http://www.ethnologue.com

Languages of Iran

[See also SIL publications on the languages of Iran.]

Islamic Republic of Iran, Jomhouri-e-Eslami-e-Irn. National or official language: Western Farsi. 65,758,000 (1998 UN). Literacy rate 70% to 75% among those 6 years old and over (1995-996 Iran Statistical Center). Also includes Hulaula 300, Turkish 2,570, people from Afghanistan 1,500,000, Kurds from Iraq 120,000, Shi'a Arabs from Iraq. Information mainly from E. Drowser 1939; R. Macuch 1965; I. Garbell 1965; T. Sebeok 1969, 1970; G. Doerfer et al. 1971; R. Oberling 1974; D.L. Stilo 1981; R.D. Hoberman 1988a, b. Shi'a Muslim (official), Sunni Muslim, Baha'i, Christian. Blind population 200,000 (1982 WCE). Deaf population 3,978,055. Deaf institutions: 50. Data accuracy estimate: B, C. The number of languages listed for Iran is 71. Of those, 69 are living languages and 2 are extinct. Diversity index 0.76.
 

Spoken living languages

 

AIMAQ
[AIQ] 170,000 (1993 Johnstone).  Mazanderan Province. Dialects: TEIMURI (TEIMURTASH). Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Southwestern, Persian.
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ALVIRI-VIDARI
[AVD]   Near Saveh. Dialects: ALVIR (ALVIRI), VIDAR (VIDARI). Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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ARABIC, GULF SPOKEN
[AFB] 200,000 in Iran (1993).  Southern coast. Alternate names: KHALIJI, GULF ARABIC. Dialects: AL-HASAA. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic.
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ARABIC, MESOPOTAMIAN SPOKEN
[ACM] 1,200,000 in Iran.  Khuzestan Province, southwest side of Zagros Mts., along the bank of the Shatt al Arab and the Tigris. Alternate names: MESOPOTAMIAN GELET ARABIC. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, South, Arabic.
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ARMENIAN
[ARM] 170,800 in Iran (1993).  Northern Iran, Azerbaijan around Khoi, Shahpur, Ahar, Tabriz, Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz. Alternate names: HAIEREN, SOMEKHURI, ERMENICE, ARMJANSKI. Dialects: EASTERN ARMENIAN, AGULIS, ASTRAKHAN, EREVAN, JOLFA (DZHULFA), KARABAGH SHAMAKHI, TBILISI (TIFLIS), ARTVIN, KHOI-SALMST (KHVOY), URMIA-MARAGHEH. Classification: Indo-European, Armenian.
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ASHTIANI
[ATN]   Tafres area. Alternate names: ASTIANI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Central Iran.
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ASSYRIAN NEO-ARAMAIC
[AII] 10,000 to 20,000 in Iran (1994) out of a reported population of 80,000.  Reza'iyeh (Rizaiye, Urmia, Urmi). Most in Tehran. Dialects: IRANIAN KOINE (GENERAL URMI). Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, Aramaic, Eastern, Central, Northeastern.
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AZERBAIJANI, SOUTH
[AZB] 23,500,000 in Iran (1997), or 37.3% of the population (1997), including 290,000 Afshar, 5,000 Aynallu, 7,500 Baharlu, 1,000 Moqaddam, 3,500 Nafar 1,000 Pishagchi, 3,000 Qajar, 2,000 Qaragozlu, 130,000 Shahsavani (1993). Population total all countries 24,364,000. Alternate names: AZERI. Dialects: AYNALLU (INALLU, INANLU), KARAPAPAKH, TABRIZ, AFSHARI (AFSHAR, AFSAR), SHAHSAVANI (SHAHSEVEN), MOQADDAM, BAHARLU (KAMESH), NAFAR, QARAGOZLU, PISHAGCHI, BAYAT, QAJAR. Classification: Altaic, Turkic, Southern, Azerbaijani.
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BALOCHI, SOUTHERN
[BCC] 405,000 in Iran.  Southern Baluchistan Province. Alternate names: BALUCHI, BALUCI, BALOCI. Dialects: MAKRANI (LOTUNI). Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Balochi.
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BALOCHI, WESTERN
[BGN] 451,000 in Iran, 1% of the population (1986).  Northern Baluchistan Province. Half are settled in cities and villages, half are nomadic. Alternate names: BALUCHI, BALUCI, BALOCI. Dialects: RAKHSHANI (RAXSHANI), SARAWANI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Balochi.
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BASHKARDI
[BSG] Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Balochi.
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BRAHUI
[BRH] 10,000 in Iran (1983).  Eastern. Alternate names: BRAHUDI, BIRAHUI, KUR GALLI. Dialects: JHARAWAN, KALAT, SARAWAN. Classification: Dravidian, Northern.
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DARI
[GBZ] 8,000 to 15,000 (1999).  Yezd and Kerman areas. Alternate names: 'GABRI', 'GABAR'. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Central Iran.
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DOMARI
[RMT] 80,000 in Iran (1929). Population total all countries 500,000 (1980 Kenrick). Alternate names: MIDDLE EASTERN ROMANI, TSIGENE, GYPSY. Dialects: KURBATI (GHORBATI), QINATI, YRK, KOLI, KARACHI, LULI, MAZNOUG, NAWAR. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Dom.
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DZHIDI
[DZH] (60,000 in Israel; 1995). Alternate names: JUDEO-PERSIAN, DJUDI, JUDI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Southwestern, Persian.
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ESHTEHARDI
[ESH]   Eshtehard and environs, Karaj District, Central Province. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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FARS
[FAC] Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Southwestern, Fars.
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FARSI, WESTERN
[PES] 22,000,000 in Iran, or 35.92% of the population (1997), including 800,000 Dari in Khorasan, Gilan, Tat, Bakhtiyari, Lor. Population total all countries 24,280,000. Alternate names: PERSIAN, PARSI. Dialects: QAZVINI, MAHALLATI, HAMADANI, KASHANI, ISFAHANI, SEDEHI, KERMANI, ARAKI, SHIRAZI, JAHROMI, SHAHRUDI, KAZERUNI, MASHADI (MESHED), BASSERI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Southwestern, Persian.
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GAZI
[GZI] Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Central Iran.
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GEORGIAN
[GEO] 1,000 to 10,000 in Iran. Alternate names: KARTULI, GRUZIN. Dialects: FEREYDAN (FEREJDAN). Classification: South Caucasian, Georgian.
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GILAKI
[GLK] 3,265,000 (1993), including 2,000 Galeshi (1991 WA).  Gilan region, coastal plain, south of Talish. Galeshi is a mountain dialect. Alternate names: GELAKI, GILANI, GUILAKI, GUILANI. Dialects: GALESHI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Caspian.
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GOZARKHANI
[GOZ]   Alamut area. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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HARZANI
[HRZ]   West Azerbaijan Province, Qalingie, betweenf Marand and Jolfa, northwest of Tabriz. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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HAWRAMI
[HAC]   West part of Kordestan Province, near Iraq border. Alternate names: HAWRAMANI, GURANI, GORANI, MCHO MCHO. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Zaza-Gorani.
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HAZARAGI
[HAZ] 283,000 in Iran (1993). Alternate names: HAZARA, HEZAREH, HEZARE'I. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Southwestern, Persian.
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HERKI
[HEK] Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Kurdish.
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JADGALI
[JAV] Alternate names: JATGALI, JATKI, JAT. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Northwestern zone, Sindhi.
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KABATEI
[XKP]   Rudbar District, Gilan Province. Dialects: KALAS, KABATE. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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KAJALI
[XKJ]   Khalkhal District in Eastern Azerbaijan Province, Kaqazkonan District, Kajal. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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KARINGANI
[KGN]   East Azerbaijan Province, Dizmar District, Keringan village, and Hasanu District, northeast of Tabriz. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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KAZAKH
[KAZ] 3,000 in Iran (1982 estimate).  Gorgan City, Mazandaran Province. Alternate names: KAZAK, KAZAKHI, GAZAQI. Classification: Altaic, Turkic, Western, Aralo-Caspian.
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KHALAJ
[KJF]   Also spoken in Azerbaijan. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern.
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KHALAJ
[KLJ] 17,000 and decreasing (1968).  Northeast of Arak in Central Province. Classification: Altaic, Turkic, Southern, Azerbaijani.
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KHOINI
[XKC]   Khoin District, Zanjan Province. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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KHORASANI TURKISH
[KMZ] 400,000 possibly (1977 Doerfer).  Northeast Iran, in the northern part of Khorasan Province, especially northwest of Mashhad. West dialect in Bojnurd region; north dialect in Quchan region (probably the largest), south dialect around Soltanabad near Sabzevar. Alternate names: QUCHANI. Dialects: WEST QUCHANI (NORTHWEST QUCHANI), NORTH QUCHANI (NORTHEAST QUCHANI), SOUTH QUCHANI. Classification: Altaic, Turkic, Southern, Turkish.
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KHUNSARI
[KFM] Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Central Iran.
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KORESH-E ROSTAM
[OKH]   Eastern Azerbaijan Province, Koresh-e Rostam District. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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KOROSHI
[KTL] 160 to 200, or 40 to 50 families (Mohamedi). Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Balochi.
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KURDI
[KDB] 3,250,000 in Iran.  Northwest Iran, primarily Kordestan, Kermanshahan, West Azerbaijan provinces; also a large number in northeast Iran, in the very north of Khorasan Province. Alternate names: KURDY, SOUTHERN KURDISH, SORANI, KORKORA, WW. Dialects: KERMANSHAHI, MUKRI, JAFI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Kurdish.
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KURMANJI
[KUR] 200,000 in Iran (1983 estimate).  Mountain villages along the Turkey border region in the west of West Azerbaijan Province. Alternate names: NORTHERN KURDISH, KERMANJI, KIRMANJI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Kurdish.
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LARI
[LRL] Alternate names: LARESTANI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Southwestern, Fars.
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LASGERDI
[LSA]   In Lasgerd. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Semnani.
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LURI
[LRI] 4,280,000 in Iran (1993) including 680,000 Bakhtiari (1989). Population total all countries 4,280,000 or more. Alternate names: LUR, LOR, LORI. Dialects: LURI, FEYLI, LEKI (LAKI, ALAKI), BAKHTIARI, KELHURI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Southwestern, Luri.
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MANDAIC
[MID] 800 to 1,000 speakers in Iran, out of an ethnic group of 5,000 in Khuzistan, Iran who speak Western Farsi. 23,000 ethnic Mandaeans in Iraq all speak Arabic (1994 H. Mutzafi), but some people are reported to be bilingual in Mandaic. Population total both countries 800 to 1,000. Alternate names: MANDAEAN, NEO-MANDAIC, MODERN MANDAIC, MANDA:YI, MANDI, SUBBI, SA'IBA. Dialects: AHWAZ (AHVAZ), SHUSHTAR, IRAQI NEO-MANDAIC. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, Aramaic, Eastern, Mandaic.
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MARAGHEI
[VMH]   Upper Rudbar area (Rudbare Alamut). Dialects: DIKINI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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MAZANDERANI
[MZN] 3,265,000 or 4.7% of the population (1993).  Northern Iran near Caspian Sea, southern half of Mazandaran Province. Alternate names: TABRI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Caspian.
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NATANZI
[NTZ] Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Central Iran.
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NAYINI
[NYQ] Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Central Iran.
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PARSI-DARI
[PRD]  Population total both countries 350,000 or more. Alternate names: PARSEE-DARI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Central Iran.
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PASHTO, SOUTHERN
[PBT] 113,000 in Iran (1993).  Khorasan on Afghanistan border east of Qa'en. Alternate names: PASHTU, PAKTU. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Eastern, Southeastern, Pashto.
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QASHQA'I
[QSQ] 1,500,000 (1997), or 2.38% of the population (1997).  Southwestern Iran, Fars Province; southern pasture in winter, northern in summer. Shiraz is a center. Alternate names: QASHQAY, QASHQAI, KASHKAI. Classification: Altaic, Turkic, Southern, Azerbaijani.
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RASHTI
[RSH]   Rasht city, the provincial capital of Gilan. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Caspian.
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RAZAJERDI
[RAT]   Qazvin Kuhpaye area, Razajerd. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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ROMANI, BALKAN
[RMN] Dialects: ZARGARI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Romani, Balkan.
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RUDBARI
[RDB]   Sefid Rud Valley. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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SALCHUQ
[SLQ] Classification: Altaic, Turkic, Southern, Azerbaijani.
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SANGISARI
[SGR] Alternate names: SANGESARI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Semnani.
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SEMNANI
[SMJ] Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Semnani.
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SENAYA
[SYN] 60 in Iran (1997 H. Mutzafi). Population total all countries 500. Alternate names: SENA:YA, CHRISTIAN NEO-ARAMAIC, SHAN SRAY, LSHAN SRAY, SORAY, SRAY, SHAN GYANAN. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, Aramaic, Eastern, Central, Northeastern.
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SHAHMIRZADI
[SRZ]   Shahmirzad. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Caspian.
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SHAHRUDI
[SHM]   Khalkhal District in Eastern Azerbaijan Province, Shahrud District, Shal, Kolur, Lerd. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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SHIKAKI
[SHF] Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Kurdish.
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SIVANDI
[SIY] Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Central Iran.
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SOI
[SOJ] Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Central Iran.
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SORKHEI
[SQO]   In Sorkhe. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Semnani.
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TAKESTANI
[TKS] 220,000.  Various towns and villages in the mainly Azerbaijani-speaking region from Khalkhal to Saveh, especially in Takestan and villages to the south and southeast. Alternate names: TAKISTANI. Dialects: KHALKHAL, TAROM, ZANJAN, KHARAQAN, RAMAND (TAKESTAN). Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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TALYSH
[TLY] 112,000 in Iran (1993).  Along the Caspian Sea up to Kepri-chal, northwest Gilan Province along coastal plain. Northern Talyshi is centered around Astara and the Caspian littoral in Azerbaijan; Central Talyshi is centered around the Asalem-Hashtpar area along the Caspian littoral in northwestern Iran; Southern Talyshi is centered around Shandermen, Masal, Masule, and surrounding mountainous areas in Gilan Province. Alternate names: TALISH, TALESH, TALISHI. Dialects: NORTHERN TALYSHI, CENTRAL TALYSHI, SOUTHERN TALYSHI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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TAROMI, UPPER
[TIB]   Upper Tarom of Zanjan Province, Hazarrud, Siavarud. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Talysh.
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TAT, MUSLIM
[TTT] 8,000 in Iran. Alternate names: MUSSULMAN TATI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Southwestern, Tat.
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TURKMEN
[TCK] 2,000,000 in Iran (1997), or 3.17% of the population (1997).  Northeast, mainly in Mazandaran Province, along the Turkmenistan border; important centers are Gonbad-e Kavus and Pahlavi Dezh. Alternate names: TORKOMANI. Dialects: ANAULI, KHASARLI, NEREZIM, NOKHURLI (NOHUR), CHAVDUR, ESARI (ESARY), GOKLEN (GOKLAN), SALYR, SARYQ, TEKE (TEKKE), YOMUD (YOMUT), TRUKMEN. Classification: Altaic, Turkic, Southern, Turkmenian.
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VAFSI
[VAF]   Central Province, Arak District, Vafs, Tafres area. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Western, Northwestern, Central Iran.
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Extinct languages
AVESTAN
[AVS] Alternate names: PAZEND, AVESTA. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Iranian, Eastern, Northeastern.
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MANDAIC, CLASSICAL
[MYZ]   Also used in Iraq and small communities in the USA and Australia (300 Mandaeans in Sydney in 1995). Alternate names: CLASSICAL MANDAEAN. Classification: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Central, Aramaic, Eastern, Mandaic.
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Deaf sign languages
PERSIAN SIGN LANGUAGE
[PSC] Classification: Deaf sign language.
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