تــعــارف [taa’rof] is a form of verbal and practical etiquette in Iran. Persian culture is very courtesy‑conscious and the language (Farsi) is exceptionally rich in polite and formal proverbs. It is difficult to fluently communicate in Farsi without knowing these expressions of civility. They sound extremely polite, sometimes poetic, or perhaps even flamboyant as they are almost utterly divorced from their literal meanings and are used rhetorically.
This book (Warren Lehrer, Writing and Designing the Visual Book) attempts to gather and list some of these verbal models of etiquette. Each spread is dedicated to a common ‘taa’rof’. On the right side the literal translation of each phrase, its pronunciation, its setting in Farsi and its usage can be seen. On the left with the help of the mirror the real meaning of the phrase is revealed.
Using these expressions usually leaves an inexperienced, non native listener in a muddled state as they never know how serious they should take you on your offer. For example a Farsi speaker always knows an acquaintance does not really mean it when they insist that you should step on their eyes (to pay them a visit).