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Purifying Persian

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Postby Bailey » Sat Jul 29, 2006 6:12 pm

not unattractive
is a good example of litotes
not rarely doesn't
in English is a triple negative.

mark

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Postby frank » Sat Jul 29, 2006 6:14 pm

The Academy in Iran and its attempts to 'purify' the Persian language are much older than Mr Ahmadinejad and go way back to the 1930s. In 1935 there was the Farhangestan-e Iran, which changed name in the 1970 (Farhangestan-e zaban-e Iran, lit. the language academy of Iran). It's first (and still main) aim is to purify Iranian from Arabic words. More recently they are mainly tackling French, English words.
Quite difficult a task since even the most common greetings are Arabic phrases or consist of Arabic words -- and i'm not even thinking of 'salâm aleikom' -- and the informal way of thanking includes 'mersi'.

I must have missed the message on IRNA and i read this mail only after my daily phone call to my wife, who's Iranian and in Tehran at this very moment. I'll try not to forget to ask her tomorrow about the pizza (which are based upon the Turkish variety of the Italian thing and which are 'kheyli khoshmazand').

But i have got the impression that all this kind of fits in the current attempts of the Iranian government to bring all the Farsi(/Dari/Tajiki-)speaking regions and countries closer together.

BD:
But anyway, I think it laudable that the Academy has launched such a strategy, especially if the foreign words targeted at hurt the language's phonology.

Persian absorbed so many foreign words the last 1300 years (with implications in every field of the grammar, phonology, etc.) that i wonder what the impact will be of a few new foreign ones. And in Iran they have the habit of (how can i say) 'moulding', adapting foreign words to the native phonology. For example 'kâmpjouter', 'seiz' /saiz/, seize, 'mânto' (manteau), 'restorân' (restaurant) -- both French words with /n/, not with /ã/, terâfik (traffique), with stress on /te.../ etc.
BTW, in Farsi, pizza is written as پیتزا, and as far as i remember pronounced as /pitzâ/. No foreign phonemes in that word.

Nevertheless, these "new" words can be nothing more than a suggestion. If things are being imposed, then I think they're in deep trouble.

We have a proverb in Dutch which can be translated as the soup is never eaten as hot as it is served. In other words, apart from the official organs, i don't think a single Iranian is going to give a damn what that academy decides.
A bit as in France: no matter what they decide, one day of watching French TV will make clear that there is a huge difference between l'Academie Française-français and the daily French.


Frank

PS
[Note: For the record, he had a clenched fist, which isn't necessarily a rude gesture . . . Wink ]
LOL, a really rude gesture in Iran would be sticking up your thumb.

PPS
A few months ago, Danish pastry and buttercookies, immensely popular in Tehran, got a new name, after the Danish cartoon situation. I forgot the new name (but no, it wasn't 'liberty buttercookies').

PPPS
Mark:
"Although no one would dare acuse Iran of Xenophobia, or anything else. Not if you want to stay alive."
The openess for foreign culture (in the broadest sense of the word) is huge among the younger, more liberal population. Alas, the general image of Iran world wide is limited by the inanely stupid bigotry (and... fill in yourself) of the Ayatollahs, the Gardians of the Revolution, Ahmadinijads, the (almost paramilitary) vice squads, the religious fanatics and the shreaking women with shadors up to their mustache.
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Postby Palewriter » Sat Jul 29, 2006 6:16 pm

Bailey wrote:bob's yer uncle!

mark


Next to "'ow's yer farver" my very favorite English trope, I think. When I was young, the statement "bob's yer uncle" would immediately be followed by a chorus of bystanders crying, "...and Fanny's yer aunt!"

All very jolly. Sometimes, I think that half the fun has gone out of the English language. Not enough larking about, anymore.

-- PW

PS. In the movie "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," one of the nastier crooks ends a speech with "....and Robert's yer farver's bruvver..." Priceless.
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow!!! What a ride!"
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Postby Palewriter » Sat Jul 29, 2006 6:20 pm

Bailey wrote:

not unattractive

is a good example of litotes

not rarely doesn't

in English is a triple negative.

mark


I was wondering about that one, too, but thought I'd let it slide. Sometimes, life's simply too short for grammar. :lol:

-- PW
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow!!! What a ride!"
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Postby Bailey » Sat Jul 29, 2006 6:42 pm

But a fanny is, er, well it's not the bum, not in England.

mark

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Postby Palewriter » Sat Jul 29, 2006 6:49 pm

Bailey wrote:But a fanny is, er, well it's not the bum, not in England.

mark


Fanny with a capital F is a proper noun. Name of a person of the female persuasion. Nothing (directly) to do with bums. Nope. Not even in England. :D

-- PW
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow!!! What a ride!"
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Postby Bailey » Sat Jul 29, 2006 7:09 pm

I would probably not use this term to a person of British persuasion for fear of them taking a fence.

I'm running out of fence and umbrage sir, order off the menu if you please.

mark

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Postby Perry » Sat Jul 29, 2006 8:54 pm

When Hebrew was being revived as a spoken language, there were many attempts to find Hebrew words or expressions for some of the international nouns. (They didn't have radios, TVs or many other newfangled appliances in the Biblical days.) For example a radio is a מכשיר קשר (machshir kesher). This is literally a connection instrument. Over time this expression has become the term for radios used for two way communication; whereas the word radio is used for the am and fm radios that we listen to passively.
"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening all at once. Lately it hasn't been working."
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Postby Palewriter » Sat Jul 29, 2006 9:06 pm

Bailey wrote:I would probably not use this term to a person of British persuasion for fear of them taking a fence.

I'm running out of fence and umbrage sir, order off the menu if you please.

mark


I spoke to da Minister of de Fence and he thought he'd probably be able to post shortly. However, he'll certainly rail if we picket. Lattice drop the subject.

Wire my doing this? I hate puns. And fences.

As for Umbrage, I was laboring under the misapprehension that this was a small town in Sussex. They can keep it, pub and all.

-- PW
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow!!! What a ride!"
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Postby Perry » Sun Jul 30, 2006 3:24 pm

Brilliant PW!
"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening all at once. Lately it hasn't been working."
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Postby Bailey » Sun Jul 30, 2006 3:28 pm

yup, he nailed it, but if it were arbor me, I'd put a gate on it, Hasp you thought of any more? I'm not chain[ed] to it, but rabbit and chicken about a bit. Latch about it for me.

mark

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Postby anders » Sun Jul 30, 2006 4:00 pm

frank wrote:[...]and the informal way of thanking includes 'mersi'.[...]

"No, we absolutely don't say 'mersi', we say 'tashakkor'".
"Oh, I'm sorry. Have a cigarette?"
"Mersi."

And regarding the name of the language, indigenous government authorized translators add to their work "Translated from the original Persian".
Irren ist männlich
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Postby anders » Sun Jul 30, 2006 4:15 pm

frank wrote:I'll try not to forget to ask her tomorrow about the pizza [...] A few months ago, Danish pastry and buttercookies, immensely popular in Tehran, got a new name, after the Danish cartoon situation. [...]


Pizze: "elastic loaves"
Danishes: "roses of Mohammad" (gul-e-muhammadi)

Those and more, including a link to a thorough discussion on Persian/Farsi here.
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Postby Bailey » Sun Jul 30, 2006 5:06 pm

I noted from your link that [quote]helicopter (now to be "rotating wing"), as opposed to, I supose, the camel is the 'breaking wind'?

mark
not knocking Persian just being silly, ok?

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Postby frank » Sun Jul 30, 2006 5:55 pm

anders wrote:Pizze: "elastic loaves"

I asked my wife about 'that other word for pizza' and she directly started to talk about 'kesh loghmeh' and started to laugh. Hardly anybody takes that Language Academy of Iran too seriously; many of their newly coined words feature jokes and word games.

anders wrote:Danishes: "roses of Mohammad" (gul-e-muhammadi)

That's it! Mersi mamnoon. The name probably is picked on purpose, but a 'gol-e mohammadi' is itself the name of a kind of rose, dixit my wife, whose first family name is Mohammadi.

anders wrote:No, we absolutely don't say 'mersi', we say 'tashakkor'".

:-).
Interesting. So far, i only heard Afghani using 'tashakkor' (or at least, i remember). Didn't know it is used in Iran as well.

mark wrote:I noted from your link that helicopter (now to be "rotating wing"), as opposed to, I supose, the camel is the 'breaking wind'?

Reminds me of an identic attempt to Neerlandicise 'helicopter'. The Dutch word 'wentelwiek' (lit. rotating wing) never caught on, though.

Frank

PS
So far, i forgot my reaction to the original article, which i find all in all a bit cheap:
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered government and cultural bodies to use modified Persian words to replace foreign words that have crept into the language, such as "pizzas" which will now be known as "elastic loaves," state media reported Saturday.

Now, how many times would the word 'pizza' show up in texts produced by government and cultural bodies in Iran (or anywhere else)?
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