Monday, 31 July 2006

What's In A Name?

This journalist, like many others, fervently believes the hand poised on the Made-in-Iran Launch button is connected to a brain with sub-code wiring. The proof is in statements like these.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered government and cultural bodies to use modified Persian words to replace foreign words that have crept into the language, such as "pizzas" which will now be known as "elastic loaves," state media reported Saturday.

— Associated Press (AP), via Yahoo! News

Drastic, yet absurd measures to preserve the purity of the national language from the onslaught of corruption by foreign influences. By golly, it sounds so dreadfully familiar. But the prospects for comedy are good. I look forward to the day when I can yell, Roti liat, satu! (One "elastic loaf", please!) at my neighbourhood mamak stall, while enjoying a "short talk" with whatever friends I have left after twenty-odd years of separation, and mulling over the building of a "small room" somewhere in Langkawi.

I'm sure my "elastic loaf" would taste great, too.

And why didn't I hear of this in the local mainstream news? Is this the reason why the Government has its entire digestive tract in Gordian knots over unfettered, free-for-all reporting via online media? Checking the related news sidebar on the BBC page, I'm starting to see a pattern, and for once, I can't blame them.

What takes the cake about this ban is that the names of animals, insects, fruit, vegetables or colours are involved. If this piece of legislation is actively enforced, it presents a particular dilemma for a certain minority. Words like huang (yellow), lan (blue) or ma (horse) are used as Chinese surnames, while long (dragon), feng (phoenix) or lin (unicorn) are powerful names for those with high expectations for their offspring. There are other words like feng (bee/wasp), hou (monkey), or ying (firefly).

No matter. As this post demonstrates, creativity is boundless.


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