22 July 2011

Arabic. It's a language. With words in it. Some of them signify useful concepts. Now grow up.

Via Adam Serwer and @popehat:
New York Times | Marc Lacey | ‘Haboobs’ Stir Critics in Arizona

The massive dust storms that swept through central Arizona this month have stirred up not just clouds of sand but a debate over what to call them.

The blinding waves of brown particles, the most recent of which hit Phoenix on Monday, are caused by thunderstorms that emit gusts of wind, roiling the desert landscape. Use of the term “haboob,” which is what such storms have long been called in the Middle East, has rubbed some Arizona residents the wrong way.

“I am insulted that local TV news crews are now calling this kind of storm a haboob,” Don Yonts, a resident of Gilbert, Ariz., wrote to The Arizona Republic after a particularly fierce, mile-high dust storm swept through the state on July 5. “How do they think our soldiers feel coming back to Arizona and hearing some Middle Eastern term?”
Guessing how other people feel is a dangerous game, but I'll bite anyway.  Seeing as how they just got back from a war zone, I think they feel like you need to calm the hell down and find better things to worry about than petty bullshit like what the local news calls a dust storm. These are people who have had bullets flying past them while leading convoys over wadis or patrolling souks. They're adults; I think hearing foreign words are the least of their worries.
Diane Robinson of Wickenburg, Ariz., agreed, saying the state’s dust storms are unique and ought to be labeled as such.

“Excuse me, Mr. Weatherman!” she said in a letter to the editor. “Who gave you the right to use the word ‘haboob’ in describing our recent dust storm?"
Excuse me, Ms. Diane Robinson. From now on everyone will run all their vocabulary choices by the most easily offended person in the community. All lexicons will be determined by the person with the thinest skin.

Who gave him the right? Who gave him the right? James goddamned Madison, the fifty some members of the Second Continental Congress, and most importantly the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God.  That's who.  He's a free man, he can use whatever words he wants.  Even words like "shut up, you miserable wowser hag."

(Oh yeah, that was a loanword too.  Deal with it.)


  1. Ha! I was just thinking that the tone of this reminded me of a certain blogger losing his metaphorical s#!% at Hillary Clinton, and lo and behold, who is the first commenter?

    I am very amused.

  2. Which is a loaner word, wowser, or hag?