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Iranian officials say they'll replace the Western-sounding "police" and instead refer to police officers as "pasvar," an obscure word with roots in the Farsi words "guard" (pas) and "to train" (varzidan).

A senior commander, Bahman Kargar, said the change was approved by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Khamenei reportedly suggested about two years ago that "police" should be discarded in favor of something more suitable.

Kargar said 1,500 words with Farsi morphemes were gathered and pasvar was chosen by "literary experts...commanders...[and] executives" of the armed forces.

The word will be unfamiliar to most Persian speakers, although the "Dehkhoda" dictionary defines it as a term for "police."

Some critics have already noted the term's resemblance to the term for members of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, "pasdar."

In recent years, Iranian authorities have imposed a number of alternatives to Western words. For instance, most Iranians don't use the official term "rayaneh" for a computer.

There are also attempts afoot to replace Arabic words with Persian equivalents, and some Iranians certainly make efforts to avoid using Arabic in their writing and speech.

But officials are usually less sensitive over Arabic words, since it is the language of the Koran.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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