Persian 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.

Vowel IPA English Example
â ɒ: hot آب
âb
(water)
a æ cat ابر
abr
(cloud)
e e egg پدر
pedar
(father)
i i: eagle فیل
fil
(elephant)
o o forty گل
gol
(flower)
u u: rule روز
ruz
(day)

Persian 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”.

Combination Diphthong IPA English Example
â + i ây /ɒ:j/ ice چای
chây
(tea)
e + i ey /ej/ case سیل
seyl
(flood)
o + i oy /oj/ boy هوی
hoy
(an exclamation)
u + i uy /u:j/ - روی
ruy
(zinc)
o + u ow /oʊ/ bone موز
mowz
(banana)

Persian Consonants

There are 23 consonant sounds in Persian:

Consonant Letter(s) IPA Sound Example
b ب b book برادر
barâdar
(brother)
ch چ t͡ʃ chain چهل
chehel
(forty)
d د d door در
dar
(door)
f ف f fall فیل
fil
(elephant)
g گ g game گل
gol
(flower)
gh غ
ق
ɣ French rire قورباغه
ghurbâghe
(frog)
h ه
ح
h hat هفت
haft
(seven)
j ج d͡ʒ job جنس
jens
(type)
k ک k key کفش
kafsh
(shoe)
kh خ x German Buch
Spanish ojo
خوب
khub
(good)
l ل l leg لب
lab
(lip)
m م m meal مادر
mâdar
(mother)
n ن n no نان
nân
(bread)
p پ p pen پدر
pedar
(father)
r ر r rug (thrilled as in Italian) روز
ruz
(day)
s س
ث
ص
s sad سال
sâl
(year)
sh ش ʃ shoe شب
shab
(night)
t ت
ط
t tea توپ
tup
(ball)
v و v van ورزش
varzesh
(sport)
y ی j yes یک
yek
(one)
z ز
ذ
ض
ظ
z zoo زانو
zânu
(knee)
zh ژ ʒ s in measure
French je
ژله
zhele
(jelly)
ø ع
ء
ʔ glottal stop معنی
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 …

Digraph Monograph Example
ch č čehel
چهل
(forty)
gh ğ Afğânestân
افغانستان
(Afghanistan)
kh x xub
خوب
(good)
sh š šab
شب
(night)
zh ž žele
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.