Harawi – spoken Persian of Herat

Herat, a major town in western Afghanistan, was once the capital of the Greater Khorasan, and one of the most vibrant culture centers of the whole Persian-speaking world. But I’m not going to tell you all about it. Let me just draw a sketch of the dialect of Persian spoken there. It’s called Fārsi-ye Harawi (Persian of Herāt, duh!) and is – I think – the most approachable variety of Afghanistani Persian from the point of view of a Tehrani-learner.

Why I’m taking Harawi and not Kabuli as my paragon (=the typicalest) Dari dialect? Well, the descriptions of Kabuli all are somewhat dated and since they were published Kabul grew from a city of, say, 300 thousand people to a 3-million godzilla of a town, crowded by “newcomers” from every corner of Afghanistan (and beyond). And this, my friends, probably means that people there speak something quite different to the Kabuli of my books. Of course this point stands for Herat/Harawi as well, but to a lesser degree (I hope).

My book for Harawi: “Fārsi-ye Harawi. Zabān-e Goftāri-ye Herāt” by Mohammad āsif Fikrat; Enteshārāt-e Dāneshgāh-e Ferdousi, Mashhad, 1376


A. Sounds

-as usual with Afghanistani Persian, و /wāw/ is /w/ not /v/
-Harawi has retained long /ō/ and /ē/; thus shir ‘milk’ is not pronounced the same as shēr ‘lion’; and gōr ‘grave’ has different vowel than ru ‘face’
-Tehrani final /e/ corresponds to Harawi /a/ hama
-/ā/ before nasals turns to /ō/ thus, xōna ‘house’
-syllable final /-ab/ and /-āb/ becomes /-au/ shau ‘night’ aftau ‘sun’

B. Verb endings

past tense: present tense future (also expresses possibility/hope)
singular plural singular plural singular plural
raftom raftēm mērom mērēm xāraftom xāraftēm
rafti raftēm miri mērēm xārafti xāraftēm
raft raftam mēra mēram xāraft xāraftam

C. Continuous tenses:

These are formed by addition of particle ‘hay’ (often reduplicated to ‘hay hay’) to present and past imperfect forms:
hay mēnwesēm = tehrāni dārim minevisim (or dārin minevisin; in harawi 1pl=2pl)
hay hay mēyāyam = tehrāni dāran miān

D. Expressing some modalities

I/you/etc. want to go – māyom borom; māyi bari; māya bara; māyēm barēm; māyēm barēm; māyam baram
I/you/etc. have to go – magare borom; magare bari; magare bara; magare barēm; magare barēm; magare baram
I/you/etc. can’t go     – rafta namētonom; rafta namētoni; rafta namētona; rafta namētonēm; rafta namētonēm; rafta namētonam

E. Personal pronoun set:

full forms suffixed forms
singular plural singular plural
ma -om -mā
to shamā -to -shamā
u unā -eyo -enā

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