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"FARSI" or "PERSIAN"? What Is the English Name of Our Language?
Thread poster: Cristina Moldovan do Amaral

Cristina Moldovan do Amaral  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:27
English to Romanian
+ ...
Dec 13, 2003

A very interesting article on Persian:

"By Pejman Akbarzadeh
Member of ARTISTS WITHOUT FRONTIERS (Tehran Chapter)
http://artistswithoutfrontiers.com/pakbarzadeh/

Some days ago an article was published in payvand.com (in English) where the writer used the word "Farsi" instead of "Persian" for the official language of our country. I sent an e-mail to the writer and asked him to kindly change "Farsi" into its proper and historical equivalent; "Persian". He did not do that and wrote another article which was published on December 8 in Payvand:
http://www.payvand.com/news/03/dec/1050.html

I would like to bring all Payvand's readers' attention to this very important subject.

FARSI (Arabic form of PARSI) is the native name of our language and PERSIAN is its English equivalent; as the native name of German language is 'Deutsch', but we never use 'Deutsch' in place of 'German' in English; or native term of Greek Language is "Ellinika" and always in English we say 'Greek' language, not 'Ellinika' language.

If you notice the title of dictionaries that have been written by several great Persian scholars (eg. Prof. Moein, Prof. Aryanpour, Prof. Baateni, etc.) The title of all of them is "English-Persian Dictionary" not "English-Farsi Dictionary". Meanwhile the official institution "Farhangestan" (the Academy of Persian language and literature, in Tehran) in an announcement has rejected the use of the word 'Farsi' instead of 'Persian' in English. (I have attached it).

According to Dr. Hossein Sameie (visiting linguistics professor of Emory University in Atlanta), "PERSIAN, alongside the name of a language, may be used, as an adjective, for the other aspects of our history and culture. For example, we can speak about 'Persian Literature', 'Persian Gulf', 'Persian Carpet', 'Persian Food'; this way, 'Persian' may be a common concept and function as a link between all aspects of Iranian [Persian] life, including language. 'Farsi' does not have such a characteristic€¦"

And finally, of course you are aware that all international brocasting centres (eg. BBC, VOA, DW, etc.) have "Persian Service" not "Farsi Service" ;
BBC: www.bbcpersian.com
VOA: http://www.voanews.com/persian/index.cfm
DW: http://www.dwelle.de/persian/
Radio Free Europe: http://www.rferl.org/bd/ir/
etc.

More information on this matter can be found in my bilingual (English/Persian) article which was published last year in "Persian Heritage Quarterly" in New Jersey (USA);
http://www.iran-heritage.org/interestgroups/iranorpersia.htm


I hope all countrymen pay more attention to this very important issue and to protect our national interests use the proper English name for our language; PERSIAN (or its variants in other Western languages; Persane, Persisch, Persiska, etc.) not FARSI.


Pejman Akbarzadeh
Member of ARTISTS WITHOUT FRONTIERS (Tehran Chapter)
http://artistswithoutfrontiers.com/pakbarzadeh/

P.S.--- The Announcement of the Persian Academy:
The Language of the nation of Iran [Persia] in English is called "Persian" [or in other European languages: Persane, Persisch, Persa, Persiska, etc.] and is known worldwide as PERSIAN. Recently some Iranians [Persians] have been trying to use "Farsi" instead of Persian, the trend which has also been followed by some non-Iranians. This has occurred to the extent that it has raised the question "Which is the correct word, in English, for the language of Iran's people, Persian or Farsi?!..."
This question was put to the official institution FARHANGESTAN (Persian Language and Literature Academy in Tehran) by the Commerce Department for Australia, at Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In their 34th meeting on 7th of December 1992, the Persian Academy unanimously passed the resolution that this language must be called PERSIAN and the reasons given were:

1- PERSIAN has been used in a variety of publications including cultural, scientific and diplomatic documents for centuries and, therefore, it connotes a very significant historical and cultural meaning. Hence, changing PERSIAN to FARSI is to negate this established important precedence.

2- Changing PERSIAN to FARSI may give the impression that it is a new language, and this may well be the intention of some Farsi users.

3- It may also give the impression that FARSI is a dialect of some parts of Iran and not the predominant (official) language of this country.

4- Fortunately, FARSI has never been used in any research paper or university document in any Western language and the proposal of its usage will create doubt and ambiguity about the name of the official language of our country."

from
http://www.payvand.com/news/03/dec/1083.html


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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:27
English to Russian
+ ...
more like a question Dec 13, 2003

Very interesting.
In Russian, we have never had Persian (as the name of rthe language - well, as far as I know), but always Farsi.

Now, after living in Canada for over 6 years, and having our best friends Iranians (Persians), I would say, that I understand when some people prefer to say Persian, not Iranian, and Persia (not Iran). And I respect their feeling.
Probably it is close to the fact, that I was born, raised, educated and lived in Ukraine for many years, and I have always considered myself Ukrainian. Therefore I feel uneasy when called a Russian.

All people, please, have a nice time..
V.


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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 11:27
German to English
Friends say "Farsi" Dec 13, 2003

Hiya - ny 2 cents is that my Iranian friends (in their late 20s) living in the States always refer to their mother tongue as "Farsi"....

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:27
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
(the) Ukraine Dec 13, 2003

Question for Vladimir Dubisskiy:
Your country always used to be known in English as "the Ukraine". Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, we are told it should be without the article - just "Ukraine". Why is this? The Dutch have never had any quarrel with "the Netherlands".

On the other hand, the country in West Africa once known as Gambia has insisted since it became independent that it should be called "the Gambia."

Also, we have our own names in English for Deutschland, Sverige, España etc., and also for Köln, Warszawa and Moskva. So why cannot we continue to say Ceylon, Bengal, Bombay and Peking, instead of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Mumbai and Beijing?

[Edited at 2003-12-13 10:59]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:27
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Interesting... Dec 13, 2003

If I remember my history right, it was the Pahlavi regime that sent back millions of letters if they were addressed to "Persia" and not "Iran".

A bit more complicated for the language, I suppose...


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Mollanazar
Iran
Local time: 20:57
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
Persia, Persian, Parsi, Parsee, Farsi, Iran, Iranian Dec 13, 2003

'Iran' was chosen in 1935 with the encouragement of the Nazi German to relace 'Persia' so that it can remind both nations of their common roots: Aryans!
Persian is the English equivalent for Parsi.
'Farsi' is the Arabic form of 'Parsi'.
By the way, have you heard of the people who live mainly in India called Parsi or Parsee?
'Iranian' is the used specifically for people from Iran but it can also sometimes replace Persian except when Persian refers to the language spoken by Iranians! Because we have Iranian languages as a set of related languages spoken even in neighbouring countries!

Thanks Cristina for raising this point.


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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:27
English to Russian
+ ...
to Jack: the and not Dec 14, 2003

With your example (and, for instance. the USA and the Russian Federation), the Netherlands, like the States actuiually consist of several states unlike Ukraine. As far as I remember this was one of the main arguments in favor of cutting the article. Besides, it's just more convenient, why not save on the article)

The Gambian reasons are unknown to me, sorry)

[quote]Jack Doughty wrote:

Question for Vladimir Dubisskiy:
Your country always used to be known in English as "the Ukraine". Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, we are told it should be without the article - just "Ukraine". Why is this? The Dutch have never had any quarrel with "the Netherlands".


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:27
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
the and not Dec 14, 2003

Thank you, Vladimir, I had never thought of it like that but it seems logical.

I suppose that is why Switzerland, which is also composed of cantons with a high degree of autonomy, is always know as "die Schweiz" in German, though we don't use the article in English.

And vive la France! which uses the article in its own language though it is not used in any other as far as I know!


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Will Matter  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:27
English
+ ...
Farsi and Persian Dec 14, 2003

I use both expressions depending upon who i am speaking with. All of my Persian friends use the word 'Farsi'(not "Persian") when referring to their native language whether they are speaking English or Farsi or both. In cases where people do not understand the meaning of the word 'Farsi' (due to unfamiliarity with the language or culture/ or not being a linguist) they usually will say something like 'I speak Farsi' and then say 'Persian' right after that in order to let the listener know what it is.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:27
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Makes sense Dec 15, 2003

Hussein Mollanazar wrote:

'Farsi' is the Arabic form of 'Parsi'.


if you consider that Arabic has no consonant equivalent for "p".


By the way, have you heard of the people who live mainly in India called Parsi or Parsee?


fascinating folk. I wasn't able to get a pass to the Towers of Silence in Mumbai when I was doing my thesis in India, but later on at a conference presentation related to the same research I found myself working under a Parsi lady who had marched side-by-side with Heinrich Böll during his anti-war efforts. The cultural exchange was very enriching, and I'm certainly going to try to learn more about them when I get a chance to come back.


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Massoud
English to Persian (Farsi)
Persian is an ethnicity and a language Dec 16, 2003

Pejman Akbarzadeh’s article on the use of Persian over the erroneous Farsi or Parsi in the English language is valid and makes a strong argument. What we have to understand here is that ever language has its own way of saying another language. German, Greek, Persian, Japanese, Finnish, Chinese, they all sound very different in their native forms. But Persian and Parsi are actually not that even that different compared to some of the others on this list! The point is that you cannot change this – confusion will arise and it does neither language justice. For instance, on this website when becoming a member, Persian is listed twice! As Farsi and Persian – already people are thinking these are two different languages and this is terrible!

Also, let’s not forget that Persian is an ethnicity. 51 percent of Iran’s modern population is ethnic Persian. From the province of Persia (which is Pars in Persian, hence Parsi), and the surrounding interior regions. The rest are comprised of Azeris, Kurds, Lurs, Baluchis, Turkmens, and many more. It is a very multiethnic state, but it still could have remained as “Persia” in the west. Look at Russia – not every Russian is an ethnic Russian, you have Kalmyks, Chechens, Buryats, Ossetes, Avars, the list goes on, but it is still Russia.

And the Parsi of India are just Zoroastrian Persians who immigrated to India after Arabs attacked and forcibly converting (most) Persians to Islam a few centuries back. They are ethnic Persians, just as the Persians in Iran. As for the language, it is spoken by non-Persians not only in Iran (as a second language by the other ethnic groups mentioned above), but as a second language in Afghanistan as well, to unite that multiethnic state as well, although there are no ethnic Persians in Afghanistan.

And Farsi is the Arabic way of saying Persian – very insulting if you ask me. The bottom line is, the language is Persian; Persian is also the dominate ethnic group of Iran; and Persia still exists today as a central province of Iran, even though the name was expanded to call the entire country, which was never changed in 1935, rather, foreign delegates were asked to refer to it in the native way, which was as the Empire of Iran, denoting the Aryan ancestry (ironically only abut 70% are actually Aryan these days). This may have been a bad move – it should have remained as being known as Persia; maybe then people wouldn’t think Persians don’t exist anymore, or that the Persian language has died out, and Persians the world over would be spared from having to defend our culture and language the way we do!

Regards,

Masoud Naseri
Master of Science in Anthropology


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Peyrovani
Local time: 18:27
English
It is just "PERSIAN" Dec 16, 2003

Baa Dorud (in Persian: with Hello !)
Yes ! Mr Pejman Akbarzadeh is right. The English name of this language is PERSIAN and FARSI is its internal equivlent.
This story goes back to 1979-80. After revolution in Iran (= Persia) many Persians because of political and sicial situation immigrated to the Western countries. Among them, some people did not know that this language is called "Persian" in English, "Persane" in French, "Persisch" in German, etc. They used "Farsi" and this word gradually became popular in the West (esp. in the US).
I read Mr Pejman Akbarzadeh's long article "Iran or Persia? Farsi or Persian?" last year (which publihed in Persian Heritage Quarterly in New Jersey, USA). Fortunatly he has convinced many webmasters, editoes, reporters, writers, et. to change FARSI into PERSIAN in their texts and use "Persia" alongside "Iran".

Best Regards
Shahryar Peyrovani, Paris


[Edited at 2003-12-16 20:14]


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Moslehi
Iran
Local time: 20:57
English to Persian (Farsi)
+ ...
It should be called only Persian... Dec 17, 2003

Dear all,
I am new to this site and also to this forum; but found this subject very important and basic.
My views on this matter are the same as Mr. Akbarzadeh's. But the difference is, unlike other linguists who are open to saying/hearing Farsi, I never use or ignore the wrong usage of Farsi instead of Persian and mostly correct those using Farsi in order for them to use Persian; at least when speaking with me!
Other scholars have also written some articles about this subject and you can find some in the message-board of my under-construction site:
http://www.PersianDirect.com

Good Luck.


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xxxLeonhard
Local time: 18:27
English to German
persian Dec 17, 2003

Peyrovani wrote:

Baa Dorud (in Persian: with Hello !)
Yes ! Mr Pejman Akbarzadeh is right. The English name of this language is PERSIAN and FARSI is its internal equivlent.
This story goes back to 1979-80. After revolution in Iran (= Persia) many Persians because of political and sicial situation immigrated to the Western countries. Among them, some people did not know that this language is called "Persian" in English, "Persane" in French, "Persisch" in German, etc. They used "Farsi" and this word gradually became popular in the West (esp. in the US).
I read Mr Pejman Akbarzadeh's long article "Iran or Persia? Farsi or Persian?" last year (which publihed in Persian Heritage Quarterly in New Jersey, USA). Fortunatly he has convinced many webmasters, editoes, reporters, writers, et. to change FARSI into PERSIAN in their texts and use "Persia" alongside "Iran".

Best Regards
Shahryar Peyrovani, Paris


[Edited at 2003-12-16 20:14]

Persian is the correct english word for farsi, but "Persia" for "Iran" is a problem, because there live people who are not persian (aseri, kurds, arabs and so on). My iranian friends say that their language is "persisch" (German word for farsi), but when I look for an interpreter, I use the word "farsi".


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Cristina Moldovan do Amaral  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:27
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Iran or Persia? Farsi or Persian? Dec 19, 2003

Another very interesting article by Pejman Akbarzadeh (Member of the "Artists Without Frontiers")on the same subject:

'Until a few decades ago, in the English language (which is now international) and in international circles, our country was called "Persia." Unfortunately, however, in 1935 the then government of Persia requested all countries in the world to call Persia by its native name, "Iran," without heeding the delicate point that as an ancient land, possessing a civilization thousands of years old, our country was known as "Persia," not "Iran."



Aside from political issues and the political motive of closeness with Germany and Adolf Hitler, which was the main reason for this change of name ordered by Reza Shah, some expressed the view that "Persia" denoted only one province of "Iran." Although it may be said that perhaps for us Persians, the name "Persia" only connotes a province of Persia, for others in the world, who for 26 centuries (and perhaps even to this day), have used the name "Persia," this name is associated with the whole of our land, and when speaking in foreign languages, we are obliged to take advantage of this name. We must therefore observe what effect this name has in the minds of foreigners, not in the minds of Persians.



We must not be prejudiced and think that only because we ourselves use the name "Iran," foreigners must also say, "Iran." On an international scale, many countries are called by a name different from that of their native names. The people of Egypt, for example, call their country "Al-Misr," but their international name is "Egypt" - two names which are in no way similar. But Egyptians have never forced other countries to say, "Al-Misr!" For they know that, with its ancient civilization, their country has become known to the world as Egypt.



There are other cases such as:



International Name: Native Name:

India Bharat
Germany Deutschland
Finland Suomi
Greece Hellas
Japan Nihon



and many others....


For us speakers of Persian, the name "Iran" is a very dear and respectable name, but in world culture, for non-Persians, Persia connotes an ancient culture. The change in the international name of our country, from Persia to Iran, has created a detrimental gap between Persia and its historical and cultural past in the minds of the people of the world. In the West today, there are very few people for whom Iran and Persia connote the same meaning. Contrary to what the government officials of Persia believed in the 1930s, in the West, not only are people not aware of an association between the name "Iran" and the "Aryan" race, but rather due to the great similarity that exists in European languages between the names "Iran" and "Iraq," many, especially among the youth, mistake Iran with this newly-established Arab entity which borders western Iran. Like it or not, the great similarity between these two names in the West have muddled the identities of these two countries! For those who recognize a difference between "Iran" and "Iraq," Iran is a country bordering the Persian Gulf, possessing oil, with a more or less Arab identity, which has no clear connection with the "Persia" in history.



A large portion of the budgets of various countries is spent annually on advertising and cultivating their international image. Postal stamps that are currently being distributed by Switzerland may be the best example. Despite the fact that its international name is Switzerland, on its stamps one reads the name "Helvetia," which was the Latin name given to Switzerland centuries ago but has long been abolished.



Nearly seventy years have passed since the change of name from "Persia" to "Iran" for international usage, but on many occasions (especially when relating to Persian history, art and culture), in works written in European languages, Persian and non-Persian scholars use the name "Persia" and the adjective "Persian" for "Iran" and "Iranian," since historically and culturally, "Iran" and "Iranian" do not convey any special meaning to non-Persians.



The name "Persia" for Iran, and phrases such as Persian Carpet, Persian Gulf, Persian Miniature, Persian Garden, Persian Cat, Persian food, etc. have all been entered in respectable world encyclopedias.



In 1935, the then Persian government requested all countries to use the words "Iran" and "Iranian" in their official correspondence in place of "Persia" and "Persian." Thus the two words which embrace all the history and culture of Persia abroad gradually faded out of public usage in foreign languages; only the word "Persian" remained to denote the Persian language. However, in recent years and following the emigration of hundreds of thousands of Persians to Europe, Australia and America, the lack of knowledge and attention on the part of some of them paid to this issue, as well as the lack of attention by some official organizations within the country, regrettably, the term "Farsi," instead of "Persian," has entered Western languages (especially English) - a completely new word in Western literature which is in no way representative of Persian history and literature.



Some publications and English-language television channels, both inside and outside the country, many Persians who possess Internet sites, various news agencies, computer companies (especially those producing Persian word processors), many supposedly reputable universities and language institutes are among individuals and organizations which have had a role in aggravating this cultural complexity whose scope is ever widening. Apparently, however, no one has been as dedicated to burying alive our cultural heritage as much as we Persians ourselves! School books for teaching English, which until recently were insistent upon using "Farsi" instead of "Persian," English-language newspapers published in Tehran, our English-language television programs, and the live program which is currently being broadcast by the international television network, Sahar, entitled, "Let's Learn Farsi" are examples of our own doing.



The increasing usage of Farsi in place of Persian has caused this term to enter world encyclopedias. In recent years, under the adjective "Persian," Oxford University Press has added: "Now usually called Iranian or Farsi"



It must be emphasized that "Farsi" is the native name for this language while "Persian" is its international equivalent just as, for example, the native names for the German and Greek languages are Deutsch and Hellenika, while they are never used in English.



It is essential to note that today's Persian youth are generally alien to the terms Persia, Persian, and even the Persian Gulf. They associate the name "Persia" with Peugeot Persia!, and they associate the name "Persepolis" (Persia's most famous historical relic) with a football team!



* * *



The discussion over the usage of Persia and Iran in European languages has long existed among Iranians, especially Iranian immigrants. As usual, some agree and others disagree. Apparently a completely wrong idea exists among some of our fellow countrymen that "Persia" is a dead historical word, representing the Zoroastrian culture, whereas, without any prejudice and considering historical research, one must easily accept the fact that Persia is the English equivalent of Iran.



According to undeniable existing documents, this name was officially applied to Iran from 600 B.C. until 1935 A.D., and unofficially since then in European languages; in no way does it exclusively apply to the Persia of the Achaemenid and Sassanid periods. Today's Iran is the same Persia. Political and cultural changes that exist in the history of most nations are no reason for a change in the nation's historical name. Just as there is no comparison between today's Egypt and the Egypt of 7000 years ago, or as there is no comparison between the vastness and political situation of today's Greece and the Greece of 3000 years ago.



Apparently, as of the mid-1980s a few Persian (Iranian) scholars residing abroad, by touching upon this topic, by publishing articles in Persian publications inside and outside the country, have attempted to inform the public and especially responsible organizations; however, for various reasons it has not had tangible results. Dr. Ehsan Yarshater, professor at Columbia University in New York and editor of the Encyclopedia Iranica; Dr. Kazem Abhary, professor at South Australian University in Adelaide; Dr. Hormoz Farhat, professor at Dublin University; and Amir-Rostam Beigi in Houston, are among the most industrious individuals on the promotion of this topic, whose works have also contributed to the writing of this article.



In 1992 following the efforts of a few Persian cultural figures in Australia (especially Dr. Kazem Abhary), a strong announcement was made in European languages by the Persian Language Academy ("Frhangestaan" in Tehran) in strong opposition to the usage of Farsi instead of Persian in the correspondences of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Academy admitted that a change from the word Persian to Farsi has created the misconception in the West that Farsi is a new language, different from Persian. The Academy likewise warned that "bad intention" was suspected on behalf of specific circles and that it is expected of the Iranian government to be on guard with respect to such activities so that any possible conspiracy would be forcefully neutralized.



But unfortunately, except for its publication in the Academy's quarterly and its dispatch to a few embassies, this announcement did not have much repercussion and was quickly forgotten. In March 2001 a document, with the intention of calling for more serious efforts on this topic, was written by Dr. Hormoz Farhat. This time apparently the geographical dispersion of interested Persians has delayed the work. The goals include: the encouragement of writers, translators, researchers, artists, journalists, editors for using "Persia" for Iran in their writings in Western languages, the correction of any usage of the word "Farsi" instead of "Persian" (for the language), and "The Gulf" instead of "The Persian Gulf." Finally a group of Persians in the US created "Persian Gulf Task Force".



The most important conclusion we have arrived at in the course of years of effort on this topic is that although such activities have had positive effects, without the attention and total support of the Iranian government we cannot achieve any significant results in changing the usage in language. Efforts in this regard require the support of all Persians who are sympathetic to this cause.



In my opinion, in order to protect national interests and the country's history, we must remain faithful in using the word "Persia" on an international level, and use the adjective "Persian" for anything that is related to Persia - its history, civilization, culture, art, language, and people.'

http://www.payvand.com/news/03/dec/1130.html


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