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پ چ گ ژ in Persian

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by hadronic, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. hadronic Senior Member

    New York
    French - France

    I have a question regarding the 4 additional letters of the Perso-Arabic script : پ چ گ ژ.
    How do they come into being ? How have they been chosen ? Have there been some hesitations, some scribal variations before it settled to those 4 shapes ?

    I'm asking, because if you analyze the actual Arabic alphabet, you clearly see that there is a pattern between many of the non-dotted and dotted letters (or if already dotted, vs. the triple-dotted letters). Every time, the extra-dotted letter will roughly keep the same place of articulation, the same voicedness, but will become fricative, or, if already fricative, a "modified" fricative. (See table below)

    The picture got blurred because Arabic underwent some spirantization, namely p > f and g > ǧ, and less importanly for Persian, two emphatics lost their primary values, ض and ظ (ś in my table denotes the lateral fricative, present both as plain and as emphatic).
    So, I guess, when they wanted to create the new letters, they tried to fill the voicedness gaps let by Arabic by using the extra dots as a voice-inversion operator : p based on b (ب -> پ), g based on k (ك -> گ), č based on ǧ (ج -> چ). Only z / ž (ز -> ژ ) respects the dots' primary function.

    Here is in red what I propose it should have been :) :

    p>f b t d s z s t k g>ǧ ħ 3
    ف ب ت د س ز ص ط ك ج ح ع
    f v θ ð ś>š ž ś>d θ>ð č ǧ x ɣ
    ڤ پ ث ذ ش ژ ض ظ گ چ خ غ

    ( "v" in my table is just here for completeness, as I guess that و was originally pronounced "w" in Persian (?) and changed to "v" only later so that wasn't a problem when the Arabic alphabet got adopted. Someone confirm?)

    Did the spirantization changes that Arabic undergo already take place when the Arabic script made it to Persia ?
    People at that period were seemingly very aware of phonetics, how come they didn't see that or try to stick to it ?

    Thank you!
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2013
  2. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    The Persians did not begin to write their language in Arabic script until about the middle of the 10th century, by which time the norms of classical Arabic were fully formed. So the sound shifts in Semitic and in Ancient Arabic are of no relevance here. In early New Persian manuscripts the non-Arabic phonemes /p/, /č/, /ž/, /g/ are usually written simply as ب ج ز ك . The triple-dotted پ چ ژ become fairly common from about the 13th century onwards, گ is quite a modern invention.

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