Mr So-and-So

Last night I watched part of a rerun of NCIS because as I was flipping through the channels I saw that the evening’s guest suspect was an Iraqi character.
He was a newcomer to a small town named Mas’ud Tariq. But later it turned out that his real name was Wasim al-Fulani.
This is funny ha-ha, since Fulan is the Arabic word for So-and-so or What’s-his-name or Whozis. (It’s also the Spanish word for the same).
I can’t make much fun of NCIS, though, since the characters did a real good job of pronouncing the various Arabic names throughout the show.
The writers may have assumed it was a righteous name because there’s a character in the game Call of Duty 4; Modern Warfare named Yasir al-Fulani. (President of an unnamed Arab country on the Arabian peninsula.) There are also some entities out there on teh intarwebs who use the name al-Fulani. I’d want to use it myself if I weren’t already Snarla Hussein Arabist.

Here’s a YouTube clip from the game. It has some pretty understandable Arabic and teeny tiny subtitles.

It seems that you, the viewer or player, are President al-Fulani, so you never get to see him.

Weird serendipity: this article about Fulan made me think of Lola Falana, so I looked her up on Wikipedia to see if she’s of Arab descent (no), and found this:

On September 10, 2001, the eve of her 59th birthday, Falana’s evening prayers were interrupted by a “voice.” As Falana later recounted to Jet magazine, the voice said, “Today is the last day things will be as they are. Tomorrow nothing will be the same again.” The next day Falana, who resided in Las Vegas at the time, received a call from her mother in Philadelphia about the attacks. “It made me become a servant for God,” Falana said. “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God lives and that He is the authority on everything on this earth. What He allows is for the greater good for humanity.”[2]



1 Comment

Filed under arabic, language, movies and shows, names

One response to “Mr So-and-So

  1. More like viewer and not the player. You don’t get to see much of president al-Fulani, though, since he is executed by the game’s main bad guy right at the beginning of the story.
    COD4 indeed did feature a lot of Arabic, both written and spoken, most of it very good. The name of the studio – Infinity Ward – shows up all over the place written in Arabic. Some graffiti and other written stuff were botched (written in unconnected final forms etc.), but that did not detract from the overal very decent treatment of Arabic. Not to mention that it’s a damn fine game.

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