Nationality: American, Persian
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 2011
Primary Language: Persian
Other Language(s): English
Folk Speech/Idiom – Persian
The wall has mice in it, and mice have ears. If youre sitting somewhere and you realize youre sitting by nosey people, you whisper this to your friend so they know not to say anything important.
The informant made it very clear that Persian people use idioms in everyday speech almost always, stating that it is not unusual to use five idioms in one conversation. She attributes this to the oppression that existed in Iran, which forced Persians to be extremely careful about what they spoke about in public. Furthermore, this oppression created figures of speech and metaphors that allowed them to communicate without fear of persecution. Idioms such as this one, according to the informant, have been passed down for generations, and are still used today. Even though there is no risk of persecution, they still use these idioms to converse concisely and, as the informant described it, non-confrontationally. They are able to convey an idea very quickly to somebody from within their own culture using these idioms.
I agree with the informants interpretation of this idiom. These idioms contribute to a part of their cultural identity as Persian immigrants, while giving them a strong sense of community with other Persians in the community. Furthermore, it serves as a connection and reminder to their past.