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Perso-Arabic script: Wikis


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Persian alphabet
        پ                 چ
                ک    گ
                ه    ی
History · Transliteration
Diacritics · Hamza ء
Numerals · Numeration
Persian language

Regional and social varieties:


Language features:

Writing systems:

For other scripts that have been used to write the Persian language, see Persian language – Orthography.

The Perso-Arabic script is a writing system that is originally based on the Arabic alphabet. Originally used exclusively for the Arabic language, the Arabic script was modified to match the Persian language, adding four letters: پ [p], چ [tʃ], ژ [ʒ], and گ [g]. Many languages which use the Perso-Arabic script add additional letters. Besides the Persian alphabet itself, the Perso-Arabic script has been applied to the Urdu alphabet, Saraiki alphabet, Kurdish Sorani alphabet, Lurish (Luri), Ottoman Turkish alphabet, Balochi alphabet, Punjabi Shahmukhi script, Tatar, Azeri, and several others.

In order to represent non-Arabic sounds, new letters were created by adding dots, lines, and other shapes to existing letters. For example, the retroflex sounds of Urdu are represented orthographically by adding a small ط above their non-retroflex counterparts: د [d̪] and ڈ [ɖ]. The voiceless retroflex fricative [ʂ] of Pashto is represented in writing by adding a dot above and below the س [s] letter, resulting in ښ. The close central rounded vowel [ʉ] of Kurdish is written by writing two ﻭ [u], resulting in ﻭﻭ.

The Perso-Arabic script is exclusively written cursively. That is, the majority of letters in a word connect to each other. This is also implemented on computers. Whenever the Perso-Arabic script is typed, the computer connects the letters to each other. Unconnected letters are not widely accepted. In Perso-Arabic, as in Arabic, words are written from right to left while numbers are written from left to right.

There are many Arabic-derived alphabets which were not influenced by the Perso-Arabic script, including Jawi (used for Malay), Sorabe (Malagasy), and many alphabets used in Northern Africa. These alphabets used other innovations for writing such common sounds as [p] and [g], instead of the Perso-Arabic letters پ and گ, although the Jawi script does use the same symbol for [tʃ] ( چ ).

A characteristic feature of this script, possibly tracing back to Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, is that vowels are underrepresented. For example, in Classical Arabic, of the six vowels, the three short ones are normally omitted entirely (except in the Qur'an), while the three long ones are represented ambiguously by certain consonants. Only Kashmiri, Uyghur and Kurdish, of the many languages using adaptations of this script, regularly indicate all vowels.



Example showing the Nastaʿlīq calligraphic style's proportion rules.

Below are the 32 letters of the modern Persian alphabet. Since the script is cursive, the appearance of a letter changes depending on its position: isolated, initial (joined on the left), medial (joined on both sides), and final (joined on the right).

Name ALA-LC Romanization IPA Contextual forms
Final Medial Initial Isolated
alef ā / ʾ [ɒ], [ʔ] * آ / ا *
be b [b]
pe p [p] پ
te t [t]
s̱e [s]
jim j [dʒ]
che ch [tʃ]
ḥe(-ye jimi) [h]
khe kh [x]
dāl d [d] * *
ẕāl [z] * *
re r [ɾ] * *
ze z [z] * *
zhe zh [ʒ] * ژ * ژ
sin s [s]
shin sh [ʃ]
ṣād [s]
z̤ād [z] ﺿ
ṭā [t]
ẓā [z]
ʻeyn ʻ [ʔ]
gheyn gh [ɣ] / [ɢ]
fe f [f]
qāf q [ɢ] / [ɣ] / [q] (in some dialects)
kāf k [k] ک
gāf g [g] گ
lām l [l]
mim m [m]
nun n [n]
vāv v / ū / ow [v] / [u] / [ow]/ [o:] (in Dari) * و * و
he h [h]
ye y / ī / á [j] / [i] / [ɒ]/ [e:] (in Dari)

There are seven letters in the Persian alphabet that do not connect to other letters like the rest of the letters in the alphabet. These seven letters do not have initial or medial forms but the solo and the final forms are used instead because they do not allow for a connection to be made on the left hand side to the other letters in the word. For example, when the letter ا alef is at the beginning of a word such as اینجا "injā" (here), the initial form of alef is used. Or in the case of اِمروز "emruz" (today) the letter re uses the final form and the letter و vāv uses the initial form although they are in the middle of the word.

Other characters

The following are not actual letters, but rather different orthographical shapes for letters, and in the case of the lām alef, a ligature. As to hamze, it has only a single graphic, since it is never tied to a preceding or following letter. However, it is sometimes 'seated' on a vāv, ye or alef, and in that case the seat behaves like an ordinary vāv, ye or alef respectively. Technically, hamze is not a letter, but a diacritic.

Name Transliteration IPA Final Medial Initial Stand-alone
alef madde ā [ɒ]
he ye -eye or -eyeh [eje] ۀ
lām alef [lɒ]
tanvin nasb -an [æn] ًﺎ اً

Although at first glance they may seem similar, there are many differences in the way the different languages use the alphabets. For example, similar words are written differently in Persian and Arabic, as they are used differently.

The Persian alphabet adds four letters to the Arabic alphabet, [p], [g], [tʃ] (ch – chair), [ʒ] (zh – measure):

Sound Shape Unicode name
[p] پ pe
[tʃ] (ch) چ che
[ʒ] (zh) ژ zhe
[g] گ gaf

Changes from the Arabic writing system

The following is a list of differences between the Arabic writing system and the Persian writing system:

  1. A hamze (ء) is not written above an alef (ا) to denote a zabar or piš and below to denote a zir.
  2. A hamze is not typically written in Persian to separate two vowels. For example, the word chây (tea) is written چای. In Persian grammar, words ending in ye versus hamze-ye have different grammatical meanings. For example, کتابهای means "the books of," whereas کتابهائی means "some books." In Arabic, a hamza is used in words to separate two vowels. For example, the word al-jazāʾir (Algeria) is written الجزائر. In Persian, this convention is dropped unless the word originates from Arabic.
  3. The final kâf ﮏ is typically written without a flourish, which in Arabic it would be ﻚ.
  4. The Arabic letter tāʾ marbūṭa (ة) is usually changed to a te (ت) because tāʾ marbūṭa is a grammatical construct in Arabic denoting femininity. Since Persian grammar lacks gender constructs, the tāʾ marbūṭa is not necessary and is only kept to maintain fidelity to the original Arabic spelling.
  5. Two dots are removed in the final ye (ی). Arabic differentiates the final yāʾ with the two dots and alif maqsura, which is written like a final yāʾ without two dots. Because Persian drops the two dots in the final ye, the alif maqsura cannot be differentiated from the normal final ye. For example, the name Musâ (Moses) is written موسی. In the final letter in Musâ, Persian does not differentiate between ye or an alif maqsura.
  6. The letters pe (پ), che (چ), že (ژ), and gâf (گ) are added because Arabic lacks these phonemes, yet they occur in the Persian language.
  7. Arabic letter waw (و) is used as vâv for [v], because Arabic has no [v] but Persian has no [w]
  8. In the Arabic alphabet hāʾ (ﻩ) comes before wāw (و), however in the Persian alphabet, he (ﻩ) comes after vâv (و).

Word boundaries

Typically words are separated from each other by a space. Certain morphemes (such as the plural ending '-hâ') are written without a space but separated from the previous word with a zero-width non-joiner.

Languages using the Perso-Arabic script

Current Use

Former Use
A number of languages have used the Perso-Arabic script before, but have since changed.

See also

External links

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