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Dari Language Projec


The language that we refer to as Dari is also referred to as Gabri or Behdinān. Though Gabri is the appellation by which the language is most commonly known, we eschew its use because of its cultural insensitivity, and we encourage others to do so as well. Literally, “language of the infidels,” Gabri is the name which was bestowed by Iran’s Muslim conquerors upon the language spoken by those few members of Iran’s historically Zoroastrian majority who neither fled nor converted following the Muslim invasion of Iran in the seventh century. Some scholars speculate that these Zoroastrians resisted external influences on their language in order to promote the solidarity of their persecuted community. The speakers of Dari, who obviously do not consider themselves infidels, resent the use of this term to refer to their language. In choosing to call their language Dari, the speakers of the language invoke their ancestral connections to a pre-Islamic Iran.

The language studied by the Dari Language Project is not the Persian dialect spoken in Afghanistan, though it, also, is called Dari by its speakers. Both the Dari spoken by Zoroastrians and the Dari (Persian) of Afghanistan bear the same name for much the same reasons. Originally, Dari was the official spoken language of the Sasanian court and bureaucracy, which approximated the official written language, Pahlavi (Middle Persian). The subsequent Arab invasion resulted in the extension of Dari's usage even farther east than under the Sasanian Empire, into Bactria (ancient northern Afghanistan). Dari was committed at about this same time to paper in the Arabic script by early poets (pre-Firdosi). Arabic borrowings were being absorbed into the language, however, at a rapid pace and soon the unaltered Dari gave way to the Arabicized Farsi. In a sense, one could consider Dari and Farsi (New Persian) merely different styles of the same language, the former simple and unadorned and the latter heavily influenced by Arabic borrowings. Thus, speakers of both Afghani Persian and Gabri chose a name for their two languages that evokes the cultural richness of a highly venerated past (for details see Frye, Richard N. (1973) The Rise of the New Persian Language. Journal of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute Bombay 44:76-80.)



Saif Fazel

Library:

Saif Fazel

Author:

Journal of the K. R.











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