Category Archives: language

Terminology: ISIS vs. ISIL–Everything You Always Wanted to Know and Much, Much More

The esteemed Dr. Justice has an excellent post about the term ISIS vs. the term ISIL–two different translations for the same name of the organization in Iraq.

Click this messy-looking link to read to your heart’s content:


This is an issue because ignoramuses keep staying stupid stuff, as ignoramuses will do. Here’s overpaid bobblehead Chuck Todd:

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Filed under arabic, arabist, language, names, Our glorious war in Iraq, translation

Arabic Students and Speakers, Laugh Along With–errr–*at* Ergun Caner

You know how you might have a friend who lies really often and well, and you just can’t hate the guy because his incredible all-out embrace of lying as a way of life kind of perks you up? This is not that guy, because he is unlovable, but he is the most audacious liar I’ve ever seen in action in my life.

Check out the video of this guy, Ergun Caner. Now, you find all kinds of information about how he lied about his heritage, his birthplace, his early childhood, his late childhood, his dad’s career, etc., but I just want to point and laugh at his “Arabic.”

(Speaking of his curriculum vitae, he’s been a professor and president at more than one “university” and there’s nothing about his education, whatsoever, on his Wikipedia page. How can that be?)

How do you suppose he conducts his daily life these days so as to make sure he never accidentally encounters anyone who actually speaks Arabic? It probably helps a lot to be in GA, but I know there are at least some Arabic speakers there.

Is anyone else bothered as much as I am by his affected accent?

Is “Lying for Jesus” already a tag?


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Filed under arabic, language, religion, religious conflict

Fun-Times Friday: Fake Ex-Muslim Speaks Fake Arabic

A friend told me about this guy, Ergun Caner, today, and I couldn’t wait to look him up and find out what he’s about. Here’s a youtube video of him giving an earnest speech to a gullible Christian Islamophobe audience, with plenty of fake Arabic.

If you don’t know Arabic, this may not be funny to you, but maybe it is!


Filed under arabic, arabist, bigoted idiots, language, Stupidity

All-Arabic Version of “America the Beautiful” Here

Last night’s Super Bowl included a commercial by Coca Cola in which “American the Beautiful” was sung in a few different languages along with English. I didn’t hear any Arabic in it, but here is Coke’s version in all-Arabic. This clip also includes some conversation with the delightful little girl who sang it.

Also, for a small sample of what America’s bigots, racists, and morons said on Twitter about the commercial, go to Public Shaming:

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Filed under arab, arabic, bigoted idiots, language, movies and shows, music, Stupidity

Judge Rules Arabic Flashcards Too Dangerous to Fly

You may remember a case from several years ago where a student of Arabic was detained by the TSA because he had Arabic flash cards. He was studying Arabic. Flash cards can actually be useful in studying a language.

Arabic is the fifth-most-commonly-spoken language on the planet Earth. It is the official language of 27 nations. Most importantly, it is language, not a weapon. If flashcards are dangerous, they are equally dangerous no matter what is written on them. What could a passenger do with Arabic on flashcards that he couldn’t do without the flash cards?

See my previous post, How Arabic is Like Parseltongue.

Here’s the recent news story at Raw Story:

Observe the fool-proof logic:

TSA AGENT: Do you know who did 9/11?

GEORGE: Osama bin Laden.

TSA AGENT: Do you know what language he spoke?

GEORGE: Arabic.

TSA AGENT: Do you see why these cards are suspicious?




Filed under arabic, arabist, bigoted idiots, language, Our glorious war on terror, Stupidity

On Jihad, Ignorance Stands Still

The Washington Post had an article the other day about an ad campaign in DC to inform the public on what ‘jihad’ actually means.

With a four-week ad buy in the Shaw, Waterfront, Rockville and Dunn Loring Metro stations, organizer Ahmed Rehab, who is also executive director of the Chicago branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says that he is hoping to change the narrative around the word jihad.

“We kind of got tired sitting there watching people tell us what we believe or what we don’t believe.”

The posters feature photos of Muslims sharing their religious struggles, and uses lines like “my jihad is to build bridges through friendship” and “my jihad: modesty is not a weakness.”

Twelve years after 9/11 and the initial bout of screaming American ignorance, the country’s morons are still as ignorant and still as vocal as ever. Some comments from the WaPo:

You can try to give a newer softer meaning to the word “jihad” but it is too late.
For too many non muslims, the word jihad is associated with terrorism.

This is not a newer, softer meaning. This is the meaning.

Painting Jihad in any other way than getting rid of whoever believes differently is like sprinkling sugar on blood or painting lipstick on a pig’s snout.

“Lipstick on a pig” will always remind me of Sarah Palin.

Jihad means islamic holy war and it has no any other meaning.Jihad in german language is Mein Kampf.
Jihad does not mean to build bridge through friendship.
Jihad is war,jihad means killing infidels/non-muslims.
Jihad is an obligation in House of War/Infidel Country(America,Europe)
Jihad ads at metro stations are Lie Propaganda and Deception

Congratulations, you’re exactly wrong.

But I’m happy to say that the really awful comments I saw the other day have largely been addressed by thoughtful, patient people, and there’s real discussion going on in the comments today.

And people can still see the humor:

My jihad is to get laid this weekend

That’s not quite the meaning, but good luck to you, ma’am.

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Filed under arabic, arabist, bigoted idiots, Islamic relations, language, Stupidity

Funny Ad

rosetta stone parody

This is a series of screen caps from an SNL parody ad. Found this on Pleated Jeans.

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Filed under arabic, language, movies and shows

Ignorant Xenophobe Americans Report “Arabic Writing” on Planes

Gawker story here

Fox News story here

It turns out the “Arabic writing” is neither Arabic nor writing, and scarcely resembles Arabic writing. Rather, it looks like a stylized drawing of a sword.

Gawker explains it here

UPDATE: I forgot to mock the people who think there are mysterious Arabic symbols. Arabic is a language. It has writing. There are no Arabic symbols. So no job for a Tom-Hanks-style Dan Brown mystery Angels and Demons kind of *symbologist*, more’s the pity.


Filed under arabic, language, Our glorious war on terror, Stupidity

Uncontroversial Personal Opinion Somehow Scandalous

Dr Justice, who blogs at The World of Dr Justice, has a post today about a recent “scandal”…well, I’ll let him tell it. I’ll depart from my SOP and post the whole post here:

We really must keep away from politics on this site — lest, touching pitch, we be defiled: for no-one convinces anyone else, and the ensuing heat helps melt the ice-caps. But the escalating weirdness of the world compels attention. So from time to time, we’ll permit ourselves a strictly linguistic contribution to the debates. In particular, a semantic analysis of the dizzying spin which the media places upon events (or which they blandly pass on from partisan spinmeisters).

Thus, in today’s Washington Post (the print edition of which arrived unscathed on our porch, despite the morning’s downpour; kudos to the delivery-man, or to some thoughtful neighbor) the headline in the leftmost column of the front page, above the fold, reads:

NPR head outsed in wake of scandal

And that is as far as many readers will get, in our busy-busy age. Those who persevere to the smaller-print subhead learn further

Departure comes amid calls on Hill to defund public broadcasting

And now surely all but the most dedicated have been sucked up into the further frenzy of the workday. What impression will they take away?

Evidently that the NPR head was caught with her hand in the till, or in bed with a capybara. And that her scandalous behavior adds fuel to the (apparently bipartisan) calls on Capitol Hill to withdraw public subsidies from these miscreants.

The actual story — and this is not in dispute — is that a different guy, who happens to have the same surname as the ousted NPR head, and who was the chief fundraiser for NPR, did X — was outed, and promptly left the scene. So already the natural semantic implication of the headline is seen to be aslant to the facts.

Well, what was X, that it is labeled a “scandal”? No, he was not caught in bed with a capybara either (and had he been, he would doubtless be surrounded by defenders, in this “Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That” age. — Actually, I hear that capybaras are really sweet between the sheets.) Rather, he got caught in the old ploy we might dub the “Camel Trap”, familiar from the days of Abscam on down. Advice to Freshmen: If you are approached by some portly, pasty-faced fellows hiding beneath a keffiyah, presenting themselves as wealthy Arabian sheikhs (or Nigerian princes, for that matter), watch what you say.

Anyhow, what he did say was … well what exactly he did say was not reported, but the way the paper put it was, he “disparaged Republicans as ‘anti-intellectual’, and tea party members as racists and xenophobes”. Given the realities on the ground, that is rather like accusing the Pope of being a Papist, or disparaging bears for going number-two in the woods; but let that lie. Assume that the opinion thus expressed is seriously at variance with the facts; it remains an opinion, expressed in what the sucker assumed was privacy. (“Um, what are those microphone-like objects dangling from your necks?” “Amulets. It’s a Muslim thing.”) Now, how — semantically, pragmatically — do we classify such an utterance?

Traditionally, there was no word for it — just something you disagreed with, or that was an outrageous thing to say, or whatever — though you would “defend to the death his right to say it”. (Remember that one? In memory still green…) Then the media invented a new term to characterize a statement made deliberately and in public, and widely known to be essentially true — but impolitic: a “gaffe”. This already was a mind-muddling assimilation of one category to another, as though we were to start calling both sheep and goats “goats”. Well, the kernel of truth to the move is that perhaps the speaker should have been more distrustful of what the spinmeisters can do with such statements, and the docility of their audience. — Next came a further extension, more dubious still, to apply the term “gaffe” to a statement made in confidence, which then is leaked. Here the only fault of the speaker was to have failed to obey what is increasingly becoming a wise piece of advice: Never say anything to anybody, ever.

And now the Washington Post has gone the media one better (or one worse), calling the leaked statement, not a gaffe, but a “scandal”. And a scandal, mind you, against the speaker, not against the operatives who falsely represented themselves and who leaked statements made in confidence.

O tempora…

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Filed under Blogroll, language, Stupidity

Dead Language of the Future

I posted this clip a few years back and it was removed from the video sharing site, but now it’s back and I’m giving it another try. I think most people gave up on the idea of copyright/intellectual property etc on the internet. Plus anyway, it’s only 13 seconds long.

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Filed under language, movies and shows