This online dictionary presents the definition of classical as well as advanced
concepts of modern astronomy. Moreover, each English entry is accompanied by its
French and Persian equivalents. The dictionary is intended to be helpful to
professional as well as amateur astronomers. As a notable particularity, it also
provides a detailed etymology of English and Persian terms.
The etymological material contained in this work may interest linguists,
in particular those concerned with the evolution of Indo-European languages,
especially with that of their Iranian branch.
Apart from educational and outreach objectives in the field of astronomy,
one of the main aims of this work is to contribute to the Persian language
by creating a comprehensive dictionary of astronomy and astrophysics.
The choice of astronomy and astrophysics is naturally imposed by
the fact that these are the author's fields of expertise. Had he been
a geologist, an archeologist, or a researcher in another branch, he would
have undertaken a similar project in that discipline. The dictionary
is founded on the following basic premises:
Persian, an Indo-European language with a rich literature and
a long written record, which goes back to about 1500 B.C. in
its oldest Avestan form, should be given support. In the present age
of exponential scientific/technological developments, the languages which are
incapable of expressing new concepts are unfortunately doomed to disappear.
It would be a dramatic loss if historical languages, which have
made important contributions to human culture and civilization,
and therefore belong to common human heritage, died out.
The status of terminology in the field of astronomy and
astrophysics, and more generally in physics, is not satisfactory
in Persian. The author wishes to contribute to improving the situation,
and hopes that this initiative will prompt others to take up the task of
profoundly thinking about the causes, thus coming up with solutions
which will enrich the Persian astronomical terminology, and in a broader
extent the whole Persian language.
Languages are vehicles of culture and diversity.
Imagine a magnificent garden with lots of
different flowers, each with its proper color, shape, and perfume;
and compare it with another garden filled uniquely with one kind of flower.
No matter how lovely the latter garden may be, it seems poor
insofar as it dramatically lacks diversity, and therefore constrains the
freedom of choice. Similarly, a night sky in which all the
stars shine with the same brightness and color is not only
less romantic, it is also unfathomable, since the differences
necessary to study the nature of stars are lacking.
In order to take up this linguistic challenge, the whole
capability of Persian should be used: not only its modern literary heritage,
but also the resources of Middle Persian (Pahlavi,
-300 to +700), Old Persian (A.D. c.
-600 to -300),
and Avestan (A.D. c.
-2000 to -300).
Further linguistic tools are needed to meet the goal.
The mine of various Persian dialects will be of great help.
They have preserved very old Indo-European forms which are missing in
Modern literary Persian, and sometimes even possess
terms which are reminiscent of Proto-Indo-European roots whose Avestan and
Old Persian counterparts are extinct (see
It is only by employing all these means
together in a general scheme that Persian can own a powerful and efficient
scientific/technical language. Sticking merely to Modern Persian,
as traditionalists and conservatives do, seems highly inadequate
and therefore has little chance to succeed. Evidence of this is
the present dissatisfactory state of the Persian terminology in its
confrontation with an
ever-increasing number of foreign terms and also the lack of any
workable project to solve the problems. In fact the restriction to
Modern Persian implies over-using a relatively limited and incomplete
word-base by multiplying combinations among a small number of possibilities.
That approach, which lacks solid linguistic foundation and is rather
ideologically motivated, can be likened to tinkering
) when an overhaul is needed. It should also be
stressed that the most significant advances in Persian terminology in
recent years are essentially due to the reintroduction of forms and
affixes from ancient Iranian languages.
Being Indo-European, Persian can luckily benefit from the model as
well as the past experience of the European languages which have managed to
produce their present powerful terminology system. Persian has lots
of cognates with the European languages and uses similar
word-forming patterns. As far as experience is concerned, after the
Renaissance, European intellectuals and scholars made use of the
reservoir of Greek and Latin
in order to coin new concepts. Persian can proceed in the same way with
its ancestors, all the more so since it has the advantage of profiting
from recent linguistic findings. In particular, Sanskrit, which is a
sister/brother of Avestan/Old Persian, can be of great help.
The author believes that by matching the above pre-requisites
there will be no astronomical concept or, in a much broader context,
no concept of the human thought (in exact sciences, technology,
philosophy, arts, administration, etc.) which will not be expressible
with proper Persian words.
An alternative to this solution would be to bluntly adopt
English. This dramatic solution not only goes against the above premise 1.3,
it also implies programming the slow death of Persian, which is
denounced by premise 1.1. There is no doubt
that foreign languages, in particular English, should be an integral
part of basic education among Persian speaking people, and Iranian
researchers should be able to write their results in English. They
should also have the possibility to write in Persian if they wish, and
communicate with Persian layman. Diffusion of knowledge among the public
is a noble part of scientist's activities. Historically, Persian has lived
an un-recommendable experience with a similar situation in the past,
when Persian scholars wrote in Arabic (see below Sect. 2). It is therefore
unwise to repeat
that experience with English. After all, who can guarantee that
English will remain the principal language of science for ever?
During several centuries the language of
science and philosophy was Latin. Sometime later French had the dominant
position. And who knows, it may be Chinese or Spanish which will
take over in some decades. At any rate, Persian must be able to rely on
its own feet.
At present step, the author places himself in
a purely theoretical framework, in the sense that he is only concerned
with creating counterpart words as efficiently as possible.
It should be emphasized that what matters at this juncture is to
bring about the needed vocabulary. The simple existence of
equivalents provides the possibility to use Persian astronomical
terms if one desires to do so. No freedom of choice between Persian and
loanwords will be possible as long as suitable Persian equivalents
are lacking. In other words, the author does rigorously
what he thinks to be the best to strengthen the Persian astronomical
terminology, and will of course use his results in his Persian writings
for an example).
It will be up to Persian speaking astronomers/physicists, and
in a broader context to defenders of Persian, to analyze and evaluate
this work and decide on their own. The author has already carried out
the task he has defined for himself.
The above remark can apply to French as well. Although there is seemingly
a general lack of will/interest among French astrophysicists to
coin French equivalents for modern concepts in their profession, it
would be wise to create a reservoir of such terms. Here two different
things should not be confused. Lacking French equivalent terms is one
thing, possessing such terms but preferring not to use them is another.
As long as suitable French equivalents do not exist, people are obliged to use
English terms when speaking about astronomy in French. To the author's
opinion, such a situation is not laudable for a language like French,
which has enriched human culture so much. Creating French
equivalents provides freedom of choice for those who prefer to use proper
French words when speaking French, and at the same time supports French
as an indisputable major scientific language. Therefore, in this work we
insist on presenting French counterparts for the concepts which have so
far lacked equivalents. Actually often only lengthy sentences exist to translate one English
specialized word. The need is then to create a short and concise equivalent
(see 3.4. Word length).
This work integrates the findings of previous efforts.
However, it should be underlined that it is not a collection of all
We have made a critical analysis of the published equivalents
by various authors and sources and have selected those which fulfill
The present version of this dictionary is in English for
a number of reasons. The astronomical information presented can be useful to
a larger number of people interested in astronomy who do not speak Persian.
In fact this was the outcome of the discussions the author had with his
colleague astronomers. On the other hand, the etymological material
contained in this work can interest professional and amateur linguists
who are not familiar with Persian. Anyhow, the author is glad to share his
passion for astronomy and etymology with a vast audience and to display
the various similarities of Persian with English, French, and other Western
languages. And finally, the Persian version
needed solving a number of purely technical problems mainly
tied up with the the use of special Persian characters and also the
administration of the corresponding data base. These problems are now
being dealt with, owing to assistance by informatics specialists.
Therefore, the author hopes to be able to present the Persian version as
soon as possible.
2. A brief linguistic history
This work is based upon the results and experience acquired by
Iranian scientists, translators, and linguists who, for about
a century, have tried to translate the modern
scientific/technical/philosophical concepts into Persian.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Iranians got in touch with
the European societies, which owing to the Renaissance
and the industrial revolution had made tremendous scientific and
social progress. Trips by Iranians to Europe
to learn and invitation of Europeans to teach in Iran
helped acquaintance with European sciences and techniques.
Mainly after the Constitutional Revolution (1906-1911),
the first of the kind in the Middle East, which was principally motivated by
the ideals of democracy and modernism,
many technical articles and books were translated into Persian
and the modern sciences entered into educational domain.
However, the European sciences had concepts which lacked appropriate
equivalents in Persian. Therefore, translating them was not straightforward
since Persian had little experience as far as expressing even
The reason was twofold. First, for centuries Iranian scholars used Arabic as
the common language of science and philosophy. Even if icons like
Biruni (973-1050), Avicenna (980-1037), and Khayyam (1048-1131) wrote
works in Persian and tried to coin interesting Persian equivalents,
the bulk of their writings was in Arabic. For example, Biruni in his
coined many interesting equivalents for astronomical
concepts in order to avoid Arabic loanwords. However, he was not able
to find equivalents for many classical notions of astronomy
(e.g. ecliptic, equinox, equator, conjunction, opposition, etc.), and
therefore used the corresponding loanwords. If he had possessed our today's
linguistic knowledge and tools, he would undoubtedly have found appropriate
equivalents. The second reason was that Persian was not a language
of clearcut phrases and unambiguous propositions. Persian was
mainly the language of poetry, in which the poet
prefers equivocal declarations bearing several senses and images.
Of course playing with words is important for lyricism, but escaping
precise concepts and statements is abhorred in exact sciences.
In brief, Persian was essentially used
for literary works, mainly to create numerous poetical masterpieces
(Ferdowsi 950-1020, Sa'di 1200-1291, Hafez 1325-1390, and others).
More especially, after the
Mongol invasion, during the Safavid era (1501-1722), Persian encountered a
dramatic decline. The Persian prose became awkward and filled with an
enormous number of unfamiliar Arabic words artificially introduced by
clerks and writers of low literary talent,
as if there was a competition among them with the goal of
beating the contenders by introducing heavy Arabic terms and
combinations. Strangely enough, not only did they replace Persian words
with Arabic ones, they even proceeded to change familiar Arabic words
with much odder ones! According to the eminent Iranian scholar and poet,
late Professor M.T. Bahar, written Persian became a weird language
which was neither Persian, neither Arabic, nor Turkish. Nonetheless,
genuine Persian was being used by ordinary people.
It was in such a situation that Persian came in contact with
the European sciences.
The introduction of journalism entailed a relative
simplification of the Persian prose. In fact journalists,
politicians, and intellectuals had to avoid lengthy phrases
abounding in unfamiliar Arabic terms in order to reach the public.
Moreover, the use of printing machines largely increased
the volume of the written material.
To keep using Arabic in science and technique presented
at least three important drawbacks: 1) Arabic itself
had difficulty rendering
new European concepts. It even turned out
that Persian, being an Indo-European language
following the same word forming patterns as European languages
(see below 3.9), had major advantages over
Arabic in this respect. 2) It was natural to translate
directly from European languages instead of borrowing Arabic terms
at second hand. 3) That approach was not consistent with the defense
of Persian, a strong symbol of Iranian identity and culture.
During the initial period of the contact with Europe, scores of
French words (the main European language of the epoch)
entered into Persian along with clumsy Arabic translations.
The problem did not lie in the loanwords, since no language can dispense with
them. There are no pure major languages and desiring
a pure language is simply ridiculous.
For example, English has borrowed hundreds of words from French
and other languages to enrich its vocabulary. The point is that all these
loanwords have become English by obeying to the rules of the English
grammar. Imagine how complicated and inefficient English would become
if all the French loanwords
followed their own original rules of grammar (conjugation, gender,
derivation, etc.)! Persian was confronted with a comparable situation:
Arabic loanwords kept their own rules and prevented
Persian organisms from properly functioning. As a result, little by little
Persian attained a paralysis. More specifically,
the numerous loanwords brought groups of derivatives with themselves.
For example, in spite of the fact
that Persian had its own words for "thought"
the Arabic fekr
brought with itself afkâr
(Arabic plural form),
tafakor, eftekâr, fekrat
"to think", motafaker,
mofakker, fâker, fekkayr, fakur
is not used in Arabic!) "thinker", mofakkar
"thought over", etc.
This situation was very handicapping to Persian since it prevented
Persian from developing its own word formation mechanisms.
To illustrate this situation, let us take another example with a modern
physical concept: ionization
. Initially, when this concept
entered Persian, it was accompanied by several derivatives in French,
which we give here in
English: ion, ionize, ionized, ionizing, ionizable,
A respectable language cannot accept all these various derivatives
which are foreign to its own grammar without
losing its production power and set for slowly dying.
The solution adopted by a
group of researchers/authors (led by the mathematician
Gh. Mosahab, 1959) was to accept only the root of the concept,
the Gk. ion,
and use the Persian grammar to make up the derivatives:
Similarly we have: oksid
In fact this is the way European languages (English, French,
German, Spanish, Italian,
Swedish, and so on) form terms from common Greek and Latin bases, each of
them following its proper grammar rules.
A paramount move to promote Persian was the creation of
Academy, in 1935, one year after the establishment of the Tehran University.
Among its numerous goals were: responsibility for the
terminology of various disciplines with the aim of limiting the use
of loanwords by replacing them with Persian terms; establishing the rules
of the grammar. The primary members of the Academy were
among the topmost Iranian scientists and literary masters. The
results of their findings, published sporadically until 1941,
were hundreds of neologisms which were widely used in
textbooks, administration, army, etc. with tremendous positive
impact on furthering Persian. The Academy's word-coining, however, was
based on a one-dimensional or static approach in
which conjugated derivatives were generally overlooked.
Anyhow, this critique is not in any way meant to deny the crucial
importance of Farhangestân
in giving an impulse to Persian.
The official activities of the Academy were halted in 1941 for obscure
reasons, maybe under pressure of its adversaries.
However, the research to replace the
loanwords has been kept on mainly by individuals and editorial boards
in universities and publishing houses. In fact, the real work is essentially
carried out by "popular" initiative. The number of people involved
and those who have made useful efforts is large and
impossible to mention exhaustively here. However, we feel the need
to commend a few names. Late M. Hesabi, Professor of physics at Tehran
University, enriched the physical vocabulary
and was particularly exigent about using pure Persian.
He should be acknowledged for his important contributions, although his work
had several shortcomings. For one, he did not give
linguistic explanations for his words, or never wrote them;
as if coming from a university professor with his standing
was enough. Physics students learned those words artificially to pass the
exams, but mostly did not use them after graduating. In fact
they did not really understand the sense and the necessity of those
terms which mainly sounded unclear.
We must also mention the contribution by the above-mentioned
Mosahab group that made up many technical terms which were widely
accepted. Their important innovation was their daring to coin a number of
new verbs, as explained above. This initiative was amply taken up by
others. Another noteworthy figure
is S. Kiya, Professor of linguistics, Tehran University, due to his
efforts to draw attention to the importance of the
Middle Persian/Old Persian/Avestan resources and also
to foster research on dialects.
We should also credit M.Sch. Adib-Soltani, linguist, polyglot,
and mathematical logician, who has been the first
to publish a comprehensive research on various issues of the
Persian terminology and to construct a system of affixes following
the Greek/Latin paradigm. He has also contributed to the
philosophical terminology in particular
by translating Aristotle's Organon
directly from Greek and Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft
"Critique of Pure Reason" from German into Persian.
Another notable contribution is due to D. Ashouri,
a specialist of social sciences and philosophy, the author of a prestigious
Dictionary for Human Sciences
(English-Persian), who has also carried out
a remarkable translation of Nietzsche's Also sprach Zarathustra.
He is also
concerned with social and cultural aspects of the language
reform and has studied language pathologies in Persian.
In a recent work,
he points, among many other things, to the necessity of using the potential
of ancient Iranian languages in order to strengthen the word-coining
capabilities of Persian, although he himself mainly pursues the
method of the first Academy.
This project could not be properly carried out without adopting
a number of basic principles. Based on the experience
gathered through previous attempts and the author's own long experience
in the area of Persian terminology, the following working criteria
are chosen. They are also aimed at reducing the role
of subjectivity in an area which does not belong to exact sciences.
3.1. One-to-one correspondence.
This work is a specialized
dictionary pertaining to the field of physical sciences.
Here, in contrast to poetics, each concept has a clear, unambiguous
definition. We therefore avoid using a single word for different
concepts. We are also careful to prevent interference and confusion
with possible related concepts, see below 3.8.
3.2. Requirement on abstract words and fundamental terms.
Abstract words (for example "to think, meaning, concept", etc.) have a
deeper link to thinking and imagination compared with concrete words
("door, pencil, tree, star", etc.); they are therefore more fundamental.
Without ignoring the subtle relations between the abstract and the
concrete, it should be underlined that abstract words are the main
sources of derivatives. And a powerful language is marked by its
ability in making up abstracts. We therefore require that abstract words
Similarly, an efficient language should be able to express
the fundamental astronomical concepts based on its proper system.
This is why we require Persian equivalents for classical concepts
such as ecliptic, equinox, solstice, conjunction, oppsition, and so on
for which loanwords are currently used.
3.3. Euphony and estheticism.
It does not suffice to form
equivalents; they should be euphonic and easily pronounceable.
We were careful to check their performance in various phrases
and sentences in order to assure that they do not have aesthetical defects.
For example, Persian kašé
was suggested for "line"
(Afzalipur 1978). But, the problem is that "to draw a line" will be
and "let us draw a line"
which are neither esthetic nor
3.4. Word length.
Generally, we avoid long words which have
English terms are mostly made up of 2-3 syllables. Should the
Persian equivalent be too long, it would be disadvantaged with respect
to the loanword. It seems that there is a tendency to prefer
short terms when the speaker has a choice (a sort of energy conservation in
the communication process?). An example from French is helpful.
The term redshift
(2 syllables) is in French
décalage vers le rouge
(6 syllables). French astronomers,
in their overwhelming majority, use "redshift" when speaking instead of
its French counterpart. The same goes for "blueshift" and
décalage vers le bleu.
They have even Frenchified those terms:
In comparison, trou noir
is maintained against black hole,
apparently since both terms are two-syllabled. We therefore conclude
that English loanwords are less resisted when they encounter long native
equivalents. Similarly, in Persian redshift
translated by the pure Persian
phrasal jâ bé jâyi bé su-ye sorx,
jâ bé jâyi
"displacement" + bé su-ye
"toward" + sorx
(8 syllables). The recently suggested alternative sorx-gerâyi,
"red" + gerâyi
does not seem satisfactory since it confuses the concepts of
"shift, displacement" with "tendency, inclination".
For the reasons presented above, this dictionary proposes ⇒
"red" + kib
"to shift, turn on one side, displace".
3.5. Sheer verbs.
Persian suffers from a lack of sheer
or simple verbs. Although
was quite rich in this kind of verbs, Modern Persian lost many of them
under the linguistic disruption imposed by Arabic.
They were instead replaced by complex
or even phrasal
The result was a substantial weakening of word forming in Persian.
For example, âzmudan
(to examine, test) was replaced by
(to choose) by "entexâb kardan,"
(to rest) by "esterâhat kardan".
These are relatively simple examples, since there are numerous
phrasal verbs formed by a mixture of Persian and loanwords:
mowred-e hojum qarâr dâdan
(to assault, attack),
bé marhale-ye amal dar âvardan
(to operate, act),
bé ma'raz-e namâyeš gozâštan
Although these phrasal verbs create their proper shades of
meaning, the problem is that they are unable to form suitable,
concise derivatives and are therefore useless for terminology.
Already in 1973 the author made
a study of this issue, and published his results in a Persian
literary review (Click
for the typed html version). Nowadays many people interested
in upgrading Persian
are sensitive to this question and many efforts have been applied
to remedy this shortcoming. We will therefore avoid complex verbs.
3.6. International terms.
This work naturally adopts all international scientific terms
of the physical
vocabulary, in particular those of elementary particles
(proton, electron, neutron, bosons, fermions, quarks,
and dozens more,
as well as those predicted by supersymmetry theories, e.g. gravitino,
photino, zino, wino,
etc.). The same goes for the chemical nomenclature.
The dictionary also uses the nomenclature adopted by the
Union for astronomical objects, for example those of asteroids,
planetary satellites, exoplanets, and the like. Similarly, it adopts
traditional international star names of Arabic origin.
However, it highlights the original names of Greek mythological
characters for the ancient constellations rather than their
Arabic transformations (Kefeus instead of the Arabicized Qeytas,
Perseus instead of Barsâvus, etc.).
terms without their original
derivatives is not problematic, and we accept them
regardless of their origin. These loanwords are considered
Persian, in the sense that all Persian rules can be applied to them.
On the other hand, due to the global impulse of the
language reform and the need to promote Persian,
there is a tendency to similarly replace this
kind of loanwords. As an example, we can mention the loanword
"word", which is the Arabicized Greek logos.
Apart from its Arabic plural form, loqât,
it does not have
other Arabic derivatives. On the other hand, it has been used
in a few hybrid forms loqatnâmé
"glossary, dictionary", logatsâz, loqatsâzi
"word maker, word making".
Nevertheless, since several decades loqat
has been replaced by the Persian vâžé
(from Middle Persian vâcak,
from root vak-
"to speak", Sanskrit vacas
"speech, word", cognate
with L. vox
"to call", Gk.
"song", PIE root *wek-
"to speak"). Even ordinary people and writers/authors who are not
considered particularly avant-garde extensively use
We cannot exclude the esthetical aspects
in preferring vâžé.
3.8. Group treatment.
Search for an appropriate
equivalent requires that the concept in question be analyzed not only
individually, but also in a more global context which may
extend to other sciences. This is needed for
clarifying the particular signification of the terms which have
nearby senses. For example, to translate analyze
it was necessary to
consider equivalents for its close
concepts: solve, resolve, dissolve,
as well as its
and in a broader context
to separate, divide, distribute,
in addition to their corresponding derivatives. Other examples are
the word groups current, flow, flux, inflow, outflow, stream,
actinometer, bolometer, photometer, pyrheliometer, pyrometer,
and binary, double, dual.
There are many other groups
and this work has been particularly careful to adopt a proper equivalent
to each of the terms.
Indo-European languages follow similar "thought patterns" in constituting
words. The fact that they possess hundreds of cognates underlines their
common origin and word forming basis, even if they have
evolved differently as far as syntax is concerned. This fact
suggests that etymology can often be used to find appropriate equivalents.
Here are a couple of examples. Let us imagine that Persian had no equivalent
and we wanted to coin one: "moonlight"
, from P.Gmc. *mænon-,
"month", L. mensis,
Modern Persian mâh,
"moon, month", PIE
(from O.E. leht
, cognate with Gk. leukos
clear", L. lux
"light" (also lumen, luna
"brightness, light", Old Persian raucah-,
"light, luminous; daylight", Middle Persian
Modern Persian ruz
"day", PIE *leuk-
The looked-for equivalent will be "Persian for moon" + "Persian for light".
Persian moon is mâh,
, cognate with English
moon as indicated above. For "light" in Persian there are several choices,
one is tâb
"to shine". The resulting equivalent will be
. And this is exactly the
word used in Persian for moonlight!
Another example can be "astrology". First remember that in the past it
was synonymous with astronomy and did not have its
present-day negative aspect. Astrology, from Gk. astron
(cf. L. stella,
Sanskrit str-, tara-,
Middle Persian star, stârag,
"discourse" (from Gk. legein
The Persian equivalent will be axtar
, as above, + guyi
"to speak, talk", that is axtarguyi
, which is a
classical Persian term; axtargu
"astrologer" has been used
by e.g. the Persian 13th century
poet Jalal-e Din "Rumi". The same goes for "astronomer"
, used by Ferdowsi, 10th-11th century)
There are hundreds of examples, but a last notable case will be
"to forbid, prohibit or place under an ecclesiastical or
legal sanction", from L. inter-dicere,
from ⇒ inter-
"between, among", +
"to speak". In Avestan we have exactly the same
"to prohibit," from antare-
"inter-" (Old Persian antar-,
Old High German untar-,
"to speak", from root mrû-
"to speak, say".
The prefix antare-
is used with another equivalent verb to
produce the same sense: antare-uxti,
"to interdict", from
"to speak, to say".
E. Benveniste (1975) made an interesting investigation on the
origin of the "to speak inside" paradigm for the concept of interdiction.
He argues that inter-
derives in fact from *en-ter,
the second component, while being a comparative form, introduces the
notion of separation. His conclusion is that antarê-mruyê,
mean "to pronounce inside (a group) so as
to separate (or isolate somebody)". According to Benveniste,
the Avestan terms are the oldest forms in the Indo-European
languages which convey an important piece of information about
an aspect of Indo-European life/tradition in pre-historic times.
Etymology is therefore very helpful, but it cannot lead to solution
in every case. Let us take a couple of examples:
the shape resembling a figure of 8 obtained by plotting
the position of the Sun at the same real time, from the same location,
every day throughout the year. The term comes from L.
sense was "the pedestal of a sundial".
Subsequently, the distinction has disappeared and the term has
taken the sense of sundial itself. The Latin term derives from
"prop, support", from analambanein,
"up" + lambanein
"to take". Therefore,
etymology is not very helpful in this case. In Persian we propose
from Modern Persian hur
"sun", variant xor,
Middle Persian xvar
Avestan hû-, hvar-
"sun", compare with Sanskrit
"a curled, a twisted figure or object," from
"to twist, to involve, to coil."
Another example is cause
"a reason for an action or
condition; something that brings about an effect or a result".
This term and its derivatives (e.g. casuality) constitute important
concepts in science and philosophy. It comes from the
"reason, purpose", of unknown origin
(see below Sect. 3.12).
Naturally, Persian has its own tools to
form plurals. However, in this area also it has been affected
by Arabic. More specifically, many pure Persian words
have been treated following the rules of Arabic.
This work supports Persian plural forms.
Prefixes and suffixes are important tools
for word formation in Indo-European terminology. Although Persian posses
numerous affixes, many of them are traditionally under-used. Based
on previous work by others and the author's own research in this domain,
the dictionary uses a considerable system of affixes. It contributes also by
introducing several new affixes.
3.12. Terminology in other languages.
The reference language of this dictionary is English. However,
in order to find the most suitable Persian equivalents we have tried
as far as possible to examine the corresponding equivalents in other
European languages, mainly French, German, and Spanish.
Let us take a couple of examples, the first one scale:
"something graduated especially when used as a measure or rule;
a series of marks or points at known intervals used to measure
distances (as the height of the mercury in a thermometer)." This word
derives from Late L. scala
"ladder, staircase", from L.
"stairs, rungs, ladder"; akin to L.
"to climb". The Persian counterpart was
found using the German equivalent: Maßstab,
"measure" + Stab
"stick, bar, pole, baton".
Our adopted Persian word is: marpel
Middle and Modern Persian mar
"measure, count", from Avestan
"to count, remember" (compare with Sanskrit
"to remember, he remembers",
L. memor, memoria,
"witness") + Persian
"stick, a bit of wood". Pel
can also be interpreted
as the contraction of pellé
Another example is cause
whose origin is not known, as explained
above (Sect. 3.9). In German die Ursache
is composed of
"primal" + die Sache
We propose bonâr
"basis, root, origin, ground" +
Avestan root ar-
"to set in motion, move, go" and Sanskrit
"set in motion, impel, agitate, go", compare with
"to move, set in motion;"
literally, "original motion, basic motive".
Experience shows that new words when they have
familiar semantic elements are accepted more easily by people.
There is even a sort of biased now-vâž-tarsi
among including people acquainted with a foreign language.
They seem reluctant to use new Persian terms while they more
easily accept unfamiliar loanwords coming mainly
from English. Of course one should not try to coin odd terms systematically.
But on the other hand the familiarity aspect should not be a basic
requisite. It would be impossible to coin familiar terms for concepts
which lack Persian equivalents, if one upholds the criteria of
precision and clarity which are necessary for scientific terminology.
Requiring familiar compounds for those concepts also means
avoiding increasing the number of independent new terms,
whereas Persian is badly in need of them. see 3.14, 3.15.
Apart from the above-mentioned qualities, a
suitable equivalent must have several other characteristics, one of
which "personality," as called by Adib-Soltani (1995). This criterion
means that a major scientific or philosophical concept should not be
translated by a banal, commonplace Persian term. The simple reason
is that a term lacking a distinctive personality would get lost among
other ordinary notions. Although there is a part of subjectivity in rating
the personality of words, particularly as far as terms of lesser importance
are concerned, this requirement undoubtedly leads to more reliable results.
Let us take an example. The Persian barafzâyeš
seem a good equivalent for ⇒ accretion,
astrophysical concept. Composed of prefix bar-
it simply means any "addition,
increase." In fact, afzâyeš
is the most ordinary
Persian equivalent for "addition" (mathematical or not). Therefore,
in order to get over this difficulty, this dictionary proposes
denoting "increase, abundance" + bâl,
to wax great." Farbâl
and its verb farbâlidan
also more efficient in creating the corresponding derivatives.
3.15. Enriching the vocabulary.
The author believes that the Persian astronomical vocabulary and
more generally the physical vocabulary should be enriched
with new terms. As pointed out in Section 3.13, what matters essentially
is to have umambiguous equivalents for scientific and technical
concepts. We therefore reject "mental laziness" and try to
contribute to the vocabulary by introducing new, independent terms.
3.16. Respect of previous efforts.
It is unreasonable to coin new equivalents for concepts which have
already been properly translated into Persian. And it would be a pity
to overlook a good equivalent found in previous attempts.
In order to access these suitable equivalents, we have performed an
appropriate bibliography of the relevant literature
published in Persian. Accepting those words
also means acknowledging efforts done by others. We believe that
one is not allowed to ignore previous findings, but is free to accept or
reject those words after doing the necessary analysis.
As mentioned above, a critical review of the terms previously
proposed has been carried out, and we have chosen those which are
compatible with the standards advocated here. Moreover, in order
to prevent confusion, we have avoided giving new
definitions to the terms previously used by others.
4. Practical remarks
The entries, appearing in boldface, are the original English
terms. The Persian equivalents appear twice on the same line,
in transliterated Latin characters and in proper Persian writing.
The French equivalent is presented in the following row.
The first paragraph is devoted to the definition of the entry.
The second one gives the etymology of the English term.
The following paragraph presents the etymology and justification of the
Persian counterpart. The last paragrah gives the most current
synonymous terms, which have not been accepted as the main Persian
A number of entries are not specific to astronomy. They
are given for several reasons. They are byproducts of the word coining
system, which also considers linguistic nuances and relations between
close concepts. Their inclusion in the dictionary therefore allows
a larger view of the situation regarding the concerned concept.
Many of them are needed for etymological purposes. They may also
be general terms used in astronomy
for which Persian equivalents are necessary.
What distinguishes an official/standard word from a dialectal
one is basically its use by "classical" poets/writers. And the history
of Modern Persian shows that many regional words have been introduced by
literary authors and "classical" lexicon compilers from different parts of
Iran. This means that once a dialectal word is used by a
poet/writer/lexicographer it has entered into the "official" Persian.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that the whole vocabulary of the
Persian language is not used by classical authors.
We find numerous Indo-European words which lack known Old Persian or Avestan ancestry
but are extant in Persian dialects. Here are some examples of these "unofficial" dialectal,
but genuine Indo-European terms:
The insect (honey) bee
in English derives from Old English beo,
akin to Old High German bia
"bee," Old Irish bech,
Old Slav bicela,
The Avestan/Old Persian counterpart of this
word is not known (at least to the author). However, we can find very
similar words meaning "bee" in Persian dialects: in Lârestâni:
Torbat-e Heydariyei: bunj,
and so on. And,
ironically, in standard/official Persian we use the loanword zanbur!
Another example is the French
Italian, from Latin papilio
, akin to Old High German fifaltra,
"ant," PIE *pelpel-.
In several Persian dialects the term has conserved its old form, as in
Tabari pâppalu, pâppali,
The Latin word caput
"head" is cognate with Sanskrit kapala
"skull; bowl," Gothic haubip,
all deriving from the PIE *kaput-.
The Avestan/Old Persian forms are not known. However, the
corresponding Iranian offshoot is extant in Lori:
"skull, middle of the head."
Compare also with Pashto kaparay
in English means "mountain"
(as in iceberg
), from Middle English bergh,
from Old English
"hill," Middle Dutch
"mountain," Old High German berg
We have berg
in Lori meaning "hill, mountain." This word
is related to the Persian borz
in (the mountain chain)
"height, magnitude," Old Persian
"height," Avestan barezan-
These terms are akin to
Old English burg, burh
"castle, fortified place," from Proto-Germanic
"fortress" (Old Norse borg
"wall, castle," German
"castle," Gothic baurgs
"city," English burg, borough,
French bourgeois, bourgeoisie, faubourg
); all from
the PIE base*bhergh-
The domestic mammal dog
in Modern Persian is sag,
compare with Sanskrit
Old English hund,
Old High German
Old Irish cu,
In several Persian dialects this term has conserved its older Avestan
form with respect to its Modern "official" counterpart:
Tâleši, Tâti: espa,
Kâšâni, Sorxeyi: esbâ,
The Avestan root ar-
"to set in motion, move, go" and Sanskrit
"set in motion, impel, go, agitate" come from the
"to move, set in motion";
compare with Latin oriri
"to arise, appear," Greek horme
"impulse, onrush." In Modern Persian rasidan
"to arrive," from Old Persian rasa-
derives from that root. Interestingly, we find the Avestan
form in Tabari: ar
In Gilaki fanderesten
means "to look, view." Most probably it
derives from Avestan darés-
"to behold, view, perceive,"
compare with Sanskrit drsti
"seeing, viewing; sight, wisdom,
the mind's eye," Pali dassa
"to see or to be seen,"
"to see clearly, look at," Old Irish
"eye," Old English torht
The English home
, from Old English ham
"dwelling, house, village,"
comes from Proto-Germanic *khaim-
(cf. Old Norse heima
"home," Gothic haims
"village"), from PIE base
"bed; to lie, to settle; beloved." The PIE form is extant in the
Persian Aftari dialect:
"house, home." The official form in Modern Persian is
"house, home," from Middle Persian xânak, xân, xôn
cf. Latin cunae
"cradle," Greek kome
(other cognates: Latin civis
"townsman," French cité
English city, cemetery
, Sanskrit śiva-
The words case, cascade, decay, occasion
, and many others
derive ultimately from the Latin cadere
"to fall" (Spanish caer,
). The Latin term comes from the PIE base *kad-
"to fall." The
Old Persian and Avestan derivations are unknown, but the Persian equivalent
exists in various present-day dialects. For example, in Gilaki (Langarud,
"to fall," ba.ka.tam
"I fell," dakatan
"to fall (in a marsh, in a pit)," vakatan
"to fall from tiredness, be exhausted,"
"to fall from (lose) reputation," in Laki: katen
"he fell," beko
"fall!," in Tabari: dakətə
"to crash down," dakət.gu
In recent years there are very positive signs of consciousness about the
importance of Persian dialects spoken inside and outside the present-day Iran.
A remarkable number of glossaries and
studies have been published, and modern poets, for example Nimâ Yušij,
have introduced dialectal words in their poetry.
Of particular importance are the works of the distinguished writer
M. Dowlatâbâdi whose novels, for example Kalidar
contain large numbers of very interesting dialectal words
which enrich the Persian vocabulary.
Abbreviations and symbols
Transliteration of Persian characters