Persian Language (Fārsī/فارسی)

The Persian language has been written with a number of different scripts, including the Old Persian Cuneiform, Pahlavi, Aramaic, and Avestan, Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. After the Islamic conquest of the Persian Sassanian Empire in 642 AD, Arabic became the language of government, culture and especially religion.

Modern Persian appeared during the 9th century. It is written in a version of the Arabic script and is full of words of Arabic origin. There are also two methods of writing Persian with the Latin alphabet.

Under Mongolian and Turkish rulers, Persian was adopted as the language of government in Turkey, central Asia and India, where it was used for centuries, and until after 1900 in Kashmir.

Persian is a member of the Iranian branch of Indo-European languages spoken by about 130 million people, mainly in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. There are also significiant numbers of speakers in many other countries, including Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Turkey, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, Israel, Turkmenistan, Oman, Yemen, the UAE and the USA.

In Afghanistan Persian is known as Dari (درى) or Dari-Persian, while in Tajikistan it’s known as Tajiki (Тоҷики / تاجيكى).

Persian, Farsi or Parsi?

The official language of Iran is sometimes called Farsi in English and other languages. This is a correct transliteration of the native name of the language, however many, including the ISO and the Academy of Persian Language and Literature, prefer the name Persian for the language. Some speakers use the older local name: Parsi (پارسی). There is some discussion about this topic at: and wikipedia.

Iran or Persia?

Until 1935, the official name of the country currently known as Iran was Persia, though the Persian people have called their country Iran since the Sassanid period (226 – 651 AD). There’s further discussion about this at

Persian alphabet (الفبای فارسی) and pronunciation

Notable features

  • Type of writing system: abjad – includes letters only for consonants. Vowels, when indicated, are written with diacritics and/or combinations of consonant letters
  • Direction of writing: right to left in horizontal lines; numerals written from left to right.
  • Used to write: Persian (فارسی)
Persian alphabet and pronunciation

A recording of the Persian alphabet by Bahaareh Asghari (بهاره اصغرى)


  • Persian has seven vowel sounds: â (/ɒː/), a (/æ/), e (/e/), I (/iː/), o (/o/), u (/uː/), ow (/ou/)
  • “Alef” has no particular sound. At the beginning of words by means of diacritics it can denote “â” (آ), “a” (اَ), “e” (اِ), “o” (اُ) but elsewhere, it always denotes “â”. However, only the diacritic of “â” (آ) is commonly written and you just have to memorize the pronunciation. For example: آب (âb) – water, اسب (asb) – horse, امید (omid) – hope, امشب (emšab) – tonight.

Notes and corrections by Ali Jahanshiri


Persian numerals


The symbols for 4,5 and 6 are different from the standard numerals used for Arabic.

A recording of these numbers by Bahaareh Asghari (بهاره اصغرى)

Sample text

Sample text in Persian

Transliteration (from Ali Jahânshiri)
Tamâm-e afrâd-e bašar âzâd be donyâ miâyand va az lehâz-e heysiyat-o hoquq bâ ham barâbar-and. Hame dârâ-ye aql-o vejdân mibâšand va bâyad nesbat be yekdigar bâ ruh-e barâdari raftâr konand.

A recording of this text by Bahaareh Asghari (بهاره اصغرى)


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.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Information about Persian | Persian phrases | Persian numbers | Tower of Babel in Persian | Persian learning materials


Information about the Persian language

Online Persian lessons

Persian grammar

Persian Verb Conjugator

Adventures in Persian language and culture

Persian phrases

Persian fonts

Persian phonetic keyboard layout

Online Persian dictionaries

Persian Electronic talking dictionaries

Online English <> Persian translator

Online Persian news

Online Persian radio, TV and podcasts

FazMide | Persian Music Download

Links to a range of Persian sites (news, radio, etc.)

Information about Iran

Iranian languages

Avestan, Baluchi, Dari, Gilaki, Juhuri, Kurdish, Mazandarani, Ossetian, Persian, Parthian, Pashto, Shabaki, Tajik, Talysh, Tat, Wakhi, Yaghnobi, Zazaki

Other languages written with the Arabic script

Reference: Omniglot

Categorie:010.02- Atlante storico-linguistico - Historical-linguistic Atlas, 010.05- Scritture iraniche - Iranian scriptures, B30- [STORIA DELL'IRAN], B30.04- Filologia e cultura iranica



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