Waging Linguistic Warfare Against Iran

Squeezed July 29, 2006

First they declared cultural war on the Danish (the people and the pastry). Now, they’ve taken aim at Western loanwords. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered that words of Western origin be purged from Farsi (hat tip to The Moderate Voice). For example, “pizzas” will now be known as “elastic loaves.” Mamma mia.

OK, two can play at that game. Let’s not use any words of Persian origin in English.

Hmmm…this may be harder than I thought. We’re going to have to come up with really weird circumlocutions for some of these.

Hawaii is going to have a hard time marketing itself to the world, because “paradise” is of Persian origin. Saying that Hawaii is a “very desirable place” doesn’t have that same ring.

Guys getting married will have trouble telling tuxedo shops what kind of tux they want. “That one with the cummerbund–‘waist strap thing’ looks really good.”

Then when he takes his bride-to-be out for a night on the town, they’ll have to order a “wide mouthed bottle” of wine instead of a carafe.

Also here in Hawaii, we refer to “calabash cousins.” Ixnay on the alabashcay. We have to say instead, “my mom’s brother’s cousin’s daughter’s niece.” Or something equally convoluted.

Intellectuals will be disappointed to know that they won’t be able to participate in chess tournaments anymore. They’ll have to participate in “really difficult, high-muckity-muck game” tournaments instead.

And in that game, when they win, they can’t yell out, “Checkmate.” But, no big loss. They can always say, “Yeah! I whipped your sorry ass.”

While we’re at it, stores can’t accept checks anymore. It too is of Persian origin, though by a long convoluted pedigree. They’ll have to accept “financial IOUs” instead.

The list goes on and on.

It goes to say that in this increasingly connected world, when you try to dictate how your people speak, you’ll ultimately make language that much less useful.

2 Responses to “Waging Linguistic Warfare Against Iran”

  1. Alice Says:

    I enjoyed reading this entry. American English is indeed a mixture of a lot of languages, and a third of our words are from the French (since the French ruled English for over a hundred years at one point). I knew chess came from the Persians, but wasn’t aware the other words did as well.

  2. Keith Says:

    It was enlightening reading this entry again. I remember when the Congress lunchroom replaced French fries with “Freedom fries.” All I can say is, sacre bleu…

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