"Everything That Starts With 'Al-' In Middle East Is Bad"

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"Everything That Starts With 'Al-' In Middle East Is Bad"

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maj 5, 2015, 7:18pm

Talking Points Memo: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/lindsey-graham-middle-east-al
"Everything that starts with 'Al' in the Middle East is bad news," Graham said at a dinner in Boston on Monday with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, according to investigative journalist Uri Blau.

Graham was referencing the Arabic word for "the."

maj 5, 2015, 7:19pm

Like algebra?

maj 5, 2015, 7:21pm

I like the title of this piece:

NY Magazine: "Lindsey Graham Cast Aspersions on Definite Article"

maj 6, 2015, 3:07am

Algebra, alcohol, algore... perhaps he has got a point there?

maj 6, 2015, 7:30am

Alabama! (Probably a corruption of al-Obama.)

maj 7, 2015, 8:13am

Alaska isn't so bad.

maj 7, 2015, 8:29am

Oh, noes! No more algorithms! There goes the interweb.

maj 7, 2015, 12:10pm

There was an Arizona politician who actually came out explicitly against algebra last year, though it wasn't because of the Arabic origin of the name (if he'd known about that he probably would have mentioned it, though), it was that having "x" be able to represent different things in different problems led to moral relativism and the decline of civilization. I wish I was making this up.

maj 7, 2015, 2:28pm

I want to see the evidence for that! I mean, nobody's ever lost money betting against the intelligence of politicians, but… really?!

Redigeret: maj 7, 2015, 5:46pm

>10 2wonderY:

Yeah, I'm sure the guy is an idiot, but I suspect he doesn't mean algebra. It's probably a garbled reference to something else—just as "fuzzy math" is surely not a reference to what mathematics knows as Fuzzy Math! The common core includes math problems that will confuse an adult accustomed to older ways of teaching math. Perhaps some involve letters.

I'm currently home-schooling my nine year-old son while we travel through Turkey. So I taught my son that quintessential "New Math" concept, bases. I think it clarifies what's "really going on" in addition and subtraction, not to mention having a fun computer application. So he can now do math in base 2 (0 and 1), base 8 (01234567) and Base 16 (0123456789ABCDEF). My wife was briefly appalled that he was using letters in his math, but it wasn't algebra. :)

PS: Wikipedia lists "fuzzy math" as a derogatory term for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reform_mathematics
PPS: To approach base 8, I stole from Tom Lehrer's wonderful song "New Math" ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIKGV2cTgqA ), that "base eight is just like base ten—if you're missing two fingers." Before that we had a long discussion about WHY everything went one through ten, not one through nine or whatever. I'm fucking up my kid for life.

Redigeret: maj 7, 2015, 5:36pm

>5 timspalding:

Alabama! (Probably a corruption of al-Obama.)

Tim, as an al-Obamian I've been bracing ever since 2008 for some conspiracy theorist to earnestly explore that one.

In the runup to the 2008 state Democratic primary, someone did turn out bumper stickers that — well, a picture is worth a thousand words:

The original version, which I can't find a picture of, actually had a lower-case A at the beginning. The resemblance to an Arabic name was probably the reason for the design reboot.

maj 7, 2015, 5:57pm

>3 timspalding: Haha, great headline.

maj 8, 2015, 9:14am

>11 timspalding:

I've got a bunch of friends who live in Arizona. He was pretty definitely referring to algebra; the connection to the downfall of civilization may have been exaggerated, though.

I mean, sure, you can give the twit the benefit of the doubt if you want; I'll give my half-dozen friends who live there and who I know well the benefit of the doubt.

maj 8, 2015, 9:51am

> 14

Do your half-dozen friends have any actual evidence that he was referring to algebra? The quotations I've found in the news articles are not clear on that point.

Redigeret: maj 8, 2015, 10:01am

>15 lilithcat:

At the time they forwarded me news articles from local papers where he specifically talked about "x" standing in for numbers. I think that for the level of math most people are likely to be familiar with, it's a reasonable conclusion to decide that what he's talking about is algebra, and I remember all the coverage at the time talking about "algebra" (to the point that when I first encountered it I thought he would be complaining about the Arabic origin of the name.) I'm happy to hear suggested alternatives that someone without a lot of math education would be likely to be referring to, though.

Redigeret: maj 9, 2015, 5:22pm

"alcalde" the Spanish word meaning "mayor", b t w, is
derived from the Arabic "al quadi" originally meaning
"the judge".

maj 9, 2015, 5:26pm

"fuzzy math" (11)

The philosopher/mathematician Alfred North
Whitehead admitted to being "fuzzy-minded";
yet he co-wrote Principia Mathematica with
Bertrand Russell. W admitted that R was
the sole author of certain of the most intricate

Redigeret: maj 10, 2015, 11:35am

>18 rolandperkins:

The philosopher/mathematician Alfred North Whitehead

Oooh, his name begins with "Al". He must be bad news.

maj 10, 2015, 5:37am

>18 rolandperkins: he co-wrote Principia Mathematica with Bertrand Russell.

And we should not be suspicious about the authors of the Principia Mathematica? Have you seen that book? There are people who have done things like that with computers, and that's one thing, But by hand? Ol' Lovecraft was right; somethings are just not meant for human minds to try and comprehend.

maj 10, 2015, 11:37am

>20 prosfilaes:

And we should not be suspicious about the authors of the Principia Mathematica?

Darn tootin'. "Principia Mathematica", that's Latin! Probably a couple of illegals tryin' ta take jobs from hard-workin' Amuricans!

maj 10, 2015, 11:51am

Yeah, I don't understand why they call it Latin America when it ain't America.

Redigeret: maj 12, 2015, 1:52am

".....when it ainʻt America" . . . (22)

True, it ainʻt the U.S. "America" is a Latin (Roman)
word that has been taken into both English
and Spanish -- with different meanings in each.
What it ainʻt is, in fact, ALL the English speaking
countries of the Western Hemisphere (U.S., Canada, and
several in the Caribbean.) "America", in Spanish,
means all of the hemisphere, except the above.
The usual word for what English speakers
call "American" is "norteamericano".

maj 11, 2015, 12:31am

>23 rolandperkins:

You do realize that >22 anglemark: was joking, right?

maj 12, 2015, 1:52am

>anglemark was joking, right?

Although I canʻt say it put me
into the l o l category. Guess
my somewhat pedantic reply
makes it seem I got not even
the casual chuckle out of it.

maj 13, 2015, 1:58pm

>23 rolandperkins:

The usual word for what English speakers call "American" is "norteamericano".

I'll see your pedantry and match it. ;-)

The meaning of americano has shifted since the Latin American republics were formed, a generation or two after the North American one. I've looked over some official Spanish colonial correspondence from the 1810s that consistently refers to the denizens of the United States as "los americanos." Probably this stems from the fact that the Spanish-speaking dominions still bore such names as Viceroyalty of New Spain (rather than Mexico) and the governing class was still dominated by European Spaniards, or peninsulares.

Redigeret: maj 13, 2015, 3:52pm

"denizens of the United States as
ʻlos ameriicanosʻ " (23>26)

Thanks for the data.Youʻre probably right
that, ca. 1810-1820,
a Spanish speaker would have called
U. S.-ans "americanos"; whether U. S.-ans
exclusively had that name, Iʻm not sure.

maj 30, 2015, 12:40am

>23 rolandperkins: I'll see your pedantry and raise it a bit - America is derived from Americus, a slightly latinized version of the name of Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer who went to the New World a few years after Columbus and reported his findings. Another man drew up a world map based on his reports and labeled the new continent(s) America...and it stuck.

jun 16, 2015, 7:38pm

albacore - al-bukr 'the young camel'
alchemy - al-ki:mi:a: - from Greek
alcohol - al-koh''l 'the kohl'
alcove - al-qobbah 'vault' - qubba vault
alembic - al-ambi:q 'the still' - from Greek
alfalfa - alfas,fas,ah 'fodder'
algebra - al-jebr 'reintegration' - jabara reunite
Algol - al-ghu:l 'the ghoul'
algorithm - al-Khowarazmi 'the (man) of Khiva'
alkali - al-qaliy 'calx' - qalay fry, roast
Allah - `allah, from contraction of al-ilah 'the god'
albatross The medieval Arabic source-word was probably الغطّاس al-ghattās which literally meant "the diver", and meant birds who caught fish by diving, and sometimes meant the diving waterbirds of the pelecaniform class, including cormorants.11 From this or some other Arabic word, late medieval Spanish has alcatraz meaning pelecaniform-type large diving seabird.11 From the Spanish, the word entered English in the later 16th century as alcatras with the same meaning, and it is also in Italian in the later 16th century as alcatrazzi with the same meaning.12 The albatrosses are large diving seabirds that are only found in the southern hemisphere and the Pacific Ocean regions. Beginning in the 17th century, every European language adopted "albatros" with a 'b' for these birds, the 'b' having been mobilized from Latinate alba = "white". 3alchemy, chemistry الكيمياء al-kīmiyā, alchemy and medieval chemistry, and especially "studies about substances through which the generation of gold and silver may be artificially accomplished". In Arabic the word had its origin in a Greek alchemy word that had been in use in the early centuries AD in Alexandria in Egypt in Greek.13 The Arabic word entered Latin as alchimia in the 12th century and was widely circulating in Latin in the 13th century.14 In medieval Latin alchimia was strongly associated with the quest to make gold out of other metals but the scope of the word also covered the full range of what was then known about chemistry and metallurgy.15 The late medieval Latin word-forms alchimicus = "alchemical" and alchimista = "alchemist" gave rise to the Latin word-forms chimicus and chimista beginning in the mid 16th century. The word-forms with and without the al- were synonymous up until the end of the 17th century; i.e. each meant both alchemy and chemistry.16 4alcohol الكحل al-kohl, very finely powdered stibnite (Sb2S3) or galena (PbS) or any similar fine powder.7 The word with that meaning entered Latin in the 13th century spelled alcohol. In Latin in the 14th and 15th centuries the sole meaning was a very fine-grained powder, made of any material.17 In various cases this powder was obtained by crushing, but in a variety of other cases the powder was obtained by calcination or by sublimation & deposition, or occasionally by distillation. In the alchemy and medicine writer Theophrastus Paracelsus (died 1541), the alcohol powders produced by sublimations were viewed as kinds of distillates, and with that mindset he extended the word's meaning to distillate of wine. "Alcohol of wine" (ethanol) has its first known record in Paracelsus.18 The biggest-selling English dictionary of the 18th century (Bailey's) defined alcohol as "a very fine and impalpable powder, or a very pure well rectified spirit."19 5alcove القبّة al-qobba, "the vault" or cupola. That sense for the word is in medieval Arabic dictionaries,7 and the same sense is documented in Spanish alcoba around 1275.8 Alcoba semantically evolved in 14th and 15th century Spanish.20 Alcoba begot French alcove, earliest known record 1646,8 and French begot English. 6alembic (distillation apparatus) الانبيق al-anbīq, "the still" (for distilling). The Arabic root is traceable to Greek ambix = "cup". The earliest chemical distillations were by Greeks in Alexandria in Egypt in about the 3rd century AD. Their ambix became the 9th-century Arabic al-anbīq, which became the 12th-century Latin alembicus.21 7alfalfa الفصفصة al-fisfisa, alfalfa.22 The Arabic entered medieval Spanish.22 In medieval Spain alfalfa had a reputation as the best fodder for horses. The ancient Romans grew alfalfa but called it an entirely different name; history of alfalfa. The English name started in the far-west USA in the mid-19th century from Spanish alfalfa.23 8algebra الجبر al-jabr, completing, or restoring broken parts. The word's mathematical use has its earliest record in Arabic in the title of the book "al-mukhtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-jabr wa al-muqābala", translatable as "The Compendium on Calculation by Restoring and Balancing", by the 9th-century mathematician Mohammed Ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi. This algebra book was translated to Latin twice in the 12th century. In medieval Arabic mathematics, al-jabr and al-muqābala were the names of the two main preparatory steps used to solve an algebraic equation and the phrase "al-jabr and al-muqābala" came to mean "method of equation-solving". The medieval Latins borrowed the method and the names.24 9algorithm, algorism الخوارزمي al-khwārizmī, a short name for the mathematician Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī (died c. 850). The appellation al-Khwārizmī means "from Khwarizm". The Latinization of this name to "Algorismi" in the 12th century gave rise to algorismus in the early 13th.25 Until the late 19th century both algorismus and algorithm meant only the elementary methods of "Arabic" decimal number system.26 10alidade العضادة al-ʿiḍāda (from ʿiḍad, pivoting arm), the rotary dial for angular positioning on the Astrolabe surveying instrument used in astronomy. The word with that meaning was used by, e.g., the astronomers Abū al-Wafā' Būzjānī (died 998)27 and Abu al-Salt (died 1134).9 The word with the same meaning entered Latin in the Late Middle Ages in the context of Astrolabes.28 Crossref azimuth, which entered the Western languages on the same pathway. 11alkali القلي al-qalī | al-qilī, an alkaline material derived from the ashes of plants, specifically plants that grew on salty soils — glassworts aka saltworts. The dictionary of Al-Jawhari (died c. 1003) said "al-qilī is obtained from glassworts".7 In today's terms, the medieval al-qalī was mainly composed of sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate.29 The Arabs used it as an ingredient in making glass and making soap. The word's early records in the West are in Latin alchemy texts in and around the early 13th century, with the same meaning as the Arabic.30 12

jun 17, 2015, 12:55am

alchemy - al-ki:mi:a: - from Greek

That's a little unclear, actually.

jun 17, 2015, 5:29am

In Arabic the word had its origin in a Greek alchemy word that had been in use in the early centuries AD in Alexandria in Egypt in Greek.13 The Arabic word entered Latin as alchimia in the 12th century and was widely circulating in Latin in the 13th century.14 In medieval Latin alchimia was strongly associated with the quest to make gold out of other metals but the scope of the word also covered the full range of what was then known about chemistry and metallurgy

jun 17, 2015, 9:30am

So I suppose we can do away with altimeters and altitude too? :-)

Redigeret: jun 17, 2015, 10:34am

Right. The question is whether the Greek was borrowed from the Egyptian. This is a debate in the secondary sources I know, but it shows up here http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=alchemy too.

jun 18, 2015, 10:04pm

Greek Thought, Arabic Culture perhaps more answers in this book...

jun 18, 2015, 11:32pm

That is a great book.

jun 19, 2015, 2:56am

Having lived for over thirty years in Arabic-speaking countries (Sudan and South Sudan), it would have been rather difficult to talk much without using the "bad" "al" as one does tend to use the definite article quite often in normal speech.

jun 19, 2015, 9:50am

Russians do it all the time! :)

jun 19, 2015, 10:05am

>37 timspalding: Fortunately I don't speak Russian, although my wife is fluent.

Redigeret: jun 19, 2015, 11:26am

>38 John5918:

Snort. Really? That's… pretty useless where you are, I'd imagine.

jun 19, 2015, 1:05pm

>40 John5918: Well, she's pretty good with the Ukrainian pilots who fly the old Antonov planes which are used for delivering humanitarian aid...

jun 21, 2015, 8:59pm

So, does this mean no more altruism?

Redigeret: aug 15, 2015, 8:12am

This oratory is designed to oppose the Middle-East where every thing that starts with "Al" is allegedly "bad news" to Boston and the West. If this was the case how can one explain that the West created Al Capone? Born in New-York and frequent traveler to Chicago and Miami, one could assert that Al Capone was also "bad news". Now Al in his case was an abbreviated version of the French first name: Alphonse...but the real good news is they put him in Alcatraz...