Persian (Farsi) is a member of the Indo-Iranian sub-family of the Indo-European languages, and the official language of the government and public instruction and is the mother tongue on more than half of the population. It is used and understood by nearly all Iranians and millions of Persian-speakers in the neighboring countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Turkmanistan, and so on. Historically, the Persian language has developed through three distinct stages: Old, Middle, and Modern. Old Persian, used exclusively for royal proclamations and announcements, is known chiefly from cuneiform inscriptions dating from the time of the Achaemenian Kings of ancient Persia (6th - 4th centuries BC). Old Persian was highly inflected, as was Avestan, which is regarded by some as a form of old Persian and by others as separate tongue. Avestan was the language of the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism that are known as the Avesta (probably composed c. 7th - 5th centuries BC). Middle Persian, derived directly from Old Persian, and also known as Pahlavi, prevailed under the Sassanian rulers of Persia (3rd - 8th centuries AD). Grammatically, much simplification of inflection took place in Middle Persian, which was recorded both in an Aramaic alphabet and a script called Huzvaresh. The official language of Zoroastrian Priesthood, it also had a noteworthy literature of Manichaean and Zoroastrian texts. The Modern form of Persian evolved directly from the Middle Persian (900 AD onward) has not changed much since that date. The grammar of Modern Persian is comparatively simple. The inflection of nouns and verbs has been greatly reduced since the ancient stage of the language. A number of Arabic words were added to the vocabulary as a result of the conquest of the Persia by the Muslim Arabs in the 7th century AD. Modern Persian, written from right to left, is the medium of an old and great literature and is written in a modified version of the Arabic alphabet (it has four letters of its own in addition to those of the Arabic). As part of the Indo-European family of languages, Farsi is distinctly related to Latin, Greek, the Slavic and Teutonic languages and English. This relationship can be seen in such cognates as baradar (brother), madar (mother), and pedar (father). It is a relatively easy language for English-speaking people to learn compared with any other major language of the Middle East. Persian (locally called Farsi) is the most important of a group of several related languages that linguists classify as Indo-Iranian. Farsi speakers regard their language as extremely beautiful and they take great pleasure in listening to the verses of poets such as Ferdowsi, Hafez and Sa'di. The language is a living link with the past and has played an important role in binding the nation together. English is the most widely spoken foreign language in Iran. Millions of Iranians have been studying basic English at high school and through television. The great majority unfortunately, know only a few standard phrases, and conversations can become painfully stilted. Hotel and airline employees and others who deal with foreigners have usually learned enough English to cope with everyday problems. Tour guides are trained to specialize in one or more foreign languages, but not all of them have a firm grasp of English. To make yourself understood, you may have to speak very slowly, clearly and simply. From:

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