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Transliteration and Pronunciation

Letter

Transliteration


Arabic Pronunciation

IPA


Persian Difference

IPA

ب

b


as in but and cab

b




ت

t


as in tie, cat and stop

t




ث

th


as in thing

θ


as in sea and pass

s

ج

j


as in joy and giant

d͡ʒ




ح


no equivalent (heavier and higher than h)

ħ


as in high and ahead

h

خ

kh


as in Scottish pronunciation of loch

x




د

d


as in had and do

d




ذ

dh


as in this, breathe and father

ð


as in zoo

z

ر

r


rolled r, closest equivalent as in rule

r




ز

z


as in zoo

z




س

s


as in see, city and mass

s




ش

sh


as in she, sure and emotion

ʃ




ص


as in massage


as in city and see

s

ض


as in dark


as in zoo

z

ط


as in star


as in tick or talk

t

ظ


as in bazaar

ðˤ


as in zoo

z

ع

`


no equivalent (voiced pharyngeal fricative)

ʕ


Glottal stop, as between uh-oh

ʔ

غ

gh


no equivalent

ɣ



ɣ or G

ف

f


as in fill

f




ق

q


llike k but from further back in the mouth

q



G or ɣ

ك

k


as in sky, crack and kiss

k


written in Persian as ک


ل

l


as in feel, lie and sly

l




م

m


as in him and smile

m




ن

n


as in nigh, month and can

n




ه

h


as in high and ahead

h




و

v


as in weep, wye and swine

w


as in valve, vie and have

v

ي

y


as in you and yes

j




پ

p





as in pie, spy and cap

p

چ

ch





as in china and catch

ژ

zh





as in closure and equation

ʒ

گ

g





as in rag and get

ɡ

The Bahá’í Holy Texts, including those in which the names of the Badí’ calnedar days and months were revealed, were written in Arabic sript, in the Arabic and Persian languages. English is written using Latin script (also called Roman script) which uses a different set of characters.

Letters in the Arabic script do not all equate exactly to an equivalent in the Latin script, therefore when Arabic or Persian words are written using the English alphabet a system of transliteration is used to indicate the approximate pronunciation of  the word in the original language.

Around the world Arabic has several dialects and variations in pronunciation, the Persians pronounce many Arabic words differently from native Arabic speakers and the Persian pronunciations have generally been adopted by Western Bahá’ís, therefore the most common pronunciation of Bahá’í months weekdays and holy days, in the western world, are Persian Arabic pronunciations.  

A letter from the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer in 1995 suggests there is no "proper" pronunciation of Arabic, offering some observations on the subject. That letter can be read here.

Consonants

The resources below are for those who wish to review the traditional Arabic and Persian pronunciations associated with the transliterated texts, the tables are based on information provided in the Dawn Breakers and across several Wikipedia entries, they aim to show the correct transliteration under the Bahá’í system and the approximate pronunciation associated with it. IPA stands for International Phonetic Alphabet.

Letter

Transliteration


Pronunciation

IPA


a


as in account, quiet and focus

ə

ا

á


as in arm, father and palm

ɑː


u


as in short and thought

ɔː

و

ú


as in moon, do and chew


i


as in best, fell and men

ɛ

ي

í


as in meet, sea and seed


aw


as in mown, foal and bone

Vowels

There are two videos demonstrating the Arabic, rather than Persian Arabic, pronunciation of the names of the months and weekdays on the videos page of this website.