Farsi: The Persian Language

September 18, 2015

The Persian language, also known as Farsi, belongs to the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian languages. It gets its name from Persia, the former name of Iran.


Farsi is spoken by around 130 million people, mainly in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan where it is an official language. Historically, it was widely spoken in other areas in western, central and south Asia. Today, it is still understood in parts of Armenia, Azerbaijan, India, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and parts of the U.S. and Europe where large Persian groups emigrated.

Old, Middle, Modern


Persian was developed in three phases: Old, Middle, and Modern. Old Iranian is represented by Avestan and Old Persian. Old Persian is recorded in the cuneiform inscriptions of the Persian kings of the Achaemenid dynasty (circa 550-330 BC), and it has close affinity with Sanskrit, and, like Greek, and Latin, are highly inflected languages.


Middle Iranian is represented by the closely related Parthian language and several Central Asian tongues. Middle Persian has a simpler grammar than Old Persian and was usually written in an ambiguous script with multivalent letters, adopted from Aramaic.


Modern Persian had considerable Parthian and Middle Persian elements, with influences from other Iranian languages. It had developed by the 9th century, and was written in Perso-Arabic script. Its grammar is simpler than that of Middle Persian.



Perso-Arabic script is based on the Arabic script, although it has four letters more than Arabic: پ [p], چ [t͡ʃ], ژ [ʒ], and گ [ɡ].

It only includes letters for consonants, where vowels, are written with diacritics and/or combinations of consonant letters.

Persian is a right to left language; although numerals are written from left to right.

In order to represent non-Arabic sounds, new letters were created by adding dots, lines, and other shapes to existing letters.

The script is written in cursive, so the majority of letters in a word are connected to each other. Therefore, the appearance of a letter changes depending on its position.










GPI_Farsi_2Farsi numerals, like Arabic, are the Arabic-Indic numerals, although the symbols for 4, 5 and 6 are different from the standard numerals used for Arabic. It is also worth mentioning that the numbers are pronounced differently in Arabic and Farsi.

Language Facts:


  • Persian has simple grammar: nouns have no gender and there are no articles, so it is hard to distinguish when referring to a person if they are male or female.
  • Persian is very poetic and has been described as one of the most beautiful languages of the world.
  • Non-native speakers might have difficulties in pronouncing some sounds in Persian, and words can easily be mispronounced or misinterpreted.

Translation and Localization Resources


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Language Translation Facts
Farsi, Persian, Farsi Translation, Persian Translation

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Ahmed is a native Arabic speaker from Egypt, Cairo. He has over 12 years’ experience in the translation and localization field working as a Hebrew – Arabic translator and editor. He has also held positions for language Testing Engineer and Localization Project Manager. Ahmed has extensive experience in handling large volume translation projects for software and document localization. He has worked for a range of translation and localization groups and companies including Microsoft, Babylon, Saudisoft, as well as several governmental authorities. He holds a B.A. degree in Translation and Interpreting from Faculty of Alsun Ain Shams University and additionally is a certified Hebrew - Arabic translator with a High Translation professional diploma from the same faculty. He is a published author translating news articles and writing political analysis with contributions to an array of research centers and newspapers including AL Aharam, Beirut Political Centre, Aldiplomasy Magazine, and Lindro Italian News, to name a few. In his free time Ahmed likes swimming, shooting and reading about new ideas.