Persian language courses

Studying Persian at SOAS Language Centre

It is sometimes assumed, on the basis of its script, that Persian is related to Arabic. This is false. As an Indo-European language of the Indo-Iranian branch, Persian is closely related to Kurdish and Pashto and even more closely related to Dari (an official language of Afghanistan) and to Tajik (the national language of Tajikistan), being mutually intelligible with both.

For many centuries, Persian functioned as the language of high culture, administration and diplomatic relations in a huge territory extending from Turkey to India. Its cultural influence has been profound, as is attested by the high proportion of Persian words in the vocabulary of many languages of Asia, such as Turkish, Urdu, Panjabi, Gujarati and Malay.

Persian has changed less in the last thousand years than English; a knowledge of the modern language, quite aside from giving the language learner access to Dari and to Tajik, provides an entry into a rich literary culture that boasts many illustrious names such as Ferdowsi, Sa’adi and Omar Khayyam.

As the national language of Iran, Persian occupies a strategic importance geo-politically as well as culturally. It is the first language of around 70 million people and is spoken by sizeable communities in many countries outside of Western and Central Asia, including the United States and Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Short courses in Persian

For course dates and information, please see our timetables.

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Studying Persian or Sanskrit at SOAS Language Centre