Persian alphabet issue

Arabic diacritics
Image via Wikipedia

I thought that knowing the Arabic alphabet would be helpful for learning Farsi.  I was partially right.  I found that the alphabet “fits” Arabic better.

Arabic uses letters mostly consistently.  The main exception is that the “waw” can be consonantal (/w/) or vocalic (long /u/).  Consonants mark long vowels, and optional diacritics mark short vowels.  While this may seem confusing, one can often predict the value and the vowel from context.  For example, the first syllable of a participle is often “mu”.

Farsi does not use this system, so the vowels are not predictable.  Moreover, it seems that the optional diacritics are used less often!

I will have to correct my first batch of flash cards.  I assumed that remembering the vowels would be easy.  I was wrong.  So I will leave the Farsi word on the one side, then add the Latin transliteration next to the definition.  The bad part of this is that the cards will not be so useful in learning English to Farsi, so maybe I’ll put the transliteration off to the side or something.  We’ll see if it becomes a problem.

10 thoughts on “Persian alphabet issue

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  5. ehsanblogs

    Knowing Arabic alphabets is indeed helpful in learning Parsi (please not use farsi, Arabs call it farsi). And you may want to know that Parsi alphabets are more than Arabic ones.
    Arabic alphabets lack the sounds P, Ch, Zh and G (پ، چ، ژ، گ).
    The reason Arabs call our language ‘farsi’ is that their alphabets do not posses the sound ‘P’. You call it Persian: they call it Farsi, and we call it Parsi. Please either call it Parsi or Persian; if you are an Arab you should call it Farsi.

    Will be happy to help. 🙂 I am leaving my email address here if you are interested (sa dot ehsan at yahoo dot com)

    Good luck.


    1. ممنونم!

      I didn’t know about the Farsi/Parsi distinction. Thank you! Why in Persian is it spelled فارسی and not پارسی? or maybe I haven’t been looking in the right places . . .

      In Iranian society is there a distinction between those who say it with /f/ and those that say it with /p/?


  6. ehsanblogs

    خواهش میکنم.

    I think it had been spelled ‘پارسی’ until Islam came to this part of Asia (Afghanistan, Iran, and Tajikistan). I think our scholars felt so deeply in love with Islam (or maybe Arabic Literature) and let it influence the Persian Literature.
    Many of the Persian terms have been used in Arabic, but then their Arabic versions (plus their Arabic spellings) became common in Persian (don’t know how and why).

    For example:
    سپید = سفید
    پارسی = فارسی
    پالوده = فالوده
    لگام = لجام
    پیروزه = فیروزه

    FYI, there are millions of people in Afghanistan and Tajikistan who speak this language. In Afghanistan, we have another name for Parsi; we call it ‘Dari Language’. If you come across an Afghan saying “my mother tongue is Dari”, you should know that s/he speaks Parsi.

    Parsi is an archaic word – like ‘thou’ for ‘you’.
    Since I am an Afghan, I do not know much about the Iranian society. But in Afghanistan, those who do not know about it will perceive it as a mistake.

    I hope sharing this with you increases your knowledge of Parsi/Parsi/Dari/Persian.


    1. Thank you! Is there a difference between the amount of Arabic influence in Dari as opposed to Persian? How about Tajik? I hear about the differences between the Dari and Persian “accents.” Is the p/f sound part of that difference?


      1. ehsanblogs

        Dari is more influenced by Arabic than Persian. Word formation mechanism of Persian has developed a little more during the recent years.

        I am afraid to say I do not know much about Tajik, and can’t measure the influence level of Arabic. One thing for sure i can say is that Tajik has passed the Russification period and is influenced by Russian Language too.
        To know more about Russification please read this article on Wikipedia:

        There are accent differences, but I do not see p/f sound a part of it.


      2. You’re right about Russification in Tajikistan. I ran into a Tajik once and was excited about practicing my Persian, but then she said she spoke Russian better. Same with me, so Persian petered out in the conversation.


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