The standard Persian of Iran has six vowel sounds: ⟨â, a, e, î, o, û⟩. Persian writing system is abjad (consonantal alphabet). Therefore, vowels do not normally appear in writing.
Regarding the long vowels ⟨î, û⟩, since their short variants do not exist in standard Persian of Iran, transcription schemes normally record them as ⟨i, u⟩. In the sections discussing Persian phonology and writing system, where precision is required, they will be written as ⟨î, û⟩. In the other sections, they will be written as is common in transcriptions.
Persian diphthongs are produced by combining the vowels “î” and “û” with other vowels. Iranian Persian has five diphthongs: ⟨ây, ey, oy, ûy, ow⟩.
|â + î||ây||/ɒ:j/||ice||چای
|e + î||ey||/ej/||case||سیل
|o + î||oy||/oj/||boy||هوی
|û + î||ûy||/u:j/||-||روی
|o + û||ow||/oʊ/||bone||موز
There are 23 consonant sounds in Persian. The sounds /t, s, h, z, ʔ, ɣ/ are denoted with more than one letter.
- The letters ⟨ت ط⟩ denote /t/.
- The letters ⟨ث س ص⟩ denote /s/.
- The letters ⟨ح ه⟩ denote /h/.
- The letters ⟨ذ ز ض ظ⟩ denote /z/.
- The letters ⟨ع ء⟩ denote /ʔ/.
- The letters ⟨غ ق⟩ denote the same sound in standard Iranian Persian but historically, they have distinct sounds which is still found in many dialects.
|r||ر||r||rug (thrilled as in Italian)||روز
|ž||ژ||ʒ||s in measure
A letter to denote glottal stop is the sole letter the author considers essential to be added to common transcription schemes. The reason is explained in the section about glottal stop. The letter “ø” is proposed and will be used here.
Monograph vs. Digraph
Ideally, each consonant should be denoted with a monograph (single letter) to avoid mispronunciation. For example, in the word “mazhab” (مذهب), the consonants ⟨z⟩ and ⟨h⟩ function individually and do not represent ⟨ژ⟩ sound. This word is pronounced “maz-hab” and not “ma-zhab” (مژب). The following monographs replace the common digraphs ⟨ch, gh, kh, sh, zh⟩.
In academic books, غ is denoted with “ɣ” and sometimes with “q”. As for “ɣ”, it belongs to Greek alphabet and is not a letter of Latin. Regarding “q”, it denotes ق in dialects where both غ and ق exist, including Afghan and Tajik Persian. The author proposes the letter “ğ”. It is a Latin-based character and corresponds to the pattern of the other digraph-monograph pairs: ⟨ch - č⟩ ⟨sh - š⟩ ⟨zh - ž⟩ ⟨gh - ğ⟩.
The letter “c” does not represent any sound per se in Persian transcription. Therefore, both “c” and “č” can be used in place of “ch”. In academic books, “č” is more prevalent.