Learning Persian Alphabet (11)

Learning Farsi alfabet 11 - Learning Persian Alphabet (11)

Welcome to the eleventh episode of the Persian Learning Alphabet Series. In this lesson, you will learn how to write “ž,” “ʔ” and “s.” As you may have noticed, this lesson will add to the complication of learning the Persian alphabet. “What is exactly this “ʔ,” a question mark? “s” again? Haven’t we learned it a long time ago?” These are the first questions that may come to your mind. But do not worry. FarsiMonde’s teachers’ main goal is to simplify the Farsi learning process for you. So, here is some explanation about these three new letters. Let’s start with the easiest one among them, the “ž” sound.

“ž” in Farsi

The Persian alphabet is based on the Arabic alphabet, but it has four more letters than Arabic. You have already learned three of them: «پ، گ، چ», and “ž” is the last one. It is very easy to write “ž” in Farsi. Add three dots on top of “ر” and you will have “ژ”. However, the closest sound to ž in Farsi is “š” since they are both palato-alveolar fricatives. If you can pronounce “television” or “Persian” in English, you will not have any problem pronouncing “ž” in Farsi. To produce the sound, you need to raise the middle of the tongue and make a dome to touch the palate.

The new “s” sound

In the Arabic alphabet, there are three different letters with different pronunciations.

س = s

ص = sˁ (more emphatic than “s”)

ث = θ (more dental than “s” )

The good news is that all three types of “s” are pronounced the same in Farsi. But this does not mean that you do not need to learn their written forms. You may ask why. The answer is simple. Farsi has borrowed many Arabic words and although their pronunciations have changed their written forms remained the same as in Arabic. Therefore, whenever you see the new “s” memorize the word as it is. There are some examples here for you to get familiar with this letter. You can find more examples in this lesson’s quiz. 

 صندلی  |   صابون  |   صورت  |  مخصوص | صدا
sound |special |face |soup |chair

It is worth mentioning that “ص” is much less frequent than “س” in Farsi. The last “s” letter is so rare in Persian that you can take it for granted for now.

Glottal Stop in Farsi

When you read Fasi or Arabic transcribed in the Latin Alphabet, you may encounter a small sign similar to ⟨′⟩ in some words. The IPA character to transcribe the sound is ⟨ʔ⟩. This is called a “glottal stop” by linguists. The sound exists in many languages although it may not have a corresponding letter in the so-called languages’ alphabet. For instance, in English, exclamations such as “oh-uh” are pronounced with a glottal stop. In the Arabic and Persian alphabet, the sound is demonstrated by a consonant called ayn. This consonant has four different shapes, as follows, changing based on whether it is connected to the letters before and/or after it.

eyn arabic ayn glottal stop - Learning Persian Alphabet (11)

′ayn is produced by blocking airflow in the vocal tract and suddenly releasing it. In Farsi, this sound is produced much softer than in Arabic, so it is not easy to hear or distinguish it from “h.” But one of the main functions of ′ayn is to separate two vowels. Take “mo’allem,” teacher, as an example. If you forget to ′ayn write in between o and a, you violate Persian phonological rules that do not allow two vowels to sit together. Sometimes, ′ayn comes in the beginning of words. In this case, you have to memorize the shape of the new word instead of trying to find any explanation for the existence of ′ayn.

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Examples to practice

In this lesson, pronunciation is as important as learning the Persian alphabet, so we prepared two different exercises to help you with both listening and reading skills.

  •  Listen to the following pairs and try to figure out which one has ′ayn in it.

  • Listen to the following pairs and try to figure out which one has ž in it.

  • Read the following sentences and find the new letters you have learned in lesson 11.

  1. اِسمِ مُعَلِمِ من عَلی اَست.
  2. مُژده دوست من است.
  3. صَندَلی، نَزدیکِ میز اَست.
  4. ژینا رَقصیدن را دوست داشت.پ

FarsiMonde’s tutors attempt to make learning the Persian Alphabet simple and enjoyable; therefore, we designed writing exercises you can work on at the end of each video. Click on  below to start the new lesson’s quiz.

If you still need help with reading and writing in Farsi after the videos and test, you can always count on our online Persian courses.