Iranian languages

Iranian languages, Branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European language family.

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Branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European language family This article is about the language family. For languages spoken in Iran, see Languages of Iran. For the official language of Iran, see Persian language.

The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European language family that are spoken natively by the Iranian peoples.

The Iranian languages are grouped in three stages: Old Iranian (until 400 BC), Middle Iranian (400 BC – 900 AD), and New Iranian (since 900 AD). The two directly attested Old Iranian languages are Old Persian (from the Achaemenid Empire) and Old Avestan (the language of the Avesta). Of the Middle Iranian languages, the better understood and recorded ones are Middle Persian (from the Sasanian Empire), Parthian (from the Parthian Empire), and Bactrian (from the Kushan and Hephthalite empires).

As of 2008, there were an estimated 150–200 million native speakers of the Iranian languages. Ethnologue estimates that there are 86 Iranian languages, the largest among them being Persian, Pashto, Kurdish, and the Balochi languages.

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The term Iranian is applied to any language which descends from the ancestral Proto-Iranian language.

Some scholars such as John Perry prefer the term Iranic as the anthropological name for the linguistic family and ethnic groups of this category (many of which exist outside Iran), while Iranian for anything about the country Iran. He uses the same analogue as in differentiating German from Germanic or differentiating Turkish and ...read more

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