Category Archives: persian

Afghanisms in Persian

My friend Rémy LeBeau has posted a nice list of vocabulary items specific to Persian of Afghanistan along with transcription and Iranian Persian equivalents (so if you don’t read Iranian Persian already, they won’t be of much use). They  are taken from contemporary literature, but that doesn’t mean they’re all formal – in fact, they cross over all registers.

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One thing I want to add to this selection – which looks more comprehensive than the most I’ve seen so far – is that the bulk of the differences between the two variants, is, I feel, a matter of mere preference for certain words which are known on both sides of the border. Ie. both Iranians and Afghans know that both X and Y mean the same thing, but Iranians are more likely to use the former, and Afghans the latter (while foreigners typically know only one word of such pairs, depending on which variety they have more contact with). The list which I link to focuses on those Afghan Persian words, the meaning of which would not be recognised by the average Iranian  reader.

فارسی جنگل است

فارسی جنگلیست که منظمی باغ و بوستان را ندارد ولی پر از زیبائی‌هاست. از جنوب به آن عطر عربستان میاید و بوی فرنگستان از غرب. ولی بوی جوی مولیان پررنگتز از آن دو تاست و به هر جای جنگل آید همی. اینجای بن‌های هزارساله پیداست که پهلویش گیاهی تازه می‌رویاد و ریشه‌ی هر دو از همین جاست. هر چه پیشتر در این جنگل عجیبی راه می‌روم بیشتر در آن گم می‌شوم. چندی پیش فکر می‌کردم که جنگل را خوب بلدم ولی این از اشتباه‌هایم بود. فارسی جنگلیست که تسلط بر آن ناممکن است.

من اهل ورشو‌ام روزگارم بد نیست. در طرف دیگر شب یعنی در سایت دیگری در اینترنت صفحه‌ای ساخته‌ام تا زبان جنگلهای سرسبز لهستان را به شما نشان بدهم. ولی راستش را بخواهید آن‌طوری که باید و شاید کلیدش نزده‌ام و کار پیش نمی‌رفته و در جا ماند. شاید این روزها فرصت مناسبی‌است تا از نو کمر به آن کار ببندم؟ مشتاق عقیدات شما هستم و نیازمند به مشورتتان و تشویق.

Mów “perski”, a nie “farsi”, bo jak nie…

… to oczywiście nic takiego się nie stanie, ale nie ukrywam, że trochę mnie to drażni. Troszeczkę. Po pierwsze, “perski” to bardzo ładne słowo, dobrze zadomowione w polszczyźnie. Mamy i perskie dywany i perskie oko, więc czemuż nie i język perski. Oczywiście można powiedzieć, że kraj współcześnie nazywa się Iran, a nie Persja, więc dla większości związek między językiem a krajem nie jest przejrzysty. Ale czy związek między słowami “farsi” i “Iran” jest choć trochę bliższy?

Nie dość, że “farsi” jest niepotrzebne (dobra, znana od wieków nazwa już jest, po co znów koło wymyślać) to jeszcze trąci pretensjonalnością (aha, zobaczcie, ja wiem jak ten język się naprawdę nazywa) i co z tego wszystkiego najzabawniejsze, zdradza kompletny brak orientacji w tym jak nazwę swojego języka wymawiają sami Persowie. Bowiem pierwsza samogłoska w perskim słowie فارسی jest akustycznie bliska polskiemu ‘o’, a od polskiego ‘a’ baaaardzo daleka.

Taking the bus no.11 / Autobusem nr 11

Recently I came across a cute Persian colloquial expression I had never heard before:

رفتن با اتوبوس خط١١  [raftan bā otubus-e xatt-e yāzdah] ‘going somewhere on the bus no. 11’

This, a cookie to everyone who guessed, means ‘to go by foot’ as the number ١١ looks quite similar to a pair of legs. Somehow I liked it, probably because that bus line is my favorite way of getting to know Tehran.

Oh, and I nearly forgot: اتوبوس [otubus] ‘bus’ on its own means ‘someone or something smelling very bad’

 

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Trafiłem niedawno na urocze perskie wyrażenie, którego nie znałem wcześniej:

رفتن با اتوبوس خط١١  [raftan bā otubus-e chatt-e jāzdah] ‘jechać autobusem linii jedenaście’

Znaczy to – brawa dla tych, co zgadli – tyle co ‘iść pieszo’, bo perska jedenastka czyli ١١ jakby i wygląda jak para nóg, nie? Jakoś mnie rozbawiło to powiedzenie, pewnie dlatego, że właśnie ta linia jest moim ulubionym sposobem zwiedzania Teheranu.

Aha, prawie zapomniałem: اتوبوس [otubus] ‘autobus’ w użyciu samodzielnym znaczy ‘coś lub ktoś pachnący bardzo brzydko’

Zaćmienie / The darkening

I learnt a new Persian word  yesterday a couple days before: آفتاب گرفتگی [aftab gereftegi] which means ‘solar eclipse’ and immediately a following chain of thoughts and associations was launched:

It’s quite funny how the words for “eclipse” in Persian, English and Polish differ in what do they originally/etymologically mean. آفتاب گرفتگی would translate literally as sth like “the taking of the Sun”, while English “eclipse” originally meant sth like “failure to appear in usual place; cessation of existence”. The Polish word for that, “zaćmienie” means literally “the darkening over”. So three different approaches, three different metaphores.

The meanings of the root of the Polish word are also interesting: the root “ćma” in modern Polish usually means “moth” but its earlier meanings of “darkness” (now we say “ciemność” for that sense) and “a crowd; a mulititude of people/objects” are recognisable for any educated speakers.

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 :)