Introduction to Persian

Dole means what in Persian?

The following fake news item has been widely distributed on the Internet in recent weeks. It has been quoted by American news organizations, including some newspapers. Late night talk show hosts David Letterman and Howard Stern have also made jokes about it.Even President Clinton had a little fun at the expense of his Republican rival. Speaking at the American news correspondents' dinner in Washington, DC, on May 4, Clinton asked, "If you were going out of town for two weeks, who would you trust to water the lawn? Bill Clinton or Bob Dole?"

Tehran (Reuter) -- For the past few weeks, the behind the doors discussion at many Iranian newspaper and magazine publishing outfits seems to have been revolving not around political, social and economic issues but the spelling of Bob Dole's name instead.

It turns out that the proper spelling of the Republican Party's likely nominee, Dole, is exactly the same as that of the word penis in Persian.

"At first it might seem funny to some people, but it's creating a serious issue for us. How can we write headlines using that word?," said Majid Fanni, a prepress specialist at a Tehran service bureau.

Professor Hassan Khadem, a Persian literature lecturer at New Persian, says certain vowels are optional, "(therefore) they could write his name a couple of different ways to avoid the ambiguity. But for an exact pronunciation, 'Dowl' as opposed to 'Dol', well, they'd have to spell it that way."

Fanni explained, "It's not easy. In print, especially for headlines, we don't use (optional) vowel symbols. Because of that, his name can be read in that way."

International organizations are quite familiar and cognizant of these types of issues. General Motors for example, spends over 300,000 dollars a year just researching car names to make sure they are not trade marked, as well as being acceptable in foreign countries.

Ali Zarkoob, a grade school teacher in Western Tehran said "I'm sure kids will find it very funny. The humor magazines will probably go crazy over it too."

A columnist for Tehran's Hamshahri daily who requested to remain anonymous stated "It's a real problem that no one wants to face. Think about it. What should we write if he wins? 'Clinton loses Presidency'? That's not right. 'Penis wins US Presidency' isn't exactly acceptable either."

Related links

* THE IRANIAN Satire Section


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