Speak American

This is funny:

The term “Haboob” is the Arabic word for wind—try saying it a few times, it’s fun!—and American meteorologists have been using it since the 1950’s to describe a huge sandstorm. Most recently, however, the word inspired a mini-firestorm.

Shortly after KCBD News Channel 11 in Lubbock, Texas posted a photo on its Facebook page with the caption “Haboob headed toward Lubbock” Texans begun to freak out, taking to Facebook to make it clear they aren’t fond of Arabs or Muslims therefore don’t want to hear no, “meddle [sic] eastern term.”

Wait until a Derecho hits Lubbock. The same ignorant morons will be complaining about them “speaking Mexican”.

This is in the Daily Beast (via Wonkette), and I don’t agree with the lede, which tries to make some lemonade out that the fact that the “hate dirty Mooslims” faction was only 10% or so of the comments on the station’s Facebook page. As long as those ignorant fucks feel like it’s their Jesus-given right to spout off in any public forum that’s not Red State or Fox Nation, it’s a clear indication that the right amount of the right kind of scorn and ridicule hasn’t been heaped on them.

84 replies
  1. 1
    GregB says:

    What a bunch of haboobs, maroons even.

  2. 2
    Belafon says:

    This made me laugh:

    I wonder if in the same vein of changing “french fries” to “freedom fries,” these Arab haters will now call alcohol, “Texas juice” or rename algebra to, “that thing I failed in school.”

    As he points out, coffee is also an Arabic based word.

  3. 3
    Schlemizel says:

    I do not think it is possible to heap the right amount of scorn on these mouth-breathing morans. Until they crawl back under the rock the slithered out from and stop shitting on society ‘enough’ will not be reached. Given that they show no signs of learning, growing or even attempting to understand I cannot imagine a heap large enough to bury them under.

  4. 4
    Ellmore Disco says:

    News Channel 11 uses them Ay-rabic numerals! Another Lib’rul Media conspiracy!

  5. 5
    boatboy_srq says:

    only 10% or so of the comments

    These days, anything below 27% is a win.

  6. 6
    Cervantes says:

    The term “Haboob” is the Arabic word for wind

    Nonsense. It’s a specific meteorological phenomenon, a sort of dust-storm, quite violent.

    Generic “wind” is ريح (pronounced, roughly,”reeh”).

  7. 7
    pharniel says:

    OT but apperently Japan decided that Crimea’s new AG was swoon worthy – and now she has fan art.
    No really

  8. 8
    raven says:

    @Cervantes: I loved the Wind and the Lion!

  9. 9
    NorthLeft12 says:

    I don’t care about the fee fees of these people. Mocking their idiocy on the internet or face to face is the only way they will eventually activate their self correct or mute modes.

    I really don’t care about changing their hearts and minds, for most of them it is not possible. I just want them to keep their vile opinions to themselves or their fellow creeps. That is progress enough for me.

  10. 10
    Betty Cracker says:

    @boatboy_srq: Agreed. My local paper has been covering the case of the retired ex-cop who shot and killed a fellow movie-goer over an argument about texting during previews (Stand Your Ground!). I’ve known for years that the comments sections of my local papers are wingnut cesspools, but even I’ve been shocked by the level of “sumbitch needed killin'” contained under those stories.

  11. 11
    David in NY says:

    @Cervantes: Thank you. I thought it would be odd to use the word “wind” for “sandstorm,” no matter the language.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    Cervantes says:

    @pharniel: What percentage of young women trafficked out of Ukraine over the last twenty years ended up in Japan? (I have no idea.)

  14. 14
    raven says:

    @Betty Cracker: Same in Athens.

  15. 15
    Irrationalnumb3r says:

    Next they’ll want to get rid of algebra from the school curriculum just like evolution.

  16. 16
    ruemara says:

    It is funny. And unbelievably sad.

  17. 17
    evolved beyond the fist mistermix says:

    @Cervantes: That whole piece is poorly done, starting with the shitty lede or subhead. We don’t need his excuse-making, just report the fucking facts.

  18. 18
    Scott S. says:

    @Irrationalnumb3r: Some of them already complain that it’s wrong to have letters in math. So it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if a wingnut movement started up around getting rid of algebra or any kind of higher math.

    And of course, the way things go nowadays, there’d be a crop of pundits willing to nod sagely and agree that maybe Muslim math should be thrown out of schools…

  19. 19
    raven says:

    @Cervantes: I understand that many of the hookers in Korea are now imported from Russia.

  20. 20
    Cervantes says:

    @raven: You know, had that kidnapping not occurred, TR might not have been re-nominated for the presidency in 1904, never mind being re-elected.

  21. 21
    gnomedad says:

    Also, “algebra” should be called “freedom math”.

  22. 22
    Tommy says:

    As a military brat and cause of work I’ve lived in a shit load of places. I liked pretty much everyplace I lived, but I can’t find much nice to say about Lubbock, Texas. I was not a fan of the place. This story is just another nail in the coffin for the darn place!

    BTW: Imagine a word to describe a sand storm comes from a language of folks that generally speaking live in fucking deserts.

  23. 23
    khead says:

    it’s a clear indication that the right amount of the right kind of scorn and ridicule hasn’t been heaped on them.

    That’s a lot of heapin’ and I’m still a bit tired from all the snow shoveling this winter.

  24. 24
    raven says:

    @Cervantes: Politics are funny!

  25. 25
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @raven: Those Ukraine girls really knock me out.

  26. 26
    MattF says:

    Boo! The Haboob Jihad is coming to get you! Oooga-wooga!

  27. 27
    Tommy says:

    @gnomedad: Or maybe we should do away with the number 0, since Muslims were the folks that pushed its usage (Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea). The Vatican and Pope were against it.

    I am pretty sure a Muslim scholar could come up with a few thousands things that Religion/culture brought to us that we all kind of don’t know came from them.

  28. 28
    Cervantes says:


    BTW: Imagine a word to describe a sand storm comes from a language of folks that generally speaking live in fucking deserts.

    In fact, Arabic has various words to describe various specific sand-storms or kinds thereof.

    سموم‎ (pronounced, roughly, “samoom”), for example.

  29. 29
    Cervantes says:

    @Scott S.:

    Some of them already complain that it’s wrong to have letters in math.

    No, that did not happen the way you think it did.

  30. 30
    Tommy says:

    @Cervantes: I would think so. Having lived in Lubbock and experienced sand if not dust storms they are not fun. Assume if you lived in a desert you’d have a lot of words for that experience.

  31. 31
    Cervantes says:


    I am pretty sure a Muslim scholar could come up with a few thousands things that Religion/culture brought to us that we all kind of don’t know came from them.

    It shouldn’t take a Muslim scholar.

  32. 32
    Cervantes says:

    @Gin & Tonic: If only they could have knocked Putin out.

    Justice will take time (and other ingredients).

  33. 33

    Wingnuts, please proceed and try and get rid of every furrin word in English.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    All I can say is, “The stupid. It BURNS!”

  35. 35
    Scott S. says:

    @Tommy: I lived in Lubbock for many years and liked it a lot. It helped that I had family there, and that there was a decent rock station and decent comic shops and game shops. But I’ll also freely admit that there were oh-so-many-times when I wanted to go visit almost everyone in town and show ’em the business end of my crowbar collection…

  36. 36
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    “That’s the problem with Americans. They don’t have a word for entrepreneur!”

  37. 37
    Tommy says:

    @Scott S.: This is so sad to say, but I could almost see that happening.

    I went in for an eye exam the other day. I noticed something in the office and said to the women “are you a Muslim?” I live in a 98.7 white area and I assume not a lot of Muslims. You could see her face almost turn white, like I might be offend.

    I quickly said I wasn’t and just was a curious person.

    We then talked for about an hour about her faith. I am proud to say she was confused I knew as much as I did.

    My favorite part of the conversation was they have an app for that. An app on her iPhone that allows shows her the direction of Mecca.

  38. 38
    Booger says:

    @Cervantes: But did you know there’s no word for “FREEDUM” in arabic? And how many words do they have for SNOW?

  39. 39
    Belafon says:

    @Cervantes: I went and looked at our link, and followed the one about letters. Here’s the link again. Here in Texas, division with remainders is covered by the fourth grade. And I remember those puzzles.

    My oldest son is now going to college in Iowa. In his first semester literature class there, he was given five books to read. He had already read four of them, three of which were required reading by the state of Texas.

  40. 40
    Tommy says:

    @Scott S.: Well I’d be all over a good rock station, comic books, and gaming stores. That is how I roll.

    I lived there in the early to mid 70s and started school there (dad taught at Texas Tech). It wasn’t a fun experience. I was somewhat of a difficult kid, OCD and well difficult in general. Other places, other public schools seemed to be able to deal with me. In Lubbock, not so much. A lot of phone calls to my parents. A very unpleasant experience.

  41. 41
    Scott S. says:

    @Tommy: Ah, yeah, the comics and game shops didn’t get their starts ’til sometime in the ’80s or ’90s. I’d hope the schools are better now, too, but I wouldn’t know, since I didn’t have any kids in ’em…

  42. 42

    When cultures become afraid of outside influences and start turning inward, they ossify. It has happened before and will happen again. I just hope that these crazies are not able to impose their will on the majority. They already have a bigger influence than their numbers in the population and they have taken over one political party. Their anti-science stances and bigotry are worrisome.

  43. 43
    Cervantes says:


    And how many words do they have for SNOW?

    Several. Here’s one: ثلج (pronounced, roughly, “salj” or “thalj”).

  44. 44
    Cervantes says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Their anti-science stances and bigotry are worrisome.

    Just as insanity is worrisome.

  45. 45
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    “English doesn’t borrow words from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them unconscious, and rifles through their pockets for loose grammar.”

  46. 46
    Tommy says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I hope you are right. I mean I really hope you are right. My parents are Republicans but wouldn’t say so, cause well science and all. When you have multiple family members with PhDs and their party ignores science, well it is tough on them.

    We might debate over taxes. We don’t debate over global warming, vaccinations, or evolution.

  47. 47
    Eric U. says:

    @Tommy: the local school board tried to argue in court that zero isn’t a number. They were arguing in favor of the grossly unfair tax on the name of your occupation, but it still strikes me as typical of Pennsyltucky ignorance. They had a person come around and ask your occupation when you moved into an area before you realized that telling the truth cost money. And that lying about it was legal

  48. 48
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Booger: Oh, please, not the snow bullshit again. There’s actually a book on why the “Eskimo words for snow” thing is a complete crock.

  49. 49


    Snow is not unknown in the Arab world…

  50. 50
    The Red Pen says:

    I liked this comment on the FB page:

    I hear if you say “haboob” 3 times in front of a mirror an angry redneck will appear to tell you that you’re racist and that Obama done did this to ‘Merica and it’s called a dirt/dust storm.

  51. 51
    Cervantes says:

    @Certified Mutant Enemy: Yes, that was the point, thanks.

  52. 52


    When you have multiple family members with PhDs and their party ignores science, well it is tough on them.

    Then perhaps, it is time for them to leave their party.

  53. 53

    I have seen the language wars play out in the Indian/Pakistani context too. Hindi and Urdu are actually the same language, Hindustani written in different scripts.
    Hindi purists insist on purging the mostly Persian and some Arabic influences, while the Urdu purists insist on purging the Sanskrit influences.

  54. 54
    chrome agnomen says:

    time to stop using those dirty, stinking, muslim numbers and letters, too. like a,b,c,1,2,3.

  55. 55
    The Red Pen says:

    @chrome agnomen: a,b, and c are roman letters.

    Obviously a conspiracy by the socialist Pope Francis.

  56. 56
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Don’t get me going on L’Académie française.

  57. 57
    Steeplejack (tablet) says:

    I thought haboob was sideboob caused by the wind. I may have misread a Wonkette piece.

  58. 58
    mai naem mobile says:

    We went through the same thing a couple of years ago when we had a haboob in the metro phoenix area. I tell you the haboob looked like something out of those disaster pron movies. Also too, I just got auto corrected on haboob to Hanoi. There must be a connection between Hanoi Jane and haboob.

  59. 59
    Origuy says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Actually the quote is:

    “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”
    –James D. Nicoll

    @schrodinger’s cat: Serbo-Croatian is the same way. Serbian uses Cyrillic, while Croatian uses Latin letters.

  60. 60
    Origuy says:

    @The Red Pen: Yes, we should go back to runes, like our Nordic ancestors.

  61. 61
    NonyNony says:

    “hate dirty Mooslims” faction was only 10% or so of the comments

    I believe that you mean “X%” of the comments. Use of Arabic numerals is part of the slippery slope towards the Caliphate.

  62. 62
    Cervantes says:


    I believe that you mean “X%” of the comments. Use of Arabic numerals is part of the slippery slope towards the Caliphate.

    You want to give up the percentage as well. We might never have been tricked into using it if not for those sneaky Hindu-Arab towel-heads forcing their base-10 on us in the first place.

    (Why else do you think it’s called “base”?)

  63. 63
    Warren Terra says:

    Just wait until there’s a flash-flood warning, and they refuse to avoid the wadi because it’s originally an Arabic word, even though the closest and most efficient I can find with Anglo-Saxon roots is “dry riverbed”.

  64. 64
    Warren Terra says:

    The Romans had Base Ten. They just didn’t have the math to use it properly.

  65. 65
    Origuy says:

    In reference to the discussion (I think it was here) about the Scotch-Irish, I came across this article.

    Scotch-Irish or Scots-Irish: What’s in a Name?

  66. 66
    Interrobang says:

    If they give up everything with Arabic names in English, they’ll also have to give up sugar. And alcohol.


    I like the Hebrew-from-Arabic word for those things. They call em khamsin ( חמשין) , which comes from the word for “fifty,” ostensibly because in Israel, you get fifty khamsin days a year. (Can’t vouch for that.) In Hebrew, if you say something is “haboob,” you mean it’s cute. Heh.

  67. 67
    mellowjohn says:

    just like the song says, “Happiness was Lubbock, Texas in my rear view mirror.”

  68. 68
    Citizen_X says:

    @Warren Terra: Oh, come on, there’s arroyo…er, wait.

    (And actually, “dry wash” is a perfectly useful term, too.)

  69. 69
    PurpleGirl says:

    Then there is the German habit of finding German words to combine to form a “German” word to approximate the meaning of a word they want to bring in from another language. There is a word with something like 26 letters, television works out to being something like “eye that is far seeing”. (I don’t think I’m explaining this well. Argh.)

  70. 70
    Warren Terra says:

    You’re thinking of French. Germans are fairly comfortable incorporating foreign words. Yes, the German word for Television is Fernseher, meaning Farseer – but television is old, and predates the cultural dominance of English. The German word for Computer is Komputer, and there are many similar examples. For that matter, my vague recollection is that the Germans also use the word “television” now.

    France, on the other hand, has a formal policy of refusing to admit foreign words and attempting to insist that newly concocted French words be used in their place.

    PS One of my favorite recent developments in this vein is from Quebec. Quebec has famously long had strict ruls on signage, such that all signs on commercial establishments must be more in French than in any foreign language. Not even equal: more, and this although half or less of Montreal is Francophone. Well, the latest development was an official letter of warning (the step before fines are assessed) because a small chain (two stores, one in Quebec and one in Ontario) had a FaceBook page that contained more English than French.

  71. 71
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Warren Terra: No, I was thinking of German. Maybe they have changed, but at one time they really tried to create a German word by combining other German words. If they’ve changed, that is good. You could get some really strange, long words with multiple suffixes and prefixes.

    I took two terms of German in college, freshman year so I don’t remember the weirdest words the teacher told us about.

  72. 72
    Origuy says:

    @PurpleGirl: The usual word for “television” is Fernseher, far-seer, although you may be thinking of Fernsehapparat, far-seeing-apparatus. German does this a lot; the example I remember from German class is Wolkenkratzer, cloud-scraper, for skyscraper. Linguists call words like this caliques or loan translations. Other languages do it too.

  73. 73
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Belafon: That’s okay, those freaks prefer sweet tea.

  74. 74
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Warren Terra: They did have base 10, but they did their serious math in base 60, which is every bit as cumbersome as you might imagine.

    Kind of explains why construction was so specialized and they were able to keep trade secrets, though.

  75. 75
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @PurpleGirl: German scholars in the 19th century did a lot of work in Greek and what they did was to loan-translate Greek words by backforming them with German roots. Like @Origuy mentioned.

    To a lesser extent they did this with French. They also borrowed a lot of Greek words outright. Most of these compound words basically originate in academia.

    By contrast, the French declared themselves the intellectual and linguistic heirs of the Greeks and thus borrowed Greek words with a French accent. While English academia had had such a rich history of latin borrowing and even latin new word formation that the Greek stuff only came in through the backdoor of interest in the German philosophic tradition. There are a few German language borrowings, too, such as “Quelle” for the unknown source of the synoptic bibles, in English “Q”. However, it was more common to use latin, such as Freud’s Ich becoming the Ego.

    These siloed traditions are why it’s such a fucking pain to try to read German academic literature. Common German speech has a lot more in common with colloquial French and such than you might think. Many of the same phrases exist in both languages as you might expect in a big agricultural plain with few dividing geological features that passed between jurisdictions and languages frequently and experienced several decisive mass migrations in recent centuries.

    Whereas in academia there was this enormous divide with German-language academics in what became an extremely advanced set of fields by the late 19th cent. used language as I described above, while Romance language academics and English-language academics usually used the same latin borrowings or neologisms until quite recently.

    Dutch, despite being a Teutonic language, also took the French-style borrowings. So you have a single, successful, significant, verwirrende Tradition with which to deal.

  76. 76
    Anna in PDX says:

    @gnomedad: Darn, you got there first. This is a great idea.

    I speak Arabic and this whole topic is more than hilarious. What idiots.

    @Interrobang: Actually in Arabic, at least the dialects I speak, Khamseen is the word they use, not Haboob.

  77. 77
    BruceJ says:

    @Irrationalnumb3r: A local wingnut politician actually complained about that ‘fuzzy math where they use letters instead of numbers’ in debate over Common Core which he’s definitely against.

    This kind of idiocy is why we’re much more likely to have ‘Brawndo…it’s got what plants need’ in the future instead of flying cars…

  78. 78
    Cervantes says:

    @Anna in PDX:

    Actually in Arabic, at least the dialects I speak, Khamseen is the word they use, not Haboob.

    They are separate phenomena.

  79. 79
    RSA says:

    @Warren Terra:

    Just wait until there’s a flash-flood warning, and they refuse to avoid the wadi because it’s originally an Arabic word…

    Oh, great. Now you’re telling me that Muslims have infiltrated my computer Scrabble game. Where will this all end?

  80. 80
  81. 81
    Calouste says:


    The Grauniad has a bit of a reputation for typos. Yes, they actually spelled their own name like that in one instance.

  82. 82
    Pogonip says:

    When Arabic speakers are bored, do they turn on the haboob tube?

  83. 83
    Tehanu says:

    I must bring in an old comment from one “mds” on Crooked Timber, about the Cordoba House controversy (Muslim community center near World Trade Center site). I’ve had this utterly brilliant thing on my desktop for several years now. Responding to an earlier commenter (Andrew Edwards 08.09.10 at 2:39 am) who said:

    “Next thing they’ll be teaching “Muslim math” in schools. Only slightly seriously, I’ve always wondered how many loonies you could get standing up to oppose the teaching of “al-jebra”…”

    mds replied:

    “First they came for the algebra, and I didn’t speak up, because I hated word problems. Then they came for the algorithms, and I didn’t speak up, because my computer no longer worked. Then they came for the zeroes, and Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin were taken away. So I guess it worked out after all.”


  84. 84
    Cervantes says:


    I’ve had this utterly brilliant thing on my desktop for several years now.

    You were right to save that! (Thanks.)

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