New Persian
فارسی نو, پارسی نو
Fārsi written in Persian calligraphy (Nastaʿlīq)
Native to
Native speakers
70 million[7]
(110 million total speakers)[6]
Early forms
Persian alphabet (Iran and Afghanistan)
Tajik alphabet (Tajikistan)
Hebrew alphabet
Persian Braille
Official status
Official language in
Regulated by
Language codes
ISO 639-1fa
ISO 639-2per (B)
fas (T)
ISO 639-3fas
58-AAC (Wider Persian)
> 58-AAC-c (Central Persian)
Areas with significant numbers of people whose first language is Persian (including dialects)
Persian Linguasphere.
  Official language
  More than 1,000,000 speakers
  Between 500,000 – 1,000,000 speakers
  Between 100,000 – 500,000 speakers
  Between 25,000 – 100,000 speakers
  Fewer than 25,000 speakers / none
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

New Persian (Persian: فارسی نو, romanizedFārsī-ye No), also known as Modern Persian (فارسی نوین) is the current stage of the Persian language spoken since the 8th to 9th centuries until now in Greater Iran and surroundings. It is conventionally divided into three stages: Early New Persian (8th/9th centuries), Classical Persian (10th–18th centuries), and Contemporary Persian (19th century to present).

Dari is a name given to the New Persian language since the 10th century, widely used in Arabic (see Istakhri, al-Maqdisi and ibn Hawqal) and Persian texts.[10] Since 1964, Dari has been the official name in Afghanistan for the Persian spoken there.


New Persian is a member of the Western Iranian group of the Iranian languages, which make up a branch of the Indo-European languages in their Indo-Iranian subdivision. The Western Iranian languages themselves are divided into two subgroups: Southwestern Iranian languages, of which Persian is the most widely spoken, and Northwestern Iranian languages, of which Kurdish is the most widely spoken.[11]


"New Persian" is the name given to the final stage of development of Persian language. The term Persian is an English derivation of Latin Persiānus, the adjectival form of Persia, itself deriving from Greek Persís (Περσίς),[12] a Hellenized form of Old Persian Pārsa (𐎱𐎠𐎼𐎿),[13] which means "Persia" (a region in southwestern Iran corresponding to modern-day Fars province). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term Persian as a language name is first attested in English in the mid-16th century.[14]

There are different opinions about the origin of the word Dari. The majority of scholars believes Dari refers to the Persian word dar or darbār "court" (دربار) as it was the formal language of the Sasanian dynasty.[15] The original meaning of the word dari is given in a notice attributed to Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (cited by Ibn al-Nadim in Al-Fehrest).[16] According to him, "Pārsī was the language spoken by priests, scholars, and the like; it is the language of Fars." This language refers to the Middle Persian.[15] As for Dari, he says, "it is the language of the cities of Madā'en; it is spoken by those who are at the king's court. [Its name] is connected with presence at court. Among the languages of the people of Khorasan and the east, the language of the people of Balkh is predominant."[15]


New Persian is conventionally divided into three stages:

Early New Persian remains largely intelligible to speakers of Contemporary Persian, as the morphology and, to a lesser extent, the lexicon of the language have remained relatively stable.[17]

Early New Persian

New Persian texts written in the Arabic script first appear in the 9th-century.[18] The language is a direct descendant of Middle Persian, the official, religious and literary language of the Sasanian Empire (224–651).[19] However, it is not descended from the literary form of Middle Persian (known as pārsīk, commonly called Pahlavi), which was spoken by the people of Fars and used in Zoroastrian religious writings. Instead, it is descended from the dialect spoken by the court of the Sasanian capital Ctesiphon and the northeastern Iranian region of Khorasan, known as Dari.[18][20] Khorasan, which was the homeland of the Parthians, was Persianized under the Sasanians. Dari Persian thus supplanted Parthian language, which by the end of the Sasanian era had fallen out of use.[18] New Persian has incorporated many foreign words, including from eastern northern and northern Iranian languages such as Sogdian and especially Parthian.[21]

The mastery of the newer speech having now been transformed from Middle into New Persian was already complete by the era of the three princely dynasties of Iranian origin, the Tahirid dynasty (820–872), Saffarid dynasty (860–903) and Samanid Empire (874–999), and could develop only in range and power of expression.[22] Abbas of Merv is mentioned as being the earliest minstrel to chant verse in the newer Persian tongue and after him the poems of Hanzala Badghisi were among the most famous between the Persian-speakers of the time.[23]

The first poems of the Persian language, a language historically called Dari, emerged in Afghanistan.[24] The first significant Persian poet was Rudaki. He flourished in the 10th century, when the Samanids were at the height of their power. His reputation as a court poet and as an accomplished musician and singer has survived, although little of his poetry has been preserved. Among his lost works are versified fables collected in the Kalila wa Dimna.[25]

The language spread geographically from the 11th century on and was the medium through which among others, Central Asian Turks became familiar with Islam and urban culture. New Persian was widely used as a trans-regional lingua franca, a task for which it was particularly suitable due to its relatively simple morphological structure and this situation persisted until at least the 19th century.[26] In the late Middle Ages, new Islamic literary languages were created on the Persian model: Ottoman Turkish, Chagatai, Dobhashi and Urdu, which are regarded as "structural daughter languages" of Persian.[26]

Classical Persian

See also: List of Persian-language poets and authors

"Classical Persian" loosely refers to the standardized language of medieval Persia used in literature and poetry. This is the language of the 10th to 12th centuries, which continued to be used as literary language and lingua franca under the "Persianized" Turko-Mongol dynasties during the 12th to 15th centuries, and under restored Persian rule during the 16th to 19th centuries.[27]

Persian during this time served as lingua franca of Greater Persia and of much of the Indian subcontinent. It was also the official and cultural language of many Islamic dynasties, including the Samanids, Buyids, Tahirids, Ziyarids, the Mughal Empire, Timurids, Ghaznavids, Karakhanids, Seljuqs, Khwarazmians, the Sultanate of Rum, Delhi Sultanate, the Shirvanshahs, Safavids, Afsharids, Zands, Qajars, Khanate of Bukhara, Khanate of Kokand, Emirate of Bukhara, Khanate of Khiva, Ottomans and also many Mughal successors such as the Nizam of Hyderabad. Persian was the only non-European language known and used by Marco Polo at the Court of Kublai Khan and in his journeys through China.[28]

Contemporary Persian

A variant of the Iranian standard ISIRI 9147 keyboard layout for Persian
Qajar dynasty

In the 19th century, under the Qajar dynasty, the dialect that is spoken in Tehran rose to prominence. There was still substantial Arabic vocabulary, but many of these words have been integrated into Persian phonology and grammar. In addition, under the Qajar rule numerous Russian, French, and English terms entered the Persian language, especially vocabulary related to technology.

The first official attentions to the necessity of protecting the Persian language against foreign words, and to the standardization of Persian orthography, were under the reign of Naser ed Din Shah of the Qajar dynasty in 1871.[citation needed] After Naser ed Din Shah, Mozaffar ed Din Shah ordered the establishment of the first Persian association in 1903.[29] This association officially declared that it used Persian and Arabic as acceptable sources for coining words. The ultimate goal was to prevent books from being printed with wrong use of words. According to the executive guarantee of this association, the government was responsible for wrongfully printed books. Words coined by this association, such as rāh-āhan (راه‌آهن) for "railway", were printed in Soltani Newspaper; but the association was eventually closed due to inattention.[citation needed]

A scientific association was founded in 1911, resulting in a dictionary called Words of Scientific Association (لغت انجمن علمی), which was completed in the future and renamed Katouzian Dictionary (فرهنگ کاتوزیان).[30]

Pahlavi dynasty

The first academy for the Persian language was founded on 20 May 1935, under the name Academy of Iran. It was established by the initiative of Reza Shah Pahlavi, and mainly by Hekmat e Shirazi and Mohammad Ali Foroughi, all prominent names in the nationalist movement of the time. The academy was a key institution in the struggle to re-build Iran as a nation-state after the collapse of the Qajar dynasty. During the 1930s and 1940s, the academy led massive campaigns to replace the many Arabic, Russian, French, and Greek loanwords whose widespread use in Persian during the centuries preceding the foundation of the Pahlavi dynasty had created a literary language considerably different from the spoken Persian of the time. This became the basis of what is now known as "Contemporary Standard Persian".


There are three standard varieties of modern Persian:

All these three varieties are based on the classic Persian literature and its literary tradition. There are also several local dialects from Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan which slightly differ from the standard Persian. The Hazaragi dialect (in Central Afghanistan and Pakistan), Herati (in Western Afghanistan), Darwazi (in Afghanistan and Tajikistan), Basseri (in Southern Iran), and the Tehrani accent (in Iran, the basis of standard Iranian Persian) are examples of these dialects. Persian-speaking peoples of Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan can understand one another with a relatively high degree of mutual intelligibility.[31] Nevertheless, the Encyclopædia Iranica notes that the Iranian, Afghan and Tajiki varieties comprise distinct branches of the Persian language, and within each branch a wide variety of local dialects exist.[32]

The following are some languages closely related to Persian, or in some cases are considered dialects:

Standard Persian

Main article: Standard Persian

Standard Persian is the standard variety of Persian that is the official language of the Iran[8] and Tajikistan[38] and one of the two official languages of Afghanistan.[39] It is a set of spoken and written formal varieties used by the educated persophones of several nations around the world.[40]

As Persian is a pluricentric language, Standard Persian encompasses various linguistic norms (consisting of prescribed usage). Standard Persian practically has three standard varieties with official status in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. The standard forms of the three are based on the Tehrani, Kabuli, and Bukharan varieties, respectively.[41][42]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Samadi, Habibeh; Nick Perkins (2012). Martin Ball; David Crystal; Paul Fletcher (eds.). Assessing Grammar: The Languages of Lars. Multilingual Matters. p. 169. ISBN 978-1-84769-637-3.
  2. ^ "IRAQ". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Tajiks in Turkmenistan". People Groups.
  4. ^ Pilkington, Hilary; Yemelianova, Galina (2004). Islam in Post-Soviet Russia. Taylor & Francis. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-203-21769-6. Among other indigenous peoples of Iranian origin were the Tats, the Talishes and the Kurds.
  5. ^ Mastyugina, Tatiana; Perepelkin, Lev (1996). An Ethnic History of Russia: Pre-revolutionary Times to the Present. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-313-29315-3. The Iranian Peoples (Ossetians, Tajiks, Tats, Mountain Judaists)
  6. ^ a b Windfuhr, Gernot: The Iranian Languages, Routledge 2009, p. 418.
  7. ^ "Persian | Department of Asian Studies". Retrieved 2 January 2019. There are numerous reasons to study Persian: for one thing, Persian is an important language of the Middle East and Central Asia, spoken by approximately 70 million native speakers and roughly 110 million people worldwide.
  8. ^ a b 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."
  9. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Dagestan: Chapter I, Article 11: "The state languages of the Republic of Dagestan are Russian and the languages of the peoples of Dagestan."
  10. ^ "DARĪ – Encyclopaedia Iranica".
  11. ^ Windfuhr, Gernot (1987). Comrie, Berard (ed.). The World's Major Languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 523–546. ISBN 978-0-19-506511-4.
  12. ^ Περσίς. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  13. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Persia". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  14. ^ Oxford English Dictionary online, s.v. "Persian", draft revision June 2007.
  15. ^ a b c Lazard, G. "Darī – The New Persian Literary Language", in Encyclopædia Iranica, Online Edition 2006.
  16. ^ Ebn al-Nadim, ed. Tajaddod, p. 15; Khjwārazmī, Mafātīh al-olum, pp. 116–17; Hamza Esfahānī, pp. 67–68; Yāqūt, Boldān IV, p. 846
  17. ^ Jeremias, Eva M. (2004). "Iran, iii. (f). New Persian". Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol. 12 (New Edition, Supplement ed.). p. 432. ISBN 90-04-13974-5.
  18. ^ a b c Paul 2000.
  19. ^ Lazard 1975, p. 596.
  20. ^ Perry 2011.
  21. ^ Lazard 1975, p. 597.
  22. ^ Jackson, A. V. Williams. 1920. Early Persian poetry, from the beginnings down to the time of Firdausi. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp.17–19. (in Public Domain)
  23. ^ Jackson, A. V. Williams.pp.17–19.
  24. ^ Adamec, Ludwig W. (2011). Historical Dictionary of Afghanistan (4th Revised ed.). Scarecrow. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-8108-7815-0.
  25. ^ de Bruijn, J.T.P. (14 December 2015). "Persian literature". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  26. ^ a b Johanson, Lars, and Christiane Bulut. 2006. Turkic-Iranian contact areas: historical and linguistic aspects. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
  27. ^ according to "the language (ninth to thirteenth centuries), preserved in the literature of the Empire, is known as Classical Persian, due to the eminence and distinction of poets such as Roudaki, Ferdowsi, and Khayyam. During this period, Persian was adopted as the lingua franca of the eastern Islamic nations. Extensive contact with Arabic led to a large influx of Arab vocabulary. In fact, a writer of Classical Persian had at one's disposal the entire Arabic lexicon and could use Arab terms freely either for literary effect or to display erudition. Classical Persian remained essentially unchanged until the nineteenth century, when the dialect of Teheran rose in prominence, having been chosen as the capital of Persia by the Qajar Dynasty in 1787. This Modern Persian dialect became the basis of what is now called Contemporary Standard Persian. Although it still contains a large number of Arab terms, most borrowings have been nativized, with a much lower percentage of Arabic words in colloquial forms of the language."
  28. ^ John Andrew Boyle, Some thoughts on the sources for the Il-Khanid period of Persian history, in Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, British Institute of Persian Studies, vol. 12 (1974), p. 175.
  29. ^ Jazayeri, M. A. (15 December 1999). "Farhangestān". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  30. ^ نگار داوری اردکانی (1389). برنامه‌ریزی زبان فارسی. روایت فتح. p. 33. ISBN 978-600-6128-05-4.
  31. ^ Beeman, William. "Persian, Dari and Tajik" (PDF). Brown University. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  32. ^ Aliev, Bahriddin; Okawa, Aya (2010). "TAJIK iii. COLLOQUIAL TAJIKI IN COMPARISON WITH PERSIAN OF IRAN". Encyclopaedia Iranica.
  33. ^ Gernot Windfuhr, "Persian Grammar: history and state of its study", Walter de Gruyter, 1979. pg 4:""Tat- Persian spoken in the East Caucasus""
  34. ^ V. Minorsky, "Tat" in M. Th. Houtsma et al., eds., The Encyclopædia of Islam: A Dictionary of the Geography, Ethnography and Biography of the Muhammadan Peoples, 4 vols. and Suppl., Leiden: Late E.J. Brill and London: Luzac, 1913–38.
  35. ^ V. Minorsky, "Tat" in M. Th. Houtsma et al., eds., The Encyclopædia of Islam: A Dictionary of the Geography, Ethnography and Biography of the Muhammadan Peoples, 4 vols. and Suppl., Leiden: Late E.J. Brill and London: Luzac, 1913–38. Excerpt: "Like most Persian dialects, Tati is not very regular in its characteristic features"
  36. ^ C Kerslake, Journal of Islamic Studies (2010) 21 (1): 147–151. excerpt: "It is a comparison of the verbal systems of three varieties of Persian—standard Persian, Tat, and Tajik—in terms of the 'innovations' that the latter two have developed for expressing finer differentiations of tense, aspect and modality..." [1]
  37. ^ Borjian, Habib (2006). "Tabari Language Materials from Il'ya Berezin's Recherches sur les dialectes persans". Iran & the Caucasus. 10 (2): 243–258. doi:10.1163/157338406780346005., "It embraces Gilani, Talysh, Tabari, Kurdish, Gabri, and the Tati Persian of the Caucasus, all but the last belonging to the north-western group of Iranian language."
  38. ^ "Tajikistan Drops Russian As Official Language". RFE/RL – 7 October 2009. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  39. ^ "What Languages are Spoken in Afghanistan?". 2004. Retrieved June 13, 2012. Pashto and Dari are the official languages of the state. are – in addition to Pashto and Dari – the third official language in areas where the majority speaks them
  40. ^ "Standard Persian" (PDF). Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  41. ^ "History of Tehrani accent". Iranian students news agency. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  42. ^ Ido, Shinji (2014). "Bukharan Tajik". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 44. 87–102. doi:10.1017/S002510031300011X. S2CID 232344116.