How did Persian lose its grammatical gender


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Language family:

Also known as:
  • Irani
  • New Persian
  • Parsi
  • West Farsi

A western Iranian and the most important Iranian languages ​​under the designation "New Persian" is the state language in today's Republic of Iran. It is spoken as Farsi in Iran and next to Pashto as Dari in Afghanistan by a total of more than 50 million people, around 35 million of them in Iran, where it is most concentrated in the central, south-central and northeastern parts of the country. You own the dialects: Ketabi, Tehrani, Shirazi, Qazvini, Sedehi, Old Shirazi, Mahalhamadani, Kashani, Esfahani, Kermani, Araki, Shirazjahromi, Shahrudi Kazeruni, Mashadi (Meshed), Basseri, Yazdi other Bandari at. Some of the dialects can also be separate languages.

The Persian language is the most important Indo-European language in southwest Asia. It belongs to the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. Overall, around 60 million people around the world speak Persian as their mother tongue and another 60 million as a second language, most of whom live in Iran and neighboring areas. About 15 million people speak in Afghanistan. Other speakers live in Tajikistan and parts of Uzbekistan, Pakistan and India.

There are also significant Persian-speaking communities in Bahrain, Iraq and the USA. There are also smaller language islands in many other countries, e.g. in Germany. Persian has been written in Arabic script since the Islamization, because of the very different language with some additional letters. It has numerous Arabic loanwords and an extensive literature. The development of the Iranian languages ​​is divided into three periods: Old Iranian (up to around 100 BC), Middle Iranian (100 BC to around 900 AD) and New Iranian (from around 900 AD).

Of the old Iranian dialects, only Old Persian and Avestan are adequately documented, the other languages ​​of this group only indirectly. The designation "Avestisch" the northeastern language in the ancient empire of the Persians comes from the "Avesta", the scriptures of Zoroastrianism. Apart from its religious use, however, it died out centuries before the rise of Islam. It is possible that this language later dissolved in the related Bactrian. Old Persian has been handed down in cuneiform texts from the southwest of the Achaemenid Empire (around 560 to 330 BC). It was spoken for a longer time there, but Aramaic was more used as the administrative language. Old Persian and Avestian are very close to Sanskrit and thus to Ur-Indo-European.

Like Greek and Latin, they belong to the inflected languages ​​and are the ancestors of modern-day New Persian. In contrast to the younger language levels, Old Persian had a more complex grammar with up to seven cases and three genera. The dual is still preserved alongside the singular and plural. Compared to the more ancient Avestic, the verbal system has already been simplified: Old Persian no longer differentiates between past tense, aorist and perfect tense, but only knows a simple past tense. The cuneiform script used for Old Persian was specially invented for this purpose and is a clockwise mixed phonetic and syllabic script (like the Indian scripts), which is supplemented by 8 word characters and special numerals.

Above all, monumental inscriptions on rocks or buildings have survived. Not only Middle Persian and the Parthian, which is related to it, were considered Middle Iranian, but also some other languages ​​of Central Asia, such as Bactrian, Choresm, Sakian or Sogdian. Parthian was spoken in the Arsacid Empire (approx. 250 BC to 226 AD). It is well documented by inscriptions from the first kings of the Sassanids, although it was slowly becoming extinct by then. But it influenced the Middle Persian (also as "Pahlavi" other "Manichaean" known), the language of the Sassanid Empire. Middle Persian is grammatically easier than Old Persian and was mostly recorded in Aramaic script, i.e. with letters that sometimes represent several sounds.

After the Arab conquest of Persia, in the 7th century, it lost its importance, but its literature was translated into Arabic many times. Most of the writings were lost after Islamization. Other Central Iranian languages ​​of the Sassanid region and Central Asia are Charismic (Corismic) in Khorezm, Soghdic in the country of Sogdiana (Samarkand and Bukhara), Bactrian in Bakhtria (now northern Afghanistan) and Sakic, which was common among some Scythians in Chinese Turkistan and for Buddhist scriptures was used. Christian, Buddhist and secular literature was created in the Sogdian language. Bactrian is preserved in some inscriptions discovered a few years ago in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

New Persian developed as the international standard language of Central and Southwest Asia by the 9th century. The Persian-Jewish written in Hebrew is of particular importance as the earliest evidence of the New Persian language. In addition to Parthian and Middle Persian parts, it also has parts from other Iranian languages. In its generality, New Persian is a mixture of the most important languages ​​of ancient Iran. Even if the language is called Persian today, its origins are not exclusively attributable to Old Persian or Middle Persian, which comes from the province of Fars. Since the language developed in Central Asia, it is likely that the Eastern Iranian languages ​​(Bactrian, Parthian, Sogdian) influenced this language significantly.

The number of Parthian and Sogdian loanwords in modern New Persian is considerable, but the original Persian (southwest Iranian) base is still recognizable in the core area. The relationship between spoken New Persian and Arabic script is problematic. Persian has a more regular and therefore simpler grammar than Middle Persian, a simple phonetic system and numerous Arabic loanwords. Many old Persian inflections, such as the case inflection, have been lost, as has the grammatical gender. Such language simplifications (especially inflections) occur in many modern languages, e.g. in English, French and Modern Greek.

The Dari, the written New Persian language used in Afghanistan today, is the literary abbreviation of the Persian words "Parsi-eDarbâri ”. Literally translated the Persian word means "Dar = gate, door, threshold" while the word "Bar = Audience,Hearing" means. "Darbâri" means literally translated "Gate to Audience" and in a broader sense "Royal court". The designation "Parsi-e Darbâri" means "Persian of the royal court" and developed as a written language in the 9th century AD from Middle Persian in the cultural centers of the Persian Samanids in Central Asia. From there it spread throughout Persia.

Often times the word will "Dari" translated as “Afghan Persian”. However, this is not entirely true. In the 1960s, in the course of the Pashtunization of Afghanistan, more and more attempts were made to alienate the Persian culture and history of Afghanistan and to subordinate it to the Pashtun culture. Until the late 1960s, Persian reading books were still called “Persian textbooks” "Parsi-e Dari textbooks" renamed and finally only closed "Dari Textbooks" reduced.

As a cultural language, New Persian is not only the bearer of a rich literature, but has also strongly influenced the neighboring languages ​​Turkish and Urdu at different times. The designation "Persian" derives from the term "Parsuasch" ab, the earliest settlement area of ​​western Iranian tribes south of Lake Urmi. After the immigration of the Persians to southwestern Iran, the landscape there became "Parsa" (Greek: Persis) and today "Fars" called. The religion of the Persians is exclusively the Shiite direction of Islam.

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