Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Things That Don't Translate: Persian Idioms, Part 2

I know I've mentioned the TV comedy Shahgoosh about a million times in different posts, but it's just so funny and uses so many great idioms that I can't rave about it enough. I was watching the first episode again when I heard these 4 idioms and thought I'd share them:

1. کور خواندی / kur khundi / literally, you read blind 
This is like, you got another thing (think?) coming. For example, if two friends are ghahr, one might say, if you apologize, we can forget the whole thing. The other friend might respond, "If you think I'm going to apologize kur khundi!" 

In the clip from Shahgoosh, the wife wants a divorce from the husband. The husband says he'll divorce her under some conditions to which she replies kur khundi. She goes on to tell him that not only will she not comply with any of his conditions but she'll also get every last penny from him.

2. شهر هرت / shahre hert / literally, city of lawlessness, disorder, anarchy
Most commonly used as "Mage shahre herte?!", What is this, the city of anarchy!?" to mean of course that there are rules and regulations you have to follow, and you can't just do whatever you like. 

In this clip, the passenger asks the price of the cab ride which is 10,000 toman (notice he just says 10 toman- they drop the hezār, thousand, like I explained in the post about money). He thinks 10,000 is too much and says, "Mage shahre herte?!" The driver responds, "Shahre cherte, hamechi tush perte," It's the city of chert and everything in it is pert. Of course this comes from the word cherto pert which means nonsense, and nicely rhymes with hert, and you know we love to rhyme. 

3. بزن تو رگ / bezan tu rag / hit it in the vein (slang)
You can say this when you are about to eat something delicious, and you are really excited about it. My uncle loves chelo kabob more than anything, and whenever we have it together, he says, "Pontia, chelo kabobo bezan tu rag!"

In the clip below, the man asks for a bowl of kaleh pāche and says, "mikhām bezanam tu rag", I want to hit it in the vein.

4. صورت را با سیلی سرخ نگه داشتن surato bā sili sorkh negah dāshtan / literally, to keep one's face red with slaps

When you are good and healthy, your cheeks have a rosy glow. So when things aren't going well, but you don't want anyone to know and want to keep up appearances, they say you are keeping your face red [glowing] with slaps. 

In the clip below, the guy is telling his friend that since he's a successful singer and doesn't have a shortage of money, he should buy his own place. The friend confesses, "bebinman in surato bā sili sorkh negah dāshtam", look, I've been keeping my face red with slaps. It only seems like things are going well for him, but he says that any money he makes he has to spend on caring for his aging father.

For you Persian learners out there, I hope these idioms are helping you as you watch movies and things (and perhaps even serving to freak out your Iranian friends a bit).



  1. Thank you so much!! ali bood !! such a great blog!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for reading!

  3. pontia cigaram! karat kheili alist. edame badahad.


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