In an earlier post I challenged you to think about the written Dari form of a word as the “real” form of the word. This post will carry that a bit further by teaching you how to represent pronunciation with the Dari script using the Dari vowel marks, the [zer o zabar]. You can do this to save yourself having to write down the IPA pronunciation of a word. It’ll also make it easier to talk to Afghans about pronunciation who haven’t been linguistically trained. (Throughout, I assume that you know how to read; if you don’t yet, there are worse places to start than this guide.)
This is a long-ish post, since I’m trying to explain something, instead of just the usual yada-yada. You may want to bookmark this page and come back to it later.
First off we have the vowel sounds that have their own letters: [ʌ], [i], and [u]. These are written with their own vowel letters—with a little complication at the beginnings of words.
For these sounds, you can tell what the pronunciation is from using the letter. Easy.
To write this next set of words, you need the three vowel markers, which I’ll introduce below.
The system is that the vowel goes above or below the consonant that it follows. The word below is [tab] ‘fever.’ The short line above the [ت] makes the [a] sound. It is called [zabar].
To type a zabar, do Shift+U (or Shift+ع). (Here and throughout I assume you are using the Iranian Standard Keyboard instead of the Windows default keyboard. My references to Latin keys assume an English keyboard layout.)
The same line below the consonant makes the [ɛ] sound, as in [dɛl] ‘heart.’ It is called [zer].
To type a zer, do Shift+Y (or Shift+غ).
A little waw-like shape makes the [ʊ] sound, as in [pʊt] ‘hidden.’ It is called a [peʃ].
To type a pesh, do Shift+T (or Shift+ف).
If you’re learning to type, note that these diacritics are in order on the keyboard. It starts with U and goes right-to-left: zabar, zer, pesh = U Y T.
Now these letters do not have their own letters. [e] is written with ی and [o] is written with و. What to do?
My recommendation is to treat [e] as a zer followed by a ی, and [o] as a pesh followed by a و.
The only vowels that remain are the diphthongs, and we handle these as you would expect (shown after the table).
[aj] is zabar followed by ی.
[a] is zabar followed by و.
For [uj] we can just write وی:
For [ʌj] we can just write ای:
For [ʌw] we can just write او:
And remember how و and ی are ambiguous in the middle of a word? If there are vowel marks before and on top of a و (for instance), it’s making a [w] sound. Otherwise it’s a different sound. Look at [rawɛʃ]:
So, that is the system. Practice these a bit until you get comfortable with them. If you get good you can ditch IPA altogether. 😉
- I spent a good chunk of time last Spring moving LCP from the Glassman alphabet to the International Phonetic Alphabet. Now I’m moving the goal post again! Sigh…
- Relying on the vowel markers will really hurt your reading ability, so I have left them out of all other LCP materials. (Vowel markers are not typically used in texts.) I recommend these only for your personal use in writing!