What does Pittsburgh sound like? Like Mehrdad “Murrie” Emamzadeh speaking Finglish (a Farsi language that uses the English alphabet). Murrie (and some scholars) note that Finglish (also spelled Fingilish) as a type of writing commonly used by first-generation Iranian-Americans in online chat, emails and SMS (Short Message Service or text messaging).
I met Murrie through Justin Hopper when I went out to record the Pandemic Global Dance Night Applause Tone at Brillobox. Murrie is a good dancer (this was clear from having been on the dance floor with him at Pandemic). He’s also a businessman who lives in Thornburg, PA. A beautiful historic borough within Allegheny county, near Crafton, Pa, Thornburg is about 4 miles beyond the city of Pittsburgh. The district can come as a surprise to us city-dwellers. Though it’s well-known for its Craftsman architectural style of homes, and as a model of suburban development in the early twentieth century, you might not know it’s out there unless someone invites you for a visit. And if they do, by all means visit! Imagine a community built (mostly from 1900-19) for people who wanted to live in country cottage type places without being too far away from the city or too isolated on farms. It’s really pretty out there.
Murrie didn’t opt to live in one of the historic homes–he worked with a builder, designing a more modern home for himself–a place with lots of natural light–a very open space. In that light and space, his Persian artifacts stand out. Some of the items are things he received after his grandmother passed away.
Murrie enjoys writing about personal experiences and current events in verse in Finglish. “I’m first generation American, of Iranian descent. So I speak and write what we call Finglish. It’s interesting–people who speak Farsi as their first language and English as their second language can’t really understand Finglish.”
Here are Murrie’s spoken word Finglish tones. The first is his Allo-Allo Tone, in which Murrie utters a string of common Farsi greetings one might hear over the telephone. The second tone, entitled Are You Free? (Azadee/Azadi), is more politically minded, especially in light of the recent protests in Iran. It’s a play on the phrases Azadee? (“Are you free?”), an expression one might use in Farsi to find out if someone has the time to speak with you on the phone, and Azadi (“Freedom”). The last tone is an excerpt from a verse Murrie wrote in honor of Neda Soltan (also spelled Soltani in some reports) and other recently fallen Iranians protesters. I’m calling it Neda’s Tone. Thank you Mr. Mehrdad Murrie Emamzadeh for your contribution to Locally Toned.