“Nationalist language purists revere the Shahnameh for its strict reliance on Persian vocabulary. Many 20th century scholars, like Orientalist E.G. Browne, argued that Ferdowsi practiced linguistic protectionism— deliberately avoiding the use of Arabic. It contains 706 words of Arabic origin occurring 8,938 times— approximately 9% of the total vocabulary, compared to 30% in 10th century Persian literature. The introduction and conclusion, however, have much higher proportions of Arabic. Based on the variable proportions of Arabic in segments of the Shahnameh, Mohammad Djafar Moinfar argued that subject material and style affected the percentage of loan words, not an inherent aversion to the Arabic language.”


Ferdowsi’s Legacy: Examining Persian Nationalist Myths of the Shahnameh

Photo: Folio of Kayumars at his court