Steele on Ahmadinejad: Of Arenas of Time and Intransitive Verbs
Jonathan Steele of the Guardian does a good piece about the controversy over Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s quotation from Khomeini that “the occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” — which some Iranian activists and the Western press translated as “Israel must be wiped off the face of the map.”
The only thing I would add is that mahv shodan is in fact an intransitive verb construction. Shodan is to become. An mard khoshhal shodeh is “that man became happy.” It is not a transitive verb. That is why mahv shodan is better translated “vanish,” also an intransitive verb. The transitive is mahv kardan, to “wipe out” or “eliminate.”
The New York Times was told by supposed Persian language experts in Iran, and appears to believe, that mahv shodan is a transitive verb construct. It makes me a little worried about the state of grammar in Iran, and in the Persian speaking staff of the NYT, and also about its newsgathering prowess. If they cannot find out that shodan is intransitive, something well known in Persian grammar for thousands of years, you wonder what other assertions they are swallowing. I told them this, by the way, before the article came out. I guess we academic Persianists are not trusted to know an intransitive verb when we see one. No wonder we’re mostly not trusted to know more important things.