Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Many Persian "Joons"

The first Persian word my high school friends learned was joon. Whenever they would call my house and ask to speak with me, my mom would call me to answer the phone: "Pontia joon!" Until one day, one of my friends finally asked me, "What does joon mean?" And from that day on, I became "Pontia joon" to all my friends. 

جون / جان
Joon (or jān, as it's often pronounced), means soul/spirit/life, but it's essentially a Persian word of endearment used after a person's name to mean dear. It's thought to be a little nicer than just calling a person by their name alone. For some of my cousins who are older than me, I use joon as a sign of respect. For my younger cousins, it's an affectionate way of calling them. I also use it with co-workers or acquaintances. 

Often times, instead of calling my aunts by their names, I'll just call them Khaleh or Ameh Joon/Jān, dear aunt. One of my uncles who was the oldest son and sort of the head of the family was always Daei Joon, dear uncle. Throughout my entire childhood, I never even knew what his real name was. My father's younger brothers usually refer to him as dādāsh, brother, or dādāsh jān. This is also what my mom called her older brother. And when she speaks to her older sisters, it's always khāhar joon or khāhar joon [name]. And fathers and mothers were āghā jān, dear sir, and mādar jān, mother dear. This concept of not saying your older siblings' names or calling your parents in this manner is more of a generational thing, but it could also be used now depending on how traditional the family is or where they live. But the bottom line is, you can't really go wrong when calling someone joon/jān. 

But there are other uses of this term as well. If you ask someone a question, and they didn't hear you, instead of saying Chi?, what?, you'll often hear them ask jān? (using the same question intonation). It's just nicer than saying what? Used in this context, it's pronounced jān not joon. (You may also hear baleh?, which in this case means excuse me, but it's also a polite form of saying yes. It just depends on your intonation). 

You can also use this word to answer someone who is trying to get your attention. For example, someone needs to ask/tell me something and says, "Hey, Pontia?" I say, jān!, meaning, yes, what can I do for you? I hear this a lot at work with my Iranian co-workers. When I interrupt one of them, I'll say, Sara joon? And she'll answer, "Joon! or "Joonam!", my soul/dear. It's interesting because if I say "Sara joon?" she'll usually respond joon[am]! But if I say Sara jān? She'll answer jān[am]! When I try to get my mom's attention with māmān joon?, she'll sometimes respond, joone delam! (my heart's soul!). In this context, the intonation is not quite like a question, but more like a statement with some enthusiasm. 

Another use is to say jān or ay jān! used to indicate that you think something is really sweet and cute. For example, my little nephew often says or does adorable things to which we all say ay jān! He's picked up on this concept and often beats us to it after saying something cute. Such a little jigarIt's also common to combine this use of joon with the previous one. For example, my nephew says, "Auntie!" and I answer "[ay] joone/jāne Auntie!" which shows my affection for him and means that he has my full attention. Use this version for someone very close and dear to you. 

Finally, there's joone man/joone to (or any other pronoun) or joone [name] which basically indicates that you swear on your own life or on someone else's life.

**Update**

I remembered one more today. When someone takes his/her sweet time to do something, you might say joonet bālā biyād!, literally, may your soul come up! It's a not so nice way to say "hurry up!", because the person is really annoying you. I used this today when the car in front of me took entirely too long to make a right turn.  

So, hope you all enjoyed this post, and thanks for reading, My Persian Reader Joons!

Pontia

10 comments:

  1. This is very interesting! thank you for sharing :) I've heard this words many times in persian songs and didn't know the meaning.

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    1. Thanks for reading Camila jan! It's definitely used a lot in songs and everyday language.

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    1. Glad it was helpful. Thanks for reading Anthony jan ;) (sounds pretty much like the English "John"-, just a little shorter)

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    2. and sometimes longer :D Great article though!

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  3. You should have included "joone amat" too!! I think you can write a whole post about all the "ame" slangs! By the way you're doing such a nice job here :)

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    1. Thanks a lot! I actually have a post in the works about the slang meanings of the "aunt and uncle" words :) Thanks for reading!

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  4. Wonderful as always. I remember my bosses answering the phone with "janam", which – without knowing what it actually meant – I understood to mean "my dear". And people calling each other "so-and-so jun". So your unpicking it all is immensely useful.

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  5. You are brilliant girl! well done! you are explaining things that I cannot explain properly to my british husband or it sound silly but you explain them very elaborately :) well done Pontia Joon ;)
    by the way, I know you parents are iranian, but where have you grow up that you speak english so well but at the same time you know so much about Iran, speak and understand every bit of Farsi so well and you've travelled so much there and work there as well (?), also the way you see things in places like Lilehzar etc is like a foreign tourist would see, not a native iranian because we don't usually notice/appreciate an old building with character!!!

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    1. Thank you so much! That's so kind of you to say :)
      I was born and raised in the US and always spoke Farsi at home, but now I've been in Iran for 3 years so I've had the chance to improve my Farsi ;) and also travel around Iran and get to know the people/places better.
      Hahaha, I guess that's kind of true about Lalezar. There's just so much beauty within those dilapidated buildings :)

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