Farsi - Persian Language
Persian Language, also known as Farsi, is the most widely spoken member of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, a subfamily of the Indo-European languages. It is the language of Iran (formerly Persia) and is also widely spoken in Afghanistan and, in an archaic form, in Tajikistan and the Pamir Mountain region.
Persian is spoken today primarily in Iran and Afghanistan, but was historically a more widely understood language in an area ranging from the Middle East to India. Significant populations of speakers in other Persian Gulf countries (Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates)
Total numbers of speakers is high: over 40 million Farsi speakers (about 50% of Iran's population); over 7 million Dari Persian speakers in Afghanistan (25% of the population); and about 2 million Dari Persian speakers in Pakistan.
In Afghanistan Farsi is spoken almost everywhere and close to 60 % of Afghanistan's total population speak Farsi or Dari. The map on the right should cover Herat and the nothern parts of Afghanistan where the majority of people speak Farsi.
Three phases may be distinguished in the development of Iranian languages: Old, Middle, and Modern. Old Iranian is represented by Avestan and Old Persian. Avestan, probably spoken in the northeast of ancient Persia, is the language of the Avesta, the sacred scriptures of Zoroastrianism. Except for this scriptural use, Avestan died out centuries before the advent of Islam. Old Persian is recorded in the southwest in cuneiform inscriptions of the Persian kings of the Achaemenid dynasty (circa 550-330 BC), notably Darius I and Xerxes I. Old Persian and Avestan have close affinity with Sanskrit, and, like Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, are highly inflected languages.
When "Persia" became "Iran"
This article is a part of "Persia or Iran" by Professor Ehsan Yarshater, published in Iranian Studies, Vol. XXII, No.1, 1989.
In 1935 the Iranian government requested those countries which it had diplomatic relations with, to call Persia "Iran," which is the name of the country in Persian.
The suggestion for the change is said to have come from the Iranian ambassador to Germany, who came under the influence of the Nazis. At the time Germany was in the grip of racial fever and cultivated good relations with nations of "Aryan" blood. It is said that some German friends of the ambassador persuaded him that, as with the advent of Reza Shah, Persia had turned a new leaf in its history and had freed itself from the pernicious influences of Britain and Russia, whose interventions in Persian affairs had practically crippled the country under the Qajars, it was only fitting that the country be called by its own name, "Iran." This would not only signal a new beginning and bring home to the world the new era in Iranian history, but would also signify the Aryan race of its population, as "Iran" is a cognate of "Aryan" and derived from it.
The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent out a circular to all foreign embassies in Tehran, requesting that the country thenceforth be called "Iran." Diplomatic courtesy obliged, and by and by the name "Iran" began to appear in official correspondence and news items.
At first "Iran" sounded alien (for non-Iranians), and many failed to recognize its connection with Persia. Some (Westerners) thought that it was perhaps one of the new countries like Iraq and Jordan carved out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, or a country in Africa or Southeast Asia that had just been granted independence; and not a few confused it with Iraq, itself a recent entity.
As time passed and as a number of events, like the Allied invasion of Iran in 1941 and the nationalization of the oil industry under Prime Minster Dr Mohammad Mosaddeq, put the country in the headlines, the name "Iran" became generally accepted.......................................... .