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UniPers versus Perso-Arabic - A Collection of Various Viewpoints:
Major problems and shortcomings of the Perso-Arabic script
Main arguments against changing the current Persian alphabet and responses
Main arguments for changing the Persian alphabet
Main arguments for adopting UniPers for the Persian Language

1. The main advantages for adopting a phonemic Latin-based (or Roman-based) alphabet such as UniPers for the Persian language are:

a. A scientific, phonemically structured new script based on the Alphabetic Principle. Mastering reading and writing would become straightforward and simplified. Children and beginners would be able to read any Persian book after only a few months of practice. Educated people would be able to master reading and writing in a very short time. Therefore, a phonemic script like UniPers would help boost interest among Persian speakers in their own literature, culture, and history. On the other hand, the old Perso-Arabic writing system is an obsolete script that completely violates the Alphabetic Principle.

b. Being based on the Latin alphabet would take advantage of its universality. It would make the Persian language much more accessible not only to our children and those who have obtained their secondary and higher education outside the Persian-speaking countries, but also to the non-Persian speaking people who have an interest in studying the Persian culture and history. Thus, Persian culture and language would become readily available to all without the hindrance of a complex, unfamiliar, and cumbersome writing system like Perso-Arabic.

2. A new Latin-based alphabet for Persian can help the language and enrich it. The weak argument that the Persian literary heritage would be lost is completely false. One can print and read the great literary works of Hafez, Sa'di and Ferdowsi even more easily in a phonemic Latin-based alphabet than in the Perso-Arabic. The Perso-Arabic alphabet has turned many Iranians off from reading literary and historical books. This means that unlike what the proponents of the old alphabet say about UniPers severing our contacts with our culture, Perso-Arabic has done more to achieve this break.

3. It is hard to comprehend why some people think not using the Arabic (or Perso-Arabic) alphabet will harm the Persian language. The Arabic alphabet has harmed this language and literature so much so, that the earlier we switch to an appropriate alphabet the better.

Looking at many different manuscripts especially the old ones, one notices that some consonants that are distinguished with dots or lines are often mixed and cannot be differentiated. Furthermore, pronunciation of many words have been mistakenly altered, e.g., Faravahr has become Foruhar, mozdvar has become mozdur, ranjvar has turned into ranjur, chashm can be pronounced cheshm, shash has become shesh, kond has turned into gond, and so on ad infinitum.

A phonemic alphabet is a scientific tool for taking the guess work out of pronunciation. Reading, writing, and correct pronunciation of words ought not become a separate field of study for those who would like to spend their whole life contemplating such matters. They ought to be mere practicable tools to ease communication for the public at large. An alphabet like UniPers is designed to be such an instrument.

4. Today's advances in Information Technology and Internet communication demand that we adopt a Latin-based alphabet so as not to fall behind rest of the civilized world. Embracing UniPers would support the Persian language and its communication technology infrastructure, in at least the following ways:

a. Dramatic simplification of the digitization, database storage, and electronic presentation of Persian text. No need for, an inaccurate and inefficient tool such as the Perso-Arabic Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, hard to find and unwieldy word processors and text editors, complex methods of reconciling Perso-Arabic characters with popular databases, several incompatible ways of displaying characters online, etc. . Persian in a Latin-based phonemic script can take advantage of the existing software tools available for other Latin-based alphabets. Such highly efficient tools have been created and perfected for the Latin alphabet by developers in many countries for decades.

b. Immense simplification of the search engine technology. No need for a totally different search engine configured specifically for sites in Perso-Arabic type. A search engine developed for Perso-Arabic characters has to be capable of differentiating Persian text digitized in Unicode, Windows Arabic encoding, and a multitude of incompatible Web and Unix fonts. Further convoluting this already complex system is the nagging problem of the lack of a standard spelling. On the other hand, Persian text stored in Latin characters is searchable by any major search engine, and phonemic Latinized Persian completely eliminates the need for devising an artificial standard spelling. This makes utilization of the UniPers alphabet ideal for search engines, and thus contributes to ending the long isolation of the Persian language.

c. Normalization and standardization of an already popular means of online communication. Even today, the online communications in Persian are mostly accomplished in the Latin alphabet. This is due to the obvious practicability of Latinized Persian. The problem is the lack of a transcription standard. Utilizing UniPers will help normalize Latinized Persian online communications and as a result facilitate the exchange of information.

d. A great deal of the computing and human resources in Iran are being spent on "converting the computer alphabet" into Perso-Arabic. And all that without a set spelling standard. All web sites, in that alphabet, can easily revert to mumbo jumbo characters if the environment or the font are not correct. To get the texts correctly in Perso-Arabic one has to resort to acrobatics. UniPers will unequivocally remove all these issues, freeing up human and machine resources for far more productive and useful undertakings.

5. Existing Persian books, documents, manuscripts, digitized texts etc., can be gradually converted to the Latin script. In light of the astonishing advancements in computer technology, a converter software can easily be made to convert diverse types of Perso-Arabic texts into a single UniPers type. Hence, a major argument by the antagonists of UniPers can be removed.

6. Those who may object to a change from Perso-Arabic to Latin, based on concerns for the preservation of Persian heritage, should be reminded that the Perso-Arabic writing system is not part of the Persian heritage. It is nothing more than a linguistic tool, with only one purpose, i.e., to aid written communication in Persian. Therefore, by using a phonemic Latin-based alphabet like UniPers instead of the Perso-Arabic, one is merely using a modern, effective linguistic tool to achieve the same purpose, i.e., written communication, in a far more efficient way without challenging the heritage. As a matter of fact, UniPers can greatly assist in invigorating the Persian heritage by making it accessible to a greater number of Persian and non-Persian speaking people. An analog to this case is an example of the construction of a house. It is possible to build a new house using ancient hand tools without taking advantage of modern construction machinery such as bulldozers or even electric drills. But why would one need to go through such an inefficient, tortuous, and not to mention, economically foolish exercise? Why not instead utilize modern machinery and equipment to expedite and streamline such task and end up with a well constructed house? Written communication in the Perso-Arabic script is analogous to using ancient hand tools, as opposed to using modern machinery, which is the analog of UniPers.

7. With the embracement of Latin alphabet, Persian literature will stop being looked at as something strange and alien by non-Persian speaking people. This will make others more interested in the Persian language and culture.

8. The idea of adopting a Latin-based alphabet for Persian has a long history. It is a notion that has been explored and investigated by many learned figures. These include:

-F. Akhundzadeh
-M. A. Jamalzadeh
-S. Hedayat
-Malkom Khan
-A. Talebof
-Z. Maraqeyi
-A. Kasravi

At the present many groups inside and outside Iran are working on a new alphabet.

9. There are several examples of diverse languages that already employ Latin as their primary or secondary alphabets. These alphabets have been created as facilitative tools for reading and writing for both native and non-native users.

Examples of non-Indo-European languages that have adopted modified Latin as their primary alphabet:


Examples of languages that employ standard Latin-based secondary alphabets for transcription:

-Chinese (Pinyin: used for road signs, maps, brand names, computer input, Chinese Braille, telegrams, semaphore, etc.)
-Japanese (Romaji: used to write numbers, abbreviations and computer input. It is also used in dictionaries, text books and phrase books for foreign learners of Japanese.)

There is therefore ample precedence for adoption of the UniPers (or Universal Persian) alphabet as secondary or primary alphabet for the Persian language.

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