Language policy in Iran

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Short overview of History of Persian language and the role of language policy in modern Iran.

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Language policy in Iran

  1. 1. Language  Policy:  Iran  Mariam  Afrahi  e.afrahi@gmail.com        
  2. 2. Table  of  Contents  •  Persian  Today  &  Its  Status  in  middle  east  and  central  Asia  •  Brief  History  of  language  and  Script  •  Role  of  NaEonalism  in  language  policy  •  Revival  of  Persian  •  AGempts  against  influence  of  foreign  languages  on  Persian  •  The  results  of  revival  •  Loanwords  in  Persian  •  LinguisEc  prescripEon:  Devices  through  which  Persian  is  maintained  •  Sources      
  3. 3. Persian  Today  •  Persian  Belongs  to  Indo-­‐Iranian  branch  of  the  Indo-­‐European  languages.  •  Official  language  in  Iran,  Afghanistan,  Tajikistan  •  Persian  is  spoken  primarily  in  Iran,  Afghanistan,  Tajikistan  and  parts  of  Uzbekistan.  About  55%  of  Irans  populaEon  are  Persian  speakers;  about  65%  of  Tajikistans  populaEon  are  Tajik-­‐Persian  speakers:  over  25%  of  the  Afghanistans  populaEon  are  Dari-­‐Persian  speakers;  and  about  1%  of  the  populaEon  of  Pakistan  are  Dari-­‐Persian  speakers  as  well.    •  About  110  million  speakers  worldwide  Three  major  dialects:    1.  Farsi  (spoken  in  Iran)  2.   Dari  (spoken  in  Afghanistan)  3.   Tajik  (spoken  in  Tajikistan  and  central  Asia)  
  4. 4. Language  Map  Different  varieEes  of  Persian  is  spoken  in  ciEes  near  the  borders  of  Iran  
  5. 5. Brief  History  •  Parsi  or  Persian  was  the  language  of  Parsa  people  (559  to  331  BC.)  who  ruled  Iran  between  550  –  330  BCE.  Achaemenid  dynasty.  •  Although  the  name  of  the  language  has  been  maintained,  Persian  has  undergone  great  changes.    •  All  varieEes  represent  languages  spoken  during  different  eras.  •  Texts  wriGen  700  years  ago  can  sEll  be  understood  by  today’s  speaker.    1.  Old  Persian  (original  Parsa  tribe  of  the  Hakahmaneshinian)  2.  Middle  Persian  (Sasanian  era  also  known  as  Pahlavi  afer  the  collapse                                        of  Alexanders  Empire  )  3.  Classical  Persian  (roots  in  Old  Persian,  Pahlavi  and  Avesta.)  4.  Modern  Persian  (spoken  today).  Texts  wriGen  700  years  ago  can  sEll                                        be  understood  by  today’s  speaker.      
  6. 6. Iranian  Script  Old  Persian  Cuneiform  (Darius  I  [522  -­‐  486  BCE])            Parthian  Script                                                                                  Avestan  Alphabet  Pahlavi  Script  
  7. 7. Persian  Alphabet  Arabic  script  •  The  Persian  language  has  been  wriGen  with  a  number  of  different  scripts,  including  Old  Persian  Cuneiform,  Pahlavi,  Aramaic,  and  Avestan.  Afer  the  Islamic  conquest  of  the  Persian  Sassanid  Empire  in  642  CE,  Arabic  script  has  become  t  replace  the  older  ones.  
  8. 8. Many  ethniciEes  in  Iran  •  Other  languages  which  are  close  to  language  of  the  border  country  are  also  spoken  in  Iran  (E.g.  Azeri  in  Tabriz  situated  in  Northern  Iran,  close  to  Turkish  in  Turkey)  •  There  are  a  number  of  other  naEonal  and  ethnic  groups  living  in  various  parts  of  Iran.  The  most  important  of  these  groups  with  specific  history,  culture,  customs,  and  language  are  the  Turks,  the  Kurds,  the  Baluchis,  the  Arabs,  the  Turkmans  and  the  Lurs.    
  9. 9. Role  of    NaEonalism  in  LP  :  LinguisEc  Purism    Although  Persia  was  both  invader  and  invaded  country,  consEtuEng  a  mixture  of  naEons  and  culture,  the  Persian  language  has  survived.  Therefore,  naEonalism  emphasizes  the  role  of  language  in  shaping  naEonal  idenEty.  Arabic  Conquest:  All  notable  Iranian  scholars  wrote  in  Arabic  and  the  knowledge  of  Arabic  was  praised.  However,  at  one  point  the  quesEon  about  Need  to  preserve  NaEonal  IdenEty  was  raised.    Because  Iran  is  composed  of  various  of  different  ethniciEes  about  150  years  ago  the  government  planned  a  strategy  to  make  a  common  language  between  all  these  different  ethniciEes.  In  result  Persian  was  made  the  official  language  of  Iran.      
  10. 10. Revival  of  Persian  RejecEon  and  neglect  of  foreign  elements  while  simultaneously  praising  naEve  ones  By  scholars  (Avicenna,  al-­‐Biruni)  rejecEng  Arabic  words  and  invenEng  Persian  equivalents.  By  Writers  &  Poets:  Arabic-­‐Free  language.  “Shahname”  (The  Epic  of  Kings)  a  poem  of  nearly  60,000  couplets  by  Ferdowsi.    An  important  feature  of  this  work  is  that  during  the  period  that  Arabic  language  was  known  as  the  main  language  of  science  and  literature,  Ferdowsi  used  only  Persian  in  his  masterpiece.  As  Ferdowsi  himself  says  "Persian  language  is  revived  by  this  work".      Role  of  poetry:  Poetry  plays  a  very  important  role  in  Persian  culture.  Poems  were  memorized  and  recited  in  cafes  and  gatherings.    One  direct  effect  of  this  was  that  persian  language  was  also  maintained  by  the  illiterate.    
  11. 11. Language  Policy  academies  &  State-­‐Sponsored  schools  coin  new  words  •  Majlis-­‐i  Akadimi  (1906-­‐11)  (language  insEtute)  and  Farhangestan  –  Academy  of  Persian  language.  Both  resulted  in  major  transformaEons  in  Farsi  •  Journalism  Boom  (over  80  newspapers).  Coining  of  new  words  by  the  scholarly  biweekly  newspaper:  Asr-­‐e  Jadid.  •  WriDen  language  for  everyone  not  only  for  elite.  Spread  of  modern  persian.      •  1934  conference  devoted  to  Ferdowsi  where  scholars  exchanged  opinions  on  Persian  literature,  language  and  culture.  As  a  result  professor  Rezazadeh  Shafaq  announced  the  manifesto  of  the  Persian  language  reform  movement.  •  1935  on  Shahs  (king)  order  Farhangestan-­‐e  Zabane  Iran  ‘The  Academy  of  Iranian  Language’  was  established.  The  Aim  was  to  compile  a  list  of  classical  and  dialect  words,  compile  a  Persian  dicEonary,  standardize  the  derivaEonal  morphology,  and,  most  importantly,  coin  and  propose  new  Persian  terms.  Successful  results.  (3oo-­‐400  words  coined  on  first  year)  E.g.    ‫ﻩ‬‫”/ﻓﺮوﻭدﺩﮔﺎ‬airport”    •  Teacher  Training  collage  -­‐  during  the  eight  years  of  its  existence  it  created  3,000  words,  400  of  which  were  used  in  everyday  speech  
  12. 12. CollecEon  of  Terms  Approved  These  are,  as  the  name  suggests,  words  that  are  allowed  to  be  used  and,  what  is  more,  should  be  used  by  the  speakers  of  Farsi.  
  13. 13. The  6  rules  Guidelines  for  how  to  maintain  Persian  language  free  from  foreign  influence    1.  Avoid  an  Arabic  word  whenever  there  is  a  close  Persian  word.  2.  When  you  have  a  common  borrowing  and  an  unknown  Farsi  equivalent,  the  laGer  should  be  popularised.  3.   If  there  is  no  equivalent  in  Persian,  Farsi  word  should  be  created.  4.  If  there  is  no  equivalent,  use  the  borrowed  unEl  Persian  equivalent  is  not  created.  5.  When  there  is  no  Persian  equivalent  and  the  concept  expressed  by  a  borrowing  belongs  to  the  material  domain6,  accept  the  loanword.  6.  If  there  is  a  foreign  word  that  belongs  to  the  spiritual  domain,  then  a  Persian  equivalent  should  be  manufactured.  
  14. 14. Reasons  for  liGle  success  •  Ancient  Persian  words  claimed  to  be  arEficial:  nether  useful  in  educaEon  nor  everyday  interacEons  •  Persian  has  been  assimilaEng  Arabic  words  for  long  Eme  •  Arabic  script  facilitated  retenEon  of  Arabic  elements.  •  Afer  Islamic  RevoluEon  of  1979:  No  more  hosElity  towards  Arabic  since  it  is  the  holy  language  of  Islam.  •  Talebof:  “Instead  of  purifying  the  languages  Iranians  should  respect  and  preserve  it.”    •  “Forooghi    (The  prime  minister  at  the  Eme)  stated  that  he  loved  all  those  who  love  Arabic,  as  it  was  the  language  of  theology  and  science.”  •  EducaEon  >  purificaEon  (foreign  scienEfic  texts  and  literature)    Ø  As  a  result  Arabic  words  were  retained  and  European  terminologies  were  adopted.    
  15. 15. Loanwords  in  Persian  Great  majority  of  loan  words  from  Arabic.  Also  early  Turkish  and  Greek,  French,  German,  English.    1.  Loan  words  include:  Technical  terms  in  case  where  no  exciEng  Persian  word  for  situaEon/product.  2.  Non-­‐technical  load  words:  “Merci”  (from  French)  alternaEve:  “Tashakor”,  “Sepas”  (mainly  used  in  wriGen  texts.)  Has  become  so  established  that  is  no  longer  perceived  as  borrowing.      •  Successful  replacement  of  loan-­‐word:  “Automobile”  à  (replacement  of  foreign  word)  “Khordorw”  •  Less  successful  “Television”  à  “Sedah  va  Sima”  
  16. 16. LinguisEc  prescripEon  Devices  through  which  Persian  is  maintained    Through  EducaGon  •  Around  the  country  all  school  use  the  exact  same  school  books.  This  assures  that  everybody,  regardless  of  locaEon,  will  “speak”  and  be  “thought”  the  same  way.  Especially  important  for  language  subjects.    Through  Media  (Seda-­‐va-­‐sima:  state  television)  •  growth  of  media  -­‐-­‐>  less  dialects    •  Standardized  language  used  on  TV  and  Radio.  The  variety  spoken  in  central  Iran,  where  government  funds  are  mostly  concentrated  in.  This  variety  of  Persian  is  Linked  to  modern  lifestyle,  higher  living  standard  and  presEge.  
  17. 17. Literary  Sources  •  Iran  Chamber  Society.  (n.d.).  Retrieved  April  2013,  from                                                                                h3p://www.iranchamber.com/    •  Marszaiek-­‐Kowalewska,  K.  (2011).  Iranian  language  policy:  a  case  of  linguisEc  purism.  INVESTIGATIONES  LINGUITICAE  VOL.XXII                                                                                                      h3p://www.staff.amu.edu.pl/~inveling/pdf/Marszalek-­‐Kowalewska%20_22.pdf  •  Lazard,  Gilbert  1975,  "The  Rise  of  the  New  Persian  Language"  in  Frye,  R.  N.,  The  Cambridge  History  of  Iran,  Vol.  4,  pp.  595–632,  Cambridge:  Cambridge  University  Press.  •  Ulrich  Ammon,  Norbert  DiGmar,  Klaus  J.  MaGheier,  Peter  Trudgill,  "SociolinguisEcs  Hsk  3/3  Series  Volume  3  of  SociolinguisEcs:  An  InternaEonal  Handbook  of  the  Science  of  Language  and  Society",  Walter  de  Gruyter,  2006.  2nd  ediEon.  pg  1912.  

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