Rudi Matthee, “Persia in Crisis: Safavid Decline and Fall of Isfahan”,I.B.Tauris, 2012. Page 14:
“Persian culture, its legacy, and its continued production, played a vital part in the overarching Iranian sense of self, to the point where Safavid Iran may be called an incarnation of the age-old Iranian “empire of the mind,” in Michael Axworthy’s apt phrase.
As noted, Iran was multilingual; as they do today, the country’s inhabitants spoke a number of different languages from Persian and Kurdish to Turkish and Arabic. While Safavid Shahs usually conversed in Azeri Turkish, Persian was the mother tongue of country’s urban elite and the core political and administative language of the entire realm. Persian was also the language of high culture, above all of poetry, the supreme expression of the Persian language, which linked the past, including the pre-Islamic past, to the present and served as a shared cultural repertoire, not just for the elite but for the common people, at least in the urban areas.”