May 5, 2014 | Persian

Proceeding with Persian!

Enough of this review period. Time for another language.

I wasn’t expecting to begin a new language until maybe mid-June, as I have a backlog of products to review, but suddenly I just couldn’t take it anymore! I needed to try out another language.

The short list included Persian, Swedish, and Swahili. Persian won. In recent months I have been doing a lot of Arabic practice on Memrise, and I wanted to take advantage of my knowledge of the Arabic alphabet while it is fresh in my mind. So I picked Persian and began four days ago, on May 1.

The First Materials to Arrive

The First Materials to Arrive

I already had Pimsleur for Persian, and materials have begun arriving to me via Barnes & Noble and Amazon. So far I have the two shown here and have starting reading the one on the left, which is Basic Persian: A Grammar and Workbook. The authors are Saeed Yousef and Hayedeh Torabi, and the publisher is Routledge.

So far I like it, but if I didn’t have my knowledge of Arabic (such as it is), I would be overwhelmed. Generally this Routledge series is ideal for people who already know something about (1) language in general and (2) the language in particular that a given book is covering. The series just isn’t all that basic.

As you can see from the picture, the materials on the right, which are from Living Language and include both a book and CDs, allude to Farsi, not Persian. Farsi and Persian are the same thing. Not long ago on a Facebook language page I saw an animated—no, heated—discussion about the correct terminology for the language.

I won’t go into the details now, but I am going to go with Persian.

Unfortunately, the Living Language book component is designed for people with bionic eyes. I personally do not have bionic eyes, and the font for both the English and the Persian in the book is too small for me. I may not be able to tolerate it.

My third Persian product acquired to date—Pimsleur—is called “Pimsleur Farsi Persian,” so they get both terms in there. Meaning I officially have a product for Persian, a product for Farsi, and a product for Farsi Persian.

To my great dismay, Pimsleur has only 30 lessons for this language.

Therefore, from the outset, I ordered more additional products than I usually would have. Persian has been expensive!

I ordered Assimil. I ordered a book about Persian in French. I also ordered a book about Persian in German. Oh, wait! As I am typing these sentences, I have just received an email announcing that I have something in the mailroom. Please stand by while I go see what it is.

The Routledge Introductory Persian Course

The Routledge Introductory Persian Course

Okay, I am back. And I am sad. It is a book I had forgotten I ordered: The Routledge Introductory Persian Course.

I should have read the description more carefully before buying it, because at first glance, it doesn’t look like my kind of book. More like a book for a college class, kind of textbooky. I will try to keep an open mind, but I am skeptical. 

As usual when I explore a new language, Pimsleur is an important starting point to help me get a basic sense of how the language operates. I have so far gone through lesson 4 for Persian, but I think I will have to go back to the second lesson. The sounds are not too hard, but the word order is a challenge for my brain’s wiring, as Persian clauses are subject-object-verb rather than what for me is a much more comfortable subject-verb-object structure.

I am extremely excited to be beginning this language. I have been curious about Persian for years, ever since I was at UCLA studying comparative literature!

Comments (4)

Susi • Posted on Mon, May 05, 2014 - 8:51 pm EST

For Assimil, are you using Le Persan sans Peine or is there an English or German version that I am unfamiliar with?

Good luck with Persian!  It is on my someday list of languages to learn.  From what you have seen so far, is modern Persian closer to Arabic or does it still seem like part of the Indo-European family?

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Mon, May 05, 2014 - 9:16 pm EST

Hello, Susi! I’m using Assimil’s French-based product for Persian. I don’t remember seeing one for German or English, but I’m not sure I looked.

Your question about Persian’s roots is interesting. I am not qualified in any way to judge at this early date, but in exchanges with a native speaker friend of mine a while back, I had been impressed by the significant Indo-European roots, whereas in what I am reading right now, I’m not seeing a whole lot of Indo-European and am struck more by the Arabic connection.

I will have to see what happens!

trnka • Posted on Fri, May 09, 2014 - 4:51 am EST

What a nice coincidence! I started plowing through Pimsleur’s Farsi only last week myself. Persian has been on my language learning wishlist ever since I shared an apartment with a Swedish Iranian girl over 10 years ago. I’ll have to look for some reading/writing materials too, but so far the Pimsleur’s gone kheili khub (is that how you write it?) :)

I don’t know any Arabic so that’s probably why I’m not seeing it, but I’m constantly reminded of IE, especially on the morphological level. I read somewhere, that Dari and Tajik are “purer” forms of Farsi with less Arabic influence in vocabulary, so I think it’s safe to assume that there is quite a bit of Arabic in Persian.

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Thu, October 30, 2014 - 8:39 pm EST

سلام, trnka. How’s it going with the Persian? I ended up doing the Pimsleur Dari lessons as well!

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