Farsi or Persian, with its dialects dari (Afghanistan) and tajic (Central Asia), is the official language of Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan and is also spoken in Uzbekistan. It is spoken by over 75 million people and is an Indo-European language.
Cuneiform was the first script used to transcribe Farsi. Over the years many alphabets have been used, but since Persia converted to Islam, modern Farsi has always used a modified Arabic script. Before the Arab invasion, Persian (at that time medio-Persian) had two alphabets: a modified version of Aramaic and the so-called dîndapirak alphabet.
The modern Farsi script, also known as Farsi-Arabic, still uses the Arabic alphabet, with four extra letters, for a total of 32 characters. Farsi words read from right to left, while the numbers, which are similar to Arabic numbers, read from left to right, so that Farsi is a bi-directional language. Like in written Arabic, Farsi does not use the uppercase, and most letters are cursive.
However, while they share the same alphabet, Farsi and Arabic are very different languages belonging to different families and have completely different phonologies and grammar.
The vowel signs of Arabic script are used in Farsi, although some are pronounced differently. The pronunciation of many Farsi words with Arabic roots is also different from that of their Arabic originals.
Farsi uses numerous foreign words derived not only from Arabic, but also from Turkish and to a lesser extent, French and English.
It uses the subject-verb-object sentence structure.
When translating into Farsi, must proper nouns and abbreviations be transliterated?
In many cases it is best to transliterate proper nouns (e.g. personal names), i.e. reproduce the sound of the name using the most appropriate letters of the Arabic alphabet. As for abbreviations and tradenames, it is best not to change them.
Does Farsi have upper and lower case characters?
No, there is no uppercase.
Does Farsi use italic and bold typefaces?
Italic is not generally used. There may be special cases, but this really corresponds to linking together characters (like handwriting) rather than sloping them. Bold is used and there is no longer any need to change font to do so, thanks to improved software.
Is Farsi only written from right to left, or are other options available?
Farsi is a bi-directional language: words are written and read exclusively from right to left, but if the text includes words in the Roman alphabet or numbers, they are written from left to right.
Are there rules in Farsi for splitting words into syllables?
This is not permitted in Farsi. Computer software stretches the script to justify it, rather than breaking words at line breaks.