How many people speak Persian?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Syzygys, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    I have just read in a news article that Persian is one of the most commonly used one on the internet.

    I kind of doubt that. It might be possible that there is a quite large persian speaking population in the world, but i don't think Persian makes it to the top 5 on the internet...

    Edit: Damn, I should have looked it up first, if Arabic and Persian are the same it is only #7 and the number of users are pretty close to Portugese...

    http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm
     
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  3. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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  5. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    Arabic and Persian are quite distinct languages. They are not even related. Arabic is a Semitic language, like Hebrew. Persian is an Indo-European language. Indo-European includes most European languages (Germanic, Slavic, Romance, etc.) as well as languages of India and Pakistan.
     
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  7. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    Well, then Persian didn't even make the top 10. although I think the author used them interchangably and he meant Arabic...
     
  8. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Geez, Persian is not Arabic, its a language which has adopted the Arabic script, like Urdu is Hindi in Arabic script [and then some]. Farsi is related to Pashto and Balochi and Kurdish, which are the languages in NW Pakistan and Afghanistan. Its been written in various scripts through history.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2008
  9. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    OK, then, let's repeat the original question, that hasn't been answered yet:

    How many people speak Persian?
     
  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I can understand some Persian poetry
     
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    No, that's not right. The population of Iran is only 70 million. There's a sizeable Iranian expat community in the USA and I suppose there are others elsewhere, but no way are there 300 million speakers of Farsi. (The modern language is Farsi. If you say "Persian" to a linguist he'll assume you're talking about the ancient language of the pre-Islamic era, the language of Cyrus the Great.)

    There are a zillion lists of the "top ten languages" out there, but they're surprisingly consistent. Some include a language they call "Hindustani," which I suppose is their way of saying that Hindi and Urdu are two dialects of the same language regardless of the politics of the region, just like Dutch and Flemish. Some include one called "Malay-Indonesian," by which perhaps they mean Malayo-Polynesian, a large language family that includes many of the languages of the region such as Tagalog, Maori and Samoan. But it's not a single language.

    Anyway, the number ten language on the list is either French or German, each of which has fewer than 150 million speakers. So there's no way a language that didn't make the list, like Farsi, could have more than that.
    To repeat the answer:

    First, linguists refer to the language as Farsi. The native name illustrates the phonetic shifts of the past 2,000 years. Cats and rugs and one Gulf are Persian. Second, there are about 70,000,000 people in Iran who are native speakers of Farsi. There are a few million more expats in other countries. Total is much less than 100 million.

    People do refer to the whole set of Iranic languages in the region as "Persian." If you include Tajik, Pashto, etc., you might add ten or twenty million more to that figure. It still won't make the top ten.

    The Persian languages are members of the Indo-Iranian group, which is in the eastern branch of the Indo-European family. That includes most of the languages of India as well as the Slavic and Baltic groups and a few isolates like Armenian. The western branch includes the Germanic, Celtic and Romance groups, and a few isolates like Greek and Albanian.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2008
  12. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    According to the CIA it is around 140 million people. Man, I have to do everything by myself...
    Beside Iran, farsi has official language status in Afghanistan and Tajikistan...
     
  13. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

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    I used to work with a guy from Iran. I always thought Farsi sounded really pretty when he spoke it. I thought it sounded almost like russian but perhaps a little lighter or softer. He borrowed me a CD of a band from Iran called Aria (pronounced like are - ea) It was some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard!

    Are Farsi and Russian closely related? Or distantly for that matter?
     
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    As if anybody is going to believe something the CIA says? The same aggregate intelligence establishment who told us that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, rather than the Saudis? They're saying that there are as many Farsi speakers outside of Iran as inside. That figure doesn't pass a reality test. If every single person in Afghanistan and Tajikistan spoke Farsi (and they don't), that's only another 40 million people and we're still 25-30 million short.
    As I noted earlier, the Indo-Iranic languages and the Balto-Slavic languages are both in the eastern branch of the Indo-European family. That means that Russian and Farsi are about as closely related as Greek is to Swedish. More closely related to each other than to Greek or Swedish.

    Farsi is very closely related to the Indic languages, so Sanskrit sort of bridges the gap between Farsi and Russian. Here are the first ten numbers in Farsi, Sanskrit and Russian.

    Yek/Eka/Odin
    Doe/Dva/Dva
    Se/Tri/Tri
    Char/Catur/Cetyre
    Panj/Pancan/Pyat
    Shish/Sas/Shest
    Haft/Saptan/Sem
    Hasht/Asta/Vosem
    No/Navan/Devyat
    Da/Dasan/Desyat
     
  15. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Fraggle, Farsi is also spoken in Afghanistan and Tajekistan.
     
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Yes, and I spoke to that in my previous post. The total population of those two countries is barely 40 million, and you can bet that nowhere close to the entire population of either country speaks the native language of a neighboring country. Both Pashto and Tajik are closely related to Farsi and AFAIK are descendants of Old Persian like Farsi. But Pashto is not Farsi. I'm not sure about Tajik--maybe it could be called a dialect, I don't know enough about it--but the Tajiks are a tiny population who won't have much of an impact on the statistics.

    I repeat, there's no way that there are as many people outside Iran who speak Farsi as there are inside Iran, and that's what it would take to make 130 million, elevating Farsi to the level of French or German, one of which is the bottom language in the Top Ten.
     
  17. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    As an aside, Farsi was the language adopted by the Mughals [or Mongolian descendents who ruled India] and was the official language in India for several centuries during their rule. Now I think about a few hundred Parsis probably know it.
     
  18. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    Then there is the diaspora. The point is that there are way more than just the population of Iran....

    "Persian and its varieties have official-language status in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. According to CIA World Factbook, based on old data, there are approximately 72 million native speakers of Persian in Iran,[2] Afghanistan,[3] Tajikistan[4] and Uzbekistan[5] and about the same number of people in other parts of the world speak Persian. UNESCO was asked to select Persian as one of its languages in 2006."
     
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    "Diaspora" was originally coined in the 19th century specifically for the Jews, and its basic meaning is a total or nearly total migration of a people out of their homeland and dissipation into small expatriate communities in other lands where they nonetheless maintain their identity as ethnic minorities. Since then the usage has widened. The Gypsies come to mind, their emigration from India was total. After being forced out of Florida the Cherokees were initially a majority in "Indian Country," but after it became "Oklahoma" they eventually became a minority; however their community remained more or less intact in a new homeland (less the thousands who died on the "Trail of Tears") so I'm not sure we can call it a diaspora.

    To properly call expat Iranians a diaspora I'd have to see a vast majority of them living abroad and they do not. I do not even see a large minority of them living abroad so I take exception to your CIA propaganda (duh):
    Fair enough so far. The population of Iran itself is about 70 million so it's easy to count a couple of million more speakers of Farsi in the neighboring countries.
    This is where I have my problem. Where are these 70 million Iranian expats living? There's a huge Iranian community in the USA, you'll run into them in any city with a university. Most of them fled the 1979 Muslamentalist revolution. But there are not millions and millions of them! What countries are the hosts of this huge population? Besides America, the other countries with lots of empty space that can accommodate a huge influx of immigrants are Canada, Brazil, Russia and Australia, and I've never heard of gigantic Iranian communities there.

    This is a place of science and the Rule of Laplace guides us: Extraordinary assertions require extraordinary evidence. I see no evidence that there are 70 million Iranians living outside Iran. Normally on a forum for tertiary research like ours, a quote from a respected authority is acceptable. But the CIA is not a respected authority. The error rate in their data collection methods is notorious.
     
  20. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    You know, when the CIA lies about WMDs there is a special interest in it for them. Why would they lie about the number of Persian speakers??

    Maybe you want to contact them and ask how they got their number. Again, if not another 70 millions, but adding the other 3 countries I can see an extra 30-40 millions farsi speakers....

    I got an interesting question though: Do most Iranian speak farsi?? (let's say 90+%)
     
  21. nirakar ( i ^ i ) Registered Senior Member

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    I thought Pashto was too different from Farsi to be considered a dialect of Farsi. My understanding is that Tajik and Urdu are close enough to Farsi to be considered Farsi.
     
  22. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Urdu is nothing like Farsi, it follows the Hindi rules of grammar.
     
  23. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    It is Dari, not Urdu:

    Dari (Darbâr - from court), name given to classical Persian poetry and court language of Persian and persianated dynasties. Official name of dialect spoken in Afghanistan.
     

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