I'm with you there - we're having work done on the house - which has turned into a major project. It's thrown my husband and I completely off our schedules - I know it needs to be done... but I hate it.

It's sad how much of my life is in a rut. Heh.

Posted by Teresa at August 16, 2007 03:41 PM

"the initial and medial forms are another story."

Fortunately most of the final forms are identical to the isolated forms.

I thought he already knew the Arabic alphabet, so he just had to add the Persian-only variants (ک instead of ك for kaaf) and letters to the inventory (پ pe, چ che, ژ zhe, گ gaaf).

Arabic would have had letters for p and g if only earlier p and g hadn't shifted to f and j (though Egyptian still has g: Gamal for جمال Jamal).

I hope he isn't too troubled by homophonous letters in Persian spelling. Since Persian didn't have a lot of Arabic consonants, Persians borrowed the spellings of Arabic words but pronounced them in a Persianized way without the Arabic sounds absent in Persian: e.g., Arabic ﺙ th and emphatic ﺹ s were Persianized as [s]. So if one hears [s] in Persian, one can't be sure if it's spelled with ﺙ se, ﺹ saad, or the regular [s]-letter ﺱ sin. [z] is even worse, with four spellings: the basic ز ze and ذ zaal, ض zaad, ظ zaa for Arabic words.

Persian spelling is overspecified on the one hand (due to the adherence to Arabic spelling) and yet underspecified on the other (due to the lack of full vowel representation). It's as if English had spellings like psychlgy and ptrdctyl which preserve Latinizations of Greek (ps = ψ, ch = χ, pt = πτ) but leave some vowels unwritten.

Here's a table listing the homophonous letters and indicating whether a given letter is used for Arabic borrowings or native Persian:

Paul Sprachman's (speak-man - what a name!) book Language and Culture in Persian delves into the issues of Persian writing in a style accessible to nonlinguists:

Reading LACIP is an entertaining way to learn about Persian without actually studying the language. The author himself e-mailed me out of the blue to recommend it and here I am, four years later, recommending it to you. The book may be even more fun if one is studying Persian.

Posted by Amritas at August 16, 2007 04:31 PM

Arabic ﺙ th and emphatic ﺹ s were Persianized as [s].

That reminds me: it seems that Persian underwent a th > s shift at some point (presumably before the introduction of the Arabic script), which is why سه se 'three' now has initial s- and is spelled with Arabic س s- instead of ث th-. In Avestan (a sort of grandaunt to modern Persian), 'three' had initial thr-, which in turn came from an earlier tr- still preserved in Sanskrit (and Greek and Latin).

Germanic and Avestan developed their thr- independently from tr-. English kept Germanic thr-, but most of Germanic gave up the difficult th-sound: hence Swedish tre, German drei, and Dutch drie (but Icelandic ŮrÝr still has th-!).

I just noticed that Pashto has adopted the German/Dutch strategy of changing th- to d-, at least in dre 'three' according to this table:

Other Iranian languages have weakened th- to h-.

I would imagine you've heard second-language speakers of English pronounce th- as s-. The Japanized version of 'three' is スリー surii and the Koreanized version is 스리 sUri.

Maybe I should put this on my blog instead of yours ...

Posted by Amritas at August 16, 2007 04:55 PM

Amritas -- My husband never learned to read or write Arabic, only to speak a little bit. So this is a new process for him. He did mention the other night how kind it is of you to comment about this and take an interest in his studies. I'm sure he will be fascinated by all your info.

Posted by Sarah at August 16, 2007 05:29 PM

Maybe I should put this on my blog instead of yours ...

Now I have yet another reason to come here!

Posted by David Boxenhorn at August 17, 2007 03:36 AM

Do you really think your mother would laugh herself silly?!? It doesn't take long to realize that with a new baby, you just roll with the punches! I know you'll do fine! You're much more organized than I am, and if I survived raising three children, you'll be able to also! Then when you're my age, you'll look back and think about all the silly things you stressed about. Wish I had been wiser then! I have sooo mellowed in my old age!!
I love you!
Your Mama

Posted by nancy at August 18, 2007 12:28 AM

Actually, my son has put me more into a routine. He's much happier when we keep to a schedule. So all may not be lost!

Posted by Non-Essential Equipment at August 19, 2007 02:41 PM