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IN FRATERNAM MEAM
Monday, June 06, 2005
HOW DO YOU SPELL OSAMA?
Slate magazine explainer says Osama, The FBI says Usama.

As most everyone knows, the Arabic alphabet differs from the Latin alphabet. The Arabic alphabet has twenty-eight letters rather than twenty-six, and it uses completely different character of bin Laden's first name, do not have directly corresponding sounds in English.

A variety of systems exist to Romanize Arabic letters and words, but there is no dominant one. The International Journal of Middle East Studies offers one system, the Library of Congress's slightly different one. And not all publications consistently follow one system, either. Historcal tradition for a particular place or name can win out, and so can personal preference. Or the ad hoc spelling established an by the Associated Press or the New York Times can become the standard. If an Arab attains fame in the West, academics and specialists will usually yield to the spelling popularized by journalists.

How does Osama/Usama want his name to be spelled? In a document published by The Wall Street Journal on October 3, 2001, the al-Qaida leader Romaniized his name as U s a m a.

(abstracted from the book: "The Explainer" by the authors of Slate Magazine)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:13 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
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About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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