FARHANG-E TĀRĪḴĪ-E ZABĀN-E FĀRSĪ, a comprehensive historical dictionary of the Persian language, of which only one volume has been published so far (P. N. Ḵānlarī, ed., Farhang-e tārīḵī-e zabān-e fārsī I: Ā-B, Tehran, 1357 Š./1978). The Department of Persian Lexicography of the Bonyād-e farhang-e Īrān (q.v.) began the project of compiling the dictionary under the supervision of the late Parvīz Nātel Ḵānlarī. The dictionary was intended to establish during which period in the thousand year history of Persian literature a word was in use, when it was abandoned, and which word replaced it. It was also to indicate which words were borrowed from other languages, when they were borrowed, and under what circumstances they were replaced by other words (Ḵānlarī, p. viii). Such a dictionary would also provide important data, such as information about technical terms and titulature, that would be useful in the study of political and social developments in Persia through the ages (Ḵānlarī, p. x).

Due to the immense bulk of the Persian literary corpus, the dictionary employed a scheme of periodization beginning with the 3rd/9th and the 4th/10th centuries (Ḵānlarī, pp. xi-xii). Prose and verse works of that period, including Ferdowsī’s Šāh-nāma, were carefully studied in order to extract individual words, compounds, phrases, idioms, and expressions. These were then arranged alphabetically. Each entry was supplied with explanations of its literal, figurative, and metaphorical meanings and at least one quotation from a text in which the word occurred. Proper names were to be excluded, but some crept in for various reasons (Ḵānlarī, p. xxii). Due to uncertainty regarding the contemporary pronunciation of words and the existence of dialectical variants in many regions of Persia, there was no attempt either to indicate short vowels through diacritical signs or to provide tranliterations in Latin script.

The Farhang-e tārīḵī is the first Persian dictionary created with a particular aim, based on a specific textual corpus, and using proper lexicographical methods.

(Aḥmad Tafażżolī)

Originally Published: December 15, 1999

Last Updated: December 15, 1999