanistan's Standard Dari retains the (classical) bilabial pronunciation . In Dari, is found as an allophone of before voiced consonants and as variation of in some cases, along with .
# The voiced uvular stop
(; in Perso-Arabic, in Tajik) and the voiced velar fricative
(; in Perso-Arabic, in Tajik) are convergent in Iran's Standard Persian (presumably under the influence of Turkic),
[A. Pisowicz, ''Origins of the New and Middle Persian phonological systems'' (Cracow 1985), p. 112-114, 117.]
whereas they are kept separate in Dari and Tajik.
# The short final "a" (ه-) is normally realized as in Iran's Standard Persian, with the exception of the word meaning "no".
#* This means that and in word-final positions are separate in Dari, but not in Iran's Standard Persian, where is the word-final allophone of in almost all cases.
# The short non-final "a" is realized as in Iran's Standard Persian.
Category:Persian dialects and varieties
Category:Languages of Iran
Category:Languages of Iraq