June 29, 2014 | Persian
More Persian Books!
I am simultaneously studying a book for kids and a book for grownups.
Now that the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin is over, I am full swing back into Persian. Besides redoing the Pimsleur Persian lessons (I had to; my head is a sieve), I am reading an oldie but goodie from 1953: Ann Lambton’s Persian Grammar, published by Cambridge University Press. I am also making my way through a few products from Bahar Books, which is a local publisher of children’s Persian books in White Plains.
Persian Grammar from Cambridge University Press
Let’s Learn Persian Words, from Bahar Books
Bahar Books’ books are brightly colored and cheerful. I really enjoyed one called Let’s Learn Persian Words: A Farsi Activity Book by Nazanin Mirsadeghi (see photo above right). I am now working on a verbs book from them, although I have stalled temporarily because I need some more vocabulary in order to proceed.
Just as I enjoy reading old grammar books about English, I am similarly enjoying the now somewhat quaint-feeling approach of Lambton’s Persian Grammar. It is old-school, hardcore, with intensive and detailed explanations of the grammatical features of the Persian language.
I must say, I wouldn’t be keeping up in it if I hadn’t already done some studying beforehand. It ain’t basic! But so far, so good.
In Lambton’s book and elsewhere, I continue to discover overlaps between Persian and English that would, I think, surprise many people who don’t realize that Persian is actually an Indo-European language. The use of the Arabic writing system tends to throw would-be learners off, and they mistakenly expect something much harder and more alien.
Some Persian Words
Native speakers of English or other Western European languages can find lots of similarities and familiar features, though. Consider the picture at left.
There you will see the (transliterated) Persian word for “young”—javan—which reminds me of jeune (French), joven (Spanish), giovane (Italian)…and hey, wait a minute…Jovin!
(Hm, I wrote javan in the picture, but that’s not great transliteration, as the two vowels in that word sound quite different. Let’s go with javân instead, with the â indicating a long vowel sound as in “caught.”)
Back to grammar! You generally form Persian comparatives by adding tar to the base adjective.
Not so unlike English, in other words. Bozorg, which means “big” and which I find to be a very cute word, becomes bozorgtar for “bigger.”
And the word for “better” is a very familiar-sounding behtar!
I must apologize for any violations of Persian writing aesthetics in the picture. I am still working that whole writing thing out.
But I feel closer and closer to the Arabic alphabet, which is used across multiple languages of interest to me. It is a writing system that has felt a thing apart for my entire life, so this is such a nice change, intellectually and emotionally, and one that helps other parts of the world feel closer.