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The Persian script shares many features with other systems based on the Arabic script. It is an abjad, meaning vowels are underrepresented in writing. The writing direction is exclusively right-to-left. The script is cursive, meaning most letters in a word connect to each other; when typed, the computer automatically joins adjacent letterforms. However, some Persian compounds do not join, and Persian adds four letters to the basic set for a total of 32 characters.
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, they 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|
|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, unlike the rest of the letters of the alphabet. The 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, but they are in the middle of the word, and ﺯ also has its isolated form, but it occurs at the end of the word.
Persian script has adopted a subset of Arabic diacritics: 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 loanwords.
The following are not actual letters but different orthographical shapes for letters, a ligature in the case of the lām alef. As to ﺀ hamze, it has only one 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.
Many Arabic letters represent sounds not present in Persian; they are typically used only in loanwords and native Persian sounds replace them. For example, ذ, ض and ظ are all pronounced just like 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; short ones are normally not written (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. Thus, فارسي Fārsī "Persian" is pronounced in the Tehrani dialect fɒrsi and شير shēr "lion" and شیر shīr "milk" is ʃir, but in Dari, the same words appear as Persian pronunciation: [fɒrsi] but ʃer "lion", ʃir "milk".
The following is a list of differences between the writing system:
Typically, words are separated from each other by a space. Certain morphemes (such as the plural ending '-hâ'), however, are written without a space. On a computer, they are separated from the word using the zero-width non-joiner.
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