It has been quite a while that this has been bothering me, and today when I logged into an Iranian BBS (Soroush) the first questions I was prompted with were from a poll: Would you like to call our country: (Iran, Persia, etc.) and our language (Persian or Farsi). (For those who must know, my answers where: Iran, Persian).
I just recently had a rather long discussion with a friend, who is still 16. While he was at school, his teacher asked what other languages the pupils in the class knew. He gladly stood up and said “Farsi” and although the teacher understood, which language that was, Farsi is nor a language neither a word in the English language.
To further put our long discussion to an end, we looked in several dictionaries, including the Oxford Dictionary on Historical Principles (3rd Ed, 1973) and one other Iranian dictionary and “Farsi” did not exist as a word. Although it is listed in The Random House Dictionary of the English Language. (2nd Ed., 1987).
Farsi is the name of our language in Iran. Farsi in English has a translation and that is Persian, which if you look up in the dictionary you will usually see this description “A1. Of or pertaining to Persia, its inhabitants, or language. A2. In specific names of productions found in or imported from Persia e.g carpet. B1. A native inhabitant of Persia B2. The native language of Persia. “
So for those who would like to insist that Persian=Farsi in English, maybe they should also consider calling themselves, Farse (instead of Iranian or Persians) which incidentally in English means: “An amplification inserted into a liturgical formula; also, each of the hortatory or other passages in the vernacular interpolated between the Latin sentences…”
Nowadays foreigners will recognize the word Farsi, only because they have heard it from so many Iranian immigrants with inadequate knowledge of English. At the same time the word Farsi has been used in many recent American movies (by uneducated American directors).
Have you ever heard a French person say “I speak Francaise” or a Spaniard say “I speak Espanole”?