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The Persian alphabet (Persian: الفبای فارسی, romanized: Alefbâye fârsi, pronounced [ælefˌbɒːje fɒːɾˈsi]), also known as the Perso-Arabic alphabet, is a writing system used for the Persian language spoken in Iran (Western Persian) and Afghanistan (Dari Persian). The Persian language spoken in Tajikistan (Tajiki Persian) is written in the Tajik alphabet, a modified version of Cyrillic alphabet since the Soviet era.
The Modern Persian script is directly derived and developed from Arabic script. After the Muslim conquest of Persia and the fall of Sasanian Empire in the 7th century, Arabic became the language of government, culture and especially religion in Persia for two centuries.
The replacement of the Pahlavi scripts with the Persian alphabet to write the Persian language was done by the Saffarid dynasty and Samanid dynasty in 9th-century Greater Khorasan. It is mostly but not exclusively right-to-left; mathematical expressions, numeric dates and numbers bearing units are embedded from left to right. The script is cursive, meaning most letters in a word connect to each other; when they are typed, contemporary word processors automatically join adjacent letter forms.
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 ḥä-ye jimi (literally "jim-like ḥe" after jim, the name for the letter ج that uses the same base form) and hâ-ye do-češm (literally "two-eyed he", after the contextual middle letterform ـهـ), respectively.
|DIN 31635||IPA||Unicode||Contextual forms|
|8||حه||ḥe (ḥâ-ye ḥotti, ḥâ-ye jimi)||ḥ||[h]||U+062D||ـح||ـحـ||حـ||ح|
|30||واو||vâv||v / ū / ow / (w / aw / ō in Dari)||[v], [uː], [o] (only word-finally), [ow] ([w], [aw], [oː] in Dari)||U+0648||ـو||و|
|31||هه||he (hā-ye havvaz, hā-ye do-češm)||h||[h], [e] (word-finally)||U+0647||ـه||ـهـ||هـ||ه|
|32||یه||ye||y / ī / á / (ay / ē in Dari)||[j], [i], [ɒː] ([aj] / [eː] in Dari)||U+06CC||ـی||ـیـ||یـ||ی|
Seven letters (و, ژ, ز, ر, ذ, د, ا) do not connect to the 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 injâ ("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 vâv 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: zebar /æ/ (fatḥah in Arabic), zir /e/ (kasrah in Arabic), and piš /ou̯/ or /o/ (ḍammah in Arabic, pronounced zamme in Western Persian), tanwīne nasb /æn/ and šaddah (gemination). Other Arabic diacritics may be seen in Arabic loanwords in Persian.
Of the four Arabic short vowels, the Persian language has adopted the following three. The last one, sukūn, has not been adopted.
(fully vocalized text)
|zebar/zibar||a||Ir. /æ/; D. /a/|
In Iranian Persian, none of these short vowels may be the initial or final grapheme in an isolated word, although they may appear in the final position as an inflection, when the word is part of a noun group. In a word that starts with a vowel, the first grapheme is a silent alef which carries the short vowel, e.g. اُمید (omid, meaning "hope"). In a word that ends with a vowel, letters ع, ه and و respectively become the proxy letters for zebar, zir and piš, e.g. نو (now, meaning "new") or بسته (bast-e, meaning "package").
Nunation (Persian: تنوین, tanvin) is the addition of one of three vowel diacritics to a noun or adjective to indicate that the word ends in an alveolar nasal sound without the addition of the letter nun.
(fully vocalized text)
َاً، ـاً، ءً
|تنوین نَصْبْ||Tanvine nasb|
|تنوین جَرّ||Tanvine jarr||Never used in the Persian language.
Taught in Islamic nations to
complement Quran education.
|تنوین رَفْعْ||Tanvine rafʔ|
The following are not actual letters but different orthographical shapes for letters, a ligature in the case of the lâm alef. As to ﺀ (hamza), it has only one graphic since it is never tied to a preceding or following letter. However, it is sometimes 'seated' on a vâv, ye or alef, and in that case, the seat behaves like an ordinary vâv, ye or alef respectively. Technically, hamza is not a letter but a diacritic.
|alef madde||â||[ɒ]||U+0622||ـآ||—||آ||آ||The final form is very rare and is freely replaced with ordinary alef.|
|he ye||-eye or -eyeh||[eje]||U+06C0||ـۀ||—||—||ۀ||Validity of this form depends on region and dialect. Some may use the three-letter ـهای combination instead.|
|lām alef||lā||[lɒ]||U+0644 (lām) and U+0627 (alef)||ـلا||—||—||لا|
|kašida||U+0640||—||ـ||—||—||This is the medial character which connects other characters|
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.
|Sound||Shape||Unicode name||Unicode code point|
Deviations from the Arabic scriptEdit
Persian uses the Eastern Arabic numerals, but the shapes of the digits 'four' (۴), 'five' (۵), and 'six' (۶) are different from the shapes used in Arabic. All the digits also have different codepoints in Unicode:
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.
Persian alphabet in TajikistanEdit
As part of the "russification" of Central Asia, the Cyrillic script was introduced in the late 1930s. The alphabet remained Cyrillic until the end of the 1980s with the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In 1989, with the growth in Tajik nationalism, a law was enacted declaring Tajik the state language. In addition, the law officially equated Tajik with Persian, placing the word Farsi (the endonym for the Persian language) after Tajik. The law also called for a gradual reintroduction of the Perso-Arabic alphabet.
The Persian alphabet was introduced into education and public life, although the banning of the Islamic Renaissance Party in 1993 slowed down the adoption. In 1999, the word Farsi was removed from the state-language law, reverting the name to simply Tajik. As of 2004[update] the de facto standard in use is the Tajik Cyrillic alphabet, and as of 1996[update] only a very small part of the population can read the Persian alphabet.
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