Many languages that use the Perso-Arabic script add other letters. Besides the Persian alphabet itself, the Perso-Arabic script has been applied by Muslims to the Urdu alphabet, Sindhi alphabet, Saraiki alphabet, Kurdish alphabet, Lurish (Luri), Ottoman Turkish alphabet, Balochi alphabet, Punjabi Shahmukhi script, Kashmiri, Tatar, Azeri, and several others.
In order to represent non-Arabic sounds, new letters were created by adding dots, lines, and other shapes to existing letters. For example, the retroflex sounds of Urdu are represented orthographically by adding a small ط above their non-retroflex counterparts: د [d̪] and ڈ [ɖ]. The voiceless retroflex fricative [ʂ] of Pashto is represented in writing by adding a dot above and below the س [s] letter, resulting in ښ. The close back rounded vowel [u] of Kurdish is written by writing two ﻭ [u], resulting in ﻭﻭ.
The Perso-Arabic script is abjad and is exclusively written cursively. That is, the majority of letters in a word connect to each other. This is also implemented on computers. Whenever the Perso-Arabic script is typed, the computer connects the letters to each other. Unconnected letters are not widely accepted. In Perso-Arabic, as in Arabic, words are written from right to left.
A characteristic feature of this script, possibly tracing back to Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, is that vowels are underrepresented. For example, in Classical Arabic, of the six vowels, the three short ones are normally entirely omitted (although certain diacritics are added to indicate them in special circumstances, notably in the Qur'an), while the three long ones are represented ambiguously by certain consonants. Only Kashmiri, Uyghur, Kyrgyz (in China), Kazakh (in China), Kurdish, of the many languages using adaptations of this script, regularly indicate all vowels.
Below are the 32 letters of the modern Persian alphabet. Since the script is cursive, the appearance of a letter changes depending on its position: isolated, initial (joined on the left), medial (joined on both sides), and final (joined on the right) of a word.
The names of the letter are mostly the ones used in Arabic, except for the Persian pronunciation. The only ambiguous name is he, which is used for both ﺡ and ه. For clarification, these are often called ḥe-ye jimi (literally "jim-like ḥe" after jim, the name for the letter ج that uses the same base form) and he-ye do-češm (literally "two-eyed he", after the contextual middle letterform ﻬ), respectively.
|#||Name||DIN 31635||IPA||Contextual forms|
|1||Hamza ||ʾ||[ʔ]||ـئ ـأ ـؤ||ـئـ||ئـ||ء أ|
|2||ʾalef||ā||[ɒ]||ـا||آ / ا|
|23||ġeyn||ġ||[ɣ] / [ɢ]||ـغ||ـغـ||ﻏ||ﻍ|
|25||qāf||q||[ɢ] / [ɣ] / [q] (in some dialects)||ـق||ـقـ||ﻗ||ﻕ|
|31||vāv||v / ū / ow||[v] / [uː] / [o] / [ow] / [oː] (in Dari)||ـو||و|
|33||ye||y / ī / á||[j] / [i] / [ɒː] / [eː] (in Dari)||ﯽ||ـیـ||ﻳ||ﯼ|
Seven letters – و, ژ, ﺯ, ﺭ, ﺫ, ﺩ, ﺍ – do not connect to a following letter as the rest of the letters of the alphabet do. These seven letters have the same form in isolated and initial position, and a second form in medial and final position. For example, when the letter ا "alef" is at the beginning of a word such as اینجا "injā" (here), the same form is used as in an isolated "alef". In the case of امروز "emruz" (today), the letter ﺮ "re" takes the final form and the letter و "vāv" takes the isolated form, though they are in the middle of the word, and ﺯ also has its isolated form, though it occurs at the end of the word.
Persian script has adopted a subset of Arabic diacritics which consists of zabar /æ/ (fatḥah in Arabic), zir /e/ (kasrah in Arabic), and pesh /ou̯/ or /o/ (ḍammah in Arabic, pronounced as zamme in Persian), sukūn, tanwīn nasb /æn/ and tashdid (gemination). Other Arabic diacritics may be seen in Arabic loan-words.
The following are not actual letters but different orthographical shapes for letters, and in the case of the lām alef, a ligature. As to ﺀ hamze, it has only a single graphic, since it is never tied to a preceding or following letter. However, it is sometimes 'seated' on a vāv, ye or alef, and in that case the seat behaves like an ordinary vāv, ye or alef respectively. Technically, hamze is not a letter but a diacritic.
|he ye||-eye or -eyeh||[eje]||ﮥ||—||—||ۀ|
Although at first glance they may seem similar, there are many differences in the way the different languages use the alphabets. For example, similar words are written differently in Persian and Arabic, as they are used differently.
The main Persian letters are ا, ب, پ, ت, ج, چ, خ, د, ر, ز, ژ, س, ش, ف, ک, گ, ل, م, ن, و, ه, ی and other letters that came into it from Arabic literature. The Persian alphabet adds four letters to the Arabic alphabet, [p], [ɡ], [t͡ʃ] (ch in chair), [ʒ] (s in measure):
The following is a list of differences between the Arabic writing system and the Persian writing system:
Typically words are separated from each other by a space. Certain morphemes (such as the plural ending '-hâ') are written without a space. When writing on a computer, they are separated from the word using the zero-width non-joiner.
A number of languages have used the Perso-Arabic script before, but have since changed.
In almost all countries which use Perso-Arabic script, there have been discussions between parties about replacing it, often raising the concept of romanization. For example:
Perso-Arabic script in some Islamic countries is being promoted and defended as a sign of Islamic culture. People and governments in some Islamic countries have an interest in this script because of its relation to Islam and because it has been utilised to write the Qur'an. Therefore the concept of Perso-Arabic script and Romanization in these countries is not a politically or socially neutral subject.
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