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EL Middle East 2017 : Iran sees the rise of Persinglish

Matt Salusbury writes

A new phenomenon is proliferating across bars, restaurants and cafes in Iran – menus are appearing in ‘Persinglish’, with English names for food and drink on display but with their names rendered in the letters of the Farsi or Persian alphabet. (It’s based on the Arabic script, but with four extra letters.) The words ‘onion rings’ rendered in the Persian alphabet are now a common sight in Teheran restaurants, while ‘French fries’ is replacing the Farsi equivalent ‘sibzamini sorkh karde’.

Iranian linguist Reza Shokrollahi, interviewed by France 24 news channel, says the Persinglish phenomenon is about expressing something mundane in English to make it sound ‘hip and modern – young people use English to show off and prove that they’re well educated, and demonstrate that “I’m cool, I’m intellectual, I’m open-minded”’, with the added attraction that ‘the West’ incurs official disapproval. Labelling in Persinglish is also an excuse to hike prices – sometimes up to three times the amount that an item labelled in plain old Farsi would cost. Says Shokkallahi, ‘No one would pay 15,000 tomans (150,000 rials or £3.70) for a “shirmoz”. But if it’s for a “banana smoothie”, people seem ready to pay.’

Pic courtesy: David Weekly