Sunday, 2 December 2012

Mission Persian

I always pick up a difficult language that takes a long time to learn. I have tried French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Swahili and a whole bunch of others. Every time I lose interest after a while. I am surprised at myself that I haven't given up Chinese even after more than ten-eleven months. I don't study Chinese everyday. I have slowed down to merely two lessons a week. I feel so bad. But I have an idea which I think will give me confidence and I will be able to learn Chinese with a renewed vigour.

I am going to put Chinese aside for a month and focus on the easiest language for Punjabi speakers. Hindi/Urdu is the easiest language for a Punjabi speaker. Both Hindi/Urdu and Punjabi share lot of vocabulary and the grammar is more or less identical. I already speak and read and write Hindi and Urdu. So I have to find the second easiest language!

The contenders for the second easiest language are:

(1) Bengali 
(2) Oriya
(3) Gujarati
(4) Nepali
(5) Persian

Of these five, the first four show a great deal of Sanskrit influence. An upside of this is that I will pick up vocabulary really fast, thanks to Hindi/Urdu. They are Indo-European so grammar will be familiar. There is but one problem: I am not interested in either of these

I can always find someone who speaks English or Hindi from these states or Nepal. I don't think there exist many books in these languages and they aren't even used in universities.

That leaves Persian as the sole candidate. Persian shares a lot of vocabulary with Punjabi. In fact, so much so that of all Persian words on this page only جا, بسلامت and مرسی should be foreign to an average Punjabi speaker. 



Persian is Indo-European so the grammar shouldn't pose much difficulty. It's used in universities in Iran and I will be able to read some of the greatest poets in the world in original. 

Until the middle of the 18th century, Persian had been India's official language for over five centuries. A lot of Indian writers and poets of that era wrote in Persian. The famous letter of Guru Gobind Singh, addressed to the Indian emperor Aurangzeb, is written in Persian. Even in the 20th century, Allama Iqbal was writing in Persian (in addition to English and Urdu). And to top it all, I am interested in Persian more than the remaining four.

To tell the truth, Punjabi food and culture still shows a lot of Persian influence. Thanks to Sikhism, the caste system is weak and people are liberal. Moreover, I want to see the look on my silly sister's face when she will shout "Ki farsi boli janda?" (What are you speaking? Greek?)

The Frenchies say 'It's Chinese to me.', the English say 'It's Greek to me' and Indians and Pakistanis show their astonishment on hearing a new language by 'It's Persian to me!'

Enough of the propaganda for Persian! Here is my plan: 

Plan: Focus only on Persian during December
Aim: To create a Wikipedia article or a blog post in Persian on 1 January, 2013
Current status: Did two lessons today