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5 features that make Persian an easy language to learn

February 28, 2021 - 16:52

Persian (or Farsi) is an Indo-European language spoken by around 100 million people around the world. You may have heard of this language or even thought about learning it. However, because it uses an Arabic script, it looks very intimidating and difficult to learn. In this post, I am going to take you through 5 features that make learning Persian easier than you think. And if you are patient to the end of this post I also mention 3 features that make it a bit difficult.

1 - Writing system and phonology

Persian is written in Arabic script with some small adjustments. The adjustments were made to add four new letters to the script for sounds that are not represented in Arabic script. Although the script looks complicated, after you get familiar with letters it is easy to read. It is actually easier to read Persian script than English language or French because each letter only represents one sound and the written script and what you read are almost identical letter by letter.

It is important to mention that in colloquial language some vowel changes happen that are different from written or formal speech.

2 - No grammatical gender

Persian has absolutely no grammatical gender. Not only for nouns (like French and German) but not even for pronouns (like English). So you never have to worry about learning word gender.

In addition, nouns plural form is easy to make (with the addition of a simple suffix).

3 - No adjective inflection

If you have experienced learning and Roman Language or German, you may be familiar with the concept of adjective inflection. It means each adjective changes in form to agree with the noun it describes, for example, if the noun is plural the adjective will be in a different form than the neutral form (usually with the addition of a suffix).

In Persian not only the adjective has no agreement (in number or gender) with the noun it describes, but the comparative forms are also very easy to make.

4 - Almost no grammatical case

English learners or speakers are usually not familiar with the concept of grammatical cases, even though English has two grammatical cases (nominative and oblique). But if you have experience learning German, Russian, Latin or even Arabic; you are familiar with the grammatical cases. And if you are familiar with this concept you probably know how many complications it can bring with itself.

In reality, all languages have grammatical cases but in only a few of them, these cases are marked. For example, in German, we have different articles of each grammatical case and it can even affect the way adjectives are inflected (adjectives in German agree with the noun in number, gender, and case) which makes it so complicated to learn.

The good news is Persian does not mark most grammatical cases. The only case that is marked is accusative and it is marked only if the direct object is definite.

5 - Compound verbs

Compound verbs are verbs that are made by combining two words, usually a verb and a noun (think of the verbal phrase ‘take a nap’ for example). Persian vocabulary is filled with compound verbs; this feature makes it so much easier to learn verbs because you do not have to learn a new word but two already familiar words. It also makes it easier to guess conjugation, past form, passive form of these verbs.

What makes Persian difficult

As mentioned at the beginning of this post I am also going to mention 3 features that make learning Persian more difficult than usual.

1 - The script

Learning the Arabic script is definitely one of the hardest aspects of learning Persian. Arabic script is always cursive, it means letters connect to the other letters before and after them. This feature makes recognizing letters more difficult.

The next difficulty that you may face is with spelling. Although it is rather easy to read Persian texts, it is not as easy to write them down. This is because some sounds are represented with more than one letter, for example, sound ‘z’ is represented with 4 letters and it is difficult to know each word is written with which letter. (Even Persian Speakers face some difficulty here)

2 - Verbs conjugation

Verbs are conjugated in Persian. This is a feature that is present in many of the Indo-European languages like French, German, Russian, etc.; but not in English (if we do not call third-person singular ‘-s’ a conjugation). Although conjugation makes sentences simpler and more clear it may cause some difficulty especially if you have never learned a language with this feature.

3 - Colloquial language

Persian is an ancient language and even though it kept its form through these thousands of years it has undergone some changes from its written form, mostly in the form of vowel shifts. This means in everyday language some words are pronounced different from what you may read in a text or book.

Vowel shifts in Persian mostly include shifts from the open front vowel (like the sound of letter ‘a’ in the word ‘palm’) to the close back rounded vowel (like the sound of letters ‘oo’ in the word ‘goose’). It also includes some changes in verb conjugation suffixes.

These changes are easy to learn but may lead t

o some confusion while listening to everyday conversations.

Conclusion

Persian is one of those languages that are relatively difficult to begin but easier to master. Although it looks very exotic at first glance, its grammar and structure are familiar for the people speaking a European language.

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