Sunday, March 15, 2015

Words from the Smithy: “Islamist(ic(al(ly)))”

In an earlier post (“Dominionism”),  we discussed the terminological distinction between Islamic and Islamist (the latter being a professorial confection, originally French, which later events propelled onto the Public Square), along with a proposed newer word, Christianist.   But the battle-lines have hardened since then, with Islamist becoming ever more consistently pejorative, by now so overflowing with negativity that some of it splashes over onto its blamesless paronym, Islamic.    So, we need some semantic clarification, and lexicographic legislation.  The point here is not to argue one politico-theological position or another, but simply to provide writers with a clean, precise set of tools.
So let it be written, so let it be said:

Islam (Islamic) : one of the Abrahamic faiths. (Cf. Judaism, Christianity.)

Islamism  (Islamist) :  theologically, a distilled and stiffened variety of the above (cf. Orthodox flavors of Judaism and Christianity), but with a dominionist addition (cf. Muslim Brotherhood;  aspects of ancient and of modern Israel;  Caesaropapism).  A less lapidary formulation is "Political Islam".

A Muslim (anyhow on Fridays),
but i’ faith, no Islamist.

To these we add coinages of our own, for yet finer semantic distinctions:

Islamistic :  exaggeratedly Islamist.  (Cf. Fundamentalism.  ISIL probably fits in here.)

Islamistical : exaggeratedly Islamistic. (Cf. Branch Dravidians, Boko Haram.)

Islamistically: in an Islamistic(al) manner 

Islamisticality:  the property of proceding Islamistically.

Islamisticaloidal : a to-tall-ly over-the-top wacko distortion of Islam (Cf. the medieval Persian cult of the Assassins, and (for Christianity) the contemporary Lord’s Resistance Army, of central Africa.)

Abu-Hamza:  un tant soit peu  islamisticaloïde

Islamisticaloidaliferous :   ? -- No, sorry, that one’s just plain silly.
[Though compare, to be sure, Fouad Laroui's anti-Da`ish coinage  califarfelutique, of similar meaning.]

post-meta-Islamisticaloidaliferosity:  [Sorry, this Premium Content is reserved for Gold Card subscribers to the World of Dr Justice © ]



That is part parody;  but it is a fact of the English language that extra suffixes are sometimes tacked on with pejorative intent.  Thus, for -ist/-ism:

C.S. Lewis, Christian Reflections (1967), p. 112: "If we call the speculations of Whitehead or Jeans or Eddington `scientism' (as distinct from 'science')"

This on its own  stamped her  not only as an irremediable third-rate genteelist bullshitter, but…
-- Kingsley Amis, The Folks that Live on the Hill (1990), p. 31


Gerd Gigerenzer et al, The Empire of Chance (1989), p. 240: "He inaugurated the scientific, or perhaps scientistic, phase of baseball statistics."

Cf. further military vs. militaristic.

[Update 5 March 2015] An article in this morning’s Washington Post reports that the new Saudi King, Salman, has awarded a prize to an Indian Muslim, whom the Post labels an “Islamic supremacist”.
More on this charmer:

His orthodox, Wahhabist views — affiliated closely with the Saudi state — are polarizing in India, which is home to a diverse set of Muslim traditions and sects. His conservatism has led him to make statements endorsing the use of female sex slaves and allegedly expressing sympathy for terrorists.
In a 2008 video, he claimed President George W. Bush was behind the Sept. 11 attacks. "Even a fool will know that this was an inside job," Naik said. Years before, he appeared to offer tacit backing to terrorist masterminds such as Osama bin Laden.
"If [Bin Laden] is terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him," he said in one video. "Every Muslim should be a terrorist."


Next comes the question as to the proper pronunciation of this relatively new term Islamist.   The version I came away with after having spent a few years in and around the Near Eastern Studies department at Berkeley, is forestressed:  IS-lam-ist; and that is the version heard just a moment ago on a BBC broadcast   But the U.S. media is now regularly saying is-LAM-ist.    So the question is:  where did this form IS-lam-ist come from -- is -ist, like -ic, one of those suffixes that rearrange stress?

The classic Chomsky-Halle Sound Pattern of English  appears not to give decisive examples, nor a rule, for this affix.  But Hans Marchand’s The Categories and Types of Present-Day English Word-Formation has several fine pages on -ist, and on page 310 states definitely:  “The stress of the -ist word is on the same syllable as in the unsufixed basis.”  And indeed, upon reflection:  we say car-TOON-ist, re-FORM-ist.    So no, -ist need not repel the stress.   And yet is-LAM-ist sounds odd to me;  I have no idea why.

[Footnote:  Marchand's work is inexhaustibly rich; but unfortunately he does not discuss the semantic nuances among -ist/-istic/-istical.]

It might seem mildly paradoxical that the longer, rather abstruse-looking coinages I have offered, are actually more determinate in pronunciation, since they contain suffixes which overrule the stress-pattern of whatever they attach to.  Thus, unambiguously:   is-lam-IST-ic, is-lam-IST-ic-al-ly, versus is-lam-ist-i-CAL-it-y.
[Update 15 March 2015]  Further expert testimony against those who would absolve ISIL and Islam from any taint of each other, via the No True Scotsman maneuver.  Reviewing a new monograph by Cole Brunzel:

The Islamic State’s version of jihadi-Salafism is predicated on an extremist reading of Islamic scripture that is also textually rigorous, deeply rooted in a premodern theological tradition, and elaborated on by a recognized cadre of religious authorities.

[Update 3 April 2015]  King Salman of KSA is hanging tough on the islamistical front, and this at a time when he needs an international coalition to support his invasion of Yemen:

Here he accuses Canada of lèse-shariah. 

[Update 6 juin 2015] French belletrists now have a word for islamisticality:  le Nazislamisme
[7 juin 2015]  And:  Islamikaze (Islamic kamikaze).

[26 Juni 2015]  Leser-kommentar, apud Die Presse (Wien):
Diejenigen, die den Asyl-wahnsinn mitmachen, sind als Eurabier zu bezeichnen.

[4 March 2016]
An apparently slighting term that is cropping up in current Arabic prose is thawrji, from thawrah ‘revolution’ plus the humble, Turkish-derived agent-suffix -ji : thus, ‘revolutionary poseur’.

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