Persian vs Farsi (half-OT)

Doug Ewell doug at
Sat Dec 6 03:38:23 CET 2008

Randy Presuhn <randy underscore presuhn at mindspring dot com> wrote:

> I had only heard the term "Farsi" in conjunction with the language.
> This list is the first place where I've heard the modern language
> called "Persian".

Roozbeh Pournader <roozbeh at htpassport dot com> wrote:

> You are missing: (3) Persian is also what the Iranian Academy of
> Persian Languages and Literature, and hence the Iranian government,
> wants to see the modern language get called in English (with 'persan',
> 'Persisch', etc. in other western languages). It appears to be used in
> most communications of international organizations too, especially in
> those where Iran is a member.

and John Cowan <cowan at ccil dot org> quoted:

> In their 34th meeting on 7th of December 1992, the Persian Academy
> unanimously passed the resolution that this language must be called

What all of this tells me is that the question of "Persian" versus 
"Farsi" is indeed controversial, and not a right/wrong battle that this 
list should be getting itself into.  Individuals on the list may choose 
to petition the various ISO 639 RAs to get the name changed, as I'm sure 
Roozbeh and Michael will do, but the list as a unit should stay out of 

As far as the Registry is concerned, we basically have two choices:

1.  Stick with only the names ISO 639 gives us, and add or change 
Description fields to mirror ISO 639 exactly.

2.  Add the "Persian" names alongside the "Farsi" names within the 
Registry.  (Again, we cannot do this until the language subtags in 
question are actually in the Registry, that is, until RFC 4646bis and 
4645bis are approved.  Trying to slip this sort of decision into 
draft-4645bis would be a supremely bad idea.)

I favor choice 2.

What we must NOT do IMHO is:

3.  Add the "Persian" names and delete the "Farsi" names within the 
Registry, thereby making a partisan statement about right names/wrong 

Doug Ewell  *  Thornton, Colorado, USA  *  RFC 4645  *  UTN #14  ˆ

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