Again the Dilemma of ‘Persian’ or ‘Farsi’!
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Aside from those who wrongly take ‘Persian’ and ‘Farsi’ as two entirely different languages, some people, mostly non-Iranians, employ these two names interchangeably to refer to the official language of Iran. The separate, independent enlisting of the two names - as if they were two different languages - on the ProZ.com site, too, is sort of misleading or confusing, and implicitly fueling or encouraging the trend!
Personally speaking, I have no prejudice or bias against or in favor of whether the words ‘Persian’ or ‘Farsi’ per se. But, regarding the preference of the thought-provoking arguments put forward by scholars, and also more importantly, by the resolution passed by the official institution "Farhangestan-e Zaban va Adab-e Parsi" (Academy of Persian Language and Literature in Tehran) for ‘Persian’ over ‘Farsi’, it is more rational and advisable to use ‘Persian’ instead of ‘Farsi’ to refer to the official language of Iran.
Here I am not going to investigate the argument proper: its origin, nature, potential historical, socio-cultural, or political implications and consequences - whether at national or international levels - because of the two following reasons:
1_ Aside from the space limit here, there is a good deal of information available already. Thanks to today’s powerful search engines, there is no need to introduce references! With just a little surfing on the Internet for the topic, one will find enough substance to grasp the argument. Therefore, I won’t go into the details; suffice it to just cite the announcement of the official institution "Farhangestan-e Zaban va Adab-e Parsi" (the Academy of Persian Language and Literature):
“The language of the Iranian nation is known as "Persian" after the country's former name Persia; there are similar names (such as Persane, Persisch, Persa, and Persiska) in other European languages. Some Iranians have recently started calling the language "Farsi" instead of "Persian"; some non-Iranians have also adopted this nomenclature and as a result, it is now widely considered acceptable to use either term to describe the language.
However, the matter was considered by the official institution "Farhangestan" (Academy of Persian Language and Literature in Tehran) by the Commerce Department for Australia, at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At their 34th meeting held on 7 December 1992, it unanimously resolved to keep and prefer the name "Persian" for the following reasons:
1) "Persian" has been used in a variety of publications including cultural, scientific and diplomatic documents for centuries and, therefore, it carries a very significant historical and cultural meaning. Hence, changing "Persian" to "Farsi" would negate this established important precedent.
2) Changing the usage from "Persian" to "Farsi" may give the impression that Farsi is a new language, although this may well be the intention of some users of Farsi.
3) Changing the usage may also give the impression that Farsi is a dialect used in some parts of Iran rather than the predominant (and official) language of the country.
4) The word "Farsi" has never been used in any research paper or university document in any Western language, and the proposal to begin using it would create doubt and ambiguity about the name of the official language of Iran.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_announcement_of_the_Academy_of_Persian_Language_and_Literature)
2_ As stated already, the main point is not the argument proper, but its immediate problematic consequences on the translation profession or community in particular that constitutes essence of the talk here.
Some Problematic consequences
1 Those ignorant of the same referent or referential meaning of 'Persian' and 'Farsi' inasmuch as they signify the official language of Iran may think of the two names as two (totally or at least partially) different languages and take just one of the names for the language.
1.1 When searching for information, for example, about translators, editors, proofreaders, agencies, glossaries, etc. pertinent to the language, they would search, logically speaking, under only either ‘Persian’ or ‘Farsi’, depending on their choice.
1.1.1 If they search under only ‘Persian’, they will end up finding the results only under this name and consequently will miss some relevant information they could have found if they had searched for also under the other name: ‘Farsi’!
1.1.2 If they search under only ‘Farsi’, they will again end up finding the results under only this one and consequently will miss some relevant information which could have been found if searched for under ‘Persian’ as well!
1.2 When advertising, posting, publishing, disseminating information, materials etc. pertinent to the language, they again face the dilemma. That is to say:
1.2.1 If they advertise, post, publish, disseminate information or materials labeled under only ‘Persian’, they will miss chance to reach to part of potential readers, addressees, or target groups who take only ‘Farsi’ for the language!
1.2.2 If they advertise, post, publish, disseminate information or materials labeled under only ‘Farsi’, again they will miss chance to reach to part of potential readers, addresses, or target groups who take only ‘Persian’ for the language!
In any case, they will inevitably miss some relevant information and/or target groups, which sometimes can be determining for their business prosperity! One more negative aspect of this somewhat partial access to all the relevant information for outsourcers is that they miss chance to thoroughly benefit from advantages of full competitive bidding among all of the potential service providers. With the hope that there are no any outsourcers or service providers in this category or they are too few in number, let’s go to the next category which is of the main concern here.
2 Those aware of the same referent or referential meaning of 'Persian' and 'Farsi' inasmuch as they signify the official language of Iran, too, suffer from the dilemma in that:
2.1 When searching for information, for example, about translators, editors, proofreaders, agencies, glossaries, etc. pertinent to the language, clients, outsourcers and/or service providers are obliged to undergo redundant workload in that they must search for the same thing twice: once under ‘Persian’ and once again under ‘Farsi’ so as not to miss anything which may has been included under only one of the two names. To put it another way, lest they should miss any possible chance or option, they are obliged to go through two separate lists (one under ‘Persian and one under ‘Farsi’) or search under two different names (‘Persian’ and ‘Farsi’) which are actually one and the same as far as the country’s official language is concerned. This is because some people, whether consciously or subconsciously, employ only one of the two names. For example, some clients and/or outsourcers post their jobs labeled only ‘English > Persian’, ‘English > Farsi', ‘Persian > English’, or ‘Farsi > English’. This is also true with translators when they post, for example, questions, glossaries and/or articles, announce their working languages, etc.
2.2 When posting, publishing, disseminating information or materials pertinent to the language, they are again obliged to undergo redundant workload in that this time they must post, publish, disseminate their information or materials twice: once under ‘Persian’ and once again under ‘Farsi’ so as not to miss any potential reader, addressee, or target group, after all, there are some people out there who know the language by just one of the two names! That is to say:
2.2.1 If they advertise services, post jobs, publish articles, disseminate information, build profile pages, post glossaries, etc. labeled under only ‘Persian’, they will miss chance to reach to part of potential readers, addressees, or target groups who take only ‘Farsi’ for the language!
2.2.2 If they advertise services, post jobs, publish articles, disseminate information, build profile pages, post glossaries, etc. labeled under only ‘Farsi’, they will miss chance to reach to part of potential readers, addressees, or target groups who take only ‘Persian’ for the language!
3 ProZ.com site, too, in its turn is imposed by redundant workload over the staff, in that they must collect, maintain, manage, and handle the same data and content under two separate names (‘Persian’ and ‘Farsi) which actually refer to the same, single thing!
4 To be on the safe side and so as not to miss any potential client, service providers pertinent to the language are sort of obliged to announce rates under both ‘Persian’ and ‘Farsi’. ProZ.com site’s alphabetical sorting system does not allow service providers to give priority to ‘Persian’ in the order of display. Naturally, ‘Farsi’ comes first and ‘Persian’ next in the order of display. Problem is that the service provider cannot give priority to ‘Persian’ in the order of display, unless he or she sacrifices ‘Farsi’ for ‘Persian’ and accepts the risk of missing some potential clients who know the language only by that name! According to the recent announcement of ProZ.com, on the one hand, (apparently only paying!) members will be able to sort language pairs according to preference, and on the other hand clients, too, will be able to search the directory not only by pairs, but also by the priority given to the pair by the translator.
5 If looked at in a macro scale, economic and/or financial burden or implications of the said partial access to all the relevant information, redundant workload whether over/for the site staff, outsourcers, and/or service providers, etc. could be considerably huge. Naturally, this affects their business prosperity and income in that as their costs are high, they won’t be able to offer the best prices. In other words, to maintain budget balance and offset the expenses, they will be obliged to charge the clients more, which in turn will undermine their competition power and consequently push them to the margin in the doglike market in one way or another. Even if their clients accept to pay the high rates, as you would expect they won’t be happy with that! For example:
5.1 Outsourcers will be sort of obliged to pay less and less to the service providers, which in its own place will cause dissatisfaction of the service providers. Then this in its turn will be reflected in one way or another in poor quality of their works, etc.
5.2 Service providers will be obliged to demand more for their services, which in turn will lead to dissatisfaction of clients.
5.3 ProZ.com’s extra expenses because of this redundant workload that can be spent - if not for the benefit of site members by reducing, for example, membership fee and/or giving more discounts - at least can be spent for the benefit of ProZ.com itself and/or establishing more services!
1 For all of the ProZians:
1.1 Consistently use only ‘Persian’ to refer to the official language of Iran everywhere and every time, for example, in your profile pages, correspondence, invoices, contracts, ads, writings, forms, documents, postings, etc. Further, to acknowledge and remind the preference of ‘Persian’ over ‘Farsi’, you may even put a fixed, brief text at the end of the places mentioned above,
1.2 Advise others specially your business parties to observe the point similarly,
1.3 Whenever and wherever you come across ‘Farsi’, for example, in newspapers, magazines, websites, etc. write to and recommend them to use always only ‘Persian’ to signify the official language of Iran,
1.4 If possible and interested, fuel and support the campaign for preferable usage of ‘Persian’ over ‘Farsi’ to signify the official language of Iran, for example, by publicizing the point anywhere suitable.
2 For ProZ.com site:
2.1 Should remove 'Farsi' as an independent entry from the site’s lists, options, forms, ads, documents, etc. Instead, it should use only ‘Persian’ throughout the site consistently. As a cautionary measure and to be on the safe side, it can also additionally put ‘(Farsi)’ after ‘Persian’. Then you will have something like this: Persian (Farsi),
2.2 Should show periodically a fixed notice in relevant places on the site acknowledging and reminding the point to all its visitors
I hope you will find these few points useful. What I introduced is limited by my own experience. I hope others, too, can add their valuable ideas and suggestions.
I would be grateful to get your feedback, whether positive or negative, (firstname.lastname@example.org) about this article with any comment, suggestion, criticism, and impression about its contents. In the meanwhile, I wish you all a prosperous career and happy life.
Alireza Karbalaei Posted to ProZ.com: Friday, April 07, 2006