Salam, Khosh Āmadīd!

Si-o-Se Bridge, Isfahan, Iran
                                               Si-o-Se Bridge, Isfahan, Iran

Persian is an official language in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, with significant historical and cultural importance, second only to Arabic. It emerged as an Islamic language in the fourth/tenth-century Sāmānid Iran, written in a modified Arabic script, shaping Islamic civilization concepts. Persian's influence spread from Iran, profoundly impacting Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, and beyond.

In these countries, it is called Fārsī (Iran), Darī (Afghanistan), and Tājikī (Tajikistan). While they share grammar, regional spoken varieties, including  dialects and accents, can vary greatly. Persian is written in Arabic script in Iran and Afghanistan, while Tajik Persian uses Cyrillic script since 1940.

Persian Dominates administration, education, and inter-ethnic communication among non-Persian minorities. Over 80-90% of the population in these countries are native or near-native Persian speakers, totaling more than one hundred million among approximately 130 million inhabitants. About five million Persian-speaking expatriates reside in various countries including Turkey, Pakistan, Western Europe, and Russia.

(Source: Paul, Ludwig, “Persian language,” in Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Devin J. Stewart.)

Why Study Persian?

Studying Persian offers numerous compelling benefits:
  1. Cultural Enrichment: Dive into a millennia-old cultural heritage encompassing art, literature, music, and philosophy, gaining profound insights into Persian culture.
  2. Literary Tradition: Explore the timeless literary masterpieces of Rumi, Hafez, and Saadi in their original language, delving into one of the world's celebrated literary traditions.
  3. Regional Insights: Persian's reach extends across Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and beyond, enabling a nuanced understanding of regional dynamics in geopolitics, economics, and culture.
  4. Career Prospects: Valuable for careers in diplomacy, international relations, journalism, and academia, especially considering Iran's global significance.
  5. Research Opportunities: Essential for scholars in Middle Eastern studies, history, religious studies, and anthropology, granting access to a wealth of primary sources.
  6. Persian in Islamic Studies: Crucial for Islamic Studies with Persian's role in Islamic literature, mysticism, philosophy, and its historical importance in various Islamic empires.
  7. Linguistic Development: Enhance your linguistic and cognitive abilities through Persian's unique script and grammar.
  8. Travel and Interaction: Enrich your travel experiences in Persian-speaking regions and foster meaningful connections with locals.
  9. Global Significance: Promote cross-cultural understanding in our interconnected world, as Persian is a widely spoken language in the Middle East.
  10. Personal Growth: Embrace the rewarding challenge of learning a language with such a rich historical backdrop, fostering personal growth and intellectual stimulation.

Persian in UIUC

The Linguistics Department offers a comprehensive three-year Persian language program with small class sizes, promoting full immersion in language and culture. Our focus on daily communication enhances all four language skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. In the initial two years, we emphasize spoken modern Iranian Persian dialects. Advancing to the third year allows students to explore both modern and medieval literature and poetry. Our program complements language learning with cultural activities like tea gatherings, movie nights, cooking demonstrations, music performances, showcases, and lectures to deeply immerse students in Persian culture.


Upcoming Events:

Music Festival Flyer
Persian Musical Instruments
Event Type: Live Classical Music

Sponsor: Department of Linguistics; LCTL Program;
Dr. Azadeh Aghighi

Location: Zoom

Date: March 22, 2024 
12:00 pm





Nowruz Flyer
Nowruz Virtual Party: Exploring Iranian Traditions
Event Type: Cultural

Sponsor: Persian Language Program, Dr. Azadeh Aghighi;
Department of Linguistics; LCTL Program

Location: Zoom
Date: March 21, 2024 
11:00 am - 12:00 pm





Past Events

Centipede 2 movie poster
Centipede Movie Screening
Centipede 2

Event Type: Movie Screening

Sponsor: Persian Language Program, Dr. Azadeh Aghighi

Location: 1080 (Lucy Ellis Lounge) LCLB

Date: February 29, 2024 from 10:00am-12:00pm






Andy in Concert Flyer
Andy Live in Concert

Event Type: Persian-Armenian Music Concert
Sponsor: Iranian Heritage Foundation 
Location: Foellinger Auditorium, UIUC Campus
Date: Oct. 28, 2023 at 7:45 pm



Movie flyer
Persian Movie Night

Event Type: Movie Screening

Sponsor: Persian Language Program, Dr. Azadeh Aghighi

Location: 1080 (Lucy Ellis Lounge) LCLB

Date: Oct. 11, 2023 at 11:00 am






Persian cooking
Persian Cooking Demonstration


Event Type: Cooking Demo

Sponsor: Persian Language Program, Dr. Azadeh Aghighi

Location: Asian American Cultural Center

Date: Sep. 13, 12:00pm