Diglossia Rules

Generally speaking, the diglossia rules of Persian are inconsistent and only implemented to some extent. Still, it is very useful to learn them, particularly when listening to native speakers with varying dialects.

Here in the following pages are gathered 10 sets of basic rules, in no particular order.

Let’s begin with some basic phonemic consonant changes:

In the [st] and [zd] clusters the alveolar plosives are assimilated into the preceding alveolar fricatives, as [s] ([ss] before a vowel) and [z] ([zz] before a vowel):

hand dast دست

das; followed by a vowel dass-am ‘my hand’ دس
ice cream bastani بستنی

bassani بسنی
transitive verb, intransitive verb, to break šekastan شکستن

šekassan شکسن
tired xaste خسته xasse خسه
pistachio peste پسته pesse پسه
Where is he, she, it? kojāst کجاست kojās کجاس
thief, robber dozd دزد doz followed by a vowel
dozzā ‘(the)thieves’
thirteen sizdah سیزده sizza سیزَ

The [n] in an [nb] cluster is invariably pronounced as [m] (that is, [nb] becomes [mb]); this is in the anticipation of the following bilabial:

Saturday šanbe شنبه šambe
tail-fat donbe دنبه dombe
storage (room/space) anbār انبار ambār
behind, after donbāl دنبال dombāl
intransitive verb, to move, wag jonbidan جنبیدن jombidan
movement jonbeš جنبش jombeš

In certain instances the [b] of [-mb] cluster (from [-nb]) disappears in final position:

tail donb دنب domb dom دم
a large earthen jar xonb خنب xomb xom خم
hoof sonb سُنب somb som سُم

Only in the following words the final [-ar] becomes [-e]:

if agar اگر age اگه
the other; not any more, no more digar دیگر dige دیگه
(does not exist in English as a single particle) magar مگر mage مگه

The particles digar and magar have many syntactic functions. See the sections on these particles.