Vowels

Iranian Persian has six vowel sounds: “â”, “a”, “e”, “i”, “o” and “u”. Since Persian writing system is abjad (consonantal alphabet), vowels do not appear in writing normally.

VowelIPAEnglishExample
âɒ:hotآب
âb
(water)
aæcatابر
abr
(cloud)
eeeggپدر
pedar
(father)
ii:eagleفیل
fil
(elephant)
oofortyگل
gol
(flower)
uu:ruleروز
ruz
(day)

Diphthongs

Persian diphthongs are produced by combining the vowels i and u with other vowels. Iranian Persian has five diphthongs: “ây”, “ey”, “oy”, “uy” and “ow”.

CombinationDiphthongIPAEnglishExample
â + iây/ɒ:j/iceچای
chây
(tea)
e + iey/ej/caseسیل
seyl
(flood)
o + ioy/oj/boyهوی
hoy
(an exclamation)
u + iuy/u:j/-روی
ruy
(zinc)
o + uow/oʊ/boneموز
mowz
(banana)

Consonants

There are 23 consonant sounds in Persian. The sounds /t/, /s/, /h/, /z/, /ʔ/ and /ɣ/ are denoted with more than one letter.

ConsonantLetter(s)IPASoundExample
bبbbookبرادر
barâdar
(brother)
chچt͡ʃchainچهل
chehel
(forty)
dدddoorدر
dar
(door)
fفffallفیل
fil
(elephant)
gگggameگل
gol
(flower)
ghغ
ق
ɣFrench rireقورباغه
ghurbâghe
(frog)
hه
ح
hhatهفت
haft
(seven)
jجd͡ʒjobجنس
jens
(type)
kکkkeyکفش
kafsh
(shoe)
khخxGerman Buch
Spanish ojo
خوب
khub
(good)
lلllegلب
lab
(lip)
mمmmealمادر
mâdar
(mother)
nنnnoنان
nân
(bread)
pپppenپدر
pedar
(father)
rرrrug (thrilled as in Italian)روز
ruz
(day)
sس
ث
ص
ssadسال
sâl
(year)
shشʃshoeشب
shab
(night)
tت
ط
tteaتوپ
tup
(ball)
vوvvanورزش
varzesh
(sport)
yیjyesیک
yek
(one)
zز
ذ
ض
ظ
zzooزانو
zânu
(knee)
zhژʒs in measure
French je
ژله
zhele
(jelly)
øع
ء
ʔglottal stopمعنی
maøni
(meaning)

Monograph vs. Digraph

It is best to denote each consonant with a single letter and avoid a combination of two letters to represent one sound. Adjacent consonants do not always merge together to form a single sound. For example, in the word mazhab (مذهب), the consonants z and h are pronounced individually and do not represent the zh sound (/ʒ/). That is, mazhab is pronounced maz-hab and not ma-zhab. I would personally prefer to use the following monographs for writing Persian in Latin alphabet …

DigraphMonographExample
chččehel
چهل
(forty)
ghğAfğânestân
افغانستان
(Afghanistan)
khxxub
خوب
(good)
shššab
شب
(night)
zhžžele
ژله
(jelly)

… but these monographs are only common in academic books. The average native speaker does not know these letters and would not feel the necessity to adopt them. The digraphs “ch, gh, kh, sh, zh” are what Persian speakers use in everyday life.

Letter ğ

In academic books, غ is denoted with ɣ and sometimes with q but none of them is appropriate for non-academic use. Firstly, the letter ɣ belongs to Greek alphabet and is not a letter of Latin alphabet. Secondly, the letter q denotes ق in dialects that differentiate between غ and ق, including Afghan and Tajik Persian. Therefore, q should not be used to denote غ. My proposition is ğ. It is a Latin-based character and in harmony with the digraph-monograph pattern of other letters: sh-š, zh-ž and gh-ğ.

Letter č

The letter c does not represent any sound per se. Therefore, both c and č can be used in lieu of ch. The letter č is usually used in academic books.

Letter ø

The letter ø, or any other letter that denotes glottal stop, is the sole letter I consider essential to be added to what used by native speakers. The reason is explained in the page about glottal stop.