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Lesson Transcript

Becky: Hi everyone, welcome back to PersianPod101.com. I’m Becky. This is Pronunciation Series, lesson 2 - Basic Vowels and Diphthongs in Persian.
Mohammad: Hello everyone, I’m Mohammad.

Lesson focus

Becky: So listeners, did you practice the sounds from lesson one? We hope you’ve got a much better idea of Persian consonant sounds now!
Mohammad: And we have more sounds for you in this lesson – the vowel sounds!
Becky: In this lesson, we’re going to learn these single vowel sounds first. Then in the second part, we’ll introduce the Persian diphthongs, which are sounds created by combining 2 single vowel letters.
Mohammad: We highly recommend you use the lesson notes as you listen, to get a better idea of the sounds we are talking about.
Becky: Alright. Let’s get started with the single vowels.
Mohammad: In the Persian language, there are 6 single vowels, 3 of which are called "Short", and the other 3 are "Long" vowels.
Becky: The 3 short vowels plus one long vowel, are all created by a single alphabet character named "Alef", with different sounds and written forms.
Mohammad: Yes. And the 2 remaining long vowels are the two letters that can change from consonants to vowels, depending on their sound in a word.
Becky: We learned these two as "Conditional Consonants" in the previous lesson. So Mohammad, what is the special characteristic of "Short Vowels"?
Mohammad: "Short Vowels" are considered those that can become little marks above consonants inside a word, or can even be completely removed, but still pronounced.
Becky: Okay. What’s the first short vowel, out of the three?
Mohammad: The first is pronounced "AA" like the [a] in the word "Cat". It is called "Fathe" or "Zebar" in Persian.
Becky: Yes, and it’s shown as a diagonal - from the bottom left to the top right - stroke above consonants, or above the vertical stroke of the "Alef" letter at the beginning of a word.
Mohammad: That's right. For example, the "A" in the word "Dars" meaning "Lesson", and "Asl" meaning "Original". This vowel is often used in Persian.
Becky: Great. What's the next vowel?
Mohammad: It’s the sound of "E", just like in the English word "Bell". This one is called "Kasreh" or "Zir", and is written as a little diagonal stroke under consonants or under the "Alef" stroke at the beginning of a word.
Becky: Can you give us examples, Mohammad?
Mohammad: Examples are "Emruz" meaning "Today", and "Ketab" meaning "Book". It's very similar to the English “E” sound in a word, so it shouldn't be too hard to remember.
Becky: Ok, now the last short vowel is the "O" sound, as in the English word "Mode".
Mohammad: It's named "Zammeh" or "Pish", and is also shown as a little English comma or apostrophe mark above consonants, or above the "Alef" stroke used at the beginning of a word.
Becky: An example, please.
Mohammad: Like, for example "Oftad" meaning "Fell", and "Panjom" meaning "The Fifth".
Becky: Alright. These were our "Short Vowels". Next we have 3 "Long Vowels". Mohammad, how are these different from the short ones?
Mohammad: The main difference is in their shape. That’s because they don't become those little removable marks inside of a word, and stay as a whole character. That said, they still have initial, middle, and final forms.
Becky: Ok. The first long vowel out of the three makes the sound the "A" in "Ball". Actually, it was the first sound students used to learn in school.
Mohammad: The initial form of it is a vertical stroke with a "Wave" mark above it, which is called "Hat" or "Kollah" in Persian. That's why it's known by the nickname "Aye Ba Kollah" or "A, With Hat".
Becky: But, in the middle and final forms, it doesn't have the "Hat".
Mohammad: Yes. For example, the first words taught in schools were "Ab" meaning "Water" and "Nan" meaning "Bread". And the first sentence was "Baba Ab Dad" meaning "Father passed the water", which is a good way of practicing the "A" sound, since all the vowels in it are "A"!
Becky: (laughs) Definitely.Now, our next long vowel is one of the conditional characters. It's pronounced "OO", like in the word "Moon".
Mohammad: The written form is the letter "Vav", the same letter which will be a consonant when pronounced as "V" in other cases. As a vowel, it usually has the "OO" sound like in the word "Joojeh" meaning "Chicken", or just "OO", which means "He" or "She" in Persian. Sometimes it can also sound like "O", which is still a vowel.
Becky: Ok. Our last long vowel is another conditional character.
Mohammad: Yes. It’s the one with an "i/ee" sound, as in the words "Feel" or "Iran".
Becky: As a reminder, it was a consonant when it sounded like "Ye" in "Yoyo".
Mohammad: That’s right. Other examples are "Miz" meaning "Table", and "Si" meaning "Thirty".
Becky: These were the single vowel sounds in the Persian language. But Persian also has diphthong sounds.
Mohammad: Yes, and there are two of them - each one is created by combining two other vowels, a primary vowel and a secondary one.
Becky: Ok, jumping right in... our first diphthong is?
Mohammad: It is called "Ei", and pronounced like the "Ay" in "Pay".
Becky: "Ei" is created by mixing the two vowels short "E", and long "i".
Mohammad: You can find the "Ei" sound in the words "Eyvan" meaning "Veranda", and "Eyalat" meaning "Province" or "State".
Becky: Ok, and the next diphthong sound is...
Mohammad: The "OU" combination. It sounds like the "oa" in the word "coal".
Becky: It's created by combining the "O" and "U" vowel sounds, right?
Mohammad: That's right. Like in the word "Showra", which means "Council".
Becky: Let's explain diphthong sounds a little more for our listeners. Mohammad, how do you pronounce the two vowel sounds, that create a diphthong?
Mohammad: They both have to be pronounced with the same tone and speed. With an equal amount of stress.
Becky: Is it true that in some Persian texts, these two are not listed as diphthong vowels, but as the two different sounds that they're made from? What I mean is, "Ei" is considered just as "E" and "i" next to each other, and "OU" is also just the vowel "O" next to the vowel "U"?
Mohammad: Yes, it's true. I myself didn't know them as diphthongs until a while ago, since they're not taught in school. You only find out when you do a bit of research.
Becky: But our listeners already know them as diphthongs! They're one step ahead of any other learner!
Mohammad: That’s right!
Betsey: Ok, now we've covered all the vowels and diphthongs in Persian. Try to find them in more examples, or wherever you see a new Persian word.
Mohammad: That will be very good practice!
Becky: And please don’t forget to read the accompanying PDF lesson notes carefully - they provide all the details and explanations.


Becky: That’s it for this lesson. Thanks for listening.
Mohammad: Khoda Hafez.
Becky: See you next time!