Please and thank you (and sorry), part I: Thank you and you’re welcome

Now here’s a topic that’s so basic, and useful, that I can’t believe I haven’t done it yet.

The informal Persian “thanks” should be very familiar to most of you: مرسی (marsī), or merci, en français. If you know Arabic, then the more formal-sounding “thank you” will also be familiar: مُتَشَکِّرَم (mutashakkiram), which takes the Arabic word متشکر, or “grateful/thankful,” and adds the short Persian ending for “I am,” so the whole thing is “I am grateful.” بِسیار مُتَشَکِّرَم (bisiyār mutashakkiram) means “thank you very much.” You may also say تَشَکُّر (tashakkur), another Arabic import that also means “thank you.” A more emphatic “thank you,” more “I’m really grateful,” or “I’m much obliged,” is خَیلی مَمنون (khaylī mamnūn), from yet another Arabic import (ممنون) that means “gratitude” or “obligation.”

“You’re welcome” is usually either خوش آمَدید (khūsh āmadīd, “khosh aamadeed”), which literally means “come well,” or خواهِش می کُنَم (khwāhish mī kunam, “khaa-hesh mee-konam”; that و is archaic in modern Persian and not pronounced, although it is pronounced in some other Iranian languages like Dari), which in a technical sense means “I beg” or “I request,” but has an idiomatic meaning here.


How Persian uses the Arabic root جمع

Over at the Arabic blog, we’re talking about all the words that can be derived from the Arabic root جمع (J-M-ʿ), which means “to gather” or “to collect.” Here I want to illustrate how Persian incorporates the Arabic root into its lexicon.

The simplest way that Persian uses Arabic roots is simply by adopting them outright, so جَمع (jamʿ) becomes a Persian word meaning “collecting,” or “assembling.” Nearly as often, Persian adopts these Arabic roots by sticking them in front of the verb کَردَن (kardan), which means “to do” but is also added to nouns to make compound verbs. In this case, جَمع کَردَن (jamʿ kardan) means “to assemble” or “to collect.” Persian may place the same root in front of multiple verbs to create several compound verbs with distinct, but related, meanings. A presumably earlier Persian word, گِرد (gird) has the same meaning (although it can also mean “circumference” or “around”) and can also be combined with these verbs to form equivalent or at least similar vocabulary. For example:

  • جَمع آوَردَن (jamʿ āvardan): to gather; گِرد آوَردَن means “to accumulate”
  • جَمع شُدَن (jamʿ shudan): to be assembled, to be gathered together
  • جَمع بَستَن (jamʿ bastan): to join together (بَستَن means “to join/fasten”), although پَیوَستَن (payvastan) may be the better choice
  • جَمع آمَدَن (jamʿ āmadan): to be collected (آمَدَن means “to come”); گِرد آمَدَن means “to convene”

Any Arabic word that is derived from the root may also have been brought into Persian, and can be used in the same way, as a standalone noun/adjective and/or as part of a compound verb. HOWEVER, you can’t always assume that the word that got absorbed into Persian carries the same meaning that it has in modern Arabic. Persian got most of its Arabic loanwords centuries ago, and as languages develop over time and the meaning of words can be altered, it may be that Persian borrowed an Arabic word that then evolved in a different direction in Arabic than it did in Persian. This is just to say that you still need to consult a Persian dictionary even when you’re dealing with a word that has Arabic origins.

Here are some of the more important Persian words/verbs deriving from the Arabic جمع (and more common Persian alternatives):

  • جامِع (jāmiʿ): comprehensive, universal; the large mosque where public prayer is performed on Fridays
  • جُمعه (jumʿah, “jom-eh”): Friday, derived from the above for Friday communal mosque
  • جامِعه (jāmiʿah): society, community (one Arabic meaning, UNIVERSITY, is دانِشگاه/dānishgāh, “place of learning,” in Persian)
  • جَمعی (jamʿī): collective, cumulative
  • اجتِماع (ijtimāʿ): meeting, assembly, convention, rally (MORE COMMONLY USED: جَلسه/jalsah, from the Arabic verb جلس “to sit”)
  • اجماع (ijmāʿ): agreement, consensus, gathering
  • مَجمَع (majmaʿ): place of meeting, junction
  • انجُمَن (anjuman): club, association, assembly, organization (جَمعیه/jamʿīyah in Arabic)

Eid Mubarak (عید قربان)

Today marks the celebration of the second (and more important) of the two Islamic festivals, the Festival of the Sacrifice, known in Arabic as Eid al-Adha but in Persian as Eid-i Qurban (عیدِ قُربان, ʿīd-i qurbān). قُربان is another Arabic word meaning “sacrifice,” and for whatever reason this is the term that crossed into Persian and is used for this holiday. I wrote about the holiday on my Arabic blog.

Aside from the name, there is one other vocabulary change from Arabic to Persian: the animals that are sacrificed to commemorate the holiday, which are called adhiyah in Arabic, are called قُربانی (qurbānī) in Persian. Appropriate greetings for the festival are the same as in Arabic and the same as those used for the other Eid, عيد الفِطر (ʿīd-i fiṭr, Eid-e Fetr): عيد مُبارَك (ʿīd mubārak, Eid Mubarak), “Blessed Festival (Eid)” and عيد سَعيد (ʿīd saʿīd, Eid Saeed), “Happy Festival.”

Hajj and pilgrimage vocabulary

The Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim who is able is required to undertake at least once in their lives, begins this weekend, and I have written a length piece about it over there. I won’t repeat all the details about the Hajj here, just some of the vocabulary, which is largely unchanged from the Arabic.

  • Hajj: حَج (ḥajj)
  • Pilgrimage (Persian): زِیارَت (ziyārat, from the Arabic for “visit”)
  • Mecca: مکه
  • Medina: مدینه
  • Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken any time of the year): عُمره (ʿumrah)
  • Ihram, the state of ritual purity required of all pilgrims: اِحرام (iḥrām)
  • The Mosque of the Holy Place, or Masjid-i Haram, the mosque in Mecca: مَسجِدِ حَرام (masjid-i ḥarām)
  • The Kaaba, the black cube-shaped structure at the heart of the Masjid-i Haram: کَعبه (kaʿbah)
  • Tawaf, the ritual circumnabulation of the Kaaba that begins and ends the pilgrimage: طَواف (ṭawāf)
  • Mount Arafat, where Muhammad gave his final sermon and the central location of the pilgrimage: کوهِ عَرَفات (kūh-i ʿarafāt) or the Arabic, جَبَل عَرَفات (jabal ʿarafāt)
  • Hajji, one who has completed the Hajj: حاجی (ḥājjī)
  • Hajj Mubarak (“Congratulations on the Hajj”), the greeting to offer a Hajji: حَج مُبارَك