texting fArsi campaign - 10 rules

Posted by Rezwan Razani on Sep 26, 2013 at 02:40 AM

Do the inconsistencies of texted fArsi annoy you? These ten quick rules simplify Persian texting and make it accessible to a global audience.

Why use this texting fArsi protocol?

The Persian language has a beauty and simplicity that is easily captured in English texting if you follow ten simple “rules”.* If you are an English speaker, you may have a hard time because you overthink it.  There are only 6 vowel sounds to master for Persian.  Once you get those - you have most of the sound down.  There are a couple of difficult consonants and a few odd consonant blends (“sh” followed by “f” - kashf, for example). 

We’ve come up with a simple texting fArsi protocol to help people who don’t speak Persian be able to figure out what a word sounds like, even if they don’t know what it means. This protocol is useful for native speakers as well. The consistency and simplicity of the rules clear up a lot of texting clutter and increases the speed of comprehension of a texted passage.  Try it for a while.  You’ll see.

*Why “rules” in quotes? Because this is a voluntary standard, not some law of nature. More about language and “rules” here.

texting fArsi: the Movie

We made this video to promote the #textingfArsi campaign in connection with the Indiegogo Persian English word magnet campaign.  Please note, you can use #textingfArsi protocol anywhere, any time, with or without magnets.  #textingfArsi is FREE!  It’s something you choose to do. Choose it! Get systematic.  It’s simple and it can bring Persian language back in vogue GLOBALLY!  The connection with magnets is that we came up with the protocol while making the magnets.  More info about the magnets here.

The Ten (10) Rules for texting fArsi

a = short a in cat
e = e in bell
o = o in port

A = long a in awe, father
u = u in tune
i = i in kiwi

x = ch in loch, bach = خ
q = guttural like French r in rien
= glottal stop = ع

no capital letters except “A”

And that’s IT!

These 10 simple rules of texting fArsi can revolutionize legibility of Persian language on the internet and restore Persian as a “lingua franca”. There is no complicated academic notation to master. It’s simple and easy to text.

The first six rules are about simplifying the vowels. Persian basically has 6 vowel sounds, so we can dedicate one English vowel letter to each sound (a, e, i, o, u) plus one capital letter A for the long A sound in fAther.  If you don’t deviate from using these six letters for all Persian vowel sounds, it will create marvelous consistency. 

You will need to fight the temptation to use a variety of English spelling for the same vowel sound. Don’t start down that road, there is no end.  Take “i” for example.  We’re using it for the “i” sound in “kiwi” or “pizza” or “ski” or “Iran”.  You might be tempted to try some other combinations, like the “ee” in “peel” or the “ea” in “ear” or the “y” in “ready” or the “ei” in “weird”....there’s no end.  Stick with “i” for that sound. 

Be strong. Don’t waver. 

The next two rules relate to consonants, x for خ and q for ق and غ .  We went with x and q because they use half the letters of “kh” and “gh”, and we’re not using x and q for anything else.

The ninth rule involves using an apostrophe for the glottal stop.  This is a bit tricky as Persian’s don’t pronounce the glottal stop as strongly as Arabs do.  Sometimes you’ll use the apostrophe even though the sound effect doesn’t come in to play.  It’s a judgment call.


The final rule involves not using capital letters, not even in names. You don’t use them in Persian, why use them in transliterating? The only capital letter to use is the capital A for the long vowel sound in “fAther”.  That way, it will be clear that you have a long A sound coming up when you see an A.  This is an important rule for clearing up pronunciation in texting fArsi.  I can’t emphasize it enough.  It’s a game changer.  The cost is, you lose capitalizing names, which may seem weird. 

But think about it.  With this method, you won’t be confused by the difference between Arash and ahmad. AzitA and armaqAn. As a bonus, this method of texting gives you the feeling that you are definitely writing a foreign language - this evokes Persian script, in which the alef in the middle of a word does break up the word.

Capital letters are so LATIN anyway. 

Advanced Texting

The nine rules for texting fArsi are the ultimate in simplicity.  Their advantage is they will help you sound out the word even if you don’t know what the word is.  They will not, however, help you spell the word properly.  Because the Persian alphabet has several redundant consonants.  Two letters that have a “t” sound, four letters with a “z” sound, three with an “s” and two with an “h”.  If you want a texting protocol that can be reverse engineered to show how the word is spelled in fArsi, you need more advanced texting, along the lines of “Arabish.”  This is a way of texting Arabic. See Arabic Chat Alphabet - Wikipedia.  Arabish uses a mix of letters, numbers and symbols to distinguish each letter so it can be spelled correctly when translating back into Arabic. The four z’s are thus texted differently, so you know which z it is.

Retweetable Rules for texting fArsi

Here are the Rules for texting in Persian (aka fArsi) in handy retweetable format.  Help spread the word!  #textingfArsi #rules

Rule 1:  6 letters for 6 vowel sounds

There are only 6 vowel sounds in Persian.  (As explained by the Buddha on the Benz.)  Consistently use the following 6 letters for those sounds, and that’s 90% of the battle in texting fArsi.

CAPITAL A v. lowercase a

capital A only. everything else lower case.

It might help to remember, this is a Persian word you’re reading, it just happens to be spelled with English letters. In Persian, words don’t start with capital letters. 

This makes a big difference with names.  Say your name is Arash.  That does have a long “A” sound for the first “a”.  But what if your name is Ahmad?  It’s really the short a:  ahmad.  And how about Bahar and Babak?  You keep having to pronounce your names for Americans, and they still don’t get it.  Now try with the a rules. 



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