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Picture of Kalleh
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I found this article about Arabic to be interesting. Certain Arabic words to us can be scary, while, as in English, they also might mean something completely different. For example, the author's students were saying "Hamas, Hamas," and of course she thought they were talking about the political group. It turns out that "Hamas" is also a term denoting enthusiasm about something, much like our "cool." Since "Hamas" brings up other more political meanings, they must use it carefully.

Think about the Arab student who was recently thrown off a flight. A passenger thought he said, "shahid," the Arabic word for "martyr." He couldn't convince them, but he really had said, "Inshallah," which means "God willing."

Then there was her student who was writing an application essay and was going to use, "jihad," which is associated with violence. However, it can also mean (and what how the student was using it) "striving to apply oneself, persevering."

The author says that to prevent discrimination we should hear more Arabic spoken. However, many don't feel safe speaking it, especially in airports. Thoughts?
 
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Picture of BobHale
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I don't deny the linguistics here but, honestly, I find it hard to believe that any student who wants to use "jihad" doesn't know perfectly well how it will be perceived and is using it intentionally and with that in mind.

As for "Inshallah", maybe it's just because I used to teach a lot of Moslem students back in the UK but it's impossible to avoid it. I probably heard it fifty times a day when I ws teaching in college in Birmingham. Was, I wonder, the other passenger also Moslem? I ask because "shahid" doesn't seem to be as common a word and I wouldn't expect non-Arabic speakers to understand it at all.

After all the spellchecker on this post doesn't even recognise "Moslem".


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Late 18th Century US English used, "Musselman." I doubt a spell checker would know what to do with that.
 
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Picture of arnie
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The spell checker in my Chrome browser (British English) has no issues with "Moslem"or "Muslim" but baulks at "Musselman" and when I purposely type "Muslem".


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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quote:
I don't deny the linguistics here but, honestly, I find it hard to believe that any student who wants to use "jihad" doesn't know perfectly well how it will be perceived and is using it intentionally and with that in mind.
You may be right, of course, and you surely have more experience with these types of students than I do. However, words can be used in various ways as we know here. If the students weren't aware of the emotional aspect of the word, I think this could have been an honest near-mistake.
 
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