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Persian Classes 

Persian Language Writing System

Persian (or Farsi in Persian) refers to an Indo-European language that was spoken in the old Persian Empire. It is spoken in today's Iran, parts of Afghanistan, and parts of the old southern Soviet states such as Tajikistan. There are numerous dialects of Persian language, such as Dari, Gilaki, etc. The standard and modern Persian is spoken in today's Iran.

Persian alphabet has 32 letters (as compared to 28 in Arabic and 26 in English) and is written from right to left. Some of the letters can be connected to from both left and right and some can only be connected from right. Therefore, each letter may have two or three different shapes based on connectivity and its occurrence at the beginning, middle or the end of a word. It means that memorizing less than 100 visual icons is sufficient to read and write Persian words.

As compared to Latin scripts, there is no limitation on the width of the letters and this brings a great variability in form and writing style. Letters can be expanded, curved and angled to fit the width.

Many have an image that Persian and Arabic alphabet are the same. Persian alphabet includes but not restricted to Arabic letters. Arabic alphabet belongs to the group of Semitic scripts in which the consonants are actually written and vowels are placed in between the lines. Arabic script is derived from the Aramaic Nabataean alphabet and has 28 letters derived from 18 shapes, distinguished by one (10 cases) or two dots (3 cases) placed above or below the letter or three dots place above the letter only (2 cases).

Persian has 32 letters derived from 18 shapes. Letters are distinguished by one (10 cases), two (3 cases) or three dots (5 cases) placed above or below the letter. Three long vowels, AA, EE and OO are also represented by letters. Short vowels for A, E and O have no letters and may be shown by small diagonal underbar stroke (for E) and overbar stroke (for A) or small comma (for O).

Long vowels
pronounced like English Arch AA
pronounced like English Iran EE
pronounced like English occUr UU

Those letters exclusive to Persian, that are not found in Arabic, are:

Exclusive Persian letters
pronounced like English push pe
pronounced like English change che
pronounced like French John je
pronounced like English groove gaf

Again many people have a wrong image that Persian and Arabic scripts are the same. There are six script styles, named Shesh Ghalam:
Nasta-ligh (Farsi), Kufi, Deewani, Naskh, Req'aa and Thuluth.
The most common Persian script is called Nasta-ligh, that is a lighter and much more elegant version of Taligh or hanging script. The basic rules of Nasta-ligh were developed over centuries and were revised in the Safavi (~1500 A.D.) period. Nasta-ligh is different from Naskh which is common in Arabic, roughly, due to shape of letters and style of writing.

Persian Alphabet

Pronunciation Position in a word Character
(stand alone)
end middle beginning
alef 1 1
be 2 2
pe 3
te 4
the 5
jim 6 3
che 7
he 8
khe 9
dal 10 4
zal 11
re 12 5
ze 13
je 14
sin 15 6
shin 16
sad 17 7
zad 18
teyn 19 8
zeyn 20
eyn 21 9
gheyn 22
fe 23 10
qaf 24 11
kaf 25 12
gaf 26
lam 27 13
mim 28 14
nun 29 15
waw 30 16
he 31 17
ye 32 18

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