This book is one of the most comprehensive books, which have been written in English to teach Persian (Farsi & Dari) as a second or foreign language. The uniqueness of this book is that:
a) It uses a comparative linguistics method to teach Persian as a second or foreign language. This method has been attested by the author through several years of teaching of Persian to adult English speakers in Australia. The logic behind this method is that if the language learners understand the structural differences between their own language and the target language, learning the language will be much easier for them.
b) It uses transliteration as the basis for teaching Persian, without using Arabic script, a non Roman alphabet. Therefore, the learners do not need to learn the script to be able to learn the language. That is, knowing the script is not a prerequisite for learning Persian, and so the learners can learn speaking in the language without reading and writing it.
Not being able to read the script has always been a problem for most English speakers who wanted to learn Persian. This problem has forced many of them to give up learning the language alltogether. The usefulness of transliteration has already been proved in the author's bidirectional English-Persian dictionary where the transliteration rather than the script is used for word entries.
c) Although many courses are offered for learning Persian around the world, there are few practical grammar book and self learners to use, and thus this book will hopefully fill the gap.
d) The practical grammatical subtleties and exceptions in the language are usually left out in textbooks. This leads the learners to fall into the traps of literal translation. In this book, these subtleties and exceptions are covered in the grammar section.
e) The current self-learner books always focus on Farsi variation of Persian and ignore the Dari variation. This makes them less useful for many learners who want to learn Dari to be able to communicate in Afghanistan. However, this book gives the alternatives in Dari on the footnotes, and thus the learner will be able to communicate in both Farsi of Iran and Dari of Afghanistan.
Introduction to Persian
Persian is a language of the Indo-Iranian family group which itself is a member of Indo-European languages. Indo-Iranian languages split into Iranian languages and Indic languages around 1500 BC. The major Iranian languages are Persian, Pashto, Kurdish, Gilaki and Baluchi. The main dialect of Persian is Farsi, which is spoken in Iran and is the official language of the country. The other dialects are Dari, which is spoken in Afghanistan, and Tajiki, which is spoken in Tajikistan . These dialects are mutually intelligible. That is, the speakers of these dialects can communicate with each other very well. Most of the differences are with vocabulary. There are differences in pronunciation too. However, the difference in grammar is very little. In this book, the differences in vocabulary have been addressed as they are more important in communication in either dialect. However, as a general rule, if you learn one dialect, you will be able to communicate with the speakers of the other dialects. There are many Persian speakers in the neighbouring countries as well as in Europe and USA.
Old Persian was spoken from the beginning of the Achemenides Empire (around 550 BBC) until the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great (around 330 BC) and was inscribed in Cuneiform. Middle Persian was spoken from 330 BC until the fall of Sassanid dynasty (around 7th century) when Arabs occupied Persian Empire. After the introduction of Islam in the Persian Empire, Arabic became the official language of Iran. Consequently, Persian language and literature was suppressed for almost two centuries. Modern Persian was emerged after this time, and the Arabic script was adopted for writing Persian. Since Arabic was the language of intellectuals, writers and poets as well as the administrators at the time, the modern Persian was heavily influenced by this language. That is why; there are a huge number of words in current Persian which are borrowed form Arabic.
There are debates about whether these three languages (Farsi, Dari and Tajiki) are three dialects of the same language, that is Persian, or they are separate languages. As the speakers of all these three languages understand each other effectively, they are considered as dialects in this book.