Document Type : علمی- پژوهشی


Associate Professor, Department of Ancient Culture and Languages, University of Tabriz. Iran


Shahnameh isone of the most detailed works of the first centuries of the officialization and spread of Dari Persian after Islam. This precious treasure contains authentic and reliable evidence of the Persian language elements of this period and contains many keys in solving the unknown issues of the mother of Dari Persian language, i.e. Middle Persian. Conversely, due to the antiquity of its language, there are points in this work that cannot be known except through the knowledge of Middle Persian and other Middle and Old Iranian Languages. In this article, three words "šād", "may" and "pašēmān šudan" are discussed in Shahnameh and using the internal evidence of this work as well as some evidence of other Persian texts as well as evidence from ancient languages, different meanings for the first two words and a lesser-known construction for a specific structure of the third one is presented in Dari Persian. The suggested meaning for "šād" is "rich and wealthy". The word "may" is considered to be the original Persian form of "maγāk" and "pašēmān šudan" is considered as an impersonal verb.


šâd”, “may” and “pašimân šodan” (Review of Three Words of Shahnameh)[1]



From the beginning, when its first works from the time of the Achaemenids are known to the present, Persian is a mixed language based on Persian derived from Old Iranian and elements involved from various languages ​​that in the supposed historical periods of Persian languages ​​in this container with great capacity has been laid to produce a mixed language that, over many centuries, mediates the language of all the tribes that are part of Iran’s geographical and cultural landscape. Various types of affectivity can be exemplified in different periods in this language in the most receptive layer, which is the lexical layer, to the most resistant one, which is the phonetic layer. Due to the many changes that this language has undergone throughout the history, recognizing the authenticity or borrowing of each of the constituent elements of this language, as well as determining the exact origin of borrowings and sometimes even recognizing the original elements inherited from this language is difficult and complicated. It is obvious that research on the lexical layer and their meanings is more extensive than on other layers of language. This issue is affected by several factors: On the one hand, the number of words in the language is much wider than the elements of other layers, and on the other hand, this layer is affected and changes earlier and more than other layers. Lack of access to older forms of many words, as well as underutilization or abandonment and replacement with other words are some of these factors. There are many words in the existing works of Persian language in its historical periods that either due to their small use in the texts or the predominance of some of their meanings or uses, their meanings or other uses have been hidden from view. The commentators and researchers of these texts have generally, when interpreting them, have been content with the same meaning or merely known and have tried to explain the text of their research in any way by relying on it. In this article three words of Shahnameh are discussed.


This word š(iy)āta-in Avestan and old Persian languages ​​and it is known as the same meaning we know it in Persian today (Bartholomae 1961: 1716; Kent 1950: 210-211; Schmidt 2014 : 248). In Middle Persian and Parthian, this word is used with the same modern pronunciation and meaning (Mackenzie 1971: 78; Durkin-Meisterernst 2004: 313). šāt in Sogdian, however, in addition to the above meaning, also means "rich and wealthy" (Gershevitch 1954: 30 &196; Qarib 1383: 370) and tsāta - in Khotanese only means "rich and wealthy". In Tokharian, the word śāt(e) has the same recent meaning, and in Armenian šat is a loanword from Iranian languages and is used to mean "very much" (Bailey 1979: 146). Citing the Khotanese, Sogdian, and Armenian forms, Bailey referred to šāiti in the sixth paragraph of the seventeenth Yasht, which Bartholomea had previously referred to as infinitive (1961: 1707-1708), as an adjective meaning "rich" (1943: 4 and note 2; See also Cheung 2007: 37-38).

Some examples of Shahnameh show that šād in Dari Persian also meant "rich and wealthy". In this article, we have collected and analyzed the evidence that in Shahnameh and some other Persian texts, this word most likely means "rich and wealthy" and based on this, a different reading and analysis has been presented for some verses of Shahnameh.



The usual meaning of the word "may" in classic and modern Persian is well known; However, there is a verse in Shahnameh that contains the word that, with the usual interpretation of it, the meaning of verse, as presented by the correctors, is unacceptable and far from the style of Shahnameh. The verse in question is in the story of the Mâzandarân war and it is as follows:

ferestâd pâsox be Kâvus-e kay/ ke bi âb-e daryâ bowad tire may

The word "maγâk" and its other form "maγ" due to the existence of the phoneme γ must obviously be a loanword in Persian from a northern or eastern language. The Avestan form of the word is maγa- and maγā- and has been used several times in Vandidad (Bartholomae 1961: 1111-1112). In the Middle Persian translation of the Avesta (= Zand), which is naturally influenced by the source language, the word is written as mk (the second letter is the same as k in the Avestan script indicating γ) and should be read maγ (Dastoor Hoshang Jamasp 1907 : 151). This script form shows that, at least in religious texts, this word has been a loanword (for more information on the status of γ in Middle Persian, see Mackenzie 1967: 22-23). The natural southwest evolution of this word must be “may” in Middle Persian and consequently Dari Persian. It can be imagined that along with the pair of words that have become common in Persian both in the original form of Middle Persian and in the form of Parthian (for example, the following can be mentioned: goriγ-goriz; arj-arz; burz-bâlâ; pur-pesar; marγ-marv; morγ-morv (in morvâ); peyγâm-payâm and many others) both “may” and maγâk have reached Persian, one in more widely use and the other in a more abandoned use. If this view is accepted, the verse in question will have a clear and unambiguous meaning: the sea without water is a dark abyss. You, who are Kâvus the king, will not succeed without such troops and weapons that I have and you will not have the power to face me, since "na niku bovad bi sepah šhriyâr" (Ferdowsi 1366: 1/94). With this explanation, the verse in question can be corrected as follows: conin dâd pâsox be kâvus-e kay/ ke bi âb, daryâ bovad tire may


pašimân šodan


In Persian and its background, like many other languages, there are verbs that have been referred to as impersonal verbs. Previous research has been done on these verbs (see Jalaliyân 1394 and its references). These verbs often include concepts such as physical and mental perceptions that occur to a person. This person, who appears in the sentence in an oblique case, has been called experiencer. In Persian, this oblique case is defined either by the encletic pronoun or the separate pronoun / noun with the preposition "râ". In contemporary Persian, many verbs such as garm/ sard šodan “become hot/ cold”, gorosne/ tešne šodan “become hungry/ thirsty” and so many others are inflected as garm-am/ sardam/ gorosne-am/ tešne-am mišavad/ šod … pašimân šodan “to regret” is also one of such verbs in Dari Persian. In the following verse of Shahnameh, there is no doubt that we are facing such a structure and other interpretations will lose their color against this structure: ze koštan rahânam man in mâh râl/ magar z-in pašimân šavad šâh râ (Ferdowsi 1366: 197).



In this article, using the tools available in the research on Persian grammar issues, three words in verses of Shahnameh were reviewed. The first šâd which, relying on its meaning in some middle Iranian languages, the meaning of "rich and wealthy" was suggested for it. The other is may, which was suggested based on the expected meaning of the verse containing it and also using the phonetic changes of Persian language from ancient times to Dari Persian “abyss” is suggested for it. The third word is the verb pašimân šodan which has been used impersonally in a bit of Shahnameh and the lack of knowledge by scribes and contemporary proofreaders had led to misunderstandings.



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[1] Mohammad Hasan Jalaliyân: Associate Professor of Ancient Iranian Culture and Languages. University of Tabriz;


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