Friday, July 22, 2011

The Forecast Calls for Xenophobia

The New York Times has an article about people in Arizona being all bent out of shape about weathermen suddenly referring to dust storms as "haboobs" -- but it's not for the reason I'd have thought. I grew up there and have never ONCE heard a weatherman -- or anyone -- refer to a dust storm as a "haboob," so I'm all bent out of shape, too. (I mean, WTF? I sort of glanced by the first couple articles that ran because I had no idea what they were talking about, and it didn't seem like something I cared about!) Embarrassingly -- and all too predictably -- it turns out my fellow Arizonans are upset for a whole other set of reasons:

“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?”

And this lovely Facebook status update -- from someone who had never updated their status before -- that was brought to my attention:

"Please STOP saying Haboob!. This is the United States of America NOT the middle east. I love America. If you love America tell everyone to stop calling our dust storms haboobs."

God help us all.

10 comments:

Sam G said...

I've lived here since 2003 and have heard that term since the very first summer I moved here. Why are people getting so bent out of shape over it now? Next thing they'll want to call our monsoons "thunderstorms" like the rest of the nation because monsoon sounds too asian....

Sam A said...

The weather people also like to use the term "microburst" instead of what they really are... Tornados. I have lived here all my life and this Haboob term is new to me this year as well. They have also quit using Heat Index terminology, as was popular for the last couple of years. I guess weather forecasting is going through a change of seasons of sort.

Mike in Asheville said...

You do realize, of course, the "Xenophobia" is from the Greek ....

Anonymous said...

This is the United States of America NOT the middle east. I love America. If you love America tell everyone to stop using words like: adobe, alcohol, apricot, azure, candy, coffee, cotton, guitar, lemon, lime, mattress, orange, sofa, sugar, ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Arabic_loanwords_in_English

Hue-Man said...

I thought "haboobs" referred to the homophoic racists that seem to afflict AZ politics these days! Unlike some languages (I'm looking at you Academie Francaise), English has historically welcomed newcomers from other linguistic groups. I must admit to a certain schadenfreude when I think about ignorant racists complaining about haboob.

Anonymous said...

"regenschauer"
The weather people here use the term rainshower all the time.
I think they like saying the word haboob for the obvious giggle factor.

Todd Lincoln said...

I've been trying to get people to "Americanize" the word haboob by changing it to "hatitty" but it isn't catching on. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Sam A. but tornadoes and microbursts are two completely different phenomena. A microburst is when rising air in a thunderhead becomes supercooled and (being less dense than warm air) rushes back down to earth at at a dangerous speed. They affect "patches' and lack the rotation and damage trail characteristic of tornadoes.

Cermander said...

Isn't there a Native American word for this? These "dust storms" have been occuring for thousands and thousands of years so it would make sense there is an indigenous word for them. Xenophobia indeed.

SunLover said...

Clearly sharia law is but a mircoburst away from sweeping over Hoozdo Hahoodz (Navajo for the state in question...BTW, as if it could be anything else, the word Arizona itself comes from either non-American Basque terrorists (aritz ona, "the good oak") or non-American Spanish world conquerors ('árida zona' (arid zone)) - so put that in your haboob and suck on it.

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