“Persian” is a Lovely Word
Amir Bahmanyari raises a question about the use of the word “Farsi” in English:
. . . there is a well defined word “Persian” in English which refers to the language of the Iranian people. Why is it that the Arabic word “Farsi” [is] used in daily communications by the English speaking people instead of the English word “Persian”?
I suspect that “political correctness” may have something to do with it. Since many immigrants from the Middle East refer to the language as “Farsi,” it may be that journalists and others think they’re being ethnically respectful by doing the same.
Until fairly recently the word “Farsi” was little known to English speakers. Even though the country formerly known as Persia took on its international identity as “Iran” in 1935, the language spoken there continued to be known as “Persian.”
As Amir points out in the rest of his comment,
Farsi” is an Arabic version of the original word “Parsi” in which the letter “P” was replaced with an “F” by the Arabic speaking people. . . there is no letter “P” in Arabic . . .
Although the people of Iran have always called their country “Iran,” English speakers and most other outsiders referred to it as Persia until 1935. The change came at the suggestion of the Persian diplomatic delegation in Berlin. The suggestion may have been prompted by the fact that the word “Iran” means “land of the Aryans” and the word “Aryan” was very popular in Germany at that time.
In English the words Persia and Persian have connotations of exotic beauty. The words suggest Persian carpets, Persian cats and Persian literature. The name “Iran” has less romantic connotations
Referring to the Persian language as “Farsi” is a recent development that not all speakers of Persian are happy with.
According to the ruling body for the language, The Academy of the Persian Language and Literature (Farhangestan), the term Farsi is an incorrect term for the Persian Language; an analogy would be requesting that the German language be called Deutsch by those who speak English. —Wikipedia
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