Dari Language Blog

Dari alphabet and pronunciation Posted by on Mar 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Dari language has adopted the Arabic alphabet and has added some extra letters to it for the sounds that do not exist in Arabic. There are thirty-two letters in Dari and are written from right to left. Most of the sounds that Dari speakers use also exist in the English language, however there are sounds in Dari that do not correspond with any sounds commonly found in English. Below is the Dari alphabet with its transliteration.

Alef-mad                             آ                                   

Alef                                        ا                                         

Bay                                        ب                                          

Pay                                         پ  

Tay                                         ت                                         

Say                                         ث

Jeem                                      ج

Chay                                      چ                                        

Hay                                         ح                                           

Khay                                      خ                                           

Daal                                        د                                           

Zaal                                         ذ                                          

Ray                                         ر                                          

Zay                                         ز                                          

Zhay                                     ژ                                         

Seen                                      س                                           

Sheen                                   ش                                            

Suwaat                                ص                                           

Zuwaa                                  ض                                            

Toy                                         ط                                            

Zoy                                         ظ                                    

Ain                                           ع                                     

Ghain                                       غ                                  

Fa                                            ف

Qaaf                                        ق                                   

Kaaf                                       ک                                   

Gaaf                                       گ                                    

Laam                                      ل                                   

Meem                                      م                                  

Noon                                       ن                                  

Wow                                          و                                     

Hay                                            ه                                     

Yaa                                            ی                                    

Since some of the sounds in Dari do not exist in English, pronouncing the names of some of the letters in Dari can be challenging for English speakers. Here are some tips for pronouncing these unfamiliar sounds:

  • The letter خ  (khay) is one of the letters that can be difficult to pronounce. The closet approximation in English to this sound is the letter “k;” however, خ  (khay) is a bit harsher than the English letter “k.” If you pronounce the letter “k” at the back of your throat – similar to the German “ch” – this will help you correctly pronounce the letter خ
  • The letter ژ  (zhay) sounds like the “su” in pleasure.
  • The letter ق  (qaaf) is pronounced at the back of the throat and is similar to the sound of gagging.
  • The letter ع (ain) can be made by pronouncing “a” in your throat, However, many Afghans simply pronounce it as “a”.
  • The letter غ  (ghain) is pronounced in the back of the throat. It is like the French “r” or the sound made when gargling.


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  1. Arvind:

    That’s a slick answer to a challenging qesution