5/27/2005

pedantic impulses: Qur'an, not Koran

I freely admit that this is a marginal and pedantic point of semantics. But Just want to go on record, that the way to write the name of the holy book in Islam is "Qur'an", not Koran.

There are numerous ways to perform arabic-english transliteration, but most of them agree that the hard "Kaaf" consonant is best represented by Q rather than K (there is a soft k consonant also in Arabic for which the k is beter suited). This distinction is important - for example, the words Kalb and Qalb can be easily confused - one means, heart, the other means dog.

Also, the apostrophe in Qur'an represents an actual pause - actually more of a glottal stop. Omitting it means that the word will be pronounced incorrectly. An analogy to english would be the silent "e" which makes a difference in meaning between "cap" and "cape".

Anyway, that's why Qur'an is right and Koran is wrong. Not that this really matters a huge deal. I do not take offense at the Koran spelling, but I do want to be on the record as to the correct one.

/pedant

3 comments:

Dan said...

I don't have a problem with that, but for some reason "Qur'anic" looks kind of wierd as a word to me. It goes back to the whole problem of how you Romanize Arabic and speaking as someone who has to keep track of a lot of Arabic names for a living I really wish the linguistics could put their collective heads together and universally standardize how to translate the language. Until they do, we're going to keep having like 15 different ways to spell "Qadaffi" ...

Andrew said...

Doesn't a stop like in a word like that usually wind up coming out as something closer to a shwa anyway?

ET said...

I understand your point of view, but most of us Westerners would never be able to pronouce Qur'an. We need to be able to use names that we can say.

As long as we are on pendantic impulses, when speaking of Islam, why do we speak of Allah instead of God?