Opinions on Middle Persian

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Middle Persian or Sassanian is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times (224–654 CE) became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions of the empire as well. Middle Persian is classified as a Western Iranian language. It descends from Old Persian and is the linguistic ancestor of Modern Persian.

The native name for Middle Persian (and perhaps for Old Persian also) was Pārsīg, "(language) of Pārs". The word is consequently (the origin of) the native name for the Modern Persian language—Fārsī.

Middle Persian is primarily attested in the post-Sassanian Zoroastrian variant of the language known as Pahlavi, which originally referred to the Pahlavi writing system, and that was also the preferred writing system for several other Middle Iranian languages. Aside from the Aramaic-derived Pahlavi script, Zoroastrian Middle Persian was occasionally also written in Parsik, which uses the Arabic abjad, and in Pazend, a system derived from Avestan that, unlike Pahlavi, indicated vowels and did not employ Aramaic logograms. Manichaean Middle Persian texts were written in Manichaean script, which also derives from Aramaic but in an Eastern Iranian form via Sogdian.

The ISO 639 language code for Middle Persian is 'pal', which reflects the post-Sassanid era use of the term Pahlavi to refer to the language and not only the script.


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