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The Persian alphabet (Persian: الفبای فارسی alefbā-ye fārsi) or Perso-Arabic alphabet is a writing system based on the Arabic script and used for the Persian language. It has four letters more than the Arabic alphabet: پ [p], چ [t͡ʃ], ژ [ʒ], and گ [ɡ].
The Persian script is an abjad and is exclusively written cursively. That is, the majority of the letters in a word connect to each other. This is also implemented on computers. Whenever the Persian alphabet is typed, the computer automatically connects the letters to each other. Words are written from right to left. Also, vowels are underrepresented in writing; see below for details.
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||Name in Persian script||DIN 31635||IPA||Contextual forms|
|0||hamza||همزه||ʾ||[ʔ]||ـئ ـأ ـؤ||ـئـ||ئـ||ء أ|
|1||ʾalef||الف||ā||[ɒ]||ﺎ||آ / ا|
|19||ṭā, ṭoy (in Dari)||طی, طا||ṭ||[t]||ـط||ـﻄـ||ﻃ||ط|
|20||ẓā, ẓoy (in Dari)||ظی, ظا||ẓ||[z]||ـظ||ـﻈـ||ﻇ||ظ|
|22||ġeyn||غین||ġ||[ɣ] / [ɢ]||ﻎ||ﻐ||ﻏ||غ|
|24||qāf||قاف||q||[ɢ] / [ɣ] / [q] (in some dialects)||ـق||ـﻘ||ﻗ||ق|
|30||vāv||واو||v / ū / ow / (w / aw / ō in Dari)||[v] / [uː] / [o] / [ow] / ([w] / [aw] / [oː] in Dari)||ـو||و|
|32||ye||یِ||y / ī / á / (ay / ē in Dari)||[j] / [i] / [ɒː] / ([aj] / [eː] in Dari)||ﯽ||ـﯿ||ﯾ||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 zamme in Western Persian), sukūn, tanwīn nasb /æn/ and shadda (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):
Many Arabic letters represent sounds not present in Persian; they are typically only employed in loanwords and native Persian sounds replace them, such as ذ, ض, and ظ all being pronounced the same as historical ze ز z.
Vowel notation is simple but its history is complicated. Classical Arabic has a vowel length distinction; in writing, long vowels are normally written ambiguously by letters known as matres lectionis while short ones are normally entirely omitted entirely (although certain diacritics are added to indicate them in special circumstances, notably in the Quran). Middle Persian also had vowel length, and noted ā with alif ا, ē and ī with yāʾ ی, and ō and ū with wāw و. Short vowels (a, e, i, o and u) were normally not written.
The length distinction of Middle Persian no longer exists in modern Persian. The results of its collapse vary between Western Persian, Dari, and Tajiki, with eight- or six-vowel inventories. However, the alphabet retains the original spellings of most words so that فارسي Fārsī "Persian" is pronounced in the Tehrani dialect fɒrsi and شير shēr "lion" and شیر shīr "milk" is ʃir, while in Dari, these same words appear as Persian pronunciation: [fɒrsi] but ʃer "lion", ʃir "milk".
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.
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