Monday, August 23, 2010

Linguifying the countryside

This morning's press brings an amusing example of the political linguification of Arabic in the popular press. Take it away, The Washington Times!

There is also the president's full name, Barack Hussein Obama, which as the Associated Press gently put it, "sounds Muslim to many." In fact, the name "Barack" derives from the Arabic word for "blessing" and is not necessarily Islamic, but when paired with "Hussein," which refers to Muhammad's grandson, acts as an adjective.

The sheer quality of the reefer that must obtain on the mezzanine at New York Avenue these days! No, seriously. Under what circumstances would you believe an assertion like that about the grammatical structure of your own name? Well, guess what? It doesn't do that here either. The Times just flat-out made it up. Whee!

The bulk of the piece is a fairly standard-issue bucket of lies, innuendo and race-baiting (hey, it's an editorial; it isn't even subjected to TWT's minimal editing for news standards). That's why it works. Most people in the audience aren't interested in questioning dark assertions about what the double-secret bylaws of sharia might or might not say, and even the notionally professional media give full credence to Franklin Graham's inane natterings about how the "seed of Islam" is spread. But you'd like to think that when it gets down to how names work, somebody -- even a TWT reader -- would sort of glance at the page a bit funny and say: Nah. You guys are kidding about this one.

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