Date: Thu May 22 2003 - 13:53:50 EDT
This discussion is remarkably similar to the Gaelic/Irish debate. It's curious
to me, however, that Michael's position in that discussion (purposeful or not)
was opposite the prescriptive normative stance. In fact, in discussing
normatives and ISO 639, Michael was quick to point out that the two-letter
codes are the normalized data in ISO 639--not the language names.
A linguistics professor in my department at Northeastern Illinois University,
Dr. Sharzad Mahootian, is a native speaker of Persian. Reviewing a list of her
own publications, one notices that she uses both "Persian" and "Farsi" in the
Both Persian and Farsi appear in the list of MARC langauge codes (http://
www.loc.gov/marc/languages/lang_c2g.html#f). Surprisingly, Eastern Farsi and
Western Farsi are the only names listed in the Ethnologue Language Name Index
(http://www.ethnologue.com/language_index.asp). There's no entry for Persian.
From a purely descriptive perspective, these facts would seem to indicate that
both names are acceptable variants.
> Quoting Michael Everson <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
> > At 09:34 -0700 2003-05-21, Rick Cameron wrote:
> > >The people who write content for the website of the President of Iran -
> > >http://www.president.ir/ - apparently prefer to use the word Farsi.
> > Yeah, as if that is normative.
> > >A quick search of Amazon shows dictionaries and other books that use both
> > >terms.
> > Does it indeed. I have a number of very authoritative dictionaries
> > and books which say otherwise. My Oxfords are at home and I am in
> > Rome, so I can't check them.
> > >Give it up, Michael!
> > Pardon me? I've heard this tune before.
> > >Clearly 'Farsi' has become an acceptable alternative to 'Persian'.
> > This doesn't mean that it is to be preferred in software. Roozbeh
> > (our Iranian expert and my good friend) has made his position clear.
> > I side with him and his expertise in the area of cultural diversity,
> > internationalization, Iranian preferences, and good sense. I note
> > that Apple does the same. And ISO 639.
> > --
> > Michael Everson * * Everson Typography * * http://www.evertype.com
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