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THE language of ancient Persia was one of the oldest forms of Aryan speech. It was so

nearly identical with that of the Medes as to be regarded as the same tongue with merely

dialectical differences. After Sanskrit, Persian presents the most primitive type of that

great group of languages beginning in the songs of the Vedas and ending in the English

book of yesterday. It is thus closely allied with Latin and Greek, Moeso- Gothic, and

Anglo-Saxon. Accordingly we find that the known words in Old Persian are nearly always

found with but little variation in the speech of the Greeks and Romans, and perhaps in the

English of today. Thus the Persian bratar is bhratar in Sanskrit, jaerater in Latin,

bruder in German, and brother in English. The Persian duvara is dvara in Sanskrit, thyra

in Greek, thure in German, and door in English. The Persian natar is malar in Sanskrit,

meter in Greek, mater in Latin, mutter in German, and mother in English. The Persian pathi

is -panthan in Sanskrit, f-atos in Greek, -pfad in German, and path in English. The list

might be extended to many scores of words illustrating with certainty the identity of all

the Aryan tongues and the true place of Persian as a member of that group.

In the declension of Persian nouns six cases were employed: the nominative, the genitive,

the accusative, the vocative, the ablative, and the locative. The following declension of

the noun Mada, meaning "a Mede," may serve to show the usual case endings and forms of the



N.Mada.............i Mede. Mada ...............Medes. G. Madahya ...... .of a Mede.

Madanam. ........ .of Medes. Ac. Madam, ..........a Mede. Mada. .............. .Medes.

V. Mada......... .. ..0 Mede. Mada........... ...0 Medes. Abl. Mada...... a Mede.

Madaibish. ....... .by Medes. Loc. Madaiya. .. .with a Mede. Madaishuva. ... . .with


There were several varieties of declension, but the above forms are typical of the case

structure of the language. Adjectives followed the nominal forms in all particulars. The

comparative and superlative degrees of adjectives were formed by adding respectively the

syllables tara and tama to the stem of the positive. In rare cases, however, the

superlative was formed by adding ista to the positive stem-another instance of the radical

identity of Persian and English, the ista being the same as the English est. In counting,

the decimal system was employed, though the value of the digit did not depend on its

place, as in Arabic numeration, but was absolute, as in the Roman method. The personal

pronouns were adam (1), mana (my), mam (me), ma (with me); in the plural vayam (we),

amakham (our), accusative and ablative unknown. In the second person the forms were tuvarn

(thou), taiya (thine), tuvarn (thee), tuvarn (0, thou), the plural forms being unknown. In

the third person, hauva (he), avahya (his), avam (him), shaiya (with him).

Persian verbs had three voices: the active, the middle, and the passive. The middle voice

was nearly identical in its forms with the passive. The verbal moods were the indicative,

subjunctive, potential, imperative, and infinitive. The tenses were the present, the

imperfect, the aorist, and the perfect, the place of a future tense. being supplied by the

use of the present subjunctive. The verb to be had in the present tense the following

forms: amiya (I am), ahya (thou, art), astiya (he is), plural, amahya (we are),-(ye are),

hatiya (they are). I was) was aham, and he was, aha. The scheme of the other parts of

speech-adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions-was made out according to the analogies of

the other Aryan languages, and the general rules of syntax were almost identical with

those of Latin and Greek.1

1 The absence of the dative case in Persian and other like peculiarities necessitated

departures not a few from the principles of Latin and Greek.