Colloquial Persian
Azadi tower, the symbol of modern Tehran
Written (formal) Persian is the language used in books, newspapers, TV news broadcasts, poems, formal speeches, etc. It is the "standard" form of the language and its Iranian, Afghan and Tajiki versions are almost the same. However, everybody uses colloquial (spoken) Persian in everyday conversations. Colloquial Persian has significant differences with written Persian, and varies from city to city. In this section, you will learn Persian, as it is actually spoken in Tehran.

The difference between colloquial and written Persian is much deeper than the difference between colloquial and written English. By the way, while understanding a Tehrani speaking might be difficult for a foreigner familiar only with written Persian, one must keep in mind that by learning a handful of essential rules you can quickly fill the gap. I have presented in this section these grammatical and phonological rules as well as differences in vocabulary between written and spoken Persian.

I have chosen the Tehrani version of Persian as the standard for this website because it is by far the dominant spoken form of the language. With more than 8 million inhabitants, the city of Tehran by itself is well ahead of the whole of Tajikistan in population, and ahead of both Afghanistan and Tajikistan in terms of total nominal GDP. The number of films, books, songs and blogs written and produced in Tehran is more than the combination of all of the other cities in the Persian-speaking world. Even in other Iranian cities, cultural products and written colloquial conversations are mainly based on Tehrani accent.

Inside Iran, other major accents are those of Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd and Mashhad. They are not considered very prestigious and standard and have faced decline since the rise of Tehran 200 years ago. It is not uncommon for a Yazdi to try to speak like Tehranis when visiting Tehran, but the opposite case is very rare. Of much less popularity (but great prevalence) are the accents of Azeris, Arabs, Kurds, Mazandaranis, Gilaks, Baluchs, etc. when speaking Persian. Since they speak other languages at home, their versions of Persian are affected by their own separate languages and therefore their accents are not publicly considered as genuine "accents of Persian". It is much more common among these people to try to "eliminate" their accent while speaking Persian.

Isfahani accent is distinguished by its uniquely different system of intonation. Among other famous features of Isfahani accent are using "es" instead of the Tehrani "e" in place of the written "است" (meaning "is") and using "i" instead of the Tehrani "e" for "ezafe".

Yazdi accent, sometimes confused with Isfahani by the unfamiliar ear, is characterized by its unique noun stress system. In Yazdi accent, as in English, a noun's first syllabel is its stressed syllabel. In the Persian word "کتاب" ("ketāb", meaning "book"), for example, the stress falls on "ke", while it is on "tāb" on almost all other accents of Persian.

A crucial point to note here is that in learning Persian, learning the colloquial form is a necessity. If you want to communicate with ordinary people, you should learn the spoken form of the language. If you talk in formal and written language, everybody will understand you but it sounds more weird than what you probably think. Tehrani accent is fully understood and appreciated all over Iran, and it is not uncommon in Afghanistan either, thanks to Afghan returned refugees and Iranian cinema and TV productions.

Today, Tehrani Persian has gone beyond being merely a "spoken" form of Persian. Seeing blogs, song lyrics, movie subtitles , and even books written in colloquial Tehrani Persian is not a surprise at all anymore. Actually, with the spread of internet, blogs, text messaging, chat services and online social networks, many Iranian teenagers use colloquial Persian more than "written" Persian in what they write daily.