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Rosie Right

Our language and how it works.


Party Directions

A friend has asked about the spelling of the Lebanese organization: Hizbollah? Hizbolloh? Hezbollah? She noticed that it is spelled differently in a number of publications. Time magazine even uses Hizballah sometimes and Hezbollah at others.

I asked the editor of the AP Stylebook, Norm Goldstein, about this, and he replied: "AP style is Hezbollah. The vowel sound in question is unwritten and implied. Depending on where you are in the Arab world, the sound can be transliterated either ih (short iii sound as in it) or eh. AP decided upon the latter and that has been our style for years. (Much the same, for example, as the different transliteration of the name Sayid or Sayed. Same name in written Arabic.)"

The Oxford English Dictionary lists both Hezbollah and Hizbollah. The first citation the dictionary editors could find was from a 1960 description of religion in Java. Interestingly enough, this first reference was to a guerrilla battalion that "grew out of a similarly named organization formed by the Japanese to give training in military drill to young Moslems."

What we now call Hezbollah moved from Asia to the Middle East, where the name refers to the organization called "Party of God" that we find in the headlines almost every day. Following the changes in the word teaches us a little bit of Arabic history, but thank goodness for style books and for rules that one can follow without, for example, trying to choose for oneself how to translate an Arabic word!

New Words

Heatmapping — Technology that lets marketers see what parts of their e-mails get the most attention. Source: ClickZ Experts, an online resource for marketers.

Virtucrats — The members of the administration who boast about their adherence to "core values." Source: Maureen Dowd's June 3 column, New York Times.

Freshmore — A second-year high-school student who must repeat some or all of his or her first-year classes. Also, freshmen and sophomores as a group. Example: "Last school year, 17 percent of Georgia's ninth-grade high school students did not earn enough credits for promotion to the 10th grade, according to figures from the Columbia County school system. School officials refer to those students as 'freshmores.'" Source: The Word Spy.

Let Rosie hear from you by mail (1707 Summit Ave., Richmond, VA 23230); by e-mail (rozanne.epps@styleweekly.com); or by telephone (358-0825).

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