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Najafi was born in Najaf, Iraq, into a family from Isfahan. He began his literary activities in 1960s and translated several books from French into Persian. He co-published a successful literary periodical entitled Jong-e Isfahan (Persian: جُنگ اصفهان). After revolution he published a controversial book on Persian usage entitled Let's Avoid Mistakes (غلط ننویسیم).
Najafi published over twenty books, among these a dictionary on Persian slang, elements of general linguistics and its application to the Persian language. He translated French novels to Persian, notable works from Jean-Paul Sartre (Le Diable et le bon Dieu, Les sequestres d'Altona, Qu'est-ce que la litérature), André Malraux (Antimémoire), Albert Camus (Caligula), Roger Martin du Gard (Les Thibault), Claude Lévi-Strauss (La race et l'histoire), and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Le Petit Prince).
Najafi was a member of the Academy of Persian Language and Literature (1990–2016).
- Prominent Iranian linguist Abolhasan Najafi dies at 86
- "Another Persian translation of "Little Prince" coming". Tehran Times. 23 August 2009. Retrieved 3 April 2010.
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