How can there be a SINGLE standard Latin script (mainly for International purposes) which properly represent standard Iranian Persian, Afghan Persian and Tajik Persian.

Especially the different vowels seems to be an issue (historical vowel shifts): Persian phonology - Wikipedia

There are examples which are merely suitable for Iranian Persian:

However, things get more complicated when we consider Afghan and Tajik Persian:

  • The word for fruit میوه is pronounced mīvé in Iranian Persian but mēwa in Afghan Persian.
  • The long vowel in زود "quick" and زور "strong" is realized as /ū/ in Iranian Persian [zūd + zūr], in contrast, these words are pronounced /zūd/ and /zōr/ respectively by Persian speakers in Afghanistan.

More on phonology differences

  • 4
    Do you mean a standard where words are spelled the same in all 3? Do you mean a standard where a reader would unambiguously know the pronunciation of any word? English has a single standard script, for all purposes, that is used for US, Canada, Australia, England, Scotland... with a few spelling differences.
    – user6726
    Aug 30, 2017 at 15:43
  • @user6726 Yes, very similar like English. I'm looking for suggestions / ideas where one standard would leave enough ambiguity to serve all standards. I also edited the question with examples which merely suits Iranian Persian. Aug 30, 2017 at 20:04
  • 1
    So نوروز should be spelled the same in all forms of Persian, and you want a single Latin spelling, like "nawrūz" (setting aside how that is actually pronounced in specific dialects)?
    – user6726
    Aug 30, 2017 at 20:48
  • @user6726 Yes, exactly! In case of نوروز, I would go for nowruz as the ow is ambivalent enough to be pronounced o, ou, au even av (for Tajik Persian). I added some pronunciation examples. Aug 31, 2017 at 6:35

1 Answer 1


Yes it is possible, in fact writing Persian using Latin alphabet clearly shows its indo-european nature and can be extremely useful if done correctly, here I introduce you the one I'm currently employing.

There is one thing that has to be addressed first, changing alphabet means RESTANDARDIZATION and the question is which accent should be considered the standard form of speaking and writing? should it be the linguistically weak Tehrani accent (becasue it has structural differences with the standard)? or maybe we can do what Germans did which means creating an enhanced standard register that is not anybody's native dialect. In fact the second option is much better because we've had a well-standardized language for over 1000 years by using which Iranians and non-iranians have produced lots of works such as shahnamah, hence the restandardized language has to be based on classical Persian entirely so that people can always understand the old books like shahnama (written 1000 years ago). With this in mind we have to reemploy the phonological system of classical Persian which is not drastically different from that of modern Iranian and eastern dialects excluding tehrani dialect, the fact is that for many native speakers of Iranian dialects the difference between the so-called ma'lum and majhul vowel still exists, in many part of Iran words likr Kūr (blind), Rīš (beard) are still pronounced like Kōr and Rēš which means ŠĪR-ŠĒR and KŌR-DŪR mergers are not widespread in Iran and are mostly regional, the educitional system of Iran has stupidly imposed the tehrani dialect's phonology on all other native speakers which is harmful, also many native speakers in Iran do not merge the Qāf and Qeyn consonants, this phenomenon exist only in Tehran and surrounding areas. In websites like wikipedia there are lots of misinformation about Persians and The Persian language. Reintroduction of Classical Persian vowel and consonantal system will be well-recieved by most of native speakers of Persian in any country/region which will give us a standard way of communication.

Classical Phonology what was is like?

A) vowels

It has 8 vowels mostly dintinguishable by length.

  1. /a/ and /a:/ in many modern dialects the short one has changed to /æ/ and the long one has changed to a back vowel /ɑ/ that can be rounded /ɒ/

The short one can be represented by A and the long one can be represented by Â

  1. /u/ and /u:/

It is said that the short one has changed to /o/ but I always realize it as /ʊ/ (I speak mashhadi dialect) and the long one has been shortened to /u/

In tajiki dialect the quality hasn't changed instead the length difference has disappeared

Even native speakers of Tehrani dialect mostly pronounce this vowel pair like the classical period therefore words like Ghorub and Šomā are clearly pronunced Ghurūb and Šumā, this is also true for native speakers of nishāburi dialect (nearly 800000 native speakers)

The short one can be represented by U and the long one with the letter V (classical Persian didn't have any /v/ sound hence we can employ the letter to represent a long vowel)

  1. /i/ and /i:/

The first one has changed to /e/ but It's also realized as /ɪ/ in some dialects and the long one has been shortened to /u/

In tajiki dialect the quality hasn't changed instead the length difference has disappeared

Native speakers of tehrani dialect mostly pronounce this vowel pair like the classical period therefore a word like Gonješk is mostly pronounced as Gunjišk.

The short one can be represented by the letter I and the long one can be represented by the letter Y (latin writte syatem would use I two repreaent both /j/ and /i/ so can do Persian).

  1. /e:/ and /o/ These two vowels have the exact quality of german e and o in words like der and sohn. According to Wikipedia and many linguists who apparently consider tehrani dialect as the only existing dialect of Persian, these two vowels have merged with /i/ and /u/ respectively but as I said earlier it's regional phenomenon.

In tajik dialect the /e:/ has changed in length and the /o:/ has changed in both quality and length but in many other living dialects these two vowels still exist, therefore it can be confusing two say 'šīr asb rā xord' because it means 'the milk ate the horse' the correct one is 'sēr asb rā xord'.

The /e:/ can be represented by the letter E and the /o:/ can be represented by the letter O

So far we need 8 letters to represent this vowel system which are: a, â, i, y, u, v, o, e therefore the problem of vowel to letter correspondence is solved.

B) consonants

Most of consonants of modern Persian are the same as classical period but some consonants have disappeared

the /xw/ changed to /x/. this one has to be reintrodced in order to reduce the number of homophones. the XW can be used to represent it. it is said some dialects have preserved it.

Xwadam (myself), Xwardan (to eat/drink) Xwâstan (to want, to desire), Xwârdan (to drink)

the /ð/ changed to either /d/ (word-finally) or /z/ (between vowels).

it has to be reintoduced word-medially. the DH can be used to represent it.

gozaštan in modern Persian changes to /guðaʃtan/ and is written like Gudhaßtan

the /β/ consoant was replaced by /b/ therefore zabān would be pronounced zaβān but even in that time it was a matter of dialectal differences. not so many dialects featured this one hence there is no need to reintroduce this one.

In current standard there are no initial consonant clusters but many dialects feature these clusters therefore all of them have to be reintroduced to the standard written language hence words like šekastan, barādar and sepās have to be pronounced škastan, brādar and spās and written like ßkastan, Brâdar and Spâs (to break, brother, thanks respectively)

for consonants we need 24 symbols

b, c, d, f, g, ğ, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, ß, t, w, x, y, z, ž, ø

digraphs: aw and ay for the dipthongs of classical Persian dh for /ð/ sound.

the letter c represents the sound of ch in chair

the ğ represents the ghayn consonant

the letter q represents the /q/ sound

the letter ß represents the sound of sh in she

the letter ž represents the sound of s in vision

the letter ø indicates that the preceding vowel is pronounced slightly longer, in fact this is how most of native speakers pronounce hamza and eyn, the ø is used to transcript hamza and eyn consonant letters in perso-arabic.

bad = bad baød /bæ:d/ = next

other letters make their usual sound in English

now all that has to be done is to rearrange the written language and introduce the alphabet to native speakers.

Some rules of orthography

  1. the use of apostrphe tho seperate the enclitics

xāna'm (my house)

  1. All nouns have to be capitalized

Maryam ba Xâna'ß raft (Maria went to her house)

  1. the genetive particle has to be alwayes written with an ' i '

ßâh i ßâhân (king of kings)

Panjira i Xâna (house's window)

  1. like most other indo-european languages short forms of the verb 'to be' have to be written separately.

am, y, ast, em, ed, and (I am, you are, he/she/it is, we are, you (all) are, they are respectively)

Mâ dar Xâna em/yem (we are home/we are inside the house) some native speakers add an /j/ when the preceding word ends in a vowel

  1. like most othe indo-european languages the negative particle 'na' and the negative imparetive particle ' ma ' have to be written separately.

ma kun (don't do it)

na merawam (I don't go/I'm not going)

  1. the imperfect particle 'me' can be attached to the base root but writting it separately is also correct.

me rawam = merawam (I go/I am going)

Let's write a few words using our new alphabet!


Man (I/me/mine)

Tu (you/you/yours)

Oy (he,she/him,her/his,hers)

Way (he,she/him,her/his,hers) Ân (it)

Mâ (we/us/ours)

ßumâ (you/you/yours)

Eßân (they/them/theirs) (humans only)

Ânhâ (they/them/theirs) (non-animate)

Ânân (they/them/theirs) (Humans and animal)

mosot of native speakers use third person pronouns wrongly thanks to wrong grammar that's employed as standard.

The verb to be

short forms that attach

Am (I'm) Y /i:/ (you're) Ast (is)

Em /e:m/ (we're) Ed /e:d/ (you're) And (they're)

other form

bawam (I am) bawy (you are) bawad (he/she/it is)

bawem (we are) bawed (you all are) bawand (they are)

these forms are used in written Persian only, perhaps it's better to encourage native speakers to use this one agains

long forms (emphatic forms)

hastam (I am) hasty (you are) hast (he/she/it is)

hastem (we are) hasted (you are) hastand (they are)

(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood

Correct translation:

Hama i Âdamyzâdân zâda me ßawand âzâd u barâbar dar Âbroy u Haqhâ, Bad'eßân Xirad u Hoßyâry dâda me ßawad u me bâyad nisbat ba hamdygar bâ Rvhiya i Barâdary raftâr kunand

in perso-arabic

همهٔ آدمیزادان زاده می‌شوند آزاد و برابر در آبروی و حقها، بدیشان خرد و هوشیاری داده می‌شود و می‌باید نسبت به همدیگر با روحیهٔ برادری رفتار کنند.

compare it with this one (which is not as accurate as above)

Tamām-e afrād-e bashar āzād be-donyā miyāyand va az lehāż-e heis̱īyat-o hoqūq bāham barābarand. Hame dārā-ye ʿaql-o vejdān mībāshand va bāyad nesbat be-yekdīgar bā rūh-e barābarī raftār konand.

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