The Persian or Perso-Arabic alphabet (Persian: الفبای فارسی alefbā-ye fārsi) is a writing system based on the Arabic script. Originally used exclusively for the Arabic language, the Arabic alphabet was adapted to the Persian language, adding four letters: پ [p], چ [t͡ʃ], ژ [ʒ], and گ [ɡ]. Many languages that use the Perso-Arabic script add other letters. Besides the Persian alphabet itself, the Perso-Arabic script has been applied 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 while numbers are written from left to right.
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 and (formerly) Bosnian, 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|
|ʾalef||ā / ʾ||[ɒ], [ʔ]||ـا||آ / ا|
|ġeyn||ġ||[ɣ] / [ɢ]||ـغ||ـغـ||ﻏ||ﻍ|
|qāf||q||[ɢ] / [ɣ] / [q] (in some dialects)||ـق||ـقـ||ﻗ||ﻕ|
|vāv||v / ū / ow||[v] / [uː] / [o] / [ow] / [oː] (in Dari)||ـو||و|
|ye||y / ī / á||[j] / [i] / [ɒː] / [eː] (in Dari)||ﯽ||ـیـ||ﻳ||ﻯ|
- Letters which do not link to a following letter
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 scripts has adopted a subset of Arabic diacritics which consists of zabar (fathah in Arabic)([æ]), zir (kasrah in Arabic) ([e]), and pesh (ḍammah in Arabic, pronounced as zamme in Persian) ([ou] or [o]), sukūn, tanwīn nasb ([æn]) and tashdid. Other Arabic diacritics may be seen in Arabic words in a Persian text by the virtue of being of Arabic origin.
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):
Changes from the Arabic writing system
The following is a list of differences between the Arabic writing system and the Persian writing system:
- A hamze (ء) is neither written above an alef (ا) to denote a zabar or piš nor below to denote a zir.
- The final kâf ﮏ is typically written without a flourish, while in Arabic it would be ﻚ.
- The Arabic letter tāʾ marbūṭa (ة), unless used in a direct Arabic quotation, is usually changed to a te (ت) or he ه,in accordance with its actual pronunciation. (Tāʾ marbūṭa, used only in feminine nouns, is basically a combined form of "he" and the dots of "te", standing for "t" that, in certain regular contexts, lenites to "h". Since Persian does not maintain the distinction---and has not even got any gender differences---tāʾ marbūṭa is not necessary and is only kept to maintain fidelity to the original Arabic spelling).
- Two dots are removed in the final ye (ی). Arabic differentiates the final yāʾ with the two dots and the alif maqsura (except in Egyptian Arabic), which is written like a final yāʾ without two dots. Because Persian drops the two dots in the final ye, the alif maqsura cannot be differentiated from the normal final ye. For example, the name Mûsâ (Moses) is written موسی. In the final letter in Musâ, Persian does not differentiate between ye or an alif maqsura.
- The letters pe (پ), che (چ), že (ژ), and gâf (گ) are added because Arabic lacks these phonemes, yet they occur in the Persian language.
- Arabic letter waw (و) is used as vâv for [v], because Arabic has no [v] and standard Iranian Persian has [w] only within the diphthong [ow].
- In the Arabic alphabet hāʾ (ﻩ) comes before wāw (و), however in the Persian alphabet, he (ﻩ) comes after vâv (و).
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.
Languages using the Perso-Arabic script
- Azerbaijani (Iran)
- Kazakh In China and Iran
- Kurdish (Kurmanji dialect in Iran and Iraq, Soranî dialect)
- Kyrgyz in China and Afghanistan
- Marwari also known as Rajasthani (By Muhajir communities in Pakistan)
- Persian, except when it appears as Tajik
- Punjabi (Within Pakistan, using the Shahmukhi script)
- Tajik in Afghanistan by ethnic Tajiks
- Turkmen in Iran and Afghanistan
- Urdu (In the Nastaʿlīq style)
- Uzbek in China and Afghanistan
- Uyghur (used different writing systems, cf. Uyghur alphabet)
- Chinese Xiaoerjin, a modified Perso Arabic script (Used by Muslims in Western China)
A number of languages have used the Perso-Arabic script before, but have since changed.
- Azerbaijani in the Republic of Azerbaijan (changed first to Latin, then Cyrillic, and switched back to Latin recently)
- Chaghatay Turkic (changed first to Latin, then Cyrillic)
- Kazakh in the Republic of Kazakhstan (changed first to Latin, then Cyrillic)
- Kyrgyz in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan (changed first to Latin, then Cyrillic)
- Turkish (changed to Latin)
- Tajik in the Republic of Tajikistan (changed first to Latin, then Cyrillic)
- Turkmen in the Republic of Turkmenistan (changed first to Latin, then Cyrillic, and switched back to Latin recently)
- Uzbek in the Republic of Uzbekistan (changed first to Latin, then Cyrillic, and switched back to Latin recently)
Arguments and discussions on use of Perso-Arabic
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:
- Tajikistan has implemented a Cyrillic alphabet instead of Perso-Arabic
- Turkish people have chosen a Latin-Based Turkish alphabet, in part because the eight vowels of Turkish were ambiguously represented by only three symbols
- Azerbaijan and Uzbek implemented Cyrillic, but have since switched to Latin alphabets.
- In Iran, methods of romanizations like Unipers have been invented.
- Kurdish language has utilized a Kurdish Latin alphabet
Relation to Islamic culture
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.
Other Arabic alphabets
There are many Arabic-derived alphabets which were not influenced by the Perso-Arabic script, including Jawi (used for Malay), Sorabe (Malagasy), and many alphabets used in Northern Africa. These alphabets used other innovations for writing such common sounds as [p] and [ɡ], instead of the Perso-Arabic letters پ and گ, although the Jawi script does use the same symbol for [t͡ʃ] (چ).
- Scripts used for Persian
- Persian braille
- Ajami script
- History of the Arabic alphabet
- List of languages using Arabic script
- Belarusian Arabic alphabet, containing three Persian graphemes
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Persian alphabet.|
- Persian dictionary that also provide Randomization
- Virtual Persian Keyboard
- Persian Alphabet
- Persian alphabet, numerals, and pronunciation
- Persian numerals
- eiktub: web-based Perso-Arabic transliteration pad, with support for Persian characters
- Persian Character Maps
- Tests to Practice Joining and Disjoining Persian Letters and Frequently Occurring Shapes
- Alphabet Tests with Audio to learn Pronunciation
- Daoulagad - mobile Persian OCR dictionary