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The Word “Haboobs” Causing Chaos in Arizona?

23 July 2011 Loonwatch.com 9 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Haboob - Dust Storm

The Word “Haboobs” Causing Chaos in Arizona?

What is going on in Arizona? The word “Haboobs” is being criticized because it is Arabic? Ridiculous, I thought the objection might be that to some ears the word is close to a certain slang term referring to women’s breasts? That would be reason to keep the term, it would be great fodder for comedians or regular citizens playing off the term!

‘Haboobs’ Stir Critics in Arizona

(NYTimes)

PHOENIX — The massive dust storms that swept through central Arizona this month have stirred up not just clouds of sand but a debate over what to call them.

The blinding waves of brown particles, the most recent of which hit Phoenix on Monday, are caused by thunderstorms that emit gusts of wind, roiling the desert landscape. Use of the term “haboob,” which is what such storms have long been called in the Middle East, has rubbed some Arizona residents the wrong way.

“I am insulted that local TV news crews are now calling this kind of storm a haboob,” Don Yonts, a resident of Gilbert, Ariz., wrote to The Arizona Republic after a particularly fierce, mile-high dust storm swept through the state on July 5. “How do they think our soldiers feel coming back to Arizona and hearing some Middle Eastern term?”

Diane Robinson of Wickenburg, Ariz., agreed, saying the state’s dust storms are unique and ought to be labeled as such.

“Excuse me, Mr. Weatherman!” she said in a letter to the editor. “Who gave you the right to use the word ‘haboob’ in describing our recent dust storm? While you may think there are similarities, don’t forget that in these parts our dust is mixed with the whoop of the Indian’s dance, the progression of the cattle herd and warning of the rattlesnake as it lifts its head to strike.”

Dust storms are a regular summer phenomenon in Arizona, and the news media typically label them as nothing more than that. But the National Weather Service, in describing this month’s particularly thick storm, used the term haboob, which was widely picked up by the news media.

“Meteorologists in the Southwest have used the term for decades,” said Randy Cerveny, a climatologist at Arizona State University. “The media usually avoid it because they don’t think anyone will understand it.”

Not everyone was put out by the use of the term. David Wilson of Goodyear, Ariz., said those who wanted to avoid Arabic terms should steer clear of algebra, zero, pajamas and khaki, as well. “Let’s not become so ‘xenophobic’ that we forget to remember that we are citizens of the world, nor fail to recognize the contributions of all cultures to the richness of our language,” he wrote.

Although use of the term often brings smirks, Mr. Cerveny said the walls of dust could have serious consequences, toppling power lines and causing huge traffic accidents. Although ultradry conditions in the desert are considered one cause for the intensity of this year’s storms, Mr. Cerveny pointed to another possible factor: the housing bust that left developments half-finished and unmaintained, creating more desert dust to be stirred up.

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9 Comments »

  1. I have to agree with David Wilson–if you are offended by words that originated in another country, you pretty much need to stop talking and reading altogether. Unless, of course, you speak Navajo or Shawnee or any of the other REAL “American” languages. Do they really think Americans invented English?

  2. Arizonans now might begin to figure out that algebra is REALLY a PLOT to introduce Shari’ah Law into the Constitution! Shhh!

  3. For goodness sake, do those who object to this know how *many* words, concepts and brilliant discoveries came out of the middle east? Parochial and ridiculous…. Jeez…

  4. What?! Lol at Shahrazad, don’t tell ALL our secrets! (Next week they might find out that chess is ploting to take out Obama! Sheik maat! ;) )

  5. This is pathetic! ‘What gives you the RIGHT to say that word?’ Oh, please! How about ‘that’s what they’re called’, bigoted moron. Ugh. Some people need to be sterilized.

  6. People need to get a grip, that’s all I have to say.

  7. We have the same people here in Arizona complaining that towns like Sierra Vista or Casa Grande should have “American” names. (Of course, the name “Arizona” itself comes from a Native American language. The early Tohono O’odham people told the early Spanish explorers that the little patch of land on which they stood was called Ali shon’ak, the land of small springs. The name stuck.) Ironically, we have two other words we use a lot in Arizona, “adobe” and “monsoon”, the name we use fo our summer rainy season. I wondr if the folks who complain know both these words are also derived from the Arabic?

  8. Arizona should get the same treatment General Sherman gave to the South!!!

  9. Haboob or not, I don’t really care. I am not an Islamophobic. I have no fear of Islam to speak of. I draw pictures of Mohammed for fun, I wear a Mohammed t-shirt, I paint, draw and seek to create(which is outlawed in the koran.) I write koran in lower case letters. Further, I talk about Mohammed and his pedophilia. Mohammed was a pedophile, he married and had sex with a SEVEN year old LITTLE GIRL named Ayesha when he was FIFTY TWO. Mohammed was a child molester and a sick person. I don’t see how any sane person could follow the teachings of a monster that stole the innocence of a SEVEN YEAR OLD LITTLE GIRL!

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