Lesson 51: Introducing 'Ta'arof'

Photo by Yasamin Shafinury

In this lesson, we talk about one of the most important concepts when it comes to learning about Persian culture- the concept of tārof. Tārof is basically the code of etiquette Iranians use in all social situations, and it's quite culturally pervasive. While western culture also has rules of engaging with others, Persians take it to a whole new level. For someone unfamiliar with the concept, sometimes the behavior of Iranians may seem a bit strange, but once these few simple rules are learned, a lot of cultural misunderstanding can be avoided.


We also explored this concept in our popular Youtube video, which you can see here.

In addition, Leyla was interviewed for PRI's The World about the concept- check it out on their webpage. Or checkout her interview with the LA Times, where again she championed the cause. 

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Bonus Materials

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You can view the full transcript of this lesson once you purchase the lesson's Bonus Materials!

This lesson's Bonus Materials also include a playlist of the most important audio clips from the lesson, to make it easy to replay essential vocabulary and dialogue.


Hello Leyla - happy to be back with Chai and conversation but I do have some comments. Firstly - haven't you have got the names of Leyla and Matt the wrong way round on the Farsi transcript? They are saying the wrong lines! But I worked it out! Secondly - why no explorations of the grammar - for example 'be sheen' - is this a contraction in spoken rather than written Farsi? and if so, what's it a contraction of? I'm keen to get my grammar correct! I'd like it if the vocabulary list was Farsi to English rather than a transliteration using the English alphabet. My final comment is that the additional materials I've bought ( or maybe I missed something?) all seem to me to be just repetitions of the same material. To give good value, I think it would be great to have a few more examples of ta'arof, some vocabulary beyond the basic lesson which is - very kindly - available anyway without cost, and also some clear guidance on the difference between the spoken and written forms. Keep up the great work, one day I hope I'll get over to Austin! Congratulations on your marriage - I wish you and shoharet every happiness in the years ahead, and good health - my lovely friend Minoosh in LA is getting married this spring. Best wishes from Polly

Leyla, welcome back! Thanks for this series that is getting my rusty Persian in better shape. Please continue to emphasize the conversational aspect of Persian.

Polly - "besheen" is the familiar form of the command "Sit." It is only used in conversation. The formal, written form is "benesheen." But no one uses that in speaking.The verb for sit is "neshestan" - past stem is "neshest-" and present stem is "-nesheen-, where you have to put a mee- or a be- in front of it, depending on how you're using it in a sentence. Hope that helped.


Im not sure where you learned this type of Taarof! 70% of the way you described is not true! At least for us!

I think you kind of exaggerated explaining Taarof!! If you haven't been in Iran lately, I would say it's not like this anymore. It's not rude to say "yes please!" When the host offer you a cup of tea or anything. Just simply say yes please.

Gush It's alot!!

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