I wanted to learn them both to gain a better understanding of the middle eastern conflict but also because I just love learning languages. I’ve heard farsi is better to learn first because there aren’t as many irregulars. Is this true?
Before I start a comparison between Arabic and Persian, I will preface with this: I usually prefer not to recommend a language or a language order to people because I think it’s very much reflective of one’s interest. When looking at the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, I would ask which one interests you the most. Do you see yourself with more interest in Arab nations or in Iran and Afghanistan? Like I’ve said many times before, you should learn the languages that interest you.
That aside, I think that functionality is also important. The Arabic language has approx. 290 million native speakers (2010) and is the official language of 27 states. There are millions of people learning Arabic, as well as millions who have Arabic as a second language, due to either religious reasons or because of having Arab parents who raised them abroad.
Persian has only approx. 60 million native speakers (2009) and about 110 million speakers in total (2010). Additionally, it is the official language of only 3 states, and is spoken by communities in an additional 2-4 other Middle Eastern/Central Asian countries. When Persian is learned as a second language, it is usually for economic or political reasons (not usually for religious or other reasons).
Linguistically, Arabic is a Semitic language, while Persian is Indo-European. The Persian alphabet is based on the Arabic alphabet (with modified pronunciation and 4 added letters). A huge number of modern Persian words (I’ve seen anywhere from 40% to 80% of daily literary vocab) are Arabic loans (though sometimes with shifted semantic values). There are also many words of Persian origin in Arabic, though these are older loans and have shifted in pronunciation usually.
Speaking of ease in language learning is somewhat problematic because everyone’s circumstances are different. It often depends on what your native language is, what you background in language learning is, and how much drive you have. I know that in you’re case, you’re a native speaker of English and you’ve studied Spanish, Mandarin, and Latin (and I’m sure you’ve dabbled in others).
Quite simply, Persian is generally easier for native speakers of English (or really any Indo-European language). Similar grammatical constructions exist. Word order is similar to that of Latin. There is much native Indo-European vocabulary. None of the sounds are incredibly difficult, except maybe /x/ (kh) and /ɣ/ (like a gargling but a bit different).
Arabic, however, tends to be more difficult. Arabic has grammatical constructions and concepts that many have never seen before. It has sounds that people are quite unfamiliar (like a whole series of pharyngeals). The root system (while quite easy in the long run) confuses people at the beginning. To be fluent in Arabic, one usually has to learn both standard Arabic and a dialect.
However, I almost always recommend that people study Arabic first. Quite simply, the shift from Arabic to Persian is generally easier. It’s like training for a 5K and then having to run a 1K after your months of training. The difficult letters from Arabic that are present in loans words, get shifted to ‘easier’ (read: more familiar) sounds in Persian (which are similar to many sounds shifts in certain Arabic dialects). The loans don’t change spelling. The grammar, for a native-speaker of an Indo-European language, is easier. etc. etc.
Now many people wonder, why not get the easier one done quickly and move to the harder one? My answer is simple: the shift from Persian to Arabic is generally more difficult than the reverse. Going from Persian to Arabic, one must learn not only to produce the “harder” sounds, but also to get out of the habit of reading them a certain way. People often find themselves speaking Arabic with a Persian accent. Generally, the main time I see people learn Persian and then Arabic (and really the only time I recommend it) is when people are focusing on Persian for their studies, but the knowledge of Arabic (usually Classical Arabic for reading older texts) is useful… it is rare to see someone (who is not a native speaker of Persian) learn Persian and then Arabic (but really learn Arabic to fluency with a dialect and everything).
So while the logic might seem backwards (starting with something more “difficult” and moving to something “easier”), if there isn’t an innate preference based on your interests, I recommend studying Arabic before Persian.
2: Talk about your first kiss. I had my first kiss when I was 16, I think, with a girl with whom I still have a thing going on! The town I went to high school in had this big gym close to the river, with a small skating rink and a basketball court and we had been hanging out on the big stone steps that people used as bleachers. Because there is a promenade along the river, it’s not a very isolated place and people walk by with kids and dogs all of the time, but it was a pretty hot spring afternoon, just after lunch, and nobody was around. This was the second time I had seen her and we were saying goodbye, standing in front of the gym and the courts. We hugged and when I was about to pull away, she moved her head towards mine and I realised what was about to happen and I freaked out and thought “omg she’s gonna know I’ve never kissed anyone before” and for some reason I kinda went “nooo…” very very softly - LUCKILY she ignored that and kissed me either way. When she stopped kissing me, I saw over her shoulder an old man who was looking at us and pretended like he was just walkig by and left, that made me giggle. I looked at her and said “thank you… bye” and turned around to walk away (unlike what this story shows, I swear I have since become very smooth). She had a central lip piercing and I could feel the sensation of something hard pressed against my lip even afterwards and I didn’t want it to go away, so I kept my mouth slightly open for like 20mins. I must have looked weird.
4: Talk about the thing you regret most so far. Treating some people who loved me and cared about me as if they weren’t smart enough for me. One person in particular. I regret it, but I have grown a lot as a person since then. I think it’s been a consequence of being complimented and made to feel smart because of my accomplishments from a young age, my ego got too big for my own good and made me a bit of a dick. I like to think I have improved a lot since, but I know I still need to work on this.
9: Talk about little things on your body that you like the most. The cartilage on my nose forms two tiny bumps that are only visible in certain specific positions and I find them quite cute. The softness of my hair.The shape of my shoulders, eyebrows and boobs. I also have really defined and strong calf muscles.
17: Talk about someone you want to be friends with. In real life, I’m very outgoing and forward, I can’t think of anyone who I would like to be my friend and who I have not befriended yet (or at least approached). If we’re talking Tumblr, whoever runs the italiansreclaimingitaly blog. It’s an amazing inititative and they seem to have an awareness of issues of my country that I, alas, don’t. I have learnt so much from that blog. Also, every single person in the language and linguistics community, seriously. If we’re talking celebrities/public figures, Nina Hartley because she’s a legend and every interview with her confirms how intelligent and interesting a person she must be. Just go and listen to her. Also, I think me and the HAIM sisters could be pals, but I don’t know how to elaborate on that, it’s just a feeling.
Thank you so much Liv linguisticnerd!!! Most followers I’ve got in a long time lol
Also to all you new-comers, thanks so much for following :) I have a side-blog omnilang that is specifically language-related, if you wanna check that out. I try to keep it updated as much as possible, and I’m hoping to do more original stuff on there in the near future