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  • 9/20/2012

The Iranian Language Family

New Iranian languages

part 1


 This period is marked by the rise of Islam in the former Sasanian lands and influence of foreign languages such as Arabic and Turkish on Iranian languages. In this period, New Persian developed to be the most widely spoken language of the Iranian family, followed by Kurdish, Pashto, and Baluchi.

New Persian, in its earliest forms, was probably the spoken language of the majority of the population of the Sasanian Empire from the sixth century onwards. After the demise of the Sasanian Empire, great numbers of Arabic speaking tribes migrated to the newly conquered Sasanian lands and influenced the local languages including Persian. In turn, the Arabic speaking bureaucracy was itself influenced by the Sasanian administrative system, including Persian as its primary language for its earlier stages, as well as adopting a great portion of Persian administrative terms.

 Persian itself became the common language of the converted Muslim population of Iran who by moving into the areas in the Sasanian periphery, or even those outside its immediate control such as Sogdiana, eventually came to dominate them and establish New Persian as the native language of these regions. Early uses of Persian in literature and everyday speech is known from the accounts such as Chahar Maqale and the geography of Ibn Khurdadhbeh, as well as short pieces written in the Hebrew script, known as Judeo-Persian. New Persian, called the “Classical”‌ New Persian in this period, thus began a Golden Age under the patronage of the Samanid dynasty of Transoxiana in the 10th century AD. Adopted as the language of the administration, it was also supported alongside Arabic as the language of science and literature in the Samanid court and rendered some of its earliest masterpieces.

In the 10th century AD, the poet Ferdowsi composed a monumental epic, named Shahnameh, which told the half legendary history of Iran in more than 120 thousand verses of poetry.

 This work, today regarded as the most important literary corpus of the Persian language, further established Persian as the language of culture and learning in the Iranian territories. The fact that the earliest blooming of New Persian happened in lands were it was not the native tongue (namely the Sogdian and Khwarazmian speaking Transoxiana) might also have given it its peculiar features in preserving phonological archaisms that even Middle Persian had already lost.



Other Links:

The Iranian Language Family: Old Iranian Languages (part 1)

The Iranian Language Family: Old Iranian Languages (part 2)

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