The proper name of our language is Persian

Consensus reached on March 8, 2002

Like Dr. Yarshater, the majority of Iranians prefer Persian instead of Farsi as the name of Iranian language. Below are Dr. Samei’s reasons which reflect the views of the majority.

1. 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 garden”, “Persian gulf”, “Persian carpet” or “Persian food”. This way, “Persian” may be a common concept of and function as a link between all aspects of Iranian life, including language. Farsi doesn’t have such a characteristic.

2. It seems to me that these days there may be a difference in meaning and usage between Persian and Farsi, that is they are not completely synonymous. For me, Persian can be the name of a language that has been formed, in its last phase, during this last thousand year and has been expanded as a literary language and as a lingua franca in a vast region in western and southwestern Asia. It is in this case that we speak about “Old Persian” and “Middle Persian”, and not “Old/Middle Farsi”. This language has many variants, which are still speaking in central Asia and Afghanistan and Iran. I think that Farsi is just a variety of this language that has been accepted and standardized as an official language in new Iranian society. In this case, using Farsi may limit this language in the present borders of Iran.

Hossein Samei, Ph.D.

Visiting Linguistic Professor

Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

Friday, March 08, 2002