A Bahá'í Glossary
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Many of the terms used in the Bahá'í Writings are Arabic or Persian. Consequently, if you don't speak Arabic or Persian, you may find it difficult to pronounce the transliterated terms. Below we have placed the pronunciation guide found in the Bahá'í Glossary by Marzieh Gail. It is difficult to learn how to properly pronounce words which originated in different languages from written phonetic spellings. To make things more difficult, there are dozens of different dialects in Arabic and Persian. Below we present one.
A note about the underlined characters. There are seven double characters which are underlined — c̲h̲, d̲h̲, g̲h̲, k̲h̲, s̲h̲, t̲h̲, and z̲h̲. These appear as they are supposed to as delineated in the Bahá'í Glossary. There are five single underlined characters — , ḥ, ṣ, ṭ, and ẓ. These should have a dot under them rather than an underscore. However, there is no character in HTML code for a dot under a letter, so we underlined them to differentiate them from plain characters. If you are not confused yet . . . . read on . . .
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See also:  Bahá'í orthography
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From the preface in the Bahá'í Glossary
by Marzieh Gail
REMARKS
     Transliteration means putting the letters of one alphabet into another alphabet. There are sounds in Arabic and Persian which have no English equivalents. For this reason letters and combinations have to be made up to represent these sounds: g̲h̲, k̲h̲, and so forth. Besides this, Persian has four z's, three s's, two t's and two h's, which have to be differentiated in English by made-up letters, such as d, t̲h̲ and t.
     Persian and Arabic pronunciation varies throughout the Middle East; people from Cairo, Ṭihrán and Kás̲h̲án respectively would pronounce the same word three different ways. These variations are the greater because short vowels are not written; for example, "cat" would be spelled "ct." A Persian, seeing for the first time a list of unfamiliar Persian towns, cannot tell how to pronounce them. (To help Persian and Arab readers pronounce unfamiliar words "diacritical" marks are used.) Ṭihrán Persian is considered the best.
     In the early days, Orientalists added to the confusion by transliterating Persian and Arabic to suit themselves. A German might spell S̲h̲áh "Schah" while a Frenchman spelled it "Chah." On March 12, 1923, the Guardian of the Faith requested the Bahá'ís to "avoid confusion in future" by faithfully adhering to a uniform spelling (which had been adopted at one of the International Oriental Congresses). On November 26,1923, the Guardian wrote:
     "I am confident that the friends will not feel their energy and patience taxed by a scrupulous adherence to what is an authoritative and universal, though arbitrary code for the spelling of Oriental terms." These communications from Shoghi Effendi appear in Bahá'í Administration, page 56.
     The result has been that order has replaced the previous individualistic and whimsical spelling of various early texts. Today a student, seeing a Persian or Arabic word transliterated according to this system, can immediately write the word back into the original, whereas formerly he often had to guess at what the original might be.
     The "rhymes-with" and the "sounds-like" method is in the present writer's view the easiest now available. The American public is not polyglot and balks at phonetic symbols and other complicated aids familiar to linquists. An accurate pronunciation can be acquired only by listening to, and imitating, persons accurately speaking a given tongue. At best, the present text can provide only an approximation to the original Persian sounds.
     It was not possible to include every proper noun in the Bahá'í Writings, but an attempt has been made to list names most often present in compounds. If a Persian or Arabic name is carefully scrutinized, element by element, it will prove easier to deal with: S̲h̲ayk̲h̲ Aḥmad-i-Ahs'i means a religious leader named Aḥmad from the town of Aḥsá. Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid 'Alí means one who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca, is of the scholar class and a descendant of the Prophet Muḥammad, and named 'Alí. The compound Abu'l-Ḥasan means Father of Ḥasan. The last element, when it does not refer to a town, often denotes the man's occupation: Bazzáz is a cloth merchant, Rikáb-Sáz a stirrup maker. Mírzá the beginning of a name denotes an educated person or a scholar; at the end of a name it means Prince.
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GUIDE TO TRANSLITERATION AND PRONUNCIATION OF THE
PERSIAN ALPHABET, TOGETHER WITH THE NUMERICAL VALUE
OF THE LETTERS (ABJAD RECKONING)*
  LETTER TRANSLITERATION PRONUNCIATION NUMERICAL VALUE
  á, a arm, cat 1
  b b 2
  p p  
  t t 400
  t̲h̲ see 500
  j John 3
  c̲h̲ church  
  h h 8
  k̲h̲ loch 600
  d d 4
  d̲h̲ z 700
  r r 200
  z z 7
  z̲h̲ pleasure  
  s so 60
  s̲h̲ she 300
  s so 90
  d z 800
  t t 9
  z z 900
    silent "uh" 70
  g̲h̲ get 1000
  f f 80
  q get 100
  k k 20
  g get  
  l l 30
  m m 40
  n n 50
  v, ú v, oo 6
  h h 5
  y, í yes, ee 10
  ' silent "uh" 1
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* The non-Arabic letters in the Persian alphabet have no abjad value.
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  a ..... as in account, or cat i ..... as "e" in best u ..... as "o" in short
  á ..... as in arm í ..... as "ee" in meet ú ..... as "oo" in moon
  aw .. as "ow" in mown    
 
These four letters are pronounced "z": d̲h̲, d, z, z.
These three letters are pronounced "ss": t̲h̲, s, s.
These two letters are pronounced "t": t, t.
These two letters are pronounced "h": h, h.
K̲h̲ is pronounced like the"ch" in Scotch loch.
Z̲h̲ is pronounced like "s" in pleasure.
Q and g̲h̲ are almost unpronounceable by Americans. The sound is a deep gutteral not unlike the sound made in gargling at the base of the throat; substitute a "g," a "k," or a Parisian "r."
áh is pronounced approximately as in rah-rah or hurrah.
The other letters and combinations are the same as in English; e.g., c̲h̲ as in church, and j as in John.
Note that  '  represents a sort of silent "uh," produced in the chest; the same applies somewhat to ', which represents a pause; the word Bahá'í should include the pause prior to final í: Ba-há...ee.
Stress every syllable equally, then repeat the word more rapidly, and you will not go too far wrong.
In the syllable "eh" used so frequently in what follows, the "e" is pronounced like "e" in set, and the "h" is aspirated.
Do not swallow the "h's"; breathe them. Ṭihrán is Teh-Ron. Alláh-u-Abhá is Alláh-ho-Abhá.
N.B. Usually mispronounced by Americans is the syllable "ar"; this does not rhyme with we are. It rhymes with the "ar" in Harry: Ṭabarsí is pronounced: Ta-bar-see.
The translations and definitions of terms appearing here are from the writings of Shoghi Effendi, wherever available. Other sources included the Bahá'í World volumes, standard Persian and Arabic dictionaries, encyclopedias such as Hughes' Dictionary of Islám and the Shorter Encyclopedia of Islám, various English translations of the Qur'án, R. A. Nicholson's Commentary on the Mathnawí, E. G. Browne's A Literary History of Persia, and Gobineau's Trois Ans en Asie.
Abbreviations are as follows:
BN Bahá'í News
BW Bahá'í World
DB The Dawn-Breakers
Gl. The Gleanings...from Bahá'u'lláh
GPB God Passes By, by Shoghi Effendi
L.Hist. Literary History of Persia, by E. G. Browne
PDC Promised Day is Come, by Shoghi Effendi
PUP Promulgation of Universal Peace, by 'Abdu'l-Bahá
  r.w. Rhymes with
SAQ Some Answered Questions, by 'Abdu'l-Bahá
SV Seven Valleys, by Bahá'u'lláh
SW Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, by Bahá'u'lláh
Tr.Narr. A Traveller's Narrative, by 'Abdu'l-Bahá  (See E. G. Browne, Episode of the Báb)
WOB World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, by Shoghi Effendi
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     Be sure to pronounce the middle column in the glossary to sound like or rhyme with English, remembering that "a" without accent mark is as in cat and "ar" rhymes with Harry. Ron, Al and Don are pronounced like the boys' names. Awn rhymes with awning (we freely admit that "aw "is too broad for the Persian sound involved, and "ah" not quite broad enough); do not swallow any letters, and breathe the h's; Oz sounds like Wizard of Oz.
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