Thursday, June 02, 2005

Wrong Arabic Word

Seat pitch is the term describing the front to back seat spacing on a passenger airliner, i.e. how much legroom you have. The closer the seats are spaced, the more tickets the airline can sell, but the more miserable the pax are. If the controls in your armrest turn on the reading light over the seat two rows away from your seat, then the seats pitch has been reduced to cram more pax on board.

This is commonly done during especially busy times of the year, typically on flights carrying pilgrims to Mecca. Perhaps the theory is that your typical middle eastern person is smaller than your typical American, has saved up for a once in a lifetime trip to the holy land, and accepts a little discomfort as part of the price of the pilgrimage. The trip is called a hajj, so those are hajj flights.

The other day I asked my brain for that term and it supplied my mouth with "jihad flights." I earned a very odd look. I didn't mean it that way. Apparently my brain keeps all the Arabic words it knows in one box and just pulls out whichever is on top when I call for one. If I ever have to use that word in a PA announcement, I think I'll just say something else.

The middle east is a common topic in blogland this week. Meryl Getline has an interesting tale of two swimming pools. Her entries are sometimes a little unbloglike, as they are newspaper columns which she sells, but the trick to reading her blog is to realize that the picture near the top under the date is a permanent part of the blog header, and that the actual entry starts underneath.


Anonymous said...

You couldnt really have used a more unfortunate word. Love the link to the empty swimming pools. I really cannot understand why people are rejected because of their gender, race etc. It makes me want to spit.

Anonymous said...

That's not as bad a slip as you think -- I'd guess that most Muslims would consider the Hajj as the crowning point of their personal Jihad, or at least think of Jihad as the so-called sixth pillar of their faith, after the Hajj.

It's too bad that some nutcases have hijacked (!!) the word to mean murdering civilians to get media attention, the same way that some nutcases hijack Christian words and phases for their own hate crimes (think of the Lord's Resistance Army, or American Christian extremists who set off bombs in medical clinics).

Clint said...

i spent some time in a muslim country and learned a little bit about the hajj. if a muslim makes the pilgrimage their first name is replaced with the title "Haji". if your name was abdulah mohammed it would change to haji mohammed after you complete the pilgrimmage. many of the muslim countries are progressing in their fair treatment of women, however the majority are stuck in the stone ages when it comes to human rights and equal treatment of others. until the culture changes in those countries it will continue to be a problem. the cultures won't change until their governments begin enforcing equality.