Persian Lesson 01 - Vowels

Image from Isfahan Bazar
Persian, or Farsi as it is called when referring to the language spoken in Iran, is beautiful and surprisingly easy to learn, once you master the alphabet. It is an Indo-European language, just like almost all European languages (which spread all over the world). Although it makes use of the Arabic alphabet, the two are rather different, Arabic coming from a totally different tree, the Semitic. Persian is considered for centuries, a noble language, mainly because of the impressive poetic and philosophical works written in it.

There are many Persian language lessons on the web, I went through most of them and although my understanding of this language is still rather limited due to vocabulary issues, I decided to share with you some things I discovered along the way. I repeat that I am not a professor of this language and I will only write things I know, which should be enough for beginners and for the intermediate.

First of all, the most difficult part for me have been the vowels. Sure, there are vowels in Persian, here they are:  
- و  -  u, o, and which is actually the letter v. At the beginning of a word it is written after the 'a' (with the 'a' letter not pronounced), for example:  او  which means 'he/she/it' and is pronounced 'u' ;

- ا , آ  -  a, the first form (the one on the left) is used at the beginning of words and it is read 'a', the second form is used at the beginning of words while it can also be used in the middle. When at the beginning it is pronounced more like an 'e/i' or not pronounced at all. For example:  امروز   which means 'today' and is pronounced 'emruz'

- ی -  i, this is the final form of the letter, unlike the first two letters presented here, 'i' can be linked with another letter to the left. For example دیروز   which means 'yesterday' and is pronounced 'diruz' and  آبی (notice the آ )  which means 'blue' and is pronounced 'abi'. In the first case, the letter 'i' is linked with the letter 'r' and in the second example the letter 'i' is presented in its final form.

Now comes the difficult part, Persian, like I said earlier, is an Indo-European language that uses a form of the Arabic alphabet and the result is that not all vowels are written in a word, but they are nonetheless pronounced.

Tajrish bazar, Tehran
Let's try a verb now so I can explain what I mean. 'To go' is  رفتن   and is pronounced 'raeftaen', something more like 'raftan', this is the infinitive form. As you see there are two vowels not written, the one between 'r' and 'f' and between 't' and 'n'.  رَفتَن  See the lines above the 'r' and 't' letters? These help you tell that after the 'r' you will say 'a' and after that 'f', these are not really letters, but more like "short vowel markers" and are rarely used, so be careful. There are another two such signs and I will use the letter 't' to show them.
تِ = t(e)
تُ = t(o) 
We will now make a sentence, anxious?  

او به بازار دیروز رفت
This translates as 'He to bazar yesterday went' or, adapted to English: He went to the bazar yesterday. [U beh bazar diruz raft]. Observe the structure: Subject - Object - Time - Verb. It is in Simple Past Tense
I think it's time to stop now, let me know what you think about this first lesson in the comment box, it is, after all, my first.

1 comment:

Jack Foster said...

Vowel lessons are great for every individuals to learned in order to have a wide knowledge on different English terms that applicable in learning's.

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