The Exchange of Iranian Ideas on Alphabet Reformation with De ...

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Abstract

Throughout the history of Iran, the diversity of alphabet reformations, either in theory or in practice, despite a sustainable vernacular language, has raised the following questions. First, how does the diversification of Iranian alphabet reformations reflect efforts to preserve Persian identity from early times until the Qajar period? Second, how can the Iranian alphabet reformation, from the Qajar era onward, inspire contemporary Iranians to develop the identity of their own modernity? To answer these questions, Derrida’s writing theory opens up valuable possibilities for drawing radically new implications from the visual quality of national writing. This philosopher introduced the idea of “cultural graphology,” through which the writing structure of the nation’s thoughts can be seen to emerge through the analysis of their national writing. The analysis of Iranian writing reveals that although the first number-based writing of the Achaemenids illustrated their collective intellect, this was transformed into collective dependency on religion, as expressed in their subsequent cursive scripts in the Sassanian era. The reliance on religion in Islamic periods might even foster collective traits of injustice and dishonesty, traces of which remain in different calligraphic characters and their hanging connections. In the past two centuries, Iranians have felt inferior to the outside world. This sentiment has left three different traces on alphabet reformation: the adaption of graphemes with phonemes, the turn toward a Roman-based script, and Perso-Roman script (a combination of Persian and Roman letters). The latter will be the best design solution for future Iranian alphabet reformation since it takes into account both national and international concerns.