Language & History
Today. I want to talk about language and history.
Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here today, wanna talk about language and history, uh, but if you enjoy these videos, please subscribe. You can click on the bell to get notifications, come and join me at LingQ, where I learn languages. So, you know, I've been... embarked on this sort of effort to learn the languages of the Middle East, uh, to learn more about the history and I'm amazed at what I'm discovering.
Uh, and it's just so fascinating to penetrate this world. And I just wanted to share with you because I find it quite exciting. So, so I had my Arabic period and I did some reading and I have to do more reading about the, Arab world and the history of Arab people before Islam, after Islam. Uh, and so forth, but now I'm into my, um, Persian period, but what's interesting is that the history of Iran...
so, and of course now, not only have I been listening to the stories or the episodes, the course we have at LingQ on the history of Iran, I've also been listening to our course that saw Sahra did for us on the different, different ethnic groups in Iran. And of course, it's very interesting because in Iran, of course, whatever it is...
80% of the population is, is a Farsi people, Persians, if you want Farsi people. And, um, whatever number 15, 18% are... I'm going to end up with more than a hundred percent, but it doesn't matter are Azeri Turks. And then we have, you know, Kurds and Turkmens and Arabs and other sort of linguistic groups, which are essentially Persian.
So what's interesting in all of this is because I now start to read, not only do I hear Sahra describe the different sort of other, also Armenians for example, and who are Christian. And there are some Jews in Iran, but, but she describes how these different groups, some are on the border with sort of a, another country that has more of the same population, which would be the case with Azeris, which would be the case with Kurds, which would be the case with Arabs.
Obviously not the case with Armenians because the Armenians are not located near the border with Armenia. I'm not even sure there is a border with Armenia, but...so I, I read about that, that she provided that, you know, I get the terminology and all in the Persian language, but then I read up in English.
And right now, for example, there's a major, um, you know, conflict in the border between Azerbaijan, or even within Azerbaijan and between them and Armenia and different countries are interfering, Iran, Turkey, Russia, US, whatever. Well, what's interesting is I have this big thick book on the history of modern Iran, and it starts with the Safavid Dyntisty, Dynasty, which was founded by, and I'm not entirely clear on this, but it was founded by a person
I think. Who who was from this Azerbaijan area. And depending on which source I read, he was either, an Azerbaijani, uh, therefore Turk, or he was a Turkmen, but his forces were primarily Turkmen. And so it was a group of people from this region who are not Iranians, who basically took over
iran after the country had been, you know, in great disarray as a result of the Mongol invasions and so forth and so on. And so it's very interesting. It's this, it's kind of similar to say in China, where for the last thousand years of their history, they were for a good part of the time dominated by, uh, sort of peoples from inner Asia, Manchurians, Mongolians and stuff.
Uh, and similarly in Iran, uh, there were a number of, uh, dynasties that were founded by Turkmens or Azeris or, uh Uzbeks or whatever, I don't know enough yet. So, so that's in a sense, fascinating. And he imposed the Shia religion on the Iranians, uh, very ruthlessly. Uh, but then it's interesting to see that the Azeris in terms of sort of the connection sort of language versus
call it ethnicity DNA. Uh, the Kurds, their language is related to the Iranian language family, which includes Baluchi and Pashto in, in, in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And even the Ossetians, uh, in Southern Russia and in disputed area in Georgia. So that's that language group, but language doesn't necessarily match genetics.
So that the people in the Caucuses, even the Georgians. Uh, and, and it's a number of say, Azeri Iranians may share more DNA with Georgians than they do with Persians, depending on where these Persians come from. And so there's this whole mixture and the same is true for people who would now say some Syrians.
So, so there's, depending on when the language and how the language is imposed on people who were originally living there. Uh, the people that we identify by their language, maybe that's all you can say about them, that this is their language. And because that's their language, then they identify a certain way.
But that doesn't mean somehow that genetically they are that group. Uh, I mean the same is true throughout history. Why don't we talk about Celts or any other group? We don't really know if we're talking about, you know, as a unique tribe genetically, or whether we're talking about a group of people who had a certain language imposed on them for whatever historical reason and who now identify, or maybe that same group called Celts has many languages.
In fact, in many cases they did. So it's very interesting that that language gets us into history and enables us to see, you know, certain things and enables us to discover that language is only one layer of identity. Uh, and historically these identity markers have changed. So people might identify primarily by their religion here again in Iran, there's a Shia relationship.
And then as I read these books, I learned more about what she, uh, She is, uh, is, uh, cause I could never quite understand why there was this difference between the Sunni and the Shia. And I still don't, but I'm getting closer, because another thing I've found is not only in language learning, but in everything we learn, we kind of have to cover the same ground many, many times before things start to become clear.
It's not because you read it once, say a grammar explanation or a description of what distinguishes a Shia from a Sunni and the Twelvers and. Whatever, you know, all this stuff, Ali and stuff. It doesn't make much of an impression until you have come across it in different contexts. And then it starts to become clear.
And then when you hear about it in say Persian or in Arabic, it, it resonates even more. So, uh, all I'm saying is, as someone like myself was interested in history, engaging with the languages of an area, uh, it helps you explore all these relationships. And that reminds me that, uh, while I'm in Persian now, and occasionally I refresh my Arabic, I am going to get back to Turkish because the Turks have had an amazing influence on the history of, you know, the, you know, call it the whole area from, from Turkey to India, uh, that the Turks were always out there ready to come in and beat up on the sedentary people and impose their will.
So. Essentially Moogle India was a Turkish empire with Persian speaking bureaucrats and the Persians were always the, sort of the Mandarins and the people who, who provided the bureaucracy and the ministers. I mean, I'm exaggerating to simplify, but that's kind of the impression. And many of the dynasties in Iran were started by one form of Turk or another.
And they were always, you know, ready to do, whether it be Timor or whether it be, uh, you know, the Safavids or, or other groups. Uh, so that whole complex of relationships is something that through my study of those languages, I'm going to not only learn about in those languages, but I will then be encouraged, stimulated to go and read up about them in say, English or French where I, you know, obviously can,
you know, read and get that information faster, but language and history in my mind are intimately connected. Anyway. Thanks for listening. Bye for now. .