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)

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
čây
(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)

Consonants

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

Consonant Letter(s) IPA Sound Example
b ب b book برادر
barâdar
(brother)
č چ t͡ʃ chain چهل
čehel
(forty)
d د d door در
dar
(door)
f ف f fall فیل
fil
(elephant)
g گ g game گل
gol
(flower)
ǧ غ
ق
ɣ French rire قورباغه
ǧurbâǧe
(frog)
h ه
ح
h hat هفت
haft
(seven)
j ج d͡ʒ job جنس
jens
(type)
k ک k key کار
kâr
(work)
x خ x German Buch
Spanish ojo
خوب
xub
(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)
š ش ʃ shoe شب
šab
(night)
t ت
ط
t tea توپ
tup
(ball)
v و v van ورزش
varzeš
(sport)
y ی j yes یک
yek
(one)
z ز
ذ
ض
ظ
z zoo زانو
zânu
(knee)
ž ژ ʒ s in measure
French je
ژله
žele
(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. The digraphs “ch, gh, kh, sh, zh” are what Persian speakers use in everyday life but they are not appropriate for educational purposes.

Digraph Monograph
ch č
gh ğ
kh x
sh š
zh ž

Letter ğ

In academic books, غ is denoted with ɣ and sometimes with q. However, the letter ɣ belongs to Greek alphabet and is not a letter of Latin alphabet. Moreover, 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: ch-č, 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. In academic books, č is more prevalent.

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 section about glottal stop.