Headlights or Hubcaps

I try to keep this blog on my self-imposed straightjacket of food but since language is my bread and butter (no really), I thought this on Farsi street slang worth a link.

Farsi is the language of Iran (and Afghanistan- though called Dari) and I should comment on how the distinctions between formal and slang are used coercively in all cultures and that slang is often a response to some form of oppression but will have to defer to the book’s editor Fereydoon Fatemi “It’s just really funny”.

More cultural eye opening can be had here at Persian Slang . Excellent Language Log , which often has me runing to my copy of Swan, crashes the party – scroll down to “Just as Good for Hate” for a pessimistic backhanded compliment on the adaptability of language


  1. Anonymous’s avatar

    I’m glad you broke free of your self-imposed food straightjacket – what are rules for, if not to be broken??

    I really enjoyed the interesting links in this post – the Persian expressions make you want to rush out and learn the language, just so you can use those phrases and not get funny looks. Next time someone steals my seat on the Tube, I think I’ll try “Dirt on your head!” and see what happens!

    The “Just as good for hate” post is excellent – and true. A common language merely gives you the tools to insult your enemy in his own tongue. Look at Northern Ireland…

    Btw, what do you do for a living that makes language your business?


  2. Anthony’s avatar

    “My neighbour’s chicken is your goose” is one of my favourites. I think the initial reaction is to laugh and then an interest develops for the situation that created it and from there, comes empathy. This is the more positive outlook , and as true as Language Log’s statement is, learning languages has to foster understanding and reduce tribalism more than it causes hate with a few tossers learning some insults.

    Ha! now I’ve just set myself up as Mother Teresa – I teach English as a Second Language. This cause great embarrasment for me every time I use “it’s” as a possessive and so on in my posts. Still, it takes a thief to catch a thief.

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