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Language Lesson

[Update: see Fonts Again up above for corrections and more information.]

Persian alphabet

This a chart of the Persian/Farsi alphabet. It has a few more sounds and letters than Arabic, but the alphabets are very similar. Like Arabic and Hebrew it is written and read from right to left, the reverse of English. Today’s date would be written 7002/21/20 5831/11/32 in Farsi numbers. [My bad, I forgot that Iran has its own solar calendar, as they should since they started the whole solar calendar craze. Other Islamic countries tend to use the Muslim lunar calendar.]

Don’t expect people to believe that Ahmadinejad made a particular bomb in his basement because you have stenciled “Made in Iran” on the side. If you are claiming to trace serial numbers, those numbers had better be in the Farsi alphabet, not the Latin alphabet.

Pierre Tristam’s article on the Baghdad dog and pony show, Bush Junta Locks and Loads has a picture of some of the “proof” of Iranian involvement, an RPG-7 round. The RPG-7 was introduced by the Soviets in 1961 and has been manufactured in many countries, including IRAQ, but with obvious ENGLISH markings, I would guess it was produced in Pakistan faked by Americans.

[Update I corrected the sample date to show the calendar differences, but then I looked at the markings again and saw “Lot: 5-31-2006” and it took me a bit to realize that the Pakistanis, like the Brits and most Europeans use day-month-year when writing dates in numbers. The US is rather unique in the world in using month-day-year. That rocket propelled grenade was probably stenciled by an American.]


1 Mustang Bobby { 02.12.07 at 10:55 am }

Beating Steve Bates to the pun(ch): These guys are making a complete farsi out of this whole situation.

2 Bryan { 02.12.07 at 11:36 am }


I just updated because Pierre Tristam has a picture that makes it ludicrous. I can understand why the guys who gave the briefing don’t want anyone to know. They saw what happened to Colin Powell.

3 Steve Bates { 02.12.07 at 1:09 pm }

Bryan, is this going to fly? Who, exactly, will believe it? Will the Bush administration really repeat something analogous to Powell’s U.N. presentation before the Iraq war, and will anyone in the world actually believe that they have proved anything?

I am so damned tired of being lied to about matters of war and peace. There are genuine national security concerns out there, and they are not being dealt with while Bush/Cheney and their henchmen use our defense resources to start wars for their own domestic political purposes. When does it end? and does our nation end as a consequence? I don’t mean to sound like Chicken Little, but I also cannot see any conclusion of Bush’s program of endless wars that is not disastrous to the United States. I’d love to be wrong about this.

(Aside to MB: I’m flattered you named me, but I probably would never have come up with that one. In past years, I used the word “Farsi” perhaps once a decade, on the rare occasions on which I heard musicians from the region. But yes, it’s a groaner, MB. May the Farsi be… oh, never mind!)

4 aikane { 02.12.07 at 1:14 pm }

Nice work. I hadn’t seen Tristam’s blog today until you referenced it.

5 Karen { 02.12.07 at 1:40 pm }

Hmm Maybe I have to revise my FFF (Fret Free Friday) acronym to stand for Fake Farsi Fraud! 😉

Sheesh – and is the MSM even noticing these *minor discrepancies* in all this Cooked Up Intel and Proof From the Gov’Mint?

6 jamsodonnell { 02.12.07 at 3:00 pm }

That was a bit of a faux pas! I know I must be in an egyptian river but I still find it hard to believe that people will swallow an attack on Iran when things have gone so poorly in Iraq.

7 Bryan { 02.12.07 at 4:06 pm }

I hope you’re right, Jams, and trust your government will not get involved in this mess.

Karen, I think this was the reason it was American reporters in Baghdad cut off from any expertise. I knew something was wrong, but it took a while to remember what it was.

Pierre does some nice work and finds people I don’t know about, Leo. It’s hard to believe he works for a Florida newspaper.

I can hope, Steve, that the MSM are embarrassed enough by what has been revealed at the Libby trial not to wet themselves and rollover like the run-up to Iraq.

8 Scorpio { 02.12.07 at 4:59 pm }

Anyone who would believe “evidence” produced by this administration is asking to be duped. They lie as naturally as they breathe, and have no clue what “truth” means.

9 Bryan { 02.12.07 at 6:05 pm }

This is pretty damn blatant and insulting, Scorpio. It’s like they didn’t even bother to produce real Iranian evidence.

10 Gag Halfrunt { 02.12.07 at 6:59 pm }

The Iranian army was trained and equiped by the US during the reign of the last Shah. Iran has lots of old American hardware, and their dress uniforms are still based on US designs. When Iran started making its own munitions it would have made sense to label them in the same format as on the American-made ones they already had.

11 Bryan { 02.12.07 at 7:37 pm }

It would, if they were American weapons, but the RPG is a Russian weapon, or, more likely, a Chinese copy of a Russian weapon, and the Iranians mark their other weapons in Farsi to remove the taint of the “Great Satan.” If you were to label an RPG in English it would be HAG [Hand-held Anti-tank Grenade]. It doesn’t make much sense to cut dies to produce the Latin alphabet, and then calculate the date on the Gregorian calendar, when there are existing dies in Farsi and the Iranian calendar on the wall. It would be especially hard to have people reverse the order in which they write.

Under the Shah, the Iranians assembled some US weapons systems, but they didn’t manufacture the pieces, so they aren’t just using the American dies and molds, they had to create their own.

12 Dave Bell { 02.13.07 at 1:25 am }

Apparently, the Iraqi munitions factories do sell mortar bombs stencilled with markings in western script.It is rather important that the customers can read the label.

And “reading the label” is a bigger reason why that mortar bomb looks bogus to me. Things like lot number and filling date are important, which is why they’re marked on the bomb, but they’re not so important when you;re picking it up and dropping it down the mortar tube.

There are a lot of more-or-less compatible 81mm mortars, and if you drop a bomb made for an M1 into and M29 mortar, it might work but it isn’t going to land where you’re aiming. So you mark it with something like “M37A1”

Like this picture from the Iranian sales catalogues.

And because it has that ordnance number, you know it’s a round for the WW2-vintage M1 mortar (which will fire from the M29 mortar). But somebody has painted month and year in that place, and not day of month, nicely centred, in letters that look a bit large.

Which, for me, is what makes it look bogus. This has been made to impress journalists.

13 Mike { 02.13.07 at 3:34 am }

I looked at the markings again and saw “Lot: 5-31-2006″ and it took me a bit to realize that the Pakistanis, like the Brits and most Europeans use day-month-year when writing dates in numbers. The US is rather unique in the world in using month-day-year.

Interestingly, the US military uses day-month-year (as most of the rest of the planet does); service personnel don’t think in month-day-year terms. So if it is a US fake, it was probably done by a civilian.

14 Bryan { 02.13.07 at 9:57 am }

An interesting site, Doug. I notice they mark the mortar round “TNT” not “HE”, and as you say they include more information that than was on the display round. I know the US, UK, and Vietnamese all have 81MM mortars, while the Soviets have an 82MM, so the information about what the rounds works in, is more important than when it was made.

Mike, on the link Doug provided for the Iranian defense industry they display the date as year, month, day, which makes more sense to a computer programmer or math major. In the “dark ages” when I was in we wrote “month, day, year”, but we weren’t as computerized as the military is today, so that format helped with manual paper filing.

I don’t remember seeing a date beyond month and year used on ammo. The batch number was based on the actual batch of chemicals used to fill rounds. An ammo factory mixes the powder and fills as many shells as that batch will produce, then one ups the counter when a new batch is mixed.

15 Arab Women { 03.14.07 at 10:01 pm }

the arabic alphabet…

I Googled for something completely different, but found your page…and i have to say thanks. nice read….

16 Bryan { 03.14.07 at 11:36 pm }

Always happy to have new readers.