Pronunciation of bin Laden's org in the media

Dave linguist at PUNCHCUTTER.ML1.NET
Thu Feb 27 18:27:26 UTC 2003

I wonder if anyone has wondered at the near 50/50 split
that I've noticed in the media re: the pronunciation of
Osama bin Laden's organization.  Some people say "alkaida"
and some "alkeida" (roughly phonetic notation).  I've seen,
of course, broadcasters "mispronounce" foreign names before,
but this is the first time I've seen a case where it seems
almost a coin-toss how a given announcer/politician/etc
will say it.  I believe I recall a case where ABC's George
Stefanopoulos said it both ways within the space of a
couple minutes.

I wonder whether there may be a pragmatic dimension to some
of these cases: that is, some of these people may think (as I
do) that "alkaida" is closer to the true Arabic pronunciation,
but may be deliberately pronouncing it the other way in
order to show a kind of passive contempt for them.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?


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