[HUMOR] How do you spell that?

Mark Q. Maxham (max@atg.apple.com)
Wed, 22 Feb 1995 10:18:31 -0800

Tehran (Reuter) - For the past few weeks, the behind the doors
discussion at many Iranian newspaper and magazine publishing outfits
seems to be revolving not around political, social and economic issues,
but the spelling of Bob Dole's name instead. It turns out that the
proper spelling of the Republican Party's likely nominee, Dole, is
exactly the same as that of the word penis in Persian. "At first it
might seem funny to some people, but it's creating a serious issue for
us. How can we write headlines using that word?," said Majid Fanni, a
prepress specialist at a Tehran service bureau.

Professor Hassan Khadem, a Persian literature lecturer at New York
University added "It's actually not a real problem. In Persian, certain
vowels are optional. [Therefore] they could write his name a couple of
different ways to avoid the ambiguity. But for an exact pronunciation,
'Dowl' as opposed to 'Dol', well, they'd have to spell it that way."
Fanni explained "It's not easy. In print, especially for headlines, we
don't use [optional] vowel symbols. Because of that, his name can be
read in that way."

International organizations are quite familiar and cognizant of these
types of issues. General Motors for example, spends over 300,000
dollars a year just researching car names to make sure they are not
trade marked, as well as being acceptable in foreign countries.

Ali Zarkoob, a grade school teacher in Western Tehran said "I'm sure
kids will find it very funny. The humor magazines will probably go
crazy over it too." A columnist for Tehran's Hamshahri daily who
requested to remain anonymous stated "It's a real problem that no one
wants to face. Think about it. What should we write if he wins?
'Clinton loses Presidency'? That's not right. 'Penis wins US
Presidency' isn't exactly acceptable either."