Taarof or Ta’arof ( تعارف ) is a persian word ( also verb (( تعارف کردن )) ) which iranian people use for satisfy their conscience
Some political theorists have argued that during the period of serfdom, at princely courts, taarof regulated diplomatic discourse. It involved a sharp curbing of one's comportment, speech, and action to make people, honour, and prestige calculable as instruments for political advancement.
According to D. M. Rejali, for the feudal elite the ornamentation of speech symbolises prestige. With the advent of capitalism and its scientific paradigm, communication became more precise and the formality of t'aarof a hindrance in the pursuit for rapid capital accumulation.
In the West
The closest one can come to taarof in the Western culture is the question of "Who's paying the restaurant bill?" This is an awkward situation where everybody in the company is reaching for their wallets and it's usually resolved by social status: the one with the highest income, the most legitimate reason, or most power pays. But still, everyone insists on paying. In Southern Italy a custom similar to taarof exists (fare i complimenti), and is part of table manners.
For an extensive treatment of tarof vocabulary and language strategies see Beeman. William O., Language, Status and Power in Iran
- D M Rejali, "Torture & Modernity: Self, Society, and the State in Modern Iran". An exception would be the Japanese Tea Ceremony, which seems to have adapted well to modern requirements (see MT issue no 1).
- Beeman, William O. (1986). Language, Status and Power in Iran. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-33139-7.
- D M Rejali, Torture & Modernity
- Umberto Eco, Political Language: The Use and Abuse of Rhetoric
- The New York Times, Iranian 101: A Lesson for Americans; The Fine Art of Hiding What You Mean to Say, by Michael Slackman
- The Atlantic, Talk Like an Iranian, by Christopher de Bellaigue, 25 August 2012
- This American Life: Oh, You Shouldn't Have - Act Three, 31 March 2011