How I learnt how little is my Persian worth.

Just occurred to me you might want to know about a major blow to my (over)confidence that happened at a movie festival in Tehran.

What happened was that I could follow Persian-language movies alright (more or less), but when watching English-language ones, I learnt that the Persian subtitles change way too fast for me to catch up.

Now, this came as a shock – I can read (Polish and English at least) quite fast (significantly faster than an average literate person) and I can read Persian very well. But “very well” is not fast enough for god-damned subtitles.

It seems that still, after all those years of reading Persian, when I read it I don’t really see the words but the sequences of letters which I have to combine into the words in my head. And this process still takes too much time.

Now, there’s also this thing about Persian script – it withholds some info on pronunciation from the reader and sometimes it is ambiguous (sometimes many readings of the same letter sequence are possible – you have to determine which one fits the context best). This supposedly makes speed-reading impossible (or much more difficult). Still, the guys and girls sitting next to me in the theater could follow the text and I couldn’t!

My point is that if you’re visibly outperformed in reading by people who are less literate than you (I’ll wager I read more than at least some of the Iranian movie goers) it means you don’t really know the language.

Now, please, somebody come and say that the subtitles at the Fajr International Film Festival are notoriously too fast to catch :)

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  • kasia89  On March 18, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Oh, poor Peterlin… I can imagine that it must have been a shock for you… Unfortunately, I’ve never been at the Fajr International Film Festival so I can’t say what you’d like to hear (or maybe rather read)…
    Of course, if you want, no problem with talking in French. Next time you’ll get a huge letter in your “favourite” language ;) Just to practise.
    Take care! :)

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