Iran News ...


12/28/05

The Persian language and our cultural interaction

TEHRAN, Dec. 27 (Mehr News Agency) -- In order to elaborate on the issue of the status of the Persian language in the world, we must first identify some different aspects of the language. The Persian language is seldom regarded as an element of culture or identity. However, every language, including Persian, is an element that is the essence of culture, and can be regarded as the segment that is the most fundamental foundation of culture.

When German philosopher Martin Heidegger said "Language is the house of being", he was referring to some doctrines of his own philosophy, but at the same time he was also referring to the relationship between culture and language.

Every culture, as well as every cultural identity, including our Iranian Islamic culture, is formed from a number of conceptions about the world, human beings, and society. If there were no language, it would be impossible to formulate such cultural-identical conceptions.

The complicated relationship between language and identity introduces another dimension of language, which refers to language as a means of cognition.

That is to say, language not only creates conceptions and identities but also makes cognition. The development of cognition would also be impossible without language.

As far as the interaction between language -- particularly the Persian language -- and culture, the following points should be mentioned:

(1) We should accept the fact that in the world's current cultural-cognitive system, the Persian language is regarded as a peripheral language. Not only the Persian language, but also other rich languages, such as German, Russian, French, and Japanese, which contain a significant amount of cognitive conceptions, find no opportunity to display themselves against the daily increasing development of the English language.

A great amount of the current cognitions are being transferred through the English language. A high percentage of the world's 6.3 billion people speak English. Over 70 percent of the texts on the internet are written in English. That is to say, the English language is the language of both politics and economics. Therefore, in establishing relations with other cultures on the basis of the Persian language, we should also consider the limits of this language.

Undoubtedly, the current status of the Persian language in cultural relations and interactions could be and also should be better than this. However, one should not neglect the fact that the inherent characteristics of the Persian language place it in the category of the world's most significant peripheral languages.

(2) Our cultural relations and interactions with other cultures are established based on the realities on the ground and current conditions. This is a very important point that Iranian officials have grasped. Therefore, in some instances, we should focus on some specific arts, such as music, poetry, and painting, and should try to develop interactions in these fields, while at other times or places we should mostly emphasize certain religious elements.

In some situations, focusing on Iranian culture is fruitful, but at other times, it is necessary to concentrate on economic factors to develop cultural interactions. However, in all these situations, it is essential to put great emphasis on the Persian language, and the Persian language should be the basis of all Iran's cultural relations with other cultures. This is because of the fundamental role of the language in creating culture and identity, as mentioned before.

(3) Our hurdles in making policies for developing the Persian language are more related to our methods rather than to the objectives and policies. It is generally known that the Persian language should attain a higher status in the world. It is also known that the Persian language was once an international scientific language of the Islamic world and one of the most important languages in the entire world. Therefore, the main objective should be discovering ways to help the Persian language regain its former status.

However, when methods are considered, some ambiguities arise. We face problems regarding Persian language textbooks, we do not possess the new methods and technologies for language teaching, we have far less theories regarding language teaching in the Persian language, the quality of Persian literary works that are translated into other languages is quite low, and finally, we do not even have a scientific test for determining people's proficiency in our language. These problems are quite significant, and finding solutions requires short-term, mid-term, and long-term programs.

(4) One can not simply focus on how to develop the Persian language but fail to ponder how to produce works in Persian. The English language has achieved its current status in the world because, in recent times, there have always been some people who think, talk, and write in English, while their works have also been quite popular.

On the other hand, the current status of the Persian language in the world is parallel to the cultural, civilizational, and scientific status of Iran in the world. The Persian language is not the reason for our intellectual or cultural problems. Rather, it is greatly affected by these problems, and its current status is the best example of these problems.

... Payvand News - 12/28/05 ... --



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