After the revolution should Iran consider switching alphabets as Turkey did?


by FG

Has any other muslim nation shown as much pride in its pre-conquest history as Iran even while the Coup government does everying possible to stamp out that past?  Along with the Turks, Iranians are unique among muslims in having retained their own spoken language rather that adopting arabic speech.  Originally both were forced to accept the Arabic alphabet when it came to expressing their language in writing.  However, Turkey switched to the western alphabet as part of Kemal Ataturk's efforts at creating a modern secular government (de-arabization).  Thus one of the first things that strikes visitors to Turkey are the street signs, newspapers and stores: No arabic anywhere.

Iranians may speak Farsi but they still retain the Arab alphabet--a vestige of conquest--when it comes to writing.  Assuming Iranians someday replace the present tyranny with a democracy, have Iranians considered the relative advantages and disadvantages of switching to another alphabet.  From a nationalistic point of view, Iranians have little reason to feel any loyalty to the Arabic alphabet and many reasons to feel resentment.   When it comes to modernization, travel, trade and emigration, a change could be advantageous. A substantial proportion of Iranians seem to have experience with the alternate alphabets, especially the western alphabet though Chinese is anohter option.  Any decision regarding the written alphabet is for Iranians to make and no one else.  


Assuming a conqueror wants to guarantee PERMANENT control of a conquered people and reshape them for good, the extermination of the former elite is an essential place to begin.  I refer to the ruling class, the nobility (if any) and the native intelligensia.  Since the 20th century teachers of history, social studies and the humanities have been special targets when it comes to reshaping the conquered.

When Nazi and Soviet armies seized control of eastern Europe one of their first steps was to slaughter the elite (look up Katyn Forest as an example).  That done, locals could then be "sovietized" or "aryanized" though in Hitler's case the conquered population must be considered "racially redeemable."  Thus many Polish youth were hauled off to Germany for re-education and forced adoption.

Similarly, the first thing Arab conquerors did took after overruning a new people was to exterminate the previous elite--often by mass beheadings--followed by distribution of the the spoils of war, including womenfolk.  It's an excellent way to motivate one's troops.   Next came arabization which only partially included imposing Islam by force at first.  As an ideology Islam was as useful to Arab imperial ambitions as communism was to Russian imperial ambitions.   Arabization also required a change in language, both written and, where possible, spoken.

Conquered people who were reluctant to accept Islam were tolerated on condition that they were willing to accept second-class citizenship and substantially restricted rights.   As generations passed and as descendants of the conquered forget what their ancestors had endured, voluntary conversion became easier, especially considering the political, judicial and economic advantages in doing so.  Thus even as late as 300 years Egypt was conquered, most of its population remained coptic Christian.   Today there are only persecuted remnants.   

In any muslim country where the Islamist movement has great influence (Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Taliban-ruled areas) negative pressures on minorities are substantial and minority emigration a consequence.  Islamist attempts to eliminate any trace of pre-Islamic history continue even in the 21st century.   After all it was not until the arrival of western archeologists that Egyptians, that many people in Islamic countrries even became aware of their pre-conquest heritage.   Nationalism's spread, though condemned as "un-Islamic," encouraged local such interest.   Historians say nationalism first appeared in the West during the Hundred Years War between France and England.  The first true nationalistic hero anyway was Joan of Arc.  

Like nationalism, western ideas about "natural" and "inalienable" (pay attention, Mr. Khamenei) and "universal" human rights--products of the 18th century Enlightenment) inevitable spread to colonial subjects.  Rather than being imposed by force, they had a striking natural appeal.  Ironically the more conquered people absorbed such western ideas, the more likely they were to reject colonial rule or any totally domestic tyranny. 


more from FG

I think there are more

by vildemose on

I think there are more pressing issue that Iranians need to deal with:

Robert Baer on Iran:



mixed feelings

by IRANdokht on

I have mixed feelings about your blog.

Your blog and the idea of changing the alphabet is very annoying to me. I think we have a lot of serious issues that need immediate attention and I also find this type of suggestion more in line with the racism and arab phobia, but on the other hand, reading the wonderful comments made me feel great!

So thanks for the blog!

I'll go take a refresher course on my Klingon in the mean time (I used to know a few words) 


Louie Louie


by Louie Louie on


Anonymous111.2 jaan,




by ThePope on

If the turks did it, it's cause they have always been in search of an identity...

After centuries of stealing Persian (& arab, Armenian, Greek, Kurd/Iranian) culture and traditions, finally they HAD to come up with [something to build] a national identity for themselves.
So, one major step was the change of their Persian-arab script to 'whatever'(!), and replace Persian (& arabic) lownwords with "turkish" equivalent (masalan). 

But, us Iranians we a have an old, rich and deep culture with beautiful unique traditions...
All we need to do is not allow others to steal our culture and claim it as their own (e.g. what arabs, turks & azEr!'s have been doing for the past 20-30 yrs). And not to give credit to others for what is originaly/historicly ours. To revive and glorify our ancient Iranian culture and traditions (respect ALL that is Iranian; pre or post the invasion).

Instead of getting rid of our present alphabet, let's be smart, let's keep our present form of writting, and let us revive our old script.   






I personally prefer Klingon...

by anonymous111.2 on

for three reasons: 1) it has a lot of "kh" sounds like Farsi, 2) no nation or ethnicity on this planet can claim original ownership of it (except for Paramount Pictures, but that's a whole different copyright issue), and 3) it is the language of an advanced civilization.  Perhaps the last part will provide us with the ability to finally get over ourselves...and may be even conquer a planet or two while we're at it. 


Anahid Hojjati

I too have a great idea for what language to adopt in Iran

by Anahid Hojjati on

zetooreh be chadee zage be eedee za be madee zaban be zadee zargaree be zadee zabool be ghadee zoneem be kadee?

Sorry if I have forgotten my skill in my suggested language for Iran.  For some people on this site, it is just important to blog or comment.  It does not matter how pointless and wrong their ideas are.  Isn't that so FG?


Don't dispense advice founded upon ignorance!

by Les on


1. Ignorance is bad.

2. Flaunting it is worse.

3. Dispensing advice based upon that ignorance is the utter pits.

I suggest that you read "Ottoman Centuries" by Lord Kinross before your next attempt at paraphrasing Turkish history.  The Arabs did conquer Iran; however they never conquered the Turks.  It was the other way around.  Sometimes the conqueror adopts the conquered's culture.


how about ghiAs AbAdi accent ?

by kharmagas on

How about making the ghiAs AbAdi accesnt (ghAsem's accent) the national accent?





by pedro on

Some of you get very upset about the idea of changing the alphabet. Are you as passionate about the Khate Mikhi? Thousends pass by those magnificient writing or see them in pictures, yet no one care what it it says. In time I think I can feel the same way about the Arabic Alphabet.


Is the author of this theory

by desi on

Is the author of this theory suggesting we go back to meekhy.  I'm all for it. Arab text is way too complicated.  While we're at it we should bring back the haft sheen table.  Vinegar never made a good substitute for sharab.

Anahid Hojjati

Oh my, our misguided Diaspora

by Anahid Hojjati on

Few weeks ago I wrote a poem tited;"We are Iranian Diaspora". I think I should update it and write about how some in Diaspora have let their hatred of Islam turn them into people more dogmatic than the mullahs they hate. Few more ideas like this from IRI opponents and then some of us will start thinking that indeed some of IRI enemies will do worse for Iran


Empower Education, Justice and Equality; Not a New Script.

by faryarm on

A few years ago,I was in Turkey where my Turkish host had invited some high profile and influential guests from Academia, publishing and media.

On that day i had been photographing the various sites, and was able to read the old Turkish script . When I asked about the meaning of some of these...the conversation quickly turned to an apparent ongoing debate within Turkish society about the disconnect, the loss and the effect it has had on the new generations of Turks.

The solution to our backwardness is not the adoption of a new script, but the empowerment of education, knowledge, Justice and equality.

Our valiant Iranian youth have already shown their sophistication, ingenuity and brilliance, in face of decades of IRI's dogma and repression.

Just Imagine the progress we will make as a nation when all the various barriers to spiritual and material progress have been eliminated. 


Maryam Hojjat

I agree with author!

by Maryam Hojjat on

to get rid of influence of Arab in our culture.  Our literures can be written in new latinized writing.

Payandeh IRAN & Iranians  


the priorities of some people are truely WACKED

by Q on

please get a life. We have real problems in Iran, not manufactured points of false pride based on notions of history that are nothing more than schoolboy fantasies.


Why stop there, lets change the national religion to Zoroastria

by peace45 on

To bring out out true spirit & tradition, we need to bring back our original religion.  and have the motto of "pendar nick, goftar nick," on our flag! 

 How could we go one with the Islam where was forced upon us and in the last 30 years, we've only experienced the worse side of this religion...why should not we teach our kids the peacful religion of Zoroastria where there is not verse about killing an infidel 


Oh for crying out load stop it

by onlyinamrica on

If we have 50%  illiterate now then it jump to 90% or more.


I would consider it

by pedro on

Keeping Arabic alphabet is like an insult to all the iranians who fought and died to keep Arabs from raping our women and killing our men and taking our children for slavery. it would be unfortunate concerning Hafez, sadi, etc. but would you rather your children live in a free and democratic society without the Arabs influence? or continue using the alphabet of the aggressor. Iranians are much too talented and will produce much great art and poem that is deserving of Iranians. The Arabs already claim that most of the Iranian scientists were actually arabs, There is your answer, just because arabic alphabet was forced on them and they had no choice but publishing in arabic, now there are all sorts of outlandish claims from arab countries. lets go and build a butiful society for our future generation. do not get stock in the alphabet. it was not ours to bigin with, we used it for a while and if thing change in Iran, we should consider changing. lets put our focus on technology, computer and science.

maziar 58


by maziar 58 on

a very well intentioned taught BUT first of all honestly the persian were the creators of the alphabet as we use it today 32 letters that arabs don't have some like ZH,PE,....

 somewhere the Arabs got cerdit for it.....

second I don't think changing the alphabet will gradually  change our mindset the persian pride or make any difference from the outsiders toward us.


finally last year the Tajikestan parlimant had the subject of changing cyrilic to latin pointing to turkey as an example(99% are tajik as farsi and some russian words and..)president veto it siting that 99% literacy of the popolation  are familiar with cyrilic and changing the alphabet will take 50 years or more to have the same literacy rate.       


Louie Louie

Absolutely Not!

by Louie Louie on

Tremendous wealth of art and culture, why should we want to change it. No way!



FG , This alphabet

by SamSamIIII on


Regardless of it,s deficencies & linguistic incapabilities to to give full coverage to Persian words, one thing is for sure .This alphabet via imported Arabic vocab has been the ultimate tool & medium in which Qadesiyeh & Ommatie doctrine propaganda has been preached to 55 generations post-Sassanid Iran. For centuries Thru this medium(Alpha) the cultural agents of Ommah & Pan-Arab supremists have relayed their anti-Iranian literature & philosophy into minds/psyche of average Irani . Time shall come for nation to make a clear choice to rid herself from this Alphabet of shame & subjugation. As for old literature, they can be re-written in due time.

& as for;

"If you switch alphabet, the new generation no more be able reading Hafez and Khayam..."

Well thats the whole point ;), rewrite Ferdowsi & alike and leave the rest ::))...just kidding offcourse OG khan.

Cheers FG & many thanks!!!


Path of Kiaan Resurrection of True Iran Hoisting Drafshe Kaviaan // //


FG Jaan

by میرزاقشمشم on

Thanks for this opportunity for enjoying the idea of yet another revolution and a new alphabet at the same time which will glorify our past and will lead us to a better future.

I suggest we adopt Hebrew alphabet. What do you think?

I think we should burn all the books in Iran, and ask our very dear friends in Israel to send us some simple books in Hebrew before we can learn more about Hebrew language and then we will start importing really expensive books from Tel Aviv; just to make sure our Israeli friends feel just a bit better. How about that FG Jaan?

BTW,have you set a date for next revolution? Or, I have to check it with you.


It is worth serious evaluation

by oktaby on

AtaTurk's approach certainly worked and Turkey as a nation has been on ascendance since. Although, that is one of many things to change to rehabilitate the nation. The Turkish language certainly has not changed much because of Latinization, masses have maintained their religion, and artforms associated with pre-latinization also thrive in art circles of Turkey. Granted Turks do not have our level of linguistic or art sophistication, or for that matter history but it maybe a small price to pay to detach islamic and Arab influence without intruding on people's belief system.

Anahid Hojjati

Farsi is not Turkish , our heritage is too rich to do this

by Anahid Hojjati on

One could argue that the best thing about Iran is its literature.  Persian poets are world famous and even world philosophers have written about richness of our language and now you want to tweak with that.  Turks do not have our strength in literature so for them it did not matter as much. 


Create a new alphabet as a whole

by Iraniandudeee on

Even the old alphabet was semite, not Iranian.

 we relly need to create a new alphabet.

Orang Gholikhani


by Orang Gholikhani on

You are doing only an historical synthese! what about Art, what about our literature and our Caligraphie.

If you switch alphabet, the new generation no more be able reading Hafez and Khayam. It is impossible to convert all of our literature to latin alfabet quickly. It would take years & years.

It is about costs and this switch what it will bring to our society ?! nothing it is just an idelogical action which will ruin our culture more than it is.

We have many other cultural problems as Machism, corruption & drug which should be resolved before.