Middle Persian (Pahlavi) Online Course

Khachik Gevorgyan's picture
March 31, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Ancient History, Languages, Linguistics

Armenian School of Languages and Cultures - ASPIRANTUM is organizing Middle Persian (Pahlavi) online school. The 3 weeks Pahlavi online school will start on April 19, 2021, and last till May 7, 2021. The Middle Persian language online school will help the participants become skillful in reading and interpreting Pahlavi texts.

This 3 weeks Middle Persian online school will be organized on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays each week (4 days each week, 12 days during three weeks) and will include 42 hours of intensive Middle Persian teaching (3.5 hours during each day). 

We are planning to start the online classes at 9 PM Yerevan time. This time is mainly comfortable for the students from European and American countries. Depending on applicants' geography, the time may be changed, and all applicants will be informed about the time changes before the course. 

The 3 hours class of each day will be divided into the following sections:

First class - Homework and discussion
Second class - Pahlavi Grammar and Readings
Third class - Pahlavi Readings

During the Pahlavi classes, the following components will be covered every day:

Grammar: Everyday class will cover the main grammatical concepts of the Middle Persian language.
Vocabulary: During the 3 weeks (42 hours) course, the participants will learn more than 500 new Middle Persian words.
Speaking: Participants will be forced to speak Middle Persian and tortured if not, just like in ancient schools. This language teaching methodology has been productive at all times :) (this is a joke, no one will be tortured, it will even be impossible because the class is online).
Writing: Each day, the participants will have writing assignments and homework to complete for the next day.
Readings: During the course, the students will complete two entire Middle Persian texts - the Kārnāmag ī Ardaxšēr ī Pābagān and Wizārišn ī čatrang ud nihišn ī nēw-ardaxšīr. In the last week, the readings will also include excerpts from Ardā-Wirāz-nāmag, an engaging eschatological text, often compared to Dante Alighieri's "Divina Commedia".

About Kārnāmag ī Ardaxšēr ī Pābagān and other textsKārnāmag ī Ardaxšēr ī Pābagān or simply Kārnāmag, is one of the most popular secular texts written in Middle Persian or Pahlavi. Its title may be translated as "The Book of deeds of Ardashir son of Pabak" or a bit more archaically as "Res Gestae of Ardaxšēr son of Pābag". Despite its title, this text is not the official historical account of the Sasanian empire's founder. The story can be freely called the 'tale' of Ardashir, son of Pabak, because it is as historical as the Iliad or the Odyssey. The text tells us the adventurous tale of the Sasanian dynasty founder in a lively style and rich cultural references. This is an exciting text with simple grammar and is very convenient for teaching Middle Persian to beginners.

Other texts that will be read in this course include the "Wizārišn ī čatrang ud nihišn ī nēw-ardaxšīr" and selections from the "Ardā-Wirāz-nāmag".

The benefits of the course: Familiarity with Middle Persian conveys benefits not only for those interested in Zoroastrianism and Iranian linguistics but also for a student interested in the more in-depth understanding of Classical Persian literature and the Persianate world. It should also be considered a gateway to Late Antique Iran's study when the country was ruled by the royal Sasanian dynasty and confessed Zoroastrianism. 

One might point out that the study of Sasanian Iran and Zoroastrianism is impossible without a Middle Persian familiarity.

The knowledge of Middle Persian will also provide the student with the necessary tools for studying and understanding Persian's phonetic structure throughout its various stages of development. The lexical and semantic patterns that are especially important for a correct understanding of Classical Persian texts' meaning will also be studied. Additional time will be spent explaining and exploring various cultural, historical, and social aspects of Sassanian and Zoroastrian Iran during the course.

It would be challenging to overestimate Middle Persian's importance for a correct and deep understanding of Classical Persian literature and language in general.

The student will also be given various academic articles on Middle Persian, which will help him/her get a deeper understanding of the academic principles in work behind our current knowledge of the language.

For more details please visit: https://aspirantum.com/courses/middle-persian-pahlavi-school

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