Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

MELC Honors Undergrad, Sydney Martin, Received Fulbright-Hays Scholarship

Fri, May 3, 2019
MELC Honors Undergrad, Sydney Martin, Received Fulbright-Hays Scholarship

Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures undergraduate, Sydney Martin, has plans to accept the Fulbright-Hays Group Project Scholarship. With this opportunity, Sydney will spend the fall semester studying Persian in Tajikistan. This award will enable Sydney to take intensive Persian courses and stay with a host family in Dushanbe. Way to go, Sydney!


In addition, Sydney plans to graduate with Departmental Honors. His thesis is titled The Adjustments and Responses to Arabic Influence on the Persian Language from after the Arab Conquest to Modern Times. Under the supervision of Dr. Michael Hillmann, this paper analyzes responses to the introduction and influence of Arabic upon the Persian language. First, it discusses the initial adjustments made by Persians after the Arab conquest (630s- 651) of Sassanid Iran with Arabic as the court language of the Umayyad (661-750) and Abbasid caliphates (750-1258) and the language of Islam. Second, it focuses on forms and motives for language “purification” as Persians who centuries later saw themselves as a national group attempted to purge their language of Arabic words. This paper concludes that although there were many benefits of adopting the Arabic language after the Arab conquest, such as avoiding taxes, gaining influences and opportunities at the caliphal court, and speaking the language of Islam, Persians still had an intense desire to speak Persian as it was part of their identity. That desire is later amplified in the 20th century as nationalistic feelings strengthened in Iran and several attempts were made to “restore” Persian and cleanse it of Arabic loanwords. In both time periods, it is evident that the Persian language is a major component of Iranian identity and holds ties to their national history and cultural traditions. 

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