Read Persian From Right to Left

Posted by Rezwan Razani on Jun 24, 2013 at 03:20 PM

Persian is a right to left language, like Arabic and Hebrew.  Think about it: !tfel ot thgir daer uoY

Seriously.  Start reading at the right, end at the left. 

To help you visualize, the line below is “Read Persian from Right to Left” written from right to left:

tfeL ot thgiR morF naisreP daeR «

How did that feel? 

.gnisseug m’I ,driew ytterP

And yet, kind of cool, no?  Now you want to keep doing it. 
Itching to go back and forth, you are.

!odriew uoy ,daeh ym fo tuo teG

What a wonderfully pointless Twitter exercise this would be.  #texting_rtl

ltr_gnitxet# ,rehtar rO

“fArsi” Right to Left

Let’s take the word “fArsi,” which is the Persian word for “Persian.” Here you see the letters that make up “fArsi”. Why do we use a lowercase f and capital A in “fArsi?” See Transliteration

Keep in mind that Persian is a semi-cursive script. These letters you see are in detached form. They connect together following a few simple rules - illustrated here:

It’s still »fArsi, but you read it the other way: isrAf«

Still not oriented? Try visualizing it as a mirror image: fArsi |

Got it? Yes | No


Great! Now you know how to read letters the right way in a word. You can have fun all day reading words! You can flip over one word magnet at a time and actually pick up the alphabet just from decoding English and Persian. But you’re still not quite ready to tackle a sentence yet. Why not? Because there are a few more things you need to know about Persian word order in a sentence. Click here to see what they are »

No?  :-(

Still don’t quite get the concept? Here is a bonus pep talk:  Repetition and exposure are the key to learning language. But beyond that, don’t fear that it’s too weird to “read backwards.” Your mind can make the switch! It’s very natural.

The human mind is making switches like this all the time. Re-orienting itself, re-calibrating. Pivoting. Using and processing reverse images. It’s like when you look in your rear view mirror to figure out if you can change the lane, or when you check people out on BART (Rapid Transit) through their reflection in the window so they don’t see you looking at them. I’s like having a US Driver’s license then going to England and renting a car. And you find yourself driving on the other side of the road! While sitting in the other side of the car! Shifting gears with your left hand! And pressing the clutch with your right foot [or not - I think that bit’s universal]!

And yet, after a little bit of fear you find that you’ve simply switched! It’s like when you’ve broken your arm and have to learn how to paint with your feet. [OK, that’s pushing it]. In any case, being able to switch visual orientation between languages is a useful skill. Among other things, it gets your brain used to looking at things in different ways. The benefits of this are many, and surprising.

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