An Introduction to Persian
This book and cassette package is intended to serve as an introduction on the elementary level to the modern Persian language. Each of the 25 lessons is provided with specific exercises and drills for the major grammatical and syntactical points introduced therein. Vocabulary is included at the end of each lesson with the intention of active acquisition; specialized supplementary vocabulary lists are also scattered throughout the book. In Part Two of the grammar, the outstanding differences between modern and classical usage are given; in Part Three the distinguishing features of ordinary colloquial Persian described. A set of nine 60 minute audio cassettes for aid in learning pronunciation come with the package; the voice is that of former Iran radio announcer Parviz Bahador. The author is Wheeler M. Thackston, Professor of the Practice of Persian and other Near East languages at Harvard University, where he has taught Persian and Arabic for over twenty years.
An Introduction to Persian -
About the Author -
Table of Contents
Notes On Learning Persian -
An Introduction to Persian is intended to serve as an introduction on the elementary level to the modem Persian language. Each lesson is provided with specific exercises and drills for the major grammatical and syntactical points introduced therein. It is a good idea to begin each lesson by familiarizing oneself with the new vocabulary for that lesson, since the examples for the grammatical points usually contain some of those words.
The package features 25 lessons in introductory Persian, with information on both classical and colloquial usages, and examples of textual material in classical and contemporary Persian. The book is 314 pages and its table of contents is listed here. Also accompanying the text are nine 60 minute audio cassettes to help the student gain proper pronunciation in Persian; the voice is that of former Iran radio announcer Parviz Bahador.
Part Two of the grammar, in which the outstanding differences between modern and classical usage are given, should be studied carefully before attempting the classical prose selections. In Part Three the distinguishing features of ordinary colloquial Persian are given. According to the wishes of the instructor, these sections may be presented at any time after the written form has been mastered, since the colloquial form can almost always be predicted from the written - but not vice-versa.
Wheeler M. Thackston is Professor of the Practice of Persian and other Near East languages at Harvard University, where he has taught Persian and Arabic for over twenty years. Author of numerous books and articles on the languages and literatures of the Near East, his works includes A Century of Princes; Tales from Luristan; Naser-e Khosraw's Book of Travels and A Millennium of Classical Persian Poetry. Other grammars by the author include publications on Koranic Arabic, Levantine vernacular Arabic and Syriac.
At present Persian is the official language of Iran, and although there are large areas of Iran where Persian is not the mother tongue (Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Luristan, e.g.), it is spoken by almost everyone. In Afghanistan where it is often called Dan, it enjoys official status along with Pashto and is spoken by all educated persons. Called Tajiki, it is the language of Tajikistan, where until recently it was written in the Cyrillic alphabet.
Persian is remarkably simple in terms of formal grammar: no gender, no noun inflection, no adjectival agreement, and no irregularities in verbal conjugation. However - and rather like English in this respect - what it lacks in inflection it more than makes up for in syntactic and idiomatic complexity; and it is to the syntax and idiom of Persian that the student's attention should be turned from the very beginning. The importance of understanding the proper relationships among the various members of a Persian sentence cannot be overstated (especially in view of the fact that the most important indicator of syntactic relationships is not usually indicated in the writing system), for even the simplest expression is liable to misunderstanding if the syntax is disregarded. It should also be kept in mind that simple, straightforward prose is relatively rare in Persian.
A second major hurdle in learning a language like Persian is the acquisition of vocabulary. Since there are no cognates to speak of between English and Persian, the English-speaking student starts from zero - quite unlike learning French or German, where, whether one is aware of it or not, one already "knows" a great many words that are shared or cognate. This problem is only compounded by the high proportion of borrowed Arabic vocabulary in Persian, not unlike English with our Latin, Greek and Norman French derivatives. The vocabulary lists at the end of each lesson are intended for active acquisition: these words should be learned not only for recognition within a Persian context but also for proper use in composition and conversation. Specialized supplementary vocabulary lists are also scattered throughout the book, and these should be studied for passive recognition. As the supplementary vocabularies consist of concrete, everyday items, which tend on the whole to be easier to remember, they can be learned according to the student's desire and/or need.
"… students, frustrated by not being taught formal structures, long for a grammar book that brings together in one place paradigms and rules for how the language works instead of being faced with endless patterns for oral drill. This is why W.M. Thackston's An Introduction to Persian should be welcomed by students and teachers alike, since it amply fulfills this need. … Language teaching is a slave to fashion, a fact often obscured by the theoretical and methodological passions of professional language teachers. When compared with Lambton's Persian Grammar, the only other important teaching grammar in print, Thackston's book meets current needs more adequately."
William L. Hanaway, University of Pennsylvania
British Journal of Middle East Studies
"This long awaited text once more demonstrates Professor Thackston's mastery over the Persian language and its intricacies, both in its modern and classical form. Thackston makes Persian grammar clear and understandable. His emphasis is on the spoken and written language in today's Iran, on the Persian which is taught in schools and spoken and understood by all the different ethnic groups in Iran. ... This new edition is a major contribution for those involved in teaching the Persian language. It also makes the learning of Persian more accessible and enjoyable."
Haleh Esfandiari, Princeton University
Middle East Studies Association Bulletin
"…Thackston's new edition which it must be said is difficult to fault. It is both meticulous and systematic, without being idiosyncratic. …a number of points that are a common source of error are well treated (such as relative clauses, the subjunctive, ra). …In particular, the relationship between modern colloquial speech, educated usage, and the classical language is treated in some detail, with more success than in any previous manual. So long as there exists no introduction to Persian as an international language, treating its various forms on a relatively equal basis, this feature of Thackston's work makes it the most useful for serious students of Persian as it is used outside of Iran."
Brian Spooner, University of Pennsylvania