19 November 2005 (CHN) -- Persian (Iranian) people in the English-speaking countries are the only community who use two different terms to refer to their language, "Farsi" and "Persian." This behavior has caused some confusion among the Westerners as to the appropriateness of these terms.
"Farsi" (an Arabic adaptation of the word "Parsi"), is the indigenous name of the Persian language. Just as the German speaking people refer to their language as 'Deutsch', the Greek 'Ellinika' and the Spanish 'Espanol', the Persians use 'Farsi' or 'Parsi' to identify their native form of verbal communication.
In English, however, this language has always been known as "Persian" ('Persane' in French and 'Persisch' in German'). But many Persians migrating to the West (particularly to the USA) after the 1979 revolution continued to use 'Farsi' to identify their language in English and the word became commonplace in English-speaking countries.
In the West when one speaks of 'Persian Language', people can immediately connect it with several famous aspects of that culture and history such as Persian Gulf, Persian Carpet, Persian food, Persian poetry, Persian cat, etc. But "Farsi" is void of such link which is only obvious for people in Persia (Iran) and a few other nations in the Middle East.
The Academy of the Persian Language and Literature (Farhangestan) in Tehran has also delivered a pronouncement on this matter and rejected any usage of the word "Farsi" instead of Persian/Persa/Persane/Persisch in the Western languages. The first paragraph of the pronouncement states: "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. 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..."
Fortunately all International broadcasting radios with Persian language service (e.g. VOA, BBC, DW, RFE/RL, etc.) use "Persian Service", in lieu of the incorrect "Farsi Service." That is also the case for the American Association of Teachers of Persian, The Centre for Promotion of Persian Language and Literature, and several American and European notable universities.
Some mistakably believe that, in English, the official language of Iran should be called "Farsi," while the language spoken in Tajikistan or Afghanistan should be labeled as "Dari," and "Persian" should be utilized to refer to all of them! However, the difference between the Persian spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, or Tajikistan is not significant and substantial enough to warrant such a distinction and classification. Consider the following case. An Egyptian and a Qatari engage in a conversation in Arabic. They will encounter a great deal of difficulties in comprehending each other. Despite this fact, however, the language used in their conversation is referred to as "Arabic." No one will even attempt to classify their respective dialects separately and refer to them as "Qatari" and "Egyptian"! On the other hand, Persians, Tajiks or Afghans can converse in Persian and easily understand each other. Then, why should their dialects be classified separately and referred to by different names?
In English, usage of "Farsi" in place of "Persian," that has been common since 1980s, is as inaccurate and odd as using "Farsi Gulf" instead of "Persian Gulf."
* Pejman Akbarzadeh is Persian Gulf Organization's Rep. in Tehran
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