The Internet is not made for Persian

My plan was to practice what I’ve learned so far by writing a short essay. (And I will finish and share that soon!) I used to have a cat, and so far I mostly just know the past tense in Farsi, so I was going to write about my memories of this cat. But I only got two sentences into my essay before I came across a problem: How do I type “my cat” in Farsi?

Most of the time, you can form the possessive with the noun + “e” + pronoun. For example, the word book is “ketab” and the pronoun I is “man,” so my book is “ketab-e man.” (In writing, though, you leave out the “e” and just write “ketab man.”) If a noun ends in a vowel or a “heh” (h sound), however, you add “ye” instead of just “e.” The word cat is “gorbeh” so you end up with “gorbeh-ye man” (although you drop the “h” when you pronounce it, so it becomes “gorbe-ye man”).

I asked my husband how to write “gorbeh-ye.” I didn’t think the “ye” was dropped in writing, but typing ی (“ye”) at the end of the word changed the “heh” character from ـه to ـهـ, so I was fairly certain I was missing something — and indeed, I was missing the hamza. The hamza is a little character that comes from Arabic, but the combination of heh and hamza is unique to Farsi. Here’s how it looks (heh+hamza on the right, and “gorbeh-ye” on the left):


Unfortunately, most of what you see on the internet or in operating systems is made for Arabic, not Farsi/Persian. So a Farsi character combination like this is largely unsupported by keyboard layouts, fonts, etc. We went on a search to find out how to type this, and we ended up on a page all about The Persian Heh+Hamzeh. I searched around, and there seems to be a pretty even split between writing out the ی separately and just leaving it out, like this:

گربه من
گربه ی من

It’s annoying to have to adjust my writing because of the limitations of my keyboard and web fonts, but I’ve decided to just leave out the ی for now. My husband says the extra ی just looks strange to him, and since the “e” is left out of other possessives it seems the most reasonable solution to me. I’d love to hear how other people deal with this!


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