Glossary of Arabic and Persian Transcriptioncompiled by Mike Thomas.
Arabic & Farsi transcription
list and glossary for Baha'is
. Abbaside Caliphs . Arabic letters and abjad values . Arabic numbers . 'Ayn and Hamza consonants . Baha'i principles . Baha'u'llah's Apostles . Badi'-Baha'i days of the week . Badi'-Baha'i months . Badi'-Baha'i years . Caliphs . Categories of words in Arabic . Elative word forms . Gregorian week days & months . Hands of the Cause of God . Imams . Islamic calendar months . Letters of the Living . Occultation & return of 12th Imam . Persian solar calendar (modern) . Qur'an sura names . Quranic names of God . Shrine of the Bab information . Traditional qur'anic/ ufi concepts . Underdots . Underscores . Vowel sounds . Word macros .
This document lists the Roman script transcription forms of many of the Arabic and Farsi (some are of Turkish origin) names and words used in the Baha'i Writings as a guide to their transcription. Hence, there is no need to include all possible combinations of those words used in the names of people and places. However, additional root words have been added as a guide to an understanding of the meaning of the words.*
* *Persian: "-yi-" ("of" in English), Agha "of" Karand, after a vowel instead of "-i-" as in Ka im-i-Zanjani. Agha-yi-Karand (formal) and Agha Karand (informal).
Why use transcription?
Transliteration and transcription are two distinct processes by which text is converted from one script to another. Technically, transliteration is concerned primarily with accurately representing the graphemes1 of another script, whilst transcription is concerned primarily with representing its phonemes.2
In addition, transliteration is concerned with scripts, whilst transcription is concerned with writing systems (the way a script is applied to a particular language).
Regarding the transliteration [sic] of Persian and Arabic words the House of Justice requests that the method adopted by the beloved Guardian, and which is described in the various volumes of The Baha'i World, be followed, as it permits all languages which use the Roman alphabet to transliterate [sic] such terms in the same way throughout the Baha'i world.3
Whatever "house styles" Publishing Trusts and other Baha'i publishers may adopt, transliteration [sic] of oriental terms into languages using the Roman alphabet must at present be according to the system chosen by the Guardian and described in volumes of The Baha'i World.4
The terms "Guardian" and "Universal House of Justice" are explained in the alphabetical list below.
1 The smallest meaningful contrastive unit in a writing system.
2 Any of the perceptually distinct units of sound in a specified language that distinguish one word from another.
3 From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, 16 July 1979.
4 The Universal House of Justice, 21 July 1998, Current Guidance on Baha'i Publishing
Any variations in transcription by the authors listed under the Information sources heading, and information from all other Baha'i authors have been subjected to the following progressive checks:
a)Consistency with transcription rules as used by Shoghi Effendi, and similar words.
b)An internet search of transcripted forms of the words.
c)An internet search for the original Arabic of the words that are then manually transcripted.
d)A search for the words in Arabic dictionaries (e.g. The Hans Wehr dictionary of modern written Arabic).
e)Consulting knowledgeable Baha'is who are Arabic and/or Farsi speakers. However, this information needs to be cross checked with the above sources.
Entries in this document are amended when new information becomes available, or new names and words are found in relevant publications. Hence, it is recommended that you use the latest available copy from https://www.miscellanie.com/transliteration/index.html. Corrections, additions or suggested improvements to the list are welcomed. A relatively recent copy is available from https://bahai-library.com/glossary_arabic_persian_transliteration.
Arabic and Farsi do not have capital letters. When transcripted, capital letters should only be used for proper names and attributes of God, otherwise, lower case letters should be used. This document uses capital letters for all words/names as if they were proper names--these should be converted to lower case for other uses.
Some sources of information are given in brackets. Authors of books, tablets, etc., "(by _____)". The most reliable sources of information are to be found in documents issued by the Universal House of Justice (caution: these contain errors); and books by Shoghi Effendi, Hasan Balyuzi and Adib Taherzadeh. New entries are checked using digital copies of Arabic (Hans Wehr, also a printed copy) and Persian dictionaries--older entries will gradually be updated using these dictionaries. If these sources lack the required information, then information is sought from a few knowledgeable individuals.
Most words (there are some commonly accepted exceptions, e.g. Baha'is) that have an English suffix should not be transcripted (e.g. Islamic, Qur'anic, Shi'ite, Shi'ism). Adding an 's' to many words to represent the plural form is more recognizable to the English reader (babs) than the often very different transcripted Arabic plural word (abvab). These and some other words are often better replaced by an English equivalent, e.g. Gate-hood for Babiyyat instead of the incorrect hybrid forms: "Babhood" or "Babhood", etc.
The first column of the following list contains a form of the words/names without acute accents, initial 'Ayns or underdots. This makes it possible to make a simple search for a word without having any knowledge of the correct transcription, and it is used to make an alphabetical sort (the sorting used by Word is not the desired order) of the list itself.
Searching the list
It is easier to search for words if you:
a)remove all accents and underdots.
b)Remove the definite article ("al-", "ul-", etc.; refer to the entry for "al-" and the description of the sun letters in the Arabic letters and abjad values section at the end of this list.)