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Pinglish puns
Thinking in Persian, talking in English

By Babak Khiavchi
April 2, 2002
The Iranian

I have a problem. Well, quite a few actually, but this one is that... well, frankly I just enjoy puns too much. This guilty pleasure aggravates when I have to think in Persian and talk in English every day. I mean, I really can't help but admire the beauty of what most people around me consider "uncivilized dialogue".

I know I sometimes take the whole "Pinglish" concept too far and venture into the "Punglish" realm, but I really think Life is too Short all those sleepless nights suddenly become so much interesting when you start creating puns and instead of counting sheep start "goospund cheraani" in your imagination!

I used to be a devoted follower of the PanIranism Party when I had a "headache" for politics! And whenever girls talk about marriage, I advise them to "Leftesh bedeh till you find the right one!" Hell, if I ever have a daughter I"ll call her "Paniz"! I mean how can you not "Beh Root Beeyaar" that "Root Beer" tastes crappy?

But to make things worse, my infatuation with music opens up a whole new world of possibilities. See, from my point of view, it is more than just the simple matter of the Guitar being a "tar" wearing a "G-String".

I have discovered that contrary to the misconception that the Blues (I don't mean Esteghlaal!) and consequently Rock music were conceived in the Mississippi Delta by cotton-pickin' Afro-American slaves (the artists formerly known as Haji Firooz), the real roots of Rock lay in the Middle East.

Probably the first hit rock and roll song was "I love Suzy", which was played on single-string instruments called "Panbeh Zan" and sung by the romantic street peddlers called "Lahaaf Doozees" (No relation to the Doobies). Although the chord progressions and lyrics were very limited and had to adhere to their traditions, the vocalists tended to improvise in their performances.

Some early styles developed include the Turkish Lahaaf Doozees: "Ela Luv Suzeeeeeeyeh ", the Downhill-Freewheeling Lahaaf Doozees on their speed bikes ("Sooooooo zeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee") and the Tortured Lahaaf Doozees: " LAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOF SUZEEEEEEEEEYEEEEEEEEEEEEEH".

Note the careful placement of the accented "OOF" and "EH" on the 2nd and 4th downbeats which is a staple of early Rock music. This keeps the awakened listener in a state of utter shock while the vocalist gathers his breath for the next chorus.

A famous Rock success story is the tale of one of Prophet Mohammad"s (Peace be upon him and to whom it may concern!) closest disciples by the name of Jafar Tayar. The origin of his name is yet unkown, but it is believed that he was somehow in a constant state of "high". Later on, he managed to sneak into the U.S. and develop a cult following which led to the establishment of the 70's supergroup Jefferson Airplane.

Another of Jafar Tayar's direct descendants, Elyas Jafari, later changed his first name to Elvis and his last name from Parsley to Presley. Elyas exploded onto the moozik scene with his hit "Tutti Frutti" which has maintained its actual Persian title and pronunciation to this day.

Speaking of Persian influences in Rock music, anyone seeing Cat Stevens perform will instantly realize the significance of "Gorbeh Raghsaani" in his music. Even if he wasn't an asshole when he became Yousef Islam and wasted his talents, it still seems "Ass holeh halim oftaad tooyeh deeg".

Some legendary Bluesmen and folk singers who followed the name-change trend were Jan Ali Ghollabbaf who became John Lee Hooker, and Babak Daylaman who changed to Bob Dylan after he realized he couldn't quite sing like Banan.

And it was the site of Bi Bi Sakeeneh wearing a bikini, that inspired B.B. King to choose his stagename. And did you know that Stevie Ray Vaughan was vaaghean from Shahre Rey? Even Heavy Metal groups like Metallica got tired of all the Persian "matalak-haa" thrown at them and Dave Mustaine called it quits and formed his own group Mega-Deth!

Eventually the trend got out of hand and name changes lost all relativity to their origins, a good example being Farrokh Ahi who became Elton Ahi because he didn't like people calling him "Joon" or " John". Did I mention "2Fun"... or was it "tooFun"?

Wait there's more...

Ever picked up Eric Clapton's "Layla"? (Not Samad Agha's Layla) Well you can't anymore. And why did it take Al Di Meola 20 years to follow up "Isfahan" with the "World Sinfonia" album? Because he hadn't seen the other half of the world yet!

Now I know you don't believe me, but we do have a mode in traditional Persian music called "Rock Abdollah". Swear to God. Ask any Setar-back-packing-nose-jobbed-girl in Iran.

So do you see my point? Why can't some people just enjoy the moment and instead of groaning and mumbling at this "Bee Punyan" sea of humor, see the cultural humorous crossing created? Why can't we just enjoy our "dual identity"?

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