Reviewed by Peerzada Salman
TILL the early 20th century, in our part of the world (read the subcontinent) being proficient in Persian was deemed just as important as, let’s say, acquiring command over the English language is today. Persian also had an exceedingly significant role in the genesis of the Urdu language. This is precisely why a great portion of Urdu poetry is either Persianised or uses Persian expressions. From the time of Hazrat Amir Khusrau to Jaun Elia, Persian, apart from being one of the important world lexical groups, has been an integral part of Urdu diction and vocabulary.
Sadly, for the last three or four decades, Persian has been losing importance in Pakistan. While a decent number of men of letters and scholars understand and speak it, a great many students and the general public at large are not familiar with it. There can be different reasons for this unfortunate situation, one of which is the poor quality of Persian-to-Urdu dictionaries. Bearing this in mind, a Persian-to-Urdu-to-English dictionary, Farhang-i-Jamey, compiled by Dr Syed Ali Raza Naqvi, has recently been published. It is an invaluable book primarily because it contains not only the Urdu meanings of Persian words, phrases and idiomatic expressions, but also their English equivalents, since in the 21st century overlooking the English language would not be a wise thing to do.
Farhang-i-Jamey is a hefty book. It has more than 1,200 pages, which goes to show the kind of hard work and research that has gone into it. While compiling it, Dr Naqvi consulted many Persian language dictionaries printed in Iran, Pakistan and India. He also checked and double-checked the various uses of different words.
This ambitious project would not have been possible if Dr Naqvi didn’t have the required academic background. He spent a decade at TehranUniversity studying Persian literature and linguistics, after which he obtained a doctorate. During his stay in Iran, for seven years Dr Naqvi worked for Tehran’s English language journals and newspapers and also translated many important works of Persian into Urdu.
The labour of his hard work, Farhang-i-Jamey, will prove a treasure trove for students and scholars of literature and linguistics.
By Syed Ali Raza Naqvi
Markaz Tehkiqat-i-Farsi Iran-o-Pakistan, Islamabad