[conspire] NYLXS Press Release on the OLPC Project

Ruben Safir ruben at mrbrklyn.com
Thu May 1 05:06:54 PDT 2008

>   For example, while Americans may understand "jihad" to mean "holy
>   war," it is in fact a broader Islamic concept of the struggle to do
>   good, says the guidance prepared for diplomats and other officials
>   tasked with explaining the war on terror to the public.
> (Among other things, that word and others were, of course, not "banned".)

This might be a good example of how language shapes culture and reflects
culutre.  The word "Jihad" is not an equivilant of say the word "Mitzot"
neither of which have equivilants in English.

Slice it and dice it as you wish but the word Jihad never has the innocuous
meaning such as you described.  Furthermore, it can not be cleaved from
its overt violent usages.  In fact, the way the word is used both for
daily and inocent  purposes and for violent and fanatical purposes
is more than problematic, its a contributing factor in violent propaganda
in the Arab world.

While in English we have adapted, for example, the word "Kamakzi", it
always has the connotation of fanatical pursuit, sometimes adopted 
tounge in cheek.  The word "Jihad" has no such segragation.  If there
was any movement to rid that word of it's daily normal usage, and I doubt that
is the case in the Arab world, that would be good because removing the moral
ambiguity of speech is a needed.

All of which is actually nicely related to what I wrote about how language
affects thinking, and how computer interfaces do so likewise.

I wasn't going to say anything on this, but after considering it I decided
that perhaps silence on this issue, even between friends, was not prudent.


"> I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be damned.<
You must be a stupid engineer then, because politcs and technology have been attached at the hip since the 1st dynasty in Ancient Egypt.  I guess you missed that one."

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