What does this shirt say (possibly farsi or arabic script)?
January 27, 2009 9:19 PM   Subscribe

We bought this Obama baby onesie on the street today. It has what may be farsi script on it. We asked a neighbor who speaks arabic if he knew what it was and suggested it may be in farsi. Our current guesses are "Yes we can" or "Barack Hussein Obama". Can you help translate?
posted by bottlebrushtree to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is not Farsi or Arabic. It looks very strange, seems like someone just wrote random letters in arabic alphabet (they are definitely nor Farsi alphabet). They are all in the form of single standing letters. Each letter would look different had it been used in a word, much like English recursive hand-writing where letters look different if they are in the middle of a word or used on their own. Maybe it's a secret message of some sort? Maybe someone wanted to make a statement but was lacking on Arabic language skills?
posted by shamble at 9:38 PM on January 27, 2009

Maybe gibberish--like some tattoos, is my guess.
posted by subatomiczoo at 9:40 PM on January 27, 2009

One time I was watching "Left Behind", starring Kirk Cameron as Buck Williams, with a friend of mine who is a rabbi. There was a scene that took place in "Jerusalem" early on in the film that struck us as odd. Suddenly, we realized that all the signage in this "Jerusalem market" was written in a bizarre sort of Hebrew. Standard letter forms, but in weird places. Final letters at the beginnings of words, etc etc. And yet, it didn't seem fully random. After rewinding a few times, it came to me: the prop guy had typed out English words with Hebrew letters, switching the font on his keyboard and writing normally. So the shifted form of the word, which usually gives a capital roman letter was giving a final form of a hebrew letter. And so forth. Stop signs, for example looked like this. This discovery led to all sorts of fun. Signs in merchants' shops said creepy things like: "Absolutely no refunds will be given." Pretty much the antisemitic evangelical id...for those who had eyes to see.

Anyway, I'm guessing that the same thing might be happening here.
posted by felix betachat at 9:54 PM on January 27, 2009 [13 favorites]

It's not "Barack Hussein Obama" nor is it "yes we can".

As shamble said earlier, it appears to be single arabic letters put together. Think of how cursive english letters connect and look different. Arabic letters do that in the same way, but it wasn't done here.
posted by abdulf at 10:30 PM on January 27, 2009

While traveling through a conservative part of the country I saw a bumper sticker with the Obama logo and writing that looked Arabic. Based on the context provided by the other bumper stickers, I don't think this was a pro-Obama car. I think the bumper sticker was essentially intended to convey the message "People who speak Arabic support Obama (and we all know that people who speak Arabic are terrorists.)"

Now that's a weird message to be sending via baby onesie (and really, poor reasoning regardless of the medium), but nonetheless, that's what I would take it to mean.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:39 PM on January 27, 2009

Best answer: Reading backwards, the rightmost word is America (spelled strangely?). The middle word is Allah. The leftmost word is... Barack spelled badly with Li (for?) in front? Maybe?

Stringing them all together, you could sort of maybe get "For Barack, God/Allah is America"? Who knows.
posted by egg drop at 10:41 PM on January 27, 2009

Sorry for all the question marks, it's just really dubious. Fits in with what If only I had a penguin... said
posted by egg drop at 10:43 PM on January 27, 2009

Best answer: Oh, and by backwards I meant reading left to right, even though Arabic is right to left. Spelled out, the individual letters are

l-y-b-a-r-k a-l-l-h a-m-y-r-k-a
posted by egg drop at 10:48 PM on January 27, 2009

Except the word for "for" is properly "l-" and not "l-y". I give up.
posted by egg drop at 10:55 PM on January 27, 2009

Ahhh! Yes, it's backwards. But it's not spelled right, either. Something like what felix said - as if a non-Arabic speaker tried to phonetically spell things out in Arabic characters without having any idea how the language worked.
posted by rkent at 10:56 PM on January 27, 2009

(p.s. meant to say: good eye, egg drop)
posted by rkent at 10:57 PM on January 27, 2009

Response by poster: lla ouy knaht
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:29 PM on January 27, 2009

Charitable: Barak for America!

Uncharitable: [Redacted due to the patriot act].

I say wear your swag with pride!
posted by zpousman at 6:01 AM on January 28, 2009

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