The Buddha on the Benz

Posted by Rezwan Razani on Sep 25, 2013 at 08:52 PM

Buddha, Benz and Being: Let the Buddha take you on a ride with all six Persian vowel sounds.

Here is a meditation to help you get in touch with Persian vowel sounds and their appearance in writing. Just say this mantra over and over in Persian:

Wind was.
The willow was.
The Buddha on the Benz was.

(Yes, Persian word order is a bit different). How to say it in Persian? Let’s explore:

Note: You can skip the reading if you just get a native speaker to help you say the mantra at the bottom of this page . Say it over and over, like “The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly On the Plain”. If you can get it right, you’ve got the vowel sounds DOWN! Rock on!

Long Vowels: A, u, i

Here are three handy words to practice the long vowels with. They all start with “b” and end with “d”.

Are you having a hard time with the transliteration? We use A, u, i as follows:
AAHHH, you’re at the doctors,
OOOH, what a stud and
EEEE! a mouse!

A - the long a as in “father”
u - the long u as in “glue” (or the double o in “ooze”)
i - The i as in the Italian “lira”, the “ea” as in “ear” or the “ei” as in “weird”.

Staying out of the trap of infinite English spelling weirdness

Note, “Iran” is “ear-on”, not “eye-ran”.  We transliterate it as “irAn”

“willow, was, wind” above are not pronounced “bid, bud, bAd” as in “I BID on the roseBUD vase on ebay by mistake, my BAD.”

It’s “bid, bud, bAd” as in “the BEADy eyes of the BUDDha fell upon my BODy”.

You may ask, why don’t you just transliterate the words as “bead”, “budd…ok, no, bood, OK, wait, I know, booed”, and “bod”?

See! That’s why.

Because we’re not about to fall into the trap of all the infinite variations of English vowel sound spelling weirdness. Just stick with the program. A, u, i: AAHHH, you’re at the doctors, OOOH, what a stud and EEEE! a mouse! And you’re good. And we have a simple, consistent transliteration, suitable for text-messaging which will make whole word recognition much easier.

Just get into the mode that this is a Persian word you’re reading, that just happens to be spelled with English letters.

Still not sure if you’re sounding it out right? Get your Persian friends to help you say the words. That’s what they’re for!

Now, with these three words, we can basically make two sentences: bAd bud and bid bud - there was wind, and there was a willow. Or wind was, willow was. Let’s add some more.

Short Vowels: a, e, o

Now here are words that use the invisible zir-o-zebar (described more in the vowel article) those little dashes and squiggles above a letter that indicate the vowel sound. We show the zir-o-zebar here just for this entry. But they don’t usually appear in written Persian. You need to get used to reading words without them.

Again, a review of the transliteration, we use a, e, o as follows: a - The short, crisp a in “cat†e - The short, crisp e in “bet†o - A short, crisp o as in “ohâ€Â, but without a “w†sound at the end. Keep it crisp, cut it off.

So, while “benz” is pronounced “benz”, “buddha, on†are not pronounced “bot, bar” as in “the roBOT got a drink at the BAR”, but rather ... Interesting. These sounds are subtle. The “o” especially, (it’s “boat” without the “w” sound - row your bowt, hold the “w”). And I’m drawing a blank finding a syllable of an English word that is “bar” pronounced like “bat”.

Now say:

All Vowels

OK, let’s put it all together, without the zirozebar, as it would appear in a book. This gives us a lovely truncated Haiku that says “There was wind. There was a willow. The buddha was on the (mercedes) benz” - “bAd bud, bid bud, bot bar benz bud”:


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