In general, Westerners seem to be unfamiliar with Iran, as they often regard it as "an Arab country". Certainly, Iran is a Muslim country of the Middle East, whose writing is based on the Arabic alphabet (specifically Arabic-Persian). However, the similarities end there, because the Iranians are of Indo-European origin (like the vast majority of Westerners) and proud of being!


Iranians are not Arabic speakers

In general, Westerners seem to be unfamiliar with Iran, as they often regard it as "an Arab country". Certainly, Iran is a Muslim country of the Middle East, whose writing is based on the Arabic alphabet (specifically Arabic-Persian). However, the similarities end there, because the Iranians are of Indo-European origin (like the vast majority of Westerners) and proud of being!

Contrary to popular belief, Iran is therefore not an Arabic-speaking country, but an Iranian (or Persian-speaking) country, since Arabic is the mother tongue of only 2% of the population. Thus, more than half of the Iranian population (51%) is of Persian origin, while one third is Turkic-speaking (Azeri, Turkmen, Karakalpak and Khalaj). Obviously, since almost all Iranians are Muslims, Shiite rituals (97%), many Westerners believe that the Iranians are Arabic speakers and thus confuse the Muslim religion and the Arabic language. However, Muslims are not all Arabic speakers, and Arabic speakers, not all Muslims.

The vast majority of Iranians are Muslims, with 80% Shi'a and 10% Sunni. Iran is home to several non-Muslim religious minorities, including some small communities of Christians (300,000) and Jews (20,000), followed by minority minorities, including Baha'is (300,000) and Zoroastrians (30,000). These religious minorities are represented by deputies in the national parliament (between one to three, depending on the community).

In short, what unites the Iranians is more the Shiite religion (80% of the population) than the official language, Persian, spoken as mother tongue by 51% of the population. The problem is that some important minorities are Sunnis (not Shiites) like Kurds, Baluchis (although speaking an Indo-Iranian language), as well as Turkmens (Turkish speakers). Globally, Muslims are Sunni rituals in a proportion of 80%, while the same proportion of Muslims in Iran are Shi'ite. In short, Iran is home to the vast majority of Shia Muslims in the world.

The Persian-speaking

While 51% of Iranians speak Persian as their mother tongue, this means that the other half of the country speaks a variety of other languages.
Some of them are Persian-related languages ​​and are Indo-Iranian languages, but others are Turkish (Altaic) languages ​​or a few Semitic or Dravidian languages, and so on. The map opposite shows the linguistic area of ​​the Indo-Iranian languages ​​in the region. It does not specify the location of Turkish or other languages ​​except Azeri.

The Iranians speak mainly Persian, a language of the Indo-European family belonging to the group of Indo-Iranian languages, such as Pashto, Kurdish, Baluchi, Tajik, Aimak, Hazara, Ossetian, etc. . (see also map of the Indo-Iranian area). Iran is surrounded by countries that are not Indo-European, and have often invaded the country. It is a distinct country in the region, a country surrounded by Turks (Turkey, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan), Semites (Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates) and Indo-Pakistanis usually of Sunni Muslim religion.

Afghanistan is the only neighboring country with linguistic similarities with Iran, with the exception of Turkey and Syria where there are Kurds (see Kurdistan).

The name of the Persian language

However, there is some terminological controversy about the name of the Persian language. Before 1979 and the Islamic Revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranians spoke Persian, but the coming to power of the "Guide" led to a change of name: Persian became Farsi. The word farsi comes from the province of Fārs in the center of the country and designates in principle a local variety of Persian, whose name has since been extended to the whole language in Iran.

The Persian is also called Dari in Afghanistan and Tajik (Tajiki) in Tajikistan. The terms Far and Pars ("Perse") come from the same word, the [f] of Fars and the [p] of Pars being phonetically very close. But since the [p] exists in Farsi and not in Arabic, it seems probable that the pronunciation Fars is an Arabian alteration of Pars; it is the pronunciation of the [f] that eventually imposed itself on the Iranians. There is now a "Persian tehrâni" (Tehran> Tehrani in Persian), which tends to become the standard standard in Iran and even elsewhere because of electronic media and publications from Iran. That being said, the Iranians, the Afghans and the Tajiks speak Persian and, if we want to express geographical origin, we speak of Farsi, Dari or Tajik, but we also use the double denominations: Persian Persian, Persian dari and Tajik persian. In a particular context, the word "Persian", used alone, is sufficient to designate the Persian of Iran (Farsi). An Afghan-speaking Persian dari perfectly understands an Iranian from Tehran speaking Persian Tehrani or Tajik speaking Tajik Persian. In short, when the term Persian is used, it is by making no geographical allusion to the language. One might say, for example, "Learning the Persian." The Iranians themselves say they speak Farsi, meaning unconsciously that their local Persian is different from that of Afghanistan or Tajikistan.

Moreover, many Westerners will call the language of the Iranians simply Iranian, as is done with other similar cases: Italian in Italy, German in Germany, Spanish in Spain (but also " Castilian "), Serbian in Serbia, Croatian in Croatia, Bosnian in Bosnia, Indonesian in Indonesia, Japanese in Japan, and so on.