Persian, and why you can’t learn to speak it

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catherinemaheu
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Re: Persian, and why you can’t learn to speak it

Postby catherinemaheu » Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:53 pm

DangerDave2010 wrote:Catherine, do you think that studying Arabic is necessary in order to truly master Persian? Whenever I pick a text that is a little bit old fashioned, I find many Arabic borrowings that I don't ever see in modern texts, often replacing common words, as if they borrowed freely.


If you know Arabic it will be helpful, but it is in no way necessary for mastering Persian. In a lot of old texts, there are Arabic sentences or phrases here and there. They are actually in Arabic, and you're not supposed to be able to understand them if you speak Persian (for example the first hemistich of the famous Divan-e-Hafez is in Arabic). Apart from that, use of Arabic loan words were also more prevalent in the texts. For example, the first sentence in Sa'di's Golestan consists of mostly Arabic words, but the grammar and structure is Persian. So, if you specifically want to study old texts and poems, learning Arabic would definitely be more useful.

To conclude, the merit of speaking Arabic would be the familiarity with the way the words are related to each other, since that same relation is present in Persian in the cases that a lot of Arabic words from the same family (words from the same root) are used in Persian. I would argue that other than that, there is not much to gain from Arabic, since the influence of Arabic on Persian is mostly loan words (with a lot of them not retaining their original meanings) and if you want to go and learn them as Arabic vocabulary, you might as well learn them as Persian vocabulary. (Note that I am not taking into account the fact that learning Arabic is useful by itself, I'm writing this as if the goal of learning Arabic is to use it for Persian).
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catherinemaheu
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Re: Persian, and why you can’t learn to speak it

Postby catherinemaheu » Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:57 pm

tarvos wrote:I would prefer to learn the spoken Persian. I don't need the written Persian so much and when you speak to people, that's what opens up the culture. There are so many things in spoken language that you just don't write, no matter what language you are speaking. When I spoke Chinese, I didn't understand everything everyone was saying either and I definitely didn't use 100% standard Chinese. And that's not accounting for mistakes.


You are correct. If you only want to use the language for speaking up to people, there is no reason to learn the written Persian. However, I was trying to say that if someone want to learn them both eventually, it would be better for them to start by learning written Persian.
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tarvos
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Re: Persian, and why you can’t learn to speak it

Postby tarvos » Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:59 pm

Why? I'd learn the written Persian after. You'll get the context when you need it, but the spoken Persian is what you're going to use in daily life. The newspapers you're going to read later, when you actually have an idea of how to say things and write them down.
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Re: Persian, and why you can’t learn to speak it

Postby catherinemaheu » Sun Mar 06, 2016 12:07 am

tarvos wrote:Why? I'd learn the written Persian after. You'll get the context when you need it, but the spoken Persian is what you're going to use in daily life. The newspapers you're going to read later, when you actually have an idea of how to say things and write them down.


As I mentioned in the first post, because the spoken language is irregular, and considerably different from the standard Persian. I think I owe to mention that I usually care more about the things I can read in a new language than people I can speak to, so I may be biased. But disregarding that, i.e. assuming reading and speaking can be as effective in learning a language, I would argue that written Persian is the better start point since it's structured and regular, unlike the spoken language.
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Re: Persian, and why you can’t learn to speak it

Postby tarvos » Sun Mar 06, 2016 11:30 am

1) I nearly always need the spoken language first - such is the nature of my life.

2) The spoken language cuts things out of formal writing. Yeah. It does that in every language ever, pretty much - you're describing Dutch as much as you are Persian.

3) Spoken languages are just as regular as written languages. They just don't have the same rules and the rules aren't documented. But rules they have nonetheless. Do you think Swiss German is just a mishmash of things, just because it's not equal to High German?

4) What I am going to listen to is going to be spoken Persian anyway.
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mehrdad_ma2008
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Re: Persian, and why you can’t learn to speak it

Postby mehrdad_ma2008 » Sat May 12, 2018 12:30 pm

Hi everybody
Excuse me for posting in this topic
I'm an iranian and an english learner
I'm seeking for an english speaker who wants to learn persian and make conversation in both english and persian languages every day so we help each other for improving our language learning
thanks a lot
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mikelegg
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Re: Persian, and why you can’t learn to speak it

Postby mikelegg » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:10 am

catherinemaheu wrote:
1. There’s not just one Persian.

Now, the point that I think has the most relevance to the difficulty of learning Persian. Persian can be categorized into 3 categories. Official Written Persian, Everyday Spoken Persian (or Fractured Persian as I like to call it), and the written form of Everyday Spoken Persian (this one is not very important by itself, more on that below).

First, the Official Written Persian (OWP from now on). OWP is the language taught at schools. It is the language of the newspapers and the scientific books. It is also the language of most of the works of literature (or part of them, again, more on that later). OWP is a very well structured language, has no genders, and doesn’t have any weird verb tenses (i.e. no “you will have received it” tenses). There is no built-in formality structures in the language. It sounds very beautiful (or so I’ve heard, this is not something on which I can form an opinion) and all in all it should be a rather easy language to learn.

Second, the Everyday Spoken Persian (ESP from now on), or the Fractured Persian. A lot of things change, when Persian is spoken. A lot of /ɒː/ sounds are ‘fractured’ (or curved) into /uː/. For a lot of verbs, the consonant at the end is dropped and the previous vowel is replaced by /e̞/. A lot of vowel-consonant-vowel constructions are just replaced by just one of the vowels. And a lot more changes. I Also have to note that these changes are very irregular, even on a personal level (my sister curves the word for breakfast but not the one for family, my brother curves the word for family but not the one for breakfast, I curve them both, and this is really true not just a hypothetical situation). If you are wondering how all these stuff happened, you may find your answer below. This is one of the reasons that make me think people should only learn OWP at first, if they want to learn Persian.


Thank you so much for this post Catherine. You are the first Persian-speaking person I've encountered who understands this.

I have been trying to learn Persian for about 18 months - I believe I am a person of at least average intelligence - yet sometimes I feel like I'm getting nowhere! It literally drives me to tears!

When I tell Persian people that they don't have one language but TWO (or three if you count the written form of the ESP) they laugh and say "You just have to learn a few simple rules" - which is completely and utterly untrue.

I agree with your recommendation to learn the OWP and that's what I've been doing. I've made some progress in this area and it's what keeps me going.

Of course when Persian people speak, it's mostly gibberish to me because they are not speaking their own language properly, but interestingly Afghan people who don't speak Tehran slang are not so hard to understand.

I try to explain the situation to Persian people like this ...

In Australia we often speak a slang version of English. For example, we say things like "YousegunnathefootySundy?" which in English means "Are you going to the football on Sunday?".

But it's slang - we know it's slang - it's frowned upon and we don't try to pass it off as the "Official spoken version of English". Somehow, Iranians have gotten away with butchering their own language (just as we Australians have) and somehow managing to have it recognised as an accepted way of speaking. A great feat indeed - but it means that anyone who wants to learn Persian has to be forewarned that they will actually be learning TWO languages - not one.

It's such a relief to find a native Persian speaker who recognises this.

Now I know it's not just me :D
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David1917
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Re: Persian, and why you can’t learn to speak it

Postby David1917 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:01 pm

mikelegg wrote:Of course when Persian people speak, it's mostly gibberish to me because they are not speaking their own language properly, but interestingly Afghan people who don't speak Tehran slang are not so hard to understand.

Somehow, Iranians have gotten away with butchering their own language (just as we Australians have) and somehow managing to have it recognised as an accepted way of speaking. A great feat indeed - but it means that anyone who wants to learn Persian has to be forewarned that they will actually be learning TWO languages - not one.


I think it's easy to discuss the use of slang and colloquial speech's differing from the official standard written language without using terms like "butchering" or "gibberish." Prescriptivism in general is a futile, undefined path often paved with xenophobia or otherwise elitism. It is also an exaggeration to describe the phenomenon as two languages, and moreover to imply that it is somehow unique and more prominent in Persian. Name one language where the written form you learn in textbooks or seen in literature is the one you hear on the streets.
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mikelegg
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Re: Persian, and why you can’t learn to speak it

Postby mikelegg » Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:35 am

David1917 wrote:
mikelegg wrote:Of course when Persian people speak, it's mostly gibberish to me because they are not speaking their own language properly, but interestingly Afghan people who don't speak Tehran slang are not so hard to understand.

Somehow, Iranians have gotten away with butchering their own language (just as we Australians have) and somehow managing to have it recognised as an accepted way of speaking. A great feat indeed - but it means that anyone who wants to learn Persian has to be forewarned that they will actually be learning TWO languages - not one.


I think it's easy to discuss the use of slang and colloquial speech's differing from the official standard written language without using terms like "butchering" or "gibberish." Prescriptivism in general is a futile, undefined path often paved with xenophobia or otherwise elitism. It is also an exaggeration to describe the phenomenon as two languages, and moreover to imply that it is somehow unique and more prominent in Persian. Name one language where the written form you learn in textbooks or seen in literature is the one you hear on the streets.


Yes, you're correct, my apologies. it's just my frustration seeping through.
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David1917
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Re: Persian, and why you can’t learn to speak it

Postby David1917 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 3:23 pm

mikelegg wrote:Yes, you're correct, my apologies. it's just my frustration seeping through.


But hey, learning Persian is no walk in the park, I'm right there with you. Also, just realized this was your first post, so welcome to the forum!
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