Welcome to the blog!
My name is نرگس (Narges), and I will be using this blog to document my (mis)adventures in learning the Persian language. I’m also a linguist, ESL teacher, and foreign affairs enthusiast, so I’ll probably pepper in some general musings about language learning and teaching, as well as some thoughts on U.S. foreign policy.
Why “My Name is نرگس”?
Spoiler alert: نرگس/Narges isn’t my real name, but rather the ‘Persian name’ given to me by my professor on my first day of class. Narges means ‘daffodil’ or ‘Narcissus flower’ in Farsi — it comes from the Greek myth about Narkissos, a beautiful youth who stared at his own reflection for so long that he eventually died and was turned into the narcissus flower. Not sure what this says about my professor’s opinion of me… hmm… 😉
Persian is know as Farsi in Iran, Dari in Afghanistan, and Tajik in Tajikistan. These countries were all once a part of the Persian Empire, however they have since developed their own dialects. I am currently studying the Farsi dialect of Persian spoken in Iran.
Persian is a beautiful and poetic language, and I was initially drawn to it for purely aesthetic reasons. Beyond the beauty, Persian is also considered a Super Critical Needs Language by the U.S. Department of State, meaning there is a large demand for speakers and a small supply. Given the recent nuclear deal with Iran, I anticipate the need for Farsi speakers will only continue to grow.
Unlike other critical languages such as Mandarin, Arabic, and Korean, Persian is a “medium” difficulty language for English speakers. Persian grammar is actually pretty simple, and it shares quite a few cognates with English and other Indo-European languages. The difficulty lies in the right-to-left Perso-Arabic script and the fact that about 40% of Persian vocabulary derives from Arabic, a language with which most of us are unfamiliar. (*Side note: Tajik is actually written with the Cyrillic alphabet, not Arabic.)
I’ll leave you with this infographic from the Foreign Service Institute in case you’re curious where other languages fall on the scale of difficulty. Khoda hafez/goodbye!