A Grammar of the Persian Language/Of Numbers

OF NUMBERS, (Arabic characters).

81. The Persian plural is formed by adding ان‎ or ها‎ to the singular: but these terminations are not wholly arbitrary; on the contrary, they are regulated with great precision. The names of animals generally form their plural in ان‎, as,

گرک gurg, the wolf. گرکان gurgāṅ, wolves.
پلنک palaṅg, the tiger. پلنکان palaṅgān, tigers.

82. But, words which signify things without life, make their plurals by adding the syllable ها‎; as,

بال bāl, the wing. بالها balha, wings.
ساحل sāhil, the shore. ساحلها sāhilhā, shores.

Both these plurals occur in the following elegant distich:


شب تاریک و بیم موج وگردابي چنین هایل
کجا دانند حال ما سبکباران ساحلها

The night is dark; the fear of the waves, and a whirlpool, so dreadful! How should those, who bear light burdens on the shore, know our situation?

83. There are, however, a few exceptions to these rules: the names of animals sometimes make their plurals in ها‎, as well as in ان‎, as, شتر‎ shuṭur, a camel; شترها‎ shuṭurha, and شتران‎ shuṭurāṅ, camels; and, on the other hand, the names of things sometimes have plurals in ان‎, as لب‎ lab, a lip, لبان‎ labāṅ, lips.

84. Substantive nouns, or attributives used as such, ending in (Arabic characters) or (Arabic characters), form their plurals in (Arabic characters); as, (Arabic characters), dānā, a learned man; (Arabic characters) dānāyāṅ, learned men; (Arabic characters), fairy-faced, pl. (Arabic characters). Those which end in silent (Arabic characters), signifying rational beings, are made plural by changing that letter into (Arabic characters), as (Arabic characters) bachah, an infant; (Arabic characters) bachagāṅ, infants; sometimes written separately; as, (Arabic characters) farishṭah, an angel; (Arabic characters) farishṭah gāṅ, angels.

But if such word end in the aspirated (Arabic characters), (Art. 29), the termination (Arabic characters) or (Arabic characters), will be regularly added; as, (Arabic characters), the king; (Arabic characters), kings; (Arabic characters), way; (Arabic characters), ways.

If, however, a noun signifying any thing irrational end in silent (Arabic characters), this letter will be rejected in forming the plural; as, (Arabic characters), the house; (Arabic characters), houses.

85. In some modern Persian books, as the life of Nādir Shāh, and others, the plural often ends in (Arabic characters); or, in (Arabic characters), if the singular has a silent final (Arabic characters).

Sing. Plur.
(Arabic characters) nawāz̈ish, a favour. (Arabic characters) nawāz̈ishāṭ, favours.
(Arabic characters) ḳalﻉah, a castle. (Arabic characters) ḳalﻉahṭ, castles.

which may, perhaps, be considered as attempts to imitate the feminine plural of the Arabs, which ends regularly in (Arabic characters).

86. It must not be omitted, that Arabick substantives frequently have two sorts of plurals; one formed according to the analogy of the Persian nouns, and another after the irregular manner of the Arabians; as, (Arabic characters) ﻉayb, a vice; (Arabic characters) ﻉaybhā and (Arabic characters) ﻉawā-ib, vices; (Arabic characters) ḳalﻉah, a castle; (Arabic characters) ḳalﻉahā, a castle and (Arabic characters) ḳilāﻉ, castles; (Arabic characters) nā-ib, a viceroy; plur. (Arabic characters) nuwwāb, a Nabob. This may be termed a plural of respect. So (Arabic characters), serpents, for, a great serpent, in the Persick. We occasionally have the Arabick dual termination, (Arabic characters), as well as those of the plural (Arabic characters) and (Arabic characters); even when the composition is not purely Arabick; as, (Arabic characters), both sides; (Arabic characters) or (Arabic characters), holy men. This is one argument out of a great number to prove the impossibility of learning the Persian language accurately without a moderate knowledge of the Arabick; and, if the learner will follow my advice, he will peruse with attention the Arabick Grammar of Erpenius, before he attempts to translate a Persian manuscript.—To avoid the trouble and expense of referring to that work, an abstract of the Arabick Grammar has been inserted in the first Appendix of this.