Dari (Persian)

Dari (Persian)
Dari (Afghan Persian)
Dari lang.jpg
Dari in Persian alphabet
(Nasta`liq style)
Pronunciation [dæˈɾi]
Spoken in Afghanistan
Region Central Asia, West Asia
Native speakers 17-20 million, as first language (Tajiks 11-13 m; Hazaras 3-3.5 m; Aymāqs 3.5-4 m; Pashtuns (unknown))  (no date)
Language family
Dialects Kaboli, Mazari, Herati, Badakhshi, Panjshiri, Laghmani, Sistani, Aimaqi, Hazaragi[1]
Writing system Persian alphabet
Official status
Official language in  Afghanistan
Regulated by Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan
Language codes
ISO 639-3 variously:
prs – Dari, Afghan Persian
aiq – Aimaq
haz – Hazaragi
Linguasphere 58-AAC-ce (Dari) + 58-AAC-cdo & cdp (Hazaragi) + 58-AAC-ck (Aimaq)

Dari (Persian: دری, Darī, pronounced [dæˈɾi]) or Fārsī-ye Darī (Persian: فارسی دری}, [fɒːɾsije dæˈɾi]) in historical terms refers to the Persian court language of the Sassanids.[2] In contemporary usage, the term refers to the dialects of modern Persian language spoken in Afghanistan, and hence known as Afghan Persian in some Western sources.[3][4] It is the term officially recognized and promoted in 1964 by the Afghan government for the Persian language.[5] As defined in the Constitution of Afghanistan, it is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan; the other is Pashto.[6] Dari is the most widely spoken language in Afghanistan and the mother-tongue of approximately 50%[3][7][8][9][10] of the population, serving as the country's lingua franca.[8] The Iranian and Afghan dialects of Persian are highly mutually intelligible, with differences found primarily in the vocabulary and phonology.

Dari, spoken in Afghanistan, should not be confused with Dari or Gabri of Iran, a language of the Central Iranian sub-group, spoken in some Zoroastrian communities.[11][12]


History and origin of the word

Dari is the name given to the New Persian literary language at a very early age and was widely used in Arabic (cf. Al-Estakhri, Al-Muqaddasi, and Ibn Hawqal) and Persian texts.[5]

There are different opinions about the origin of the word Dari. The majority of scholars believe that Dari refers to the Persian word dar or darbār (دربار), meaning "Court", as it was the formal language of the Sassanids.[5] The original meaning of the word dari is given in a notice attributed to Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (cited by Ibn al-Nadim in Al-Fehrest).[13] According to him, "Pārsī was the language spoken by priests, scholars, and the like; it is the language of Fars." It is obvious that this language refers to the Middle Persian.[5] As for Dari, he says, "it is the language of the cities of Madā'en; it is spoken by those who are at the king’s court. [Its name] is connected with presence at court. Among the languages of the people of Khorasan and the east, the language of the people of Balkh is predominant.”[5]

The origin of Dari comes from Persian (Farsi), it is called middle persian which was spoken during the rule of the sassanid dynasty. At that time afghanistan was under the rule of the persian empire, therefore, adopting the language at that time. You can also look at the right side of this page to see the language family tree which describes its origin.[14][15][16][17][18][19]

Iranian[a] languages have been and are still widely used in Central Asia both by native speakers and as trade languages. Whereas in the past, East Iranian languages, such as Bactrian, Sogdian and Khotanese, and West Iranian languages, notably Parthian and Middle Persian were prominent. New Persian (Dari) has supplanted most of these languages.

^a Note that the term Iranian as used here is a linguistic term and does not refer to the nation of Iran.

Geographical distribution

Dari, which is also simply called Farsi (Persian) by its native-speakers, is one of the two official languages of Afghanistan (the other being Pashto). In practice though, it serves as the de facto lingua franca among the various ethno-linguistic groups.

Dari is spoken by almost 50% of the population as a first language.[3][7][8][9][10] Tajiks who comprise approximately 27% of the population are the primary speakers, followed by Hazaras (9%) and Aymāqs (4%). Moreover, many urbanized Pashtuns also use Dari as a first language.

Dari dominates in the northern, western and central areas of Afghanistan, and is the common language spoken in cities such as Kabul, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Fayzabad, Panjshir, and Bamiyan. Smaller Dari-speaking communities also exist in southern Pashtun-dominated areas such as in the cities of Kandahar, Laghman, Gardez, Farah, and Jalalabad.

Cultural influence

Dari has contributed to the majority of Persian borrowings in other Asian languages, such as Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, etc., as it was the administrative, official and cultural language of the Persocentric Mughal Empire and served as the lingua franca throughout the South Asian subcontinent for centuries. The sizeable Persian component of the Anglo-Indian loan words in English and in Urdu therefore reflects the Dari pronunciation. For instance dopiaza or pyjama come from the Dari pronunciation, while in the Iranian Persian they're pronounced do-piyāzeh and pey-jāmeh. Persian lexemes and certain morphological elements ( e.g. the "ezāfe") have often been employed to coin political, cultural etc. concepts, items or ideas that were historically unknown outside the South Asian region, as it is the case with the aforementioned "borrowings".

The cultural dominance of Iran (especially in the media) ensures that the specific features of Iranian Persian are also understood by the majority of Dari Persian speakers within Afghanistan. The opposite is also true, to a point. At a formal level especially, whether spoken or written, Dari Persian is usually understood by the Persian speakers of Iran.

Differences between Iranian and Afghan Persian

There are phonological, lexical,[20] and morphological[19] differences between Dari and western Persian.


Phonetically, Dari generally resembles a more archaic form of Persian (Farsi). The differences in pronunciation of Iranian and Afghan Persian can be considerable, on par with Scottish and Cockney English, although educated speakers generally have no difficulty understanding each other (except in the use of certain lexical items or idiomatic expressions). The principal differences between standard Iranian Persian, based on the dialect of the capital Tehran, and Afghan Dari, as based on the Kabul dialect, are:

  1. The merging of "majhul" vowels "ē" / "ī" and "ō" / "ū" into "ī" and "ū" respectively in Iranian Persian, whereas in Afghan Persian, they are still kept separate. For instance, the identically written words شیر 'lion' and 'milk' are pronounced the same in Iranian Persian as [šīr], but [šēr] for 'lion' and [šīr] for 'milk' in Afghan Persian. The long vowel in زود 'quick' and زور 'strong' is realized as [ū] in Iranian Persian, in contrast, these words are pronounced as [zūd] and [zōr] respectively by Persian speakers in Afghanistan.
  2. The treatment of the diphthongs of early Classical Persian "aw" (as "ow" in Engl. "cow") and "ay" (as "i" in English "ice"), which are pronounced as [ow] (as in Engl. "low") and [ey] (as in English "day") in Iranian Persian. Dari, on the other hand, is more archaic, e.g. نوروز 'Persian New Year' is realized as [nowrūz] in Iranian, and [nawrōz] in Afghan Persian, and نخیر 'no' is uttered as [naχejr] in Iranian, and as [naχajr] in Afghan Persian.
  3. The high short vowels "i" and "u" tend to be lowered in Iranian Persian, as "e" (similar to "i" in English "fit", "hit"), and "o" (as in British English "Ron").
  4. The pronunciation of the labial consonant و, which is realized as a voiced labiodental fricative [v], but Afghan Persian still retains the (classical) bilabial pronunciation [w].
  5. The convergence of voiced uvular stop [ɢ] (ق) and voiced velar fricative [ɣ] (غ) in Iranian Persian (presumably under the influence of Turkic languages like Azeri),[21] is still kept separate in Dari.
  6. The realization of short final "a" (-ه) as [e] in Iranian Persian.
  7. The realization of short non-final "a" as [æ] in Iranian Persian.



There are some words that differ in Persian-Darsi as to Persian-Farsi. Some examples are listed below.

Dialect continuum

The dialects of Dari spoken in Northern, Central and Eastern Afghanistan, for example in Kabul, Mazar, and Badakhshan, have distinct features compared to Iranian Persian. However, the dialect of Dari spoken in Western Afghanistan stands in between the Afghan and Iranian Persian. For instance, the Herati dialect shares vocabulary and phonology with both Dari and Iranian Persian. Likewise, the dialect of Persian in Eastern Iran, for instance in Mashhad, is quite similar to the Herati dialect of Afghanistan.

The Kabuli dialect has become the standard dialect of Dari in Afghanistan, as has the Tehrani dialect in relation to the Persian in Iran. Since the 1940s, Radio Afghanistan has been broadcasting its Dari programs in the Kabuli dialect, which ensured the homogenization between the Kabuli dialect and other dialects of Dari spoken throughout Afghanistan. Since 2003, the media, especially the private radio and television broadcasters, have carried out their Dari programs in the Kabuli dialect.

Political views on the language

The native-speakers of Dari usually call their language Farsi. However, the term Dari has been officially promoted by the government of Afghanistan for political reasons, and enjoys equal official status alongside Pashto in Afghanistan. The local name for Persian language was officially changed from Farsi to Dari in 1964.[22][23] In respective linguistic boundaries, Dari is the medium of education with Pashto being taught as a second language. Dari is considered a more prestigious language.

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ Iranica, "Afghanistan: v.Languages", Table 11
  2. ^ Frye, R.N., "Darī", The Encylcopaedia of Islam, Brill Publications, CD version
  3. ^ a b c CIA – The World Factbook, "Afghanistan", Updated on 8 July 2010
  4. ^ Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: prs
  5. ^ a b c d e Lazard, G. "Darī – The New Persian Literary Language", in Encyclopædia Iranica, Online Edition 2006.
  6. ^ "The Afghans – Language Use". United States: Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL). June 30, 2002. http://www.cal.org/co/afghan/alang.html. Retrieved 2010-10-24. 
  7. ^ a b "AFGHANISTAN v. Languages". Ch. M. Kieffer. Encyclopædia Iranica, online ed.. http://www.iranica.com/articles/afghanistan-v-languages. Retrieved 2010-12-10. "Persian (2) is the language most spoken in Afghanistan. The native tongue of twenty five percent of the population ..." 
  8. ^ a b c "Dari". UCLA International Institute: Center for World Languages. University of California, Los Angeles. http://www.lmp.ucla.edu/Profile.aspx?LangID=191&menu=004. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  9. ^ a b "Languages of Afghanistan". SIL International. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 2005. http://www.ethnologue.com/14/show_country.asp?name=Afghanistan. Retrieved 2010-09-16. 
  10. ^ a b "Dari language". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/151550/Dari-language. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  11. ^ "Parsi-Dari" Ethnologue
  12. ^ "Dari, Zoroastrian" Ethnologue
  13. ^ Ebn al-Nadim, ed. Tajaddod, p. 15; Khjwārazmī, Mafātīh al-olum, pp. 116-17; Hamza Esfahānī, pp. 67-68; Yāqūt, Boldān IV, p. 846
  14. ^ Persian is an Iranian language belonging to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family of languages. In general, Iranian languages are known from three periods, usually referred to as Old, Middle, and New (Modern) periods. These correspond to three eras in Iranian history; Old era being the period from sometime before Achaemenids, the Achaemenid era and sometime after Achaemenids (that is to 400-300 BC), Middle era being the next period most officially Sassanid era and sometime in post-Sassanid era, and the New era being the period afterwards down to present day
  15. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_language#cite_note-EI-IL-vi-27
  16. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_people
  17. ^ http://www.farsinet.com/farsi/
  18. ^ http://www.omniglot.com/writing/persian.htm
  19. ^ a b http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/articles/persian_language.php
  20. ^ http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=prs
  21. ^ A. Pisowicz, Origins of the New and Middle Persian phonological systems (Cracow 1985), p. 112-114, 117.
  22. ^ Willem Vogelsang, "The Afghans", Blackwell Publishing, 2002
  23. ^ Declassified, Dr. Zaher said there would be, as there are now, two official languages, Pashto and Farsi, though the latter would henceforth be named Dari.

External links

ٍEnglish Persian-Farsi Persian-Dari
to try سعی کردن سعی کردن/کوشش کردن
to speak حرف زدن حرف زدن/گپ زدن
to see دیدن سعی کردن/دیدن
to userstand فهمیدن دیدن/فهمیدن
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