Persian Orthography and Its Relation to Literacy

Authored by: Bahman Baluch

Handbook of Orthography and Literacy

Print publication date:  September  2005
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780805846522
eBook ISBN: 9780203824719
Adobe ISBN: 9781136781353


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Persian orthography, which is a modified version of the Arabic script, is used for transcribing the Persian (Farsi) language, which is the major language spoken in Iran. Persian is also one of the two (Farsi and Urdu) major languages spoken in Afghanistan, and the main language in Tajikestan, a former central Asian republic of the former Soviet Union. However, the Persian spoken in these countries and the script used to transcribe the spoken language, particularly in Tajikistan, have been influenced by local factors and borrowed words. The focus of this chapter is on the Persian spoken in the present-day Iran and its relationship with the orthography, henceforth referred to as Persian orthography. In particular, the emphasis is on how literacy acquisition by Persian beginner (and skilled) readers may be affected by peculiarities of Persian orthography. Arguably, very little systematic research has been conducted on cognitive processes involved in the reading of Persian. It is hoped that this article will stimulate such research. After presenting factors that influence literacy acquisition in Persian, we take up the question of whether there should be changes to Persian orthography.

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