The Bahá’í Glossary is a collaborative project started by Alan Underwood and Jeremy Hanna, and has been the beneficiary of the voice and counsel of Bahiyyih Young. Both Alan and Jeremy are second generation Bahá’ís who managed to reach adulthood without being able to correctly pronounce the vast majority of the Persian and Arabic words contained in the English translations of the Bahá’í writings.
Since the acquisition of language is first and foremost an exercise in hearing and mimicking sound patterns, it only made sense that a teaching tool designed to help correct the problem would allow the user to hear the words as pronounced by native speakers. In this way English speaking Bahá’ís could begin the process of learning the correct, or at least the reasonably correct, pronunciation of these words.
The development of the website has been conceived of as an ongoing project consisting of no less than four distinct phases:
The core mission of the website is to provide pronunciations for the Arabic and Persian words that are contained in the Ruhi sequence of courses. Because accents vary significantly, the authors have provided pronunciations that are in alignment with the pronunciation guide that Shoghi Effendi developed for English speakers. This guide is provided on our site and can also be found in The Dawn Breakers. If the spellings of these words seem unusual to you, it is because they follow the standard of transliteration provided by Shoghi Effendi. The authors feel strongly that holding to Shoghi Effendi’s guidelines is of paramount importance, and that deviation from them will seriously undermine the standardization that he desired.
The glossary will be expanded to include the days of the week, the months of the year and any Bahá’í holy days that have been omitted up until this point. In addition, relevant word suggestions from users will be added. All of the pronunciations will be checked for accuracy by a number of different Persian and Arabic speakers. Word definitions will also be improved and checked for accuracy. Translation of the website into Spanish and Russian will also take place during this phase.
The pronunciation guide created by Shoghi Effendi and currently on the website will expanded to include sound files for individual phonemes so that users can sound out words that they run into that are not included in the glossary. New words will be added, however, it is anticipated that this process will slow down. The site may be translated into additional languages during this phase.
Video clips will be added covering a number of different topics related to pronunciation issues. Ideally there will be video clips available in each of the languages the site has been translated into. New words will be added based on user suggestions, importance of the individual or place in Bahá’í history, and the frequency of occurrence in the Bahá’í writings.
The units of the Ruhi Institute aim, in their entirety, at achieving three overall objectives: providing insights into spiritual matters, imparting knowledge about the Faith, and helping to develop specific acts of service. The units of Book 1 basically seek to help the students gain insights into certain spiritual matters. Book 2 is largely concerned with skills and abilities for specific acts of service. At this writing, there are eight books in the series, though additional books are in development.
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The Bahá'í Glossary is independently maintained and not officially affiliated with the Ruhi Institute or any other organizations. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact Alan and Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org