Quote: “President Ahmadinejad has issued a decree banning the use of foreign words and urging us to find substitutes for those words.” Spokesman for Iran’s Academy of Persian Language and Literature.
Figure of Speech: Atticism (ATT-i-cism), the native language ploy.
From now on, you must call an Iranian pizza an “elastic loaf.” A helicopter is not a helicopter but “rotating wings.” And a mobile phone now has the sexy name of “companion phone,” allowing randy young Iranians to set their companion phones to vibrate.
Why would a democratically elected religious fanatic care about foreign words? Because speaking pure Persian makes modern Persians feel more Persian, raising them over pizza-spewing foreigners and boosting loyalty to their plain-spoken leader. Atticism, the use of “pure” language, dates back to ancient Greece, when Athenians insisted on speaking good old Attic Greek (free of Persian words, coincidentally).
Fundamentalists and “official language” boosters are often the same people, because values and thenative tongue serve the same purpose: to make the tribe feel purer than thou. Thank God they don’t live in America.
Snappy Answer: “But Persian is foreign.”