Friday, February 20, 2009

"Written in Islamic"

I don't usually do current events posts, but this one was cute enough to warrant a micro-post: egregious ex-Senator Rick Santorum declares that Muslims think that “The Quran is perfect just the way it is, that’s why it is only written in Islamic.” In most speeches, a sentence like that would be a major embarrassment; in this one, it's merely his only linguistics-related blooper.

(Via Angry Arab.)


Jesús said...

Excellent post (as usual). For me, it's a reminder of the numberless times I have been talked to about a "Jewish" language. Not one of many "Jewish" languages, but just that language all Jews talk. They speak... "Jewish"[ish] Hebrew was usually meant there in my experience.

In the same vein, in Spain's Spanish common parlance, extranjero, with a mental uncapitalized e (glottonyms are'nt capitalized in Spanish spelling rules), is all and any language foreign people speak ("No sé qué decían: estaban hablando en extranjero" ["I dunna know what they were saying; they were speaking 'foreignish'"] as much as El Extranjero, with a mentally capitalized e, is just any place outside Spain (with some perspective exceptions on Portugal, Morocco and Andorra). Actually, the single place where all Foreigners live.

Panu said...

And, as we know, hablar en cristiano ("to speak Christian") means speaking Spanish.

Jesús said...

Yeah, but it isn't such a big thing actually. On ideological grounds, I mean. French has got catholique with these derived meanings: 4. Fig. et fam. [P. réf. à la réputation de fermeté de la doctrine cath., dans des expr. ou phrases négatives] Conforme à la norme doctrinale, en particulier morale. Fredaine peu catholique; se procurer qqc. par des moyens plus ou moins catholiques :
7. Cela ne pouvait pas être aussi naturel que cela en avait l'air. Il y avait, dans cette histoire, quelque chose de pas catholique...
QUEFFÉLEC, Un Recteur de l'île de Sein, 1944, p. 193.
[En parlant du lait, du vin, p. allus. à l'eau du baptême] Additionné d'eau (cf. baptiser B 2).
, Trésor de la langue française (informatisé), s. v. "catholique".

Panu said...

As regards speaking foreignish or extranjero, in Finnish we have the word ulkomaa for a foreign country, or "outside country, external country" - obviously a loan-translation from Swedish and German (utlandet, das Ausland). Today, ulkomaat is mostly used in plural - "all the foreign countries". However, in my childhood you could still hear the expression ulkomaan kieli - the ulkomaa language, with ulkomaa in Gen Sg - which was a generic expression for a foreign language. This expression did suggest a naïve idea of all the foreigners speaking a monolithic "foreign language". The expression seems to have fallen in disuse with people becoming more familiar with foreign countries and languages - nowadays, the preferred term for "foreign language" is vieras kieli - "unfamiliar/strange/foreign language" (vieras can also be a noun and mean "guest, visitor").