Quick on the heels of the most recent sand storm–lately referred to as a haboob–citizens of the Phoenix, Arizona area are drawing attention to what some believe is the surreptitious addition of a foreign word to the English language.
Just days after the dust settled (literally), a new storm was brewing–in the form of protests. Angry residents formed picket lines outside the local offices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, demanding that the agency go back to using the term “sand storm.”
Over 150 protesters turned out in the 100-plus degree midday heat yesterday to call attention to what they claim is an “erosion of our language.” Many were carrying signs and placards, with captions like “we don’t like funy words.” (sic) Others just showed up in front of NOAA’s headquarters to voice their outrage over what they say is a confusing and alien-sounding word with no place in the American vocabulary.
“Why do we need some Arab word to describe something that is pure Arizona?,” shouted a man through a bullhorn. “We like our dust devils just fine the way they are!”
“I don’t want my children learning some word that has “boob” in it,” said a large, 30-ish woman on a scooter, holding a sign. “It’s un-American!”
Within minutes, the lively crowd erupted into a chant: “Read our lips, no new words! Read our lips, no new words!…”
Several drivers honked as they drove by the noisy group. Others just stared out the windows with bewildered looks on their faces.
According to Phoenix police, the demonstrators went about their protest rather peacefully, with no arrests made. The assembly lasted just over an hour, long enough for the people to realize it wasn’t such a great idea to stand out there in the scorching sun. One by one, they gradually shuffled over to a nearby bar for drinks.
Meanwhile, a counter-demonstration of a half dozen English teachers had assembled across the street, in support of the new word and protesting the protesters’ apparent inability to spell or form a coherent statement.