The system of transcription that is used in this website is a limited version for English-speaking learners. It should be understood that transcriptions should not be too heavily relied upon since they can become a crutch. It is recommended that you train your eye to look at the Persian characters, not at the transcriptions, as you use this site. In addition, dialects and regional preferences can result in different acceptable pronunciations of the same word.
However, we have provided simplified phonetic transcriptions of Persian in most areas of this site. The general conventions for vowels are:
|a as in sar||سر||head|
|ā as in sār||سار||starling|
|e as in ser||سر||benumbed|
|u as in sur||سور||feast|
|o as in sor||سر||slippery|
|i as in sir||سیر||garlic|
The following two symbols are used:
|` (grave accent) = ع eyn|
|´ (acute accent) = ء hamze|
For consonants, to prevent confusion such as can occur between such compounds as [-kh-] and [-k.h-]; e.g., نخود noxod ‘pea’ and نکهت nak.hat ‘fragrance, scent,’ etc., the following set is sometimes used:
|چ||c||ch , as in cahār چهار ‘four’|
|خ||x||kh , as in xub خوب ‘good’ (voiceless fricative velar)|
|ژ||ž||zh , as in žāle ژاله ‘dew(-drop)’ (pronounced like the [s] in ‘measure,’ ‘pleasure,’ and [g] in ‘beige.’|
|ش||š||sh , as in šab شب ‘night’|
|غ||γ||gh , as in غار γār ‘cave’ (voiced fricative velar, pronounced very close to the French /r/. In the Tehrani dialect, under the Turkish influence, which is spoken by a large population in Tehran, γ is articulated as q. Occasionally an overcompensation takes place in the Tehrani dialect; such as pronouncing qalam قلم ‘pen’ as γalam|
|ق||q||qh , as in quri قوری ‘teapot’ (exclusive to words of Arabic or Turkic/ Mongolian origin.)|
With vowels, in Persian there is only one /i/, which is invariably long, so i is used, instead of the /ī/ used by formal linguists. This is also the case with /u/ instead of /ū/. A final [-e] must always be pronounced as [-é] (as in the French fermé ‘closed’). It must never be pronounced with an off-glide as [-ey]). This is the sound which in Persian is orthographically normalized as the terminal silent /h/, written as ﻪ.
Additionally, since there is no pharyngeal sound in Persian, vowels are sometimes transcribed as /’/in the middle of the word, but initially, as /a, e, o/:
‘life, life span’
The semivowel /y/ is used initially in a syllable—whether it is in the beginning or in the middle of the word—and after any vowel, and when the /i/ is not a vowel; e.g., یاد yād ‘memory,’ نایاب nāyāb ‘unattainable’; پاینده pāyande ‘perpetual,’ رویگر rūygar ‘zink-worker, coppersmith.’ (It is needless to mention that after short vowels, /y/ by default creates a diphthong: /ay/, /ey/, /oy/)
Semitic /Ḥ/ and Persian /h/ are both transcribed as /h/ (= glottal fricative).
Semitic /ﻄ/ and Persian /ت/ are both transcribed as /t/ (= voiceless alveolar plosive).
All /ذ/, /ز/, /ض/, /ظ/ are transcribed as /z/ (= voiced alveolar fricative).
All /ث/, /س/, /ص/, are transcribed as /s/ (= voiceless alveolar fricative).
(For more detail, see the section on phonology.)
|things, objects||plural, ašiyā’||اشیاء|
|pain, grief, affliction||alam||اَلم|
|worship, the act of worshipping||parasteš||پرستش|
|soil, earth; Earth||xāk||خاک|
|a thing, and object (sometimes spelled شیئى)||šey’||شیء|
|Muhammad; the name of the prophet of Islam||mohammad||محمّد|
|ill, sick; patient||mariz||مریض|
|a ruined and desolate place||virāne||ویرانه|