It is *not* called the Desert Desert, dammit!

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2012/01/20 07:01 -05:00, original URI:

You probably know people, or work with people, or are one of those people, who calls it an "ATM machine".

And you may know people, or work with people, or are one of those people, who calls it a "Light Emitting LASER".

Hopefully you laughed when the mobsters from the movie Mickey Blue Eyes noted the sign on the restaurant "The La Trattoria", despite the fact that the meaning of the phrase was "The The Trattoria", as a sign of irony at he faux intellectual bravado leading to ignorance of a proper name of a fancy FrenchItalian restaurant.

Perhaps you were around to chuckle with Mike or Cathy or I when a particular goup admin used to refer to "Very VIP people", realizing the meaning of "VIP" inlude the word being repeated.

Many people I know found it mildly ironic that natives and former natives of Iran wanted their language فارسى (spelling AFEH ALEF REH SEEN ALEF MAKSURA) called Persian rather then Farsi, even though the native name was [pronounced FARSI by those same native speakers.

And yet, I do not want to know if you make this other mistake.

I am going to say La La La I am not listening to you yet you ar still talking if you try to confess you are guilty of it.

And after you have read this blog today you will be able to point out the mistake any time someone else makes it.

Anytime you see Google Maps refer to locations as being in the "Sahara Desert" like so:

Because the word for Desert in Arabic is





Because you know it is silly to call the sandy, hot region in Northern Africa the Desert Desert.

You aren't that silly, right? :-)

Random832 on 20 Jan 2012 7:09 AM:

All these complaints should be directed to the department of redundancy department, at its main office on Torpenhow Hill, or its subsidiary office near The La Brea Tar Pits.

"Many people I know found it mildly ironic that natives and former natives of Iran wanted their language called Persian rather then Farsi" Yet I'd guess those people don't see a problem with almost every other language, from Albanian to Welsh, being called in English something different than how it is natively pronounced.

Mmmmmmx on 20 Jan 2012 7:39 AM:

>> leading to ignorance of a proper name of a fancy French restaurant.

La Trattoria is Italian.

htd2007 on 20 Jan 2012 7:53 AM:

well, huangshan mountain is actually yellow mountain, since english speaker doesn't know shan means mountain, just as they don't know sahara means desert.

Michael S. Kaplan on 20 Jan 2012 8:02 AM:

French, Italian -- they'e all one big country, now! :-)

John Cowan on 20 Jan 2012 8:34 AM:

To speak English, you only need to know the English language.

The Gobi ('desert') Desert, the River Avon ('water'), and the Missisippi ('big river') River have the names they have for a reason.  When we borrow someone else's name for something, we don't borrow it by parts but as a whole, and its etymology in the source language is irrelevant.  Sombrero in Spanish means 'hat', but in English it means 'traditional Mexican hat', and that's the way it is.  It would be senseless to claim that a beret or a bowler is a sombrero in English.

So don't try to influence the hoi polloi ('the many') on this one: it won't fly.

jon on 20 Jan 2012 11:33 AM:

Timor (or Timur) means "east", so East Timor is really East East.

James Curran on 20 Jan 2012 12:11 PM:

The fun one I hear a lot recently is "Oprah Winfrey's OWN network" which, of course means, "Oprah Winfrey's Oprah Winfrey Network network"

Aaron.E on 20 Jan 2012 12:48 PM:

"Very" is an intensifier, and it is perfectly valid to chain intensifiers indefinitely.  Very Very Important People are more important than Very Important People, but less important than Very Very Very Important people.  It may not be eloquent, but it is perfectly grammatical.  

Michael S. Kaplan on 20 Jan 2012 2:13 PM:

The person who did the Very VIP Person thing was not chaining intesifiers, she genuinely did not realize the duplication....

Aaron.E on 20 Jan 2012 2:57 PM:

A native speaker?  That's so far off center it seems almost impossible.

Michael S. Kaplan on 20 Jan 2012 3:43 PM:

A native of Iran? They exist, you know!

cron22 on 20 Jan 2012 5:49 PM:

I have to say that is brilliant.  I'm an English major, and I have taken a class on the history of the English language, and still I make this mistake all of the time.  Darn.  But thanks for pointing it out!

Mihai on 22 Jan 2012 1:25 AM:

You might also add "Adobe AIR" to the list.

Because "AIR" already means "Adobe Integrated Runtime"

cron22 on 22 Jan 2012 8:39 PM:

Oh wow.  That's amazing that you pointed that one out.  I never would have thought of it!  Just today I learn what that stands for!

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