Persian is an Indo-European and NOT Semitic language. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence.
Persian in its essence and core vocabulary is a continuation of Pahlavi or Middle Persian; the official religious and literary language of Zoroastrian Sassanid Airan/Iran. Pahlavi itself is a continuation of the language of the Ancient Persian Empire in the Achaemenid era.Persian is one of the few Aryan languages for which close philological relationships between its ages can be established with relative ease. Persian vocabulary and grammar is similar to many contemporary European languages. New words are extensively formed by compounding – two existing words combining into a new one, as is also common in German.
After the calamitous Arab invasion of Iran, Persian began to adopt many words from Arabic. New Persian contains a considerable amount of Arabic words which were Persianized and often take a different meaning and usage than the Arabic original. The overall range of Arabic vocabulary used varies from 2% frequency in the Shahnamae,14% in material culture,to 40% of everyday literary activity according to John R. Perry.
Because of a succession of Turkic dynasties in Iranian history, the Mongolian and Turkic elements in the Persian should also be mentioned. The Turkish and Mongolian vocabulary in Persian is minor in comparison to that of Arabic and these words are mainly confined to military, terms and political titles.
Since the nineteenth century, French and English and many other languages have contributed to the technical vocabulary of modern Persian.
Use of foreign synonyms instead of Persian words is a common practice in everyday communications. In addition to the Persian vocabulary, the equivalent synonyms from multiple foreign languages can be used. For example, the phrase “thank you” can be expressed using the French word merci, or the hybrid Persian-Arabic word moteshaker-am (moteshaker being grateful in Arabic and “am” in farsi meaning I am), or by the pure Persian word “sepass.”
Persian has influenced the vocabularies of other languages like Urdu and to a lesser extent Hindi as well as Turkic languages like Ottoman Turkish. Persian has also had a significant lexical influence, via Ottoman Turkish, on Bosnian, especially as spoken in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Persian was the only Indo-European language known and used by Marco Polo at the Court of Kublai Khan and in his journeys through China.
For five centuries prior to the British colonization, Persian was widely used as a second language on the Indian subcontinent. It took prominence as the language of culture and education in several Muslim courts on the subcontinent and became the sole “official language” under the Mughal emperors. Beginning in 1843, though, English gradually replaced Persian in importance on the subcontinent.