November 02, 2003

USAma vs. Osama

I don't know if many others noticed this; on the first days after the dreadful days following September 11 attacks and when the world was being more educated about the Al-Qaeda/Taliban/Wahhabi world, most western media outlets following the proper English spelling and what had been the norm used even by the FBI, introduced us to the head terrorist; Usama Bin-Laden.

But shortly after that, somebody noticed the most wanted man in U.S.A. also carries perhaps the only name in the world that starts or contains USA in it so promptly. Right away and in unison, everyone switched to Osama instead of USAma. A search today through Google's news search yielded 159 stories containing Usama, many from Arab and other foreign language media outlets, and a staggering 6,480 results containing the "new" spelling of Osama.

I actually find it rather shallow and irrelevant, as I can't accept the sudden almost unanimous change was just a coincident. So, I'll continue searching for stories that don't start the distortion with the name of the subject matter.

Posted by Pedram at November 2, 2003 11:26 PM

Good spot!

Posted by: Haleh at November 3, 2003 01:41 AM

This is the first comment I have here although i have read this log for a very long time. The simple reason was that I could not and can not find the words to express how wonderful i think it is.

Posted by: saba at November 3, 2003 03:17 AM


Posted by: Saba at November 3, 2003 03:24 AM

since first seeing the name post embassy bombings in 1998, i had most always seen osama, with an occasional usama. so it is not that new in the media.

Posted by: svster at November 3, 2003 11:30 AM

Good one. That can be because of that, yes.
I believe in anything coming from the burger-n-fries people.

Posted by: Mariana at November 3, 2003 11:43 AM

Fox News uses the "Usama" spelling. Fox is considered to be rather right-wing and patriotic. I guess they don't mind the same collection of letters appearing in "USA" and "Usama." And spelling it "Osama" instead of the other way is hardly a "distortion." It simply indicates habit; and the fact that the first vowel sound in the name sounds like "o" to some and "u" to others.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at November 3, 2003 04:48 PM

Pedram, only YOU would pick up on something like this and actually notice it. Keep it up brother. I'm amazed.

Posted by: Jerry in Jersey at November 3, 2003 05:13 PM

Are you trying to tell us there is some deep conspiracy here?

Posted by: stephen at November 4, 2003 12:05 PM

Deep conspiracy? I doubt that's his intention. But it does make one wonder how free our press truly is. I agree the sudden uniform change is rather unusual. Too unusual to be a coincident. I looked through the archices of LA Times, and there seems to be a deliberate change about the time Pedram suggests.

Posted by: visitor at November 4, 2003 06:48 PM

Curiously, Al Jazeera uses the Osama as well as Usama, sometimes in the same article.

Had anyone worked in the press, they would know that newspapers use style books to make their paper consistent. When new names or words pop up their is typically some period of adjustment, until a standard is accepted.

It used to be that the New York Times set the style for many papers. This was not a conspiracy but an attempt to give readers consistent information, stylistically.

The various spellings used for Peking over the years illustrates the difficulty that can occur when converting a foreign language to English.

To suggest that this is a conspiracy to avoid using Usama because it has the letter USA in the beginning is painfully naive.

Posted by: stephen at November 6, 2003 08:17 AM