by Mahya Soltani محیا سلطاني
This work appears in Khabar Keslan Issue 2. PASSAGE
تــعــارف [taa’rof] is a form of verbal and practical etiquette in Iran. Persian culture is very courtesy‑conscious and the language (Farsi) is exceptionally rich in polite and formal proverbs. It is difficult to fluently communicate in Farsi without knowing these expressions of civility. They sound extremely polite, sometimes poetic, or perhaps even flamboyant as they are almost utterly divorced from their literal meanings and are used rhetorically.
This book attempts to gather and list some of these verbal models of etiquette. Each spread is dedicated to a common ‘taa’rof.’ On the right side, the literal translation of each phrase, its pronunciation, its setting in Farsi, and its usage can be seen. On the left, the real meaning of the phrase is revealed—with the help of the mirror.
Using these expressions usually leaves an inexperienced, non-native listener in a muddled state, as they never know how serious they should take you on your offer. But a Farsi speaker always knows an acquaintance does not really mean it when, for example, they insist that you should step on their eyes (to pay them a visit).
Instructor: Warren Lehrer, Writing and Designing the Visual Book, School of Visual Arts, NY - 2016
Born in Tehran, and raised between Tehran and Dubai, Mahya Soltani محیا سلطاني is an Iranian graphic designer currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. She has received her bachelors degree in Multimedia Design from American University of Sharjah, and is currently pursuing her MFA at School of Visual Arts in New York. Her practice as a graphic designer and animator engages 'time' as a design tool challenging expectations and perceptions while delineating the existence of alternate realities.