Translate my t-shirt; Farsi? Arabic?
April 9, 2007 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Great graphic on this t-shirt, but we've curious as to what it actually says (if anything). It looks like farsi to me, but I could be wrong. The t-shirt in question
posted by wolfsleepy to Writing & Language (27 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Great graphic?? And the writing is Arabic.

Looks like the Hezbollah logo:

According to Wikipedia:

The text above the logo reads فإن حزب الله هم الغالبون‎ (fāʾinna ḥizbu llāh hum al-ġālibūn) and means "Then surely the party of Allah are they that shall be triumphant" (Quran 5:56). Underneath the logo are the words المقاومة الإسلامية في لبنان‎ (al-muqāwamah al-islāmīyah fī lubnān) or "The Islamic Resistance in Lebanon".
posted by KokuRyu at 8:44 PM on April 9, 2007

Except that it's been changed. On the T-shirt the barrel of the rifle is broken. And it doesn't look to me like it says the same thing.

It looks like this T-shirt is a response to Hizbollah.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:49 PM on April 9, 2007

The text on the logos looks substantially different, although I couldn't begin to tell you what either says.

The logo does bear a striking resemblence, although it's not identical.
posted by fogster at 8:49 PM on April 9, 2007

It's the Hezbollah logo, and the text is in Arabic. Translation found here:

(You probably want to be aware of what it says before you wear it in public. It's definitely a... um...conversation piece.)
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 8:49 PM on April 9, 2007

Nevermind, I think Steven is correct.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 8:51 PM on April 9, 2007

Actually, it could be the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp logo:
posted by KokuRyu at 8:55 PM on April 9, 2007

Response by poster: I didn't even notice this before looking at the digital image, but the large text in the center looks like it says 'PAM', (Parks And Mini is the name of the label, P.A.M. is written in the inside collar.)

So yeah, I suspect it might be a reworking of the Hezbollah logo as Steven suggested.

I'm interested in longsleeves response, too.
posted by wolfsleepy at 9:08 PM on April 9, 2007

ok, i'm not so sure about the answers above.

the small script above & below the logo is arabic, yes, but farsi uses the same script.

note that what is written is the same short phrase (two words?) three times over.

i've only studied a tiny bit of arabic, but i suspect that what's written is gibberish, or at best, some westerner's attempt to write in arabic. the thing is, the letter that looks like a U with a sorta umlaut in it should change form if it is at the end of the word (the dots shift to beneath the letter, for a start). here, it seems as if they've used the centre-of-word form where the end-of-word form is required. remember that arabic is read right-to-left, so the end of the word is on the left.

(but don't take my word for it)

the big writing in the centre doesn't look like anything much. then again, arabic calligraphy can be wondrously complex.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:18 PM on April 9, 2007

oh, hold on. the letters might be correctly formed. the one with the three dots might remain the same.

but you can easily see that it's not the hezbollah slogan, just with a quick visual comparison.

and as i said, it's the same short phrase repeated three times over.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:23 PM on April 9, 2007

Mod note: removed a bunch of wisecracks and stuff that doesn't answer the question. If you know what it says, post away, but we can do without judgments and jokes about the shirt
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:49 PM on April 9, 2007

hm, not having much success here.

i cannot make head or tail of the first letter, and have no idea what that umlaut is doing over the top of the J, but anyway...the 3x repeated slogan above & below the logo seems to follow this pattern: [something]-J-S-T-B-T (the three-dot T transliterates about the same as the two-dot T). i think it's actually one word. vowels, typically A's, are usually implied with arabic consonants, so it *might* end up something like [unknown letter]jastabat, just in case that rings a bell for anybody.

now i think it's best i run off & hide before languagehat comes & blasts my ass out of the water.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:57 PM on April 9, 2007

oh, the umlaut is probably a shadda, which doubles the consonant.

hence, [something]JJSTBT.

definitely going now.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:04 PM on April 9, 2007

One letter that's really weirdly shaped is the letter ك (kaf), which usually looks like كل minus the ل bit (that's the only way I can get the joined letter to show up). There is one letter I can't identify at all, and that is the one just before جمي on the lower left. These letters are also clearly differently formed. As you can see, for example, the first letter of the word I typed doesn't have a downswing but it does in the graphic. In addition, those dots have no place there either, and suggest either additional letters (meaning, not Arabic) or gibberish as some others have suggested.

oh, the umlaut is probably a shadda, which doubles the consonant.

No, the shadda looks like a diagonal w, like this: ّ. Way too small in normal font size; you'll have to enlarge the text a lot to see it. The two dots must be something else, and in any case I've seen shadda at the middle and end of words but never the beginning.

My vote is against Arabic. These dots probably serve as modifiers to represent sounds non-existent in the Arabic alphabet.

I too, however, will sit on my hands and wait for languagehat, that polyglot bastard.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:02 AM on April 10, 2007

I desperately want to ask my boss (he's Lebanese), but I'm terrified that it's something horribly offensive.
I've wasted too much time on this (re: the repeating phrase - I keep coming up with "al jamiya" and something like manath? I think al jamiya means "the group" or something like it.

So, anarchy, hizbollah w/ a broken gun, lebanese cedar tree and the eye together?
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:39 AM on April 10, 2007

languagehat here, but unfortunately Arabic is not one of my languages. I have dictionaries and grammars and can painfully make out text written in clear standard script, but any script weirdness (as here) pretty much sinks my boat. However, I'm pretty sure it's Arabic (and it's obviously a parody of the Hezbollah image). To correct UbuRoivas on a couple of points:

the three-dot T transliterates about the same as the two-dot T

No, they're quite different letters. The two-dot letter is a ta, the three-dot a tha (which gets pronounced as /s/ or /t/ except in Iraq and I think a few Arabian dialects, where they still keep the archaic /th/ pronunciation, as in English think).

i think it's actually one word

I don't think so. The ya is a final form (ي) that wouldn't occur in the middle of a word; the jim also looks like a final form (ج) but seems to be attached to the following letter, so I'm not sure what's going on there, but see above remark about script weirdness. But I think UR's letter ID's are mostly wrong.

Anyway, we're not going to get anywhere by guessing; until an actual Arabic speaker (preferably Lebanese) gets here, this thread is pretty much thumb-twiddling. (Cat Pie Hurts, ask your damn boss already!)
posted by languagehat at 1:59 PM on April 10, 2007

That is neither arabic nor farsi.
posted by convex at 2:27 PM on April 10, 2007

Funny thing - I didn't realize that my boss left earlier - to go to Lebanon. I just emailed the picture to someone a friend recommended who is a native Lebanese arabic speaker. Hopefully I'll hear back soon (and I kind of hope my reading is right because it would mean my ability to read arabic is actually improving!)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 2:31 PM on April 10, 2007


If neither arabic nor farsi, then

maybe even Urdu, but I'm convinced it's something Lebanese regional, unless I'm placing too much on the fact that the tree-like think looks like a cedar to me.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 2:51 PM on April 10, 2007

Anyway, we're not going to get anywhere by guessing; until an actual Arabic speaker (preferably Lebanese) gets here, this thread is pretty much thumb-twiddling.

True, but it's my kind of thumb-twiddling - deciphering scripts on signs, menus etc is a great way to pass time when backpacking, and eventually comes in handy once you've achieved a reasonable level of proficiency. Unfortunately, I've not been in a country that uses the Arabic script for half a decade now & I'm a little rusty. Did I really get the consonants that wrong? Even having checked them against wikipedia? Hm, back to square one.

maybe even Urdu

Well, to hopefully add some value to this thread, it's not just a matter of Arabic, Syriac, Farsi or Urdu.

From wikipedia:

The Arabic alphabet is currently used for:

Middle East and Central Asia
Kurdish and Turkmen in Northern Iraq. (In Turkey and Syria, the Latin alphabet is now used for Kurdish);
Official language Persian and regional languages including Azeri, Kurdish and Baluchi in Iran;
Official languages Dari (which differs only to a minor degree from Persian) and Pashto and all regional languages including Uzbek in Afghanistan;
Tajik also differs only to a minor degree from Persian, and while in Tajikistan the usual Tajik alphabet is an extended Cyrillic alphabet, there is also some use of Arabic-alphabet Persian books from Iran
Uyghur changed to Roman script in 1969 and back to a simplified, fully voweled, Arabic script (Xiao'erjing) in 1983; Kazakh is written in Arabic in Pakistan, Iran, China, and Afghanistan; and Kyrgyz is written in Arabic by the 150,000 in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China.

South Asia
Official language Urdu and regional languages including Punjabi (where the script is known as Shahmukhi), Sindhi, Kashmiri, and Balochi in Pakistan;
Urdu and Kashmiri in India. Urdu is one of several official languages in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh; see List of national languages of India. Kashmiri also uses Sharada script;
The Thaana script used to write the Dhivehi language in the Maldives has vowels derived from the vowel diacritics of the Arabic script. Some of the consonant are also borrowed from Arabic letters or numerals.
The Arwi language known as Arabic-Tamil uses the Arabic script together with the addition of 13 letters. It is mainly used in Sri Lanka and the South Indian states of Tamilnadu and Kerala for religious purposes.

Southeast Asia
Malay in the Arabic script known as Jawi is co-official in Brunei, and used for religious purposes in Malaysia, Indonesia, Southern Thailand, Singapore, and predominantly Muslim areas of the Philippines.

Bedawi or Beja, mainly in northeastern Sudan
Comorian (Comorian) in the Comoros, currently side by side with the Latin alphabet (neither is official);
Hausa for many purposes, especially religious (known as Ajami);
Mandinka, widely but unofficially (known as Ajami); (another non-Latin alphabet used is N'Ko)
Fula, especially the Pular of Guinea(known as Ajami);
Wolof (at zaouias), known as Wolofal.
Tamazight and other Berber languages were traditionally written in Arabic in the Maghreb. There is now a competing 'revival' of neo-Tifinagh.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:37 PM on April 10, 2007

Best answer: I am Lebanese, no that is not Lebanese, I am suspecting it is just a bunch of arabic letters put together and repeated over and over, look at it.
The logo is of Hizbullah yes, and it is modified and mixed with what looks like a BIG word of what seems to be NOT arabic at all. (more like tamil or hindu to me). The word is made to resemble an animal? eye neck tail? I would try to decypher the big word. The text below and underneath is not meant to mean anything. IMHO.
posted by convex at 10:57 AM on April 11, 2007

Just want to second convex here. I showed the picture to the Lebanese girl in my lab today, and she couldn't make out anything.

Btw convex, the BIG word in the middle is PAM, as the poster noted earlier, which stands for Perks and Mini (not Parks and Mini), a company with the most fucked up website.
posted by kisch mokusch at 10:08 AM on April 12, 2007

Oh man, what a website! why God why? and yes btw, I see the Pam, what a mess....
posted by convex at 10:37 AM on April 12, 2007

Gaaaah! There is no God! WTF was that site anyway? Some prat dancing to bad techno-house music? With flashes of grey to trigger epileptic fits? There was no obvious way to find out anything from the site - clicking the dancing git just opened up a mailto: email to info at the company.

I have therefore asked them if they could send me a translation of the script.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:39 PM on April 12, 2007

There are definitely some arabic letters in there, but also different forms that are not traditional arabic letters. For example, the jiim has two dots above it, which means nothing that I know of and I don't know why there would be dots written below mim (although I'm not advanced in arabic). If it isn't farsi or something, I'm curious what language it is...
posted by miss lynnster at 11:33 PM on April 12, 2007

miss lynnster, have you read this thread? convex already explained that it's fake Arabic. ( But those two dots don't belong to the jim, they belong to the preceding ta, so that's not the fake part.) It's not any language, it's just fake Arabic.
posted by languagehat at 12:09 PM on April 13, 2007

lh, I'm pretty sure the two dots before the jim aren't part of a ta, in general if something like that happens the jim changes shape (instead of being flat, the top has a peak to indicate the presence of another letter). Fake or not, I'm pretty sure lynnster is right in saying the two dots are attached to the j for some weird reason (like, apparently it's not real).
posted by Deathalicious at 5:14 PM on April 14, 2007


(or, not)

the company hasn't emailed me back yet, so i think it's safe to say that we called their bluff.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:47 AM on June 20, 2007

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