Why Daesh?

Gepostet vor 1 Jahr, 8 Monaten in #Misc #Language #Terrorism

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Die Frage kam in den letzten Tagen hier in den Comments und auf Facebook öfter auf, was „Daesh“ bedeutet und warum man die Bastarde nicht mehr ISIS oder ISIL nennen würde. Die oberflächlichen Begründungen und Annahmen, die man in den meisten Artikeln liest, sind anscheinend alle eher falsch:

The main misapprehensions about the word currently circulating in our media boil down to the following list:
- That daesh is an Arabic word in its own right (rather than an acronym) meaning ‘a group of bigots who impose their will on others’
- That it can be ‘differently conjugated’ to mean either the phrase above or ‘to trample and crush’
- That one of the words in the acronym also means ‘to trample or crush’
- That it is an insult or swearword in its own right
- That is has different meanings in the plural form

Hier ein längeres Zitat aus dem Artikel Decoding Daesh: Why is the new name for ISIS so hard to understand? der Linguisten-Charity Free Word Centre aus London, der im Detail erklärt, was „Daesh“ (eigentlich „D.A.E.SH“) tatsächlich bedeutet:

So what does Daesh really mean? Well, D.A.E.SH is a transliteration of the Arabic acronym formed of the same words that make up I.S.I.S in English: 'Islamic State in Iraq and Syria', or 'لدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام' ('al-dowla al-islaamiyya fii-il-i’raaq wa-ash-shaam'). That’s the full name chosen by the organisation, and – when used in full – it’s definitely how they want to be referred to. In Arabic, just like in English, that phrase consists of six words, four of which make it into the acronym (‘in’ and ‘and’ are omitted) : 'دولة dowla' (state) + 'إسلامية islaamiyya' (Islamic) + 'عراق i’raaq' (Iraq) + 'شام shaam'. That last word, 'shaam', is variously used in Arabic to denote Damascus (in Syrian dialect) ‘Greater Syria’ / the Levant, or Syria – hence the US-preferred acronym ISIL, with the L standing for Levant. In Arabic there is a single letter for the sound 'sh', hence our transliteration of the acronym having five letters, not four. And the vowel which begins the word 'islaamiyya' becomes an 'a' sound when differently positioned in a word, hence the acronym being pronounced 'da’ish' when written in Arabic, and the 'a' coming over into our transliteration of the acronym. Of course the amazing Arabic letter 'ع' which begins the word for 'Iraq' is unpronounceable to an anglophone, and can’t be written in Latin letters, hence the use of an 'e' (or occasionally an ’e) in the transliteration.

Still with me? Nothing mysterious there – or nothing that anyone who speaks Arabic wouldn’t be able to explain. It’s not a previously existing word in its own right. It does indeed now mean ‘tyrannical, despotic, murdering fundamentalists who claim to be Islamic and claim to be a state’ but only as a result of how it sounds (more on that in a minute) and as a result of the associations that quickly attach to a neologism, in the same way that they have attached to the word ISIS. So it’s not based on any previous – or mysterious, or quasi-mystical Eastern – meaning.

And so if the word is basically 'ISIS', but in Arabic, why are the people it describes in such a fury about it? Because they hear it, quite rightly, as a challenge to their legitimacy: a dismissal of their aspirations to define Islamic practice, to be 'a state for all Muslims’ and – crucially – as a refusal to acknowledge and address them as such. They want to be addressed as exactly what they claim to be, by people so in awe of them that they use the pompous, long and delusional name created by the group, not some funny-sounding made-up word. And here is the very simple key point that has been overlooked in all the anglophone press coverage I’ve seen: in Arabic, acronyms are not anything like as widely used as they are in English, and so arabophones are not as used to hearing them as anglophones are. Thus, the creation and use of a title that stands out as a nonsense neologism for an organisation like this one is inherently funny, disrespectful, and ultimately threatening of the organisation’s status.

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