Pronunciation

Contents

Sound-letter mapping

The table below shows the letters with some examples and their corresponding phonetic value with regard to the International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA:

Example

Name

IPA

Letter

Example

Name

IPA

Letter

nim

en

n

n

asb

a

æ

a

omid

o

o

o

âb

â

ɒː

â

par

pe

p

p

bad

be

b

b

qam

qe

ɣ

q

cap

ce

tʃ

c

râh

er

r

r

dar

de

d

d

sib

es

s

s

emruz

e

e

e

ŝab

ŝe

ʃ

ŝ

fanar

ef

f

f

tab

te

t

t

gâv

ge

ɡ

g

bu

u

uː

u

ham

he

h

h

va

ve

v

v

in

i

iː

i

now

dove

w

w

jâm

je

ʤ

j

xub

xe

x

x

ĵarf

ĵe

ʒ

ĵ

yek

ye

j

y

kam

ke

k

k

zard

ze

z

z

lab

el

l

l

bad

mul

ʔ

man

em

m

m

Vowels

The short vowels are: a, e and o. The long vowels are: â, i and u. The most important diphthong is ow.

Diphthong ow

If the sounds of “av” are in one syllable, then “av” gets converted to “ow”:

na-ra-vid don’t go na-row don’t go pey-ra-vi follow pey-row follower

If w occurs syllable-initially in the course of derivation, usually either “ow” is reconverted to “av” (present stem), or “ow” is converted to “ov” (otherwise):

pey-row follower pey-ra-vi follow  now new novin modern 

Mul (‘)

Mul (derived from the Old Persian mulidan) means “pause” and corresponds to the letter Eyn or Hamze in the Persian-Arabic script. It is a weak and unstable glottal stop and is shown with an apostrophe. Mul occurs especially in Arabic leanwords:

mo’allem teacher ba’d then ŝam’ candle sari’ quickly
e’temâd confidence mi’âd promise mas’ul responsible fa’’âl active

Mediator consonants

Sounds are sometimes modified (omitted, moved, inserted) in Persian. This is often motivated by a tendency of facilitating pronunciation. One of the most common modifications is the insertion of a consonant between two vowels:

xâne ye man my house amme vo amu aunt and uncle sedâ yi a voice
zendegi life jâduyi magical dâneŝjuyân students
Xodâyâ oh god dovvom second sedâ yam my voice
Xodâ yemân our God miguyam I say nayâmad she didn’t come

The following tables summarize some important cases of sound modifications:

 

Word ends with

Enclitics / suffixes a â e i o u
Conjunction e y y y - y y
Conjunction o v v v - v v
Postposition i - y - - y y
Suffix -i (nominalization) - y g - y y
Suffix-i (adjectival) - y - g* - y y
Suffix -ân (plural) - y g - v y uov**
Suffix -om (ordinal) - - vv - vv -
Short form ast of to be - a - a  - ea a - a - a - a
Other short forms of to be - y - - - y
Singular pronouns am/at/aŝ - y - - - y
Plural pronouns mân/tân/ŝân - ye - - - ye
Inflection of the present tense - y - - - y

 

 

Word begins with

Preverbs

a

â

e

i

o

u

y

be-

ei

ei

-

-

ei

-

ei

ma-/na-

y

y

-

-

y

-

-

mi-/nemi-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Key
Strikeout The sound is removed.
Underline Replaces the removed sound (sound shift)
Divided cells Two cases are possible
- No modification / not applicable
* Only in a few words, e.g. haftegi and xânegi
** Only in a few words, e.g. bânovân and abrovân

Gemination (taŝdid)

Gemination occurring normally in Arabic loanwords, is represented by doubling a consonant. Usually, the first one ends a syllable whereas the second one begins the following syllable.

mo’allem teacher taŝakkor thanks mokarrar repeated tasavvor imagination

A gemination is indicated, whenever it is pronounced:

xat(t) script dastxat handwriting  xattât calligrapher xatt e fârsi Persian script

Stress

If a word has more than one syllable, then one of the syllables (usually the last one) is stressed more than the others. Stress pattern is regular in Persian.

Personal endings of verbs are usually unstressed. The stress falls on the last syllable of the stem:

âmadand they came neveŝtam I wrote

An exception is the future form, in which the personal ending of the modal verb is stressed:

xâham âmad I will come xâhad neveŝt she will write

If a verb takes one or more preverbs, then the first or only preverb is stressed:

minevisam I write neminevisam I don’t write

In compound verbs, the non-verbal part is stressed in the positive tense, while the negation preverb is stressed in the negative tense:

yâd migiram I learn yâd nemigiram I don’t learn

Interjections, conjunctions and vocative nouns are stressed on the first syllable:

vali but agar if Navid, kojâ yi? Navid, where are you?

If a word has one or more suffixes, then the last or only suffix is stressed:

ketâb books bozorgtar bigger dân science dâneŝmand scientist

The following enclitics are always unstressed:

Conjunction „e“ doxtar e zibâ the beautiful girl
Conjunction „o“ pedar o pesar father and son
Pronouns „am/at/aŝ/emân/etân/eŝân“ ketâb aŝ his book
Short forms of to be xoŝgel and they are pretty
Postposition „i“ doxtar i a girl

For all other types of words, the stress usually falls on the last syllable:

dastkeŝ glove toxmemorq egg bâham together yekdigar each other
goftogu dialogue qulpeykar huge bistopanj 25 haftsad 700

Colloquial Persian

The colloquial language shows some differences in comparison with the literary language. It mainly occurs in informal bilateral communications (e-mail to friends etc.) and is possibly used in the retelling of authentic dialogues and stories in modern literature. The Tehranian dialect is the most widely used dialect and can be considered as a “standard”. In this dialect words are often abbreviated or “abraded“.

The main differences are typically:

 Item Literary Colloquial Example literary Example colloquial meaning
Syllable „ân“ ân un bârân bârun rain
Syllable „âm“ âm um bâdâm bâdum peanut
after a vowel ro to râ to ro you
after a consonant ‘o man râ man ‘o me
Personal ending „-ad“ -ad -e migirad migire she gets
Personal ending „-id“ -id -in migirid migirin you get
Personal ending „-and“ -and -an migirand migiran they get
Short form „and“ of to be and an xub and xub an they are well
Short form „id“ of to be id in xub id xub in you are well
Short form „am“ of to be after „â“ yam ‘m bâlâ yam bâlâ ‘m I’m up
Short form „and“ of to be after „â“ yand ‘n bâlâ yand bâlâ ‘n They are up
Short form “ast of to be ast e lâqar ast lâqar e he is thin
Mul pronounced omitted mote’assefâne moteassefâne unfortunately
Suffix of definiteness after „e“ not applied -he baste bastehe the box
Suffix of definiteness otherwise not applied -e doxtar doxtare the girl
Pronoun after preposition not applied applied az man az am from me
Plural suffix „-hâ“ after a consonant -hâ -’â ketâbhâ ketâb’â the books
Pronoun „-am“ after „â“ yam ‘m pâ yam pâ ‘m my leg
Pronoun „at“ at et doxtar at doxtar et your daughter
Pronoun „aŝ“ doxtar aŝ doxtar eŝ his daughter
Pronoun „mân“ after „â“ and „u“ -yemân -mun Sedâ yemân sedâ mun our voice
Pronoun „tân“ after „â“ and „u“ -yetân -tun sedâ yetân sedâ tun your voice
Pronoun „ŝân“ after „â“ and „u“ -yeŝân -ŝun sedâ yeŝân sedâ ŝun their voice

In addition, the present tense forms of many verbs are abbreviated. For example, if the flexion of a present stem includes a “v” or “y” between two vowels, then “v” or “y” is omitted along with the left-vowel:

miravam mir’am I go miguyam mig’am I say

Furthermore double consonants are often simplified, with the second consonant often being assimilated:

dast das’ hand ceŝm ceŝ’ eye

Finally, some words have their own abbreviated or “abraded” form:

yek ye’ one digar dige yet; other
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