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Western Persian or Iranian Persian is the most widely spoken dialect of Persian language. It is natively known as Farsi or Parsi. It is officially spoken in Iran and also by various minorities in Iraq and the Persian Gulf states. It is mutually intelligible with Dari, the dialect of Persian spoken in Afghanistan, and Tajiki, the dialect of Persian of Tajikistan. Iran's standard Persian has been called, apart from Persian and Farsi, by names such as Iranian Persian and Western Persian, exclusively. Officially, the official language of Iran is designated simply as Persian (فارسی, Template:Transl).
Dari Persian (فارسی دری, Template:Transl), that is the standard Persian of Afghanistan, has been officially named Dari (دری, Template:Transl) since 1958. Also referred to as Afghan Persian in English, it is one of Afghanistan's two official languages together with Pashto. The term Dari, meaning "of the court", originally referred to the variety of Persian used in the court of the Sasanian Empire in capital Ctesiphon, which was spread to the northeast of the empire and gradually replaced the former Iranian dialects of Parthia (Parthian).
Tajik Persian (форси́и тоҷикӣ́, Template:Transl), that is the standard Persian of Tajikistan, has been officially designated as Tajik (тоҷикӣ, Template:Transl) since the time of the Soviet Union. It is the name given to the varieties of Persian spoken in Central Asia, in general.
The principal differences between standard Iranian Persian, based on the dialect of the capital Tehran, and Afghan Persian, as based on the Kabul dialect, are:
- The merging of majhul vowels /eː, iː/ and /oː, uː/ into /iː/ and /uː/ respectively in Iranian Persian, whereas in Afghan Persian, they are still kept separate. For instance, the identically written words شیر 'lion' and 'milk' are pronounced the same in Iranian Persian as /ʃiːr/, but /ʃeːr/ for 'lion' and /ʃiːr/ for 'milk' in Afghan Persian. The long vowel in زود "quick" and زور "strong" is realized as /uː/ in Iranian Persian, in contrast, these words are pronounced /zuːd/ and /zoːr/ respectively by Persian speakers in Afghanistan.
- The treatment of the diphthongs of early Classical Persian "aw" (as "ow" in Engl. "cow") and "ay" (as "i" in English "ice"), which are pronounced [ow] (as in Engl. "low") and [ej] (as in English "day") in Iranian Persian. Dari, on the other hand, is more archaic, e.g. نوروز 'Persian New Year' is realized as /nowruːz/ in Iranian and /nawroːz/ in Afghan Persian, and نخیر 'no' is /naχejr/ in Iranian and /naχajr/ in Afghan Persian. Moreover, [ow] is simplified to [o] in normal Iranian speech, thereby merging with the short vowel /u/ (see below). This does not occur in Afghan Persian.
- The high short vowels /i/ and /u/ tend to be lowered in Iranian Persian to [e] and [o], unlike are in Dari where they might have both high and lowered allophones.
- The pronunciation of the labial consonant (و), which is realized as a voiced labiodental fricative [v], but Afghan Persian still retains the (classical) bilabial pronunciation [w]; [v] is found in Afghan Persian as an allophone of /f/ before voiced consonants and as variation of /b/ in some cases, along with Template:IPAblink.
- The convergence of voiced uvular stop [ɢ] (ق) and voiced velar fricative [ɣ] (غ) in Iranian Persian (presumably under the influence of Turkic languages like Azeri and Turkmen), is still kept separate in Dari.
- The realization of short final "a" (ه-) as [e] in Iranian Persian.
- This means that [a] and [e] in word-final positions are separate in Dari, but not in Iranian Persian, where [e] is the word-final allophone of /æ/.
- The realization of short non-final "a" as [æ] in Iranian Persian.
Arguments in favour
- Richardson, Charles Francis (1892). The International Cyclopedia: A Compendium of Human Knowledge. Dodd, Mead. p. 541.
- Strazny, Philipp (2013). Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Routledge. p. 324. ISBN 978-1-135-45522-4.
- Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran: Chapter II, Article 15: "The official language and script of Iran, the lingua franca of its people, is Persian. Official documents, correspondence, and texts, as well as text-books, must be in this language and script. However, the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian."
- Olesen, Asta (1995). Islam and Politics in Afghanistan 3. Psychology Press. p. 205.
There began a general promotion of the Pashto language at the expense of Farsi — previously dominant in the educational and administrative system (...) — and the term 'Dari' for the Afghan version of Farsi came into common use, being officially adopted in 1958.
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- Baker, Mona (2001). Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. Psychology Press. p. 518. ISBN 978-0-415-25517-2.
All this affected translation activities in Persian, seriously undermining the international character of the language. The problem was compounded in modern times by several factors, among them the realignment of Central Asian Persian, renamed Tajiki by the Soviet Union, with Uzbek and Russian languages, as well as the emergence of a language reform movement in Iran which paid no attention to the consequences of its pronouncements and actions for the language as a whole.
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- A. Pisowicz, Origins of the New and Middle Persian phonological systems (Cracow 1985), p. 112-114, 117.